Tuesday, May 24, 2016

45 Quick Tip Tuesday: No Matter the Sport, Be "Tote"ally Prepared

Sometimes the best organizational helpers are the most obvious.  A few years ago I put together a "ball" bag that I took with me to watch my boys play their sports.  After using it a few times, I proceeded to keep it stocked with the same items and just stored it on a hook near our door.  Every time I grab for that bag (which is multiple times per week), I tell myself to share it with you all.  It is such a simple little kit that ensures I am always ready to head to our children's sporting events.



I have used a few different types of totes, blankets and snack containers over the years, and have finally nailed down a few favorites that have stood up to our weekly trips to baseball, soccer and football fields.

My first tip is to pre-pack as much of the bag as possible, so if heading out the door in a rush, there is not a lot to gather or think about.  My next tip is to keep it basic.  Sure, I could load up a wagon full of activities and snacks, but I really don't want to be responsible for all of that or transport it through parking lots and fields.

Here are a the items you will find in my ball bag each week:



And a bit more detail regarding each item...

I have used about three different totes over the years, and my favorite to date is this large tote from Target.


It is large enough to hold everything shown above, and the finish is a breeze to keep clean.  Things have spilled inside, and the outside has been dusty and dirty, and it wipes up easily with no signs of wear.  At the same time, the bag is inexpensive and nothing I worry about as we lug it around and toss it haphazardly into the trunk of the car.  In the past I have used fabric totes, and they always end up with stains, holes and dirty after a game or two, only to wear down after a few washes.  Another tote I see mom's "sporting" frequently are the utility totes from Thirty-One.  You can never go wrong with multiple pockets!

Next up, the quilt!


I actually purchased this quilt a few years ago for family picnics.  I found it on sale for around $30 in the full/queen size, and it fits our family of five perfectly.  After taking it to a few games, it became our new ball blanket.  It is heavy enough to keep us warm during cold and rainy nights in the spring and fall, and folds over a few times to provide nice cush on the bleachers.  Locations that don't offer bleachers mean we just spread it out in the grass.  The best part is that I have washed this blanket so many times, and not a single loose thread.  I am easily thrilled, and a blanket that can hold up to our nightly abuse for a few years now?  #impressed


To keep it compact enough for our bag, I roll it up like a sleeping bag and use an elastic headband to keep it tight.


You all know I utilize pouches to organize just about everything, and inside of this tote is no exception.


One of these durable zipper pouches corrals rain ponchos, bug spray, a mini first aid kit and sunscreen.  I never have to remove this pouch from the ball bag, and if anything leaks, the remaining belongings in the bag are still safe.


Other important items are an instant cold pack and baby wipes.  The cold pack is in case of injury (we have had our share of those during games), and the wipes are my favorite for quick hand and face cleanings.  Well, really for cleaning just about anything on-the-go.


We travel quite a bit for sports; sometimes leaving for the parks right after school.  My kiddos were always allured by the concession stands and asking for money, and it got old quick.  To tide them over until lunch or dinner, these snack containers have been awesome!


The handy containers hold enough for two boys to snack from, and stack nicely inside of the tote.  They also ensure that the food and snack pouches don't become crushed or crumbled, making them ideal for everything from crackers to fruits and veggies.  In fact, I have fallen in love with Snapware for my own weekly snacks as well.  I try to pack a few of these on Sundays, or at least the night before a game, so we can quickly toss them into the bag on our way out the door.


Finally, it is important for everyone to stay hydrated.  The boys have had these water bottles for a few years, and they have held up well to our dishwasher.  However, the straws are a bit obnoxious, so I am thinking of eventually swapping them for these.


When it comes to my own water, I personally love these water bottles.

And that is it!  We keep a few activities in our car that the boys can do during the games, or else they will just bring a book, scooter or their own ball gloves.

Alright fellow sport parents, do you have a similar system or any additional tips to add?  We have times in which we are at some sort of sporting activity every single night of the week, so this bag has been a true "game changer".  #punintended

45 comments:

  1. Hi! We live in Portugal, near the beach. So, I have a beach bag ready to go all over the year ;-) with a towel, a sunscreen, a water bottle, old sunglasses (great to beach), a book or magazine, a litle pocket for cards and coins and paper tissues... and a bit of sand in it...

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  2. I do the same thing! I also keep a portable charger and hat and something to read! I've taken this idea a bit further and have a travel tote for each activity. For instance, I have a prepared tote for Boy Scouts with pens, calendar, paperwork files, etc. I have another for Church with my Bible, Mass Journal, pens, Rosary, etc. I have others for karate, my different jobs ... All loaded with everything I need to grab and go. With three teenage boys, five step grandchildren, and a full time medical practice and side business, I need easy!

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  3. Love it! I pack the same items in my utility tote! All my "soccer mom" friends know I have all the things we need on the sideline! Happy Summer!

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  4. I am jealous of your organizational skills!

    Her Heartland Soul
    herheartlandsoul.com

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  5. What's funny, to me, is that I used to read your blog and think "that Jen is so crazy and anal retentive!" but then my kids got older and I realized you made it so I didn't have to reinvent the wheel. For that, I will always sing praise to the almighty iHeart!!

    I have a sports bag I take along to games, but now I realize quilt is the missing piece. I have to be careful about bag size and weight, as most of our sports stuff involves walking to the field and I don't want to get to bogged down.

    Thanks again, Jen, for making another aspect of my life that much easier!!

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    1. I have a stadium blanket that is fleece on one side and water resistant on the other (like a windbreaker). It is light and folds down small with velcro tabs.

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    2. Susan, where did you buy that blanket? I've seen similar blankets, but not any with velcro tabs, which are a great idea!

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  6. Thank you for such a useful and timely post! We're at the start of baseball season. I have 4 of my kids on three different teams, with a 4 year old and almost 1 year old to keep entertained while the older kids play. I hadn't thought of keeping an instant ice pack in our bag. Some of the items I keep in my car all the time, but having a bag I can grab on my way out the door would make things a lot simpler.

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  7. great ideas here - my son is grown now, but I always kept a bag like that handy for his sports stuff. Now I keep one for weekend hikes - a go bag is always a good thing.

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  8. I always keep a one or two lip balms with SPF in my go-bag as well. Sunscreen is great, but it's too easy to forget the lips otherwise. And I don't know about everyone else, but if my lips get burned - ouch!!

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  9. I think this is a great idea! I'm trying to get back into organizing (I kind of fell off the wagon for while) and these posts keep me motivated! Thank you for sharing!

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  10. I'm getting ready to convert my competition cheer bag to a sideline cheer bag. Leaving in the extra hair ties, but swapping the lipstick for sunscreen and rain ponchos. My bag has been a mess and I'm now inspired to make it pretty and more functionally organized. I need to be able to get my hands on things easier so I don't have a grouchy girl needing an ice pack staring me down. Thank you!

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  11. If anyone is looking for a sturdy tote she (or he) may personalize a bit, Lands' End has theirs half-price today and tomorrow with Promotion Code STRIPES and PIN 8530. I especially like the "I (heart)" style, which would be great when completed with "Soccer," "My Daughters," "Sports" -- whatever best describes your group! (I just ordered one proclaiming my love for our rescued mutts!)

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    Replies
    1. Thanks so much for the recommendation (and the code)!

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    2. Glad to help, Jennifer! Just in case you want something else at Lands' End, that code also should take 50 percent off all regular-price swimwear AND 40 percent off everything else -- including clearance! (I didn't test the swim portion, but can confirm the clearance items were reduced even further -- woo hoo!)

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  12. I love these ideas! I adopted some from a similar post for last year's pool/swim team bag. Where did you get the ponchos from?

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    1. I believe I purchased them from Amazon or a local sporting goods store. :) Generally they can be found in the camping area of the store.

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  13. Thank you for sharing! I needed this today!

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  14. Hand sanitizer because Port a Potties are nasty!

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  15. Great post! I do a similar thing with a pool bag at the ready during the summer time. But it could use some organization and upgrading, and I appreciate the links to the products you recommend. Thanks!

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  16. Yesssss!! The straws on those flip-top water bottles are *so* annoying. Our boys love that they sound "like a dolphin and a chipmunk" but I strongly dislike when the straws pop out of the lid. We ended up g thing those Trekker water bottles you listed, and they're so much more convenient!! We let the boys use the bottles with the straws for the water bottle for school, but the Trekkers are the ones that always go on-the-go with us. If something ever were to accidentally "happen" to the flip-top ones, they'd get replaced with another set of the Trekkers. We also had good luck with the Sistema squeeze water bottles, and they're well-priced, too. I was just talks to my husband about the water bottle situation we have going onion our house today, and I'm so glad to hear I'm not the only one who isn't totally thrilled with the flip-tops.

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  17. OMG! Thanks so much for this. We are now ending Baseball Season and I have been trying to figure out something like this, but never had the time. Thanks so much for making it easy for me. I am keeping it in mind for the next sport!!!!

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  18. You can get new lids for the contigo water bottles which would give them a new life. If they are like ours it is nice that they keep contents cold for several hours.

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    Replies
    1. That's great to know! Thank you for the tip!

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  19. Jen, this is such an awesome tip! I have a go-bag for sports and a swim-go-bag. I'd add a couple of items to your already-comprehensive list: plastic bags to collect garbage, a couple of extra hats and sunglasses, disposable gloves (in case we need to lend a hand on field prep), a couple of plastic spoons and forks. I have the Lands End tote and love all the pockets for organizing.

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  20. Jen, a quick question on why you picked a quilt instead of a picnic blanket? Just seeking to understand, is all...

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    1. The quilt is quite a bit larger than the picnic blankets I have found, and it can wrap around me and at least two of the younger boys on cold evenings to keep us warm. It washes up really nice, and the price was comparable to the picnic blankets I looked at as well.

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  21. OMG LOVED THIS READ and loved that I found your blog! www.themoderndaygirlfriend.com

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  22. This is my fave kids waterbottle for school, sports etc. It's leakproof, has no straws or parts to wash, comes in a few colors, and it is inexpensive.
    http://www.target.com/p/pogo-tritan-kid-s-chug-grey-18ounce/-/A-14908558

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    1. Thank you for the recommendation Kate!

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  23. I love it! We are doing a soccer camp for the second time this summer and I have a feeling that it will become a regular for us. We've used the Contigo water bottles before as well, but my son chews on them and then they can't be used!

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  24. I would definitely recommend the new contigo bottles you are looking at - we love them and no straw to clean is awesome!!

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  25. I love using totes for our various activities, and pouches are such a great organizing tool when the totes don't have pockets inside. (I'm giving away zippered pouches at my Favorite Things party this Christmas!) I have a tote for church (books, pens, notebooks), one for work, one for the car (extra change of kids' clothes, bug spray), and I even keep a bag packed for when we want to make quick overnight trips (like to make an impromptu visit to family). Thanks for the reminder about this great organizing tool!

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  26. Great post. Go-to bags are so useful and time saving. Using the ideas from you blog I have a go-to bag for when my son visits his grandparents and keep a checklist on the fridge of the extra items needing to be added. My husband and I find it very useful.
    Thanks Jen :)

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  27. Do you have the water bottles sitting in a basket inside the tote? Seems like a great idea so water bottles don't tip over (which is always my problem) :)

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  28. We are a netball family, here in Australia.
    The girls carry their own bags which contain dry shoes & socks (its a winter sport), chap sticks, jewellery holders, coin purses, jumpers, deodorant, spare clothes, water bottles, hair ties etc.
    I carry the bag stacked full of snacks ( as we are usually out for between 7-9 hrs on game day), thermoses full of tea & coffee, lunches etc. Plus we take bean bags for kids to sit on, in back of 4WD- while they snack/watch games...cosy blankets, and colouring books a must too.
    The 6 of us trek out each game day, ready for a full day of game playing, watching, umpiring, supporting, scoring, etc

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  29. I carried similar items in my bag. The only thing I added were Ziploc bags - quart sized. Multiple calls for a bag of ice taught me to carry the sandwich bags. Ice is usually free at the concession stands. Then the ice packs you carried were for the times we played in ball fields with no amenities. Play ball!

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  30. Love this. I do this with our beach/pool bag so that it's always ready to grab-n-go...it's the worst trying to round everything up in a rush because something always gets left behind!
    www.morgan-jennifer.com

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