What’s In My Purse?


As the mother of children, especially children with disabilities, I have been a frequent visitor to emergency rooms. It didn’t take me long to realize that those hours spent W A I T I N G were tedious for my kiddo and myself. In fact, for my kiddos with ADHD, they could be dangerous. With Steven, he would open all of the drawers and fling the contents onto the ground, swing from the air hoses and climb on top of the curtain. He was generally uncontrollable in an environment that he saw as a playground and I saw full of dangers that would land him in an emergency room for a reason other than for that which we had come! I had a knot in my stomach and tears of frustration. The emergency room staff and I finally learned that the only examining room suitable for Steven was one for psychiatric patients…no drawers, no air hoses, no curtains to climb. That solved the problem somewhat…but the long wait was also a major issue. Visits to the emergency room often ran six, seven hours, and sometimes all night! What to do? What to do? What to do?

Alas, out of need emerged my “emergency room purse”:
*Extra copies of medical cards and social security cards; when under duress with a screaming child coming in with the ambulance, rummaging through my wallet for these items always seems problematic and adds to my stress.

* A written medical history for each child; remembering those pesky spelled medication names and listing hospitalizations and diagnosis are always nerve wracking, having them at your fingertips is priceless.

*Quarters and crisp dollar bills for the vending machines.

*Animal and peanut butter crackers along with some juice boxes so I don’t have to spend so MUCH at the vending machines. (Dispensation of food and drink dependent upon reason for visit to emergency room)

*Cell phone charger (hours waiting…games to play…people to call…need I say more?)

*A deck of playing cards, INVALUABLE for killing time, and also for great mother/child bonding.

*Manipulative toys
for kiddos with ADHD…nothing like having that coil to twirl or that Rubik’s Cube to solve.

*Extra diaper/underwear and pants unless the child prefers to go home in a hospital johnny. (My daughter, Marie, actually loves the hospital clothing and has a whole drawer full…starting from small sizes when she was young up to the adult sizes she wears now.)

*Chap stick; the rest of me may look like Frankenstein’s monster, but my lips will be smooth and pretty.

*A large print, best selling book for me to read; when a kiddo is sleeping, (YAY!) the lighting may be dim and my eyes may be teary, but large print has always served me well.

My life has been spent trying to remain sane while raising children who can be difficult. Emergency room visits are always stressful and my mitigating solution is the “going to the hospital” purse.

Not to be confused with my “going to the movies” purse…



The Apple Tree: Raising 5 Kids With Disabilities and Remaining Sane
Authored by Linda Petersen
The link to the book:


Comments on: "What’s In My Purse?" (57)

  1. hungryhungryhippo404 said:

    Lol you sound very prepared! I’m sure your kids appreciate having such an on top of things mum! 🙂

  2. God bless you! These are great tips for all Mom’s and Grandmoms❤

  3. 1wanderingtruthseeker said:

    I’d love to hear what your going to the movies purse has in it. Ha! I would just wait until it was on Netflix or DVD.

    • My going to the movies purse has a huge zip lock bag full of buttered popcorn, different candies the children have picked out at the dollar store, 5 juice boxes, and tissues in case I cry. All squished in there… (I can barely pay for the movies for 5, let alone the refreshments!)

      • Oh, and I make sure to clean up everything…down to that little wrapper on the juice box straw! No sense flaunting the fact we brought our own! (Besides, movie theater staff might realize I brought my own and “flag” me for a purse search next time I go!)

      • 1wanderingtruthseeker said:

        I remember going to the drive-in back in the day. That was when the children under twelve got in free. Their were seven in all of us. 5 kids and Mom and Daddy. We had a bunch of very big toddlers. We popped a grocery sack full of popcorn and take it with us!

      • Yes, I LOVED the drive in! You didn’t have to hide the food there!

      • 1wanderingtruthseeker said:

        makes me long sometimes for older days.

      • Me, too. I remember seeing all of the James Bond movies with my family when I was younger…those were the good ‘ole days….

      • 1wanderingtruthseeker said:

        Yeah, and Momma used to lean over the backseat and asked if we wanted some more popcorn or something when the ta-ta’s flashed! We saw ’em anyway! Censorship at it’s finest!

  4. Great ideas! I need to follow your lead on this one especially the written records of medicines, previous doctor visits, etc. Your children are blessed to have such a wonderful and thoughtful mom!

  5. What a great idea! 😀

  6. WOW, that’s quite a list but great ideas –thank you for sharing! I never thought to get copies of medical records….will do!

  7. excellent advice. You always inspire me.

  8. Going to hospital with my kids gives me shivvers its not just what they do but say. Like loudly saying “why does that man smell mummy!” Shivvers

    • Yes! Or, when my son, Steven would say, “Mommy hurts me.” He has a sensory disorder where light touch hurts him…try explaining THAT to a doctor!!!

      • Oh gosh, yes thats a hard one, yikes!

      • There is nothing like shopping in the grocery store with him seated in the front. If I gently touch his arm, like all loving mothers are apt to do from time to time, he screams “MOMMY, STOP HURTING ME!!!!” I usually have to make a quick exit…

      • Omg, yes big stress. I had something similar today my son said daddy hit him in the mouth and knocked his tooth out. I said you really cant say that. He was about to go to school. The thing is daddy did hit his mouth and his tooth did come out, but my youngest who is v.hyper, has ADHD was jumping all over him, hubby said “get off, get off” and pushed him away, in the commotion he got his mouth by mistake and tooth very lose came out…I was half expecting a call from school LOL

  9. I have a list of the recent meds in a note ability on my phone, chap stick is an always must have, always have a book (coloring and comic) for my ADD/Autistic child, Kindle is my life saver for the games and books (charger covers kindle and phone), snacks are always available in my Mary Poppins bag (usually carrots, celery and peanut butter cup-to-go), baby wipes, an IPOD is helpful for the tired child, and I always pack the much needed ink pens and crayons. Your bag probably resembles my suitcase. There are 6 of us and my kids call my bag the zombie apocalypse revival kit.

    • My! Yours sounds like it has great technology, which would be a wonderful thing to have! I am afraid that technology does not last long in my household…my kids are too rough on it. I have to make do with an “old fashioned” dumb (i.e.. not smart,) phone!
      PLUS, your snacks are much better than mine. Thanks for the suggestions!

  10. Excellent idea for anyone with more than one child, or dependant family members! I imagine that purse is the size of the one my mom used to carry when we were young: looks more like a diaper bag for triplets than a purse.

  11. I am forever impressed by your preparedness and amazing attitude. I remember once calling my mother in tears from a doctors waiting room where I’d been made to wait for five hours. I was really going insane. And that was just me, as an adult, no kids in tow. I love your blog.

    • I have learned to do what I have to do to make things easier. I don’t like to get frustrated, and long waits can always be frustrating if you don’t have something to do.

      PS. I love that you read my blog!!

    • I just hollered out. … laughing!!!! I hear you…just as long as someone isn’t making a special bag for you…you’re good LOL.

  12. The funny part is, my dad carries my moms meds and medical history. There is no way any of us could remember everything she takes due to her health issues, so a few years ago I convinced her to make a list for him and fortunately, we haven’t had to use it! The pressure can be intense, it is an emergency after all, and trying to remember everything doesn’t always happen!

  13. Thank you for sharing these wonderful ideas. There is always a reasonable solution to all of our challenges. You shine the way. Grateful.

  14. Reblogged this on Catholic Glasses and commented:
    Clever solutions!

  15. Reblogged this on Coloring Outside The Lines and commented:
    I am so grateful for this post. This will be invaluable for me and my kiddo.

  16. My two boys are grown and have never had any medical issues (I’m so blessed) but they were raised in Hawaii so I had a similar “purse” for the 5 hr. flight to the Mainland. We always had cards, things to color, books, snacks, puzzles, etc. I can’t imagine how stressful it is in an emergency room. Your kiddos are also blessed to have such a prepared mom.

  17. Awesome! We don’t spend a lot of time in hospitals, but after my first time stuck there with baby (all fine now), I made a similar list of all the things that I want in hospital. It made our next trip much less stressful!
    I completely agree about lipsalve and phone chargers: vital!

  18. I could have used skills like this!

  19. Such a good idea–especially having all of their medical info at the ready. I always kept a bag of coloring books, markers, storybooks and little games and manipulatives in the car for long waits anywhere we ended up. The ER is an especially grueling place for children, and adults, to have to wait. Sounds like you have it down to a science! 🙂

  20. What a brilliant idea! Fortunately for us, we’ve only had one trip to the ER and it was for me last summer when I broke my foot and tore a tendon. And I was extremely lucky that my husband was home on a day off.

  21. Wonderful post! So practical! As my mother aged, I had a similar bag – things I would need to stay an overnight in the hospital with her. It actually was a fabric Craftsman (as in the tools!) carry bag. It had all kinds of pockets, inside and out, for “tools” – in my case, toothpaste, earplugs, sani-wipes, book. I knew I could just grab it and run if I got a call that she’d been taken to the ER.
    Mine is green but this is it:
    One of my brothers gave it to me for Christmas one year. It’s never had tools in it!
    I also now keep a sheet of paper in my purse at all times that has all ER info pertaining to me. I learned this from my mother. She raised 12 children. So, by the time she was elderly she had the ER visit down to a science!
    Thanks for a great post!

  22. Jackie Saulmon Ramirez said:

    That’s a great list!

  23. Wow! You are wonder mom! I am beyond impressed with your preparedness. I am going to pull together my own bag now.

  24. This is amazing! I must have lost days, if not weeks, of my life in emergency rooms with my three in the past few years and I have never thought to do this. So many hours of chasing them round tiny cubicles trying to prevent injury (to them or me) and destruction could have been saved!

  25. I would add scotch tape……if all else fails, a toddler can spend a lot of time pulling scotch tape off one finger and then the one they used to pull it, etc. etc. etc.
    I had five kids also and learned to do as you do. Funny thing now is that in our late 70’s we spend a lot of time in ER’s or doctor’s offices and our memories are pretty well shot, so we carry a lot of the same things for ourselves and a small pad to write down what the doctors say.

  26. Lots of great ideas…I’m adding quarters and dollar bills to mine. 🙂

  27. You are such an angel. There is no other word for a well prepared mom. Makes all the difference in the world. Keep up the good work. You are inspiring.

    • Thank you for your kind words, but I kind of think of parenting as my “hobby”. Some people like to read books, some knit, some go bowling. My kiddos are my hobby and I do whatever I can so I can enjoy it to the max!

  28. Excellent suggestions. In fact, all parents, and especially guardians, should have one of these, whether the children have disabilities or not. Thank you for the prompts.

  29. Amazing mommy! As a person who has mental health issues, did, ptsd, and blindness, I love how you look after your kids! A real live angel. I we sent you an invite for our blog? Hope you got it? XX

  30. You are amazing is all i can say. Mums deserve so much honor for all the energy and love bestowed on their kids.
    Right now i want to say thank you to my mum.

  31. I love the part about the chapstick. 🙂 All great suggestions, and added humor.

  32. Reblogged this on Health and the Human Experience and commented:
    Surviving wait times with little ones!

  33. Awesome advice! .. As a Child Life Specialist I see so many families who, due to the unexpected nature of their visit are completely unprepared. Thank you for sharing this with us! : ])

  34. […] a blog that I follow – Raising 5 Kids with Disabilities and Remaining Sane Blog. The title; What’s in my Purse. The post was about the many trips the family has made to the emergency room over the years and […]

  35. […] a blog that I follow – Raising 5 Kids with Disabilities and Remaining Sane Blog. The title; What’s in my Purse. The post was about the many trips the family has made to the emergency room over the years and […]

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