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As Wolfgang’s public school career comes to an end, I have been reflecting a lot on my volunteering tenure with his 3 schools (elementary, middle and high schools).
I was a PTA board member for nearly half of his school career, with monthly (and sometimes weekly) meetings and organizing and driving (oh so much driving). I volunteered to hand out class schedules every year, helped bake or cook or set up for multiple teacher/staff appreciation meals, decorated classrooms and hallways for countless holidays, helped build sets or make costumes or help with stage direction for a play almost every year, and I’ve chaperoned so many field trips and overnight jaunts that I lost count a long time ago.
It’s been quite a ride.
After nearly 12 years of chaperoning field trips, I think I’ve gotten a pretty good hold on what I need to stash in my purse to be That Mom, the one who kids can come to when they need help or need something. Y’all know how much I love being That Mom.
I also like to not carry a suitcase with me wherever I go, so I’ve pared things down to what I NEED to carry with me, in case of true emergencies (not just “I forgot to bring it” emergencies that happen with large groups of hormonal small people).
So without further ado, I give you my Top 7 list of things I always carry with me when I’m chaperoning a school trip – either a day trip or overnight!
- Hand sanitizer and Wet Wipes – germs. Germs EVERYWHERE. And kids spilling and making sticky messes and getting dirt all over everything. That’s what happens sometimes. Carrying these two is a bare minimum for me. I’ve only fallen ill ONCE after a field trip or extended trip! (Bonus: carry baby powder if you’re going to the beach. Get that sand off before getting back in the car/bus.)
- Feminine products – I have been able to save several young ladies from Shark Week (some on their first round with it) by carrying these in my purse/backpack. If the girls know you are discreet and you are “packing”, they are much less likely to be embarrassed about their “monthly visitor”. I just tell one or two young ladies that I have supplies if they need them and word spreads like wildfire. Get the “regular flow” kind – seems to be most-used amongst teens. (Obviously if you are chaperoning young elementary school kiddos, this might not be necessary. Though your fellow moms will love you if you save them.)
- Emergen-C – this is for you. Take this before you head out on that school bus. If you’re on an overnight trip, take it every morning before you leave your room. This will help fend off any germs that 86 children en masse can pass back and forth and hand (ever so sweetly) to you.
- Kleenex – Hormonal people come with a lot of tears sometimes. And runny noses. Kleenex comes in handy so many times…I carry (and use!) at least 2 packs a day on field trips.
- Portable Battery with USB port – not just for you, but for teenagers. If they know you are handy, they tend to trust you which means that you can keep an eye on them better. If you charge their devices, they will love you forever. Dual ports are a bonus…the battery I’ve linked here charges an iPhone up to 7 times. This is the expressway to the title of “That Mom” (in a good way).
- Unscented lotion – we have been to science labs where they make us put on rubber gloves, or tidepools where we soak our hands for extended periods of time in salt water. For some reason, lots of field trips make my hands dry out (plus the hand sanitizer dries them out a little too!).
- Small first aid kit – This one is kind of a gimme. If you are a mom who has children who like to go outside or craft or breathe in and out, chances are you are going to need to carry a first aid kit ANYWAY. The small one I’ve linked here is fabulous because it packs a lot into a small pouch. You want something that is small and portable, something that has bandaids and first aid cream at LEAST. The linked one goes way beyond basic and would probably cover 99% of emergencies.
BONUS! Here are three things NOT to bring
when you’re chaperoning a school trip:
- Pain relievers (or any medicines at all) to administer to kids. You are not authorized to administer anything stronger than a breath mint to children while you’re on a trip. Period. Keep your Tylenol to yourself, and direct the kids to the teacher if they ask.
- Alcohol. I shouldn’t have to explain this one, but even if you’re on an overnight trip with kids, you really should not even have one beer or one glass of wine or one drink. Trust me, you need your wits about you with that many kids. Plus, Wolfgang’s high school makes us chaperones sign a form stating we will not drink while chaperoning. (Not that I would if I was allowed.)
- Any expensive electronics. I leave my laptop at home and take a tablet. I don’t need to be working while I’m keeping an eye out for 86 kids. Plus, after having a laptop stolen while traveling, I leave that expensive tool at home if at all possible.
Have you been a chaperone for your kids? What’s one thing that you found helpful to have on hand?