Go Bag: The Secret Sauce to Preventing Meltdowns

Go Bags are a simple way to prevent meltdowns and make your outing an enjoyable experience.

Guest Blogger:

Beth Richard

Gwinnett Mom of a Child with Autism

I am the mom of an amazing 15-year-old, who also has autism. Through him, I have learned so much. One thing he has taught me is that I need a “Go Bag.” 

Why not have one? I had a “Go Bag” ready before he was born, so I would be prepared and comfortable at the hospital. 

Over the years, our “Go Bag” has changed as Thomas has changed. The items on the inside have changed and the bag itself has changed. It started as a book bag and now, it is a small zipper bag. Anything can be a Go Bag! You can even take an eco-friendly approach. I reuse the bag that my dentist gives me at my cleaning. Having the smaller bag has made it easier for me to be able to transfer his stuff easily into whatever bag I happen to be carrying. Just because I’m a mom doesn’t mean I don’t like to be fashionable! This busy mom needs her fashion to keep up with the busy pace. 

Benefits of a Go Bag

The Go Bag has saved many an outing.

As a parent, you have a sixth sense and typically can feel a meltdown coming. When you have your Go Bag, you can quickly grab something to distract your child and save the outing. When Thomas was 3 or 4 years old, we were out at a BBQ festival as a family.  We parked the car, walked about a quarter of a mile (Thomas was in his wagon), and paid to get in. Up until this point, Thomas was doing well. Then I had that feeling in my gut. I quickly rummaged through our Go Bag and pulled out fruit snacks and a yellow turtle (at the time this was his favorite). It distracted him; he calmed down and his mood changed. We were able to enjoy the festival as a family! It would have been a bummer if we had to turn around, walk back to the car, and fight traffic to get home with a frustrated Thomas!

How to Make Your Own Go Bag

The secret to the bag is to find the quick, easy things that will help your child 

(and you) stay calm.

In our bag, we have fruit snacks and fig bars. Two of his favorite snacks that are relatively easy to eat anywhere. We also have a clear plastic baggie with baby wipes. Those come in handy on so many occasions. Straws are one of his favorites! Thomas has always loved to have something in his mouth and something to tap. The straw is perfect because he can chew on it and tap it. Plus, it’s super easy to carry! Another favorite in our Go Bag is a string of beads. Beads are great; they can be worn as a

necklace or bracelet. When wearing them, your child can fidget with them, pull on them, and roll them between their fingers. You can also toss them back and forth from hand to hand and roll them up and down your arm. I also keep a small amount of cash. There have been several occasions when I have been somewhere longer than expected and needed to buy a meal, larger snack, or drink and the vendor only took cash.

Another thing to remember with the Go Bag is to keep it simple because too many choices can be overwhelming when you are trying to prevent a meltdown. It should be quick and easy. When preparing your bag, think about the easy-to-eat snacks that your child loves. What small toy or fidget can you keep in the bag? These items need to be things you can have available all the time.

Maybe this list will help you. These are a few things we have had in our bag over the years:to
  • •  Matchbox cars
  • •  A small plastic yellow turtle 
  • •  Lids to reusable containers
  • •  Small books
  • •  Change of clothes

Extra Tip:

My child loves to play in splash pads. It seems like more and more of these are popping up! In the summer, I keep a change of clothes and a towel in my car. This way, if we go somewhere I didn’t know was going to have a splash pad, I am prepared!

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