I remember it like it was yesterday. Tyler and I were in the middle of our second baseball season with our newly blended family, and things were a little crazy. With 7 kids (4 of whom were playing Little League baseball that year), every day was a struggle. It was a good, happy, beautiful struggle; but it was a struggle.
Weeknights we divided and conquered, getting everyone to their different practices and games. Saturdays were awesome because everyone was in the same location and there were only games; no practices.
However, with the number of kids we had playing, there were some Saturdays when we were literally at the baseball field ALLLLLLLLLLLL DAYYYYYYYYYYYY. And being somewhere all day with that many kids means bringing a lot of gear.
Every week I would see families with wagons but I just hadn’t completely warmed up to the idea. I’m not sure why; I guess I felt like that would take it to a whole new level that I wasn’t willing to commit to. Which is SO DUMB because, HELLO!! We had 4 kids playing baseball! I’m not sure how much more committed we could have been! Anyway, I am just weird sometimes.
And then Mother’s Day came…and I was TOTALLY SURPRISED to open my very own baseball wagon! This is a picture of the first day we used it. We were all ecstatic!
We’ve come a long way as far as organization and having the things we have wished we’d had over the years. So I thought I’d share some suggestions of what you may want to consider taking with you to survive gamedays!
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1. Folding Wagon
After having the wagon for one game, I was sold. Why had I denied myself this necessity for so long?! If you are a parent of a child who plays baseball, just go buy yourself a wagon now! Let’s face it; you’re going to buy one sooner or later…might as well be sooner so you can enjoy it longer!
If I knew then what I know now, I would have gone with the double-decker wagon. Holy cow. This is genius. And if any of you get it, I want to know about it. I am super tempted to sell my current wagon and get this bad boy. Because, DANG! How cool is that?! Anyway, if you want to enjoy this baseball season, get a wagon. If you plan on taking your own chairs that would fit in between the wheels, get the double-decker wagon. Buy now. Thank me later.
We went years without owning a pop-up. I was scared to death of them, and rightfully so. But it got to a point where our very lives were at stake. We could either join the ranks of the pop-up families, or die of heat stroke.
I have a love-hate relationship with pop-ups. I love them when they’re up and I’m basking in the shade. I pretty much hate everything else about them. They’re big, they’re heavy, they’re awkward, and regardless of how easy the pictures on the box make it seem, they are a pain in the butt to put up, but even
**Tip: do a practice run AT HOME, with no one else watching. And then do another one. And another one.
You pretty much need someone to pull the wagon and a different person to lug the pop-up to the field. Most of them come with carrying cases with wheels, but be careful with those wheels. Because once they’re busted, your life gets about 1000% harder on those sunny Saturdays because those things are HEAVY.
I feel like I’m not doing a very good job of convincing you of the pop-up idea. It’s just one of those necessary evils. If you aren’t going to get a pop-up, make friends with someone who has one. And girl, you better claim that friend at the FIRST GAME, before someone else steals that shaded friendship status. Because those pop-ups are really only big enough for one friend and a few kids.
If you need to buy yourself a pop-up buddy, bring a tub of licorice, sit your buns right next to a nice, roomy pop-up, and proceed to eat and hand out your Red Vines to your kids as loudly as you can. When the pop-up lady’s kid comes and asks you for a Red Vine, you’re in. From that moment on…half of that shade is yours. That $8 tub of Red Vines just bought you an entire season of shade. Boom.
3. Bigger/Separate Items
- Chairs – we have the Tommy Bahamas that have the straps on the back so you can wear them on your back like a backpack. This makes it super convenient for carrying them to the field, but they are really low and not super comfortable. Just FYI. Pros and cons. By the way, we did NOT pay $45 per chair. This is the Amazon link I could find for them. We got ours at Costco a few years ago and I think they were $30ish per chair. If I had to do it over again, I would spend the money on the double-decker wagon, and get cheaper chairs that are more comfortable and lay them on the bottom level of the wagon.
- Stadium Chairs (for bleachers) – What kind of chairs we use depends on the field and what side our team is on, so we come prepared with our regular chairs as well as stadium chairs. I used to be embarrassed at the thought of using one of these and thought they were just for old people. Turns out 35 is old cuz I’ve got no shame. I love those things. We got ours at Costco and they were on a coupon. I think they were $25ish a piece with the sale price. These are considerably more expensive, but dang, they look amazing. They look super comfy, have cupholders, recline, and have the backpack straps to carry them. With this 2-pack, they are $45 a piece. If you are wanting to splurge on stadium chairs, these look awesome.
- Waterproof blanket for the ground
- Propane Heater (this is on my
wish list– I don’t have one)
- Jumbo-sized bags or Big Bags to keep muddy cleats in.
- Insulated Water Bottles for everyone – the players keep these in their bat bags, so it’s just us spectators who need them in the wagon. After 10+ years of testing just about every insulated water bottle known to man, this is WHY I LOVE THE YETI 18-ounce Rambler bottle and why they are worth their weight in gold (and don’t forget the lid):
- They fit in the side pouch of school backpacks, bat bags, in cupholders everywhere, and there’s still ice at the end of the day.
- Indestructible! Seriously. Even the lid. Nothing about this can break. It’s amazing.
- Dishwasher Safe (I hate that Hydro Flasks are not dishwasher safe, so they are a curse word in our house)
- WIDE-MOUTH LID, so you can fill it from your ice-maker without 95% of the ice cubes missing the opening and landing on your kitchen floor!
- Fits in normal-sized cupholders (they have this same Rambler in bigger sizes, but the base is wider, and therefore they don’t fit in normal cupholders…we do have a couple 26-ounce ones and I love that they all use the same size lids! I just don’t like that they don’t fit in cupholders)
- THIS LID is the best thing ever. Leak-proof, comfy mouthpiece, 2 straws included. Interchangeable with the 18 and 26 ounce ramblers.
4. Different Bags/Pouches
I held out for years before buying my kids bat bags. Dumb. What was I thinking? Was I waiting for them to grow up so they deserved a bag? Seriously, I can be such an idiot sometimes. I got my girls little bags to put their dance stuff in when they could hardly walk. I give my piano students a bag to put their piano books in. But I didn’t think my kids needed a bat bag to hold all their gear. Total face palm.
After a few YEARS of being stupid, I decided Cody was worthy to receive a bat pack for Christmas. He got a normal-sized one, so this is one he can use forever.
But I still didn’t get it. I hadn’t gotten any of the other kids one. Seriously, why didn’t someone just come up and tell me what an idiot I was?! I think one of my fears was that I would spend a bunch of money on something they would grow out of soon. But the fact is, they can use these longer than their cleats or even their batting helmets, and I didn’t seem to have a problem buying those every year…
It’s true that a brand new T-baller can’t quite carry a normal-sized bat pack very well. I FINALLY bought our first Youth Bat Pack last year. We have been in this game for 8 years, people. Don’t make the same mistake I did. Had I just gotten one for Cody 8 years ago, our lives would have been SO MUCH EASIER, and it would STILL be getting
**A note on the Youth Bat Packs: They are smaller than normal bat packs and therefore can’t fit as much. We have this Youth Bat
Anyway, my point is, get your kid a bat bag. If it kills you to buy a new one, find one on Facebook for cheap if you want to. But get the kid a bag!!
- Batting Helmet
- Batting Gloves
- Eye Black
- Frogg Toggs Chilly Pad Cooling Towel
- Gum / Seeds
- Dryer Sheet (for smell)
- Bug Spray
- Wet Wipes
- Hand Sanitizer
- Brush (love this mini brush) and Ponytails – no better time to do your little girls’ hair than while her brother is warming up for his game
- TP (don’t ask…ugh)
- Feminine Stuff
- Cash/Change for Snack Shack
- Sharpie for putting names on water bottles/
- External Charger – keep your phone alive for pictures/video!
- Bungee Cords – you just never know.
- Attach umbrellas to wagons or bleachers
- Hold down an overloaded wagon load
- Paper Plates, Paper Towels, Plastic Forks
andSpoons – for when we grab food on the way to the field. My favorite thing to do is stop at Little Caesars and just get a whole pizza. Cheap, easy, quick. Bam. Done. But it sure is easier to eat pizza on a dirt field when you have a plate and a paper towel to wipe up the grease.
- Trash Bags
- Ziploc Bags (for ice)
- Pen, Envelopes, Post-it Notes (for giving money for team stuff, signing up for team stuff, reminders for team stuff, etc)
- Dog Stuff (if allowed at
Target has a deal that comes up fairly frequently where if you buy 3 boxes of Band-Aids, you get a free First-Aid case. I have done this several times to make a small First-Aid kit for each of our cars, as well as our Travel Tote First-Aid Kit.
I bought most of the items below in bulk or purchased a money-saving pack to give me extras to put in the First-Aid kits I have in each car as well as our family’s 72-Hour Kit and Travel Tote First-Aid Kits. So if you are going to put together a First-Aid kit for your wagon, consider putting together a few of them at a time.
- Ibuprofen/Tylenol – I just put a few of these in a mini zipper bag, labeled it with the name, dosage, and expiration date, and we were good to go. This is way cheaper than buying a travel-size bottle. You could also just use an empty medicine bottle from an old prescription. Just be sure to take the label off and wash the bottle really well before re-using it.
- Alcohol Wipes – I bought this pack of them and put a few in each of my First-Aid kits, with the bulk of them in our family’s 72-hour kit.
- Tape – these colorful rolls of Coband are super fun and easier than tape
- Ace bandages
- INSTANT Cold Pack – I bought a box of these and distributed them throughout all the First-Aid kits I have…one for each car, one for the wagon, one for the house, and one for our travel tote. Their expiration date is 4 years from when I got them.
- Latex-free Gloves
- I got an entire box of 200 of these at Costco for $19.99. I put a few in each First-Aid kit, and I keep the rest in the box for when I am cutting up raw chicken or when I am cleaning toilet bowls with a pumice stone. This has been a great investment!
- I found some of these on Amazon that
aremedical grade and food safe, and they were the exact same price per glove as Costco, but you only have to buy 100 instead of 200.
- Tweezers (for slivers and/or bee stingers)
- Sting-Kill Swabs (for bee stings, insect bites, etc) – this is something I haven’t ever had before, but decided it was a good idea. I bought the money-saving 4-pack so I could put a pack in each of my First-Aid kits as well.
Hot Weather Bag
- Frogg Toggs Chilly Pad Cooling Towel
- Portable Fan (keep the battery in a separate bag in between seasons)
- Spray Bottle
Cold Weather Bag
- Blanket for warmth
- Handwarmers (again, something I bought in bulk for our 72-hour kits and used some for our baseball wagon)
- Gloves – again, a great price if you buy in bulk and put a few in each spot (baseball wagon, 72-Hour Kits, cars, etc. If you have any extras you could give them to the homeless)
- Extra sweatshirts, hats, scarves
Rainy Day Bag
- Umbrella – this one is AWESOME in the wind and has super cute colors too. I highly recommend this umbrella.
- Ponchos (something I bought in bulk for our 72-Hour Kits). This set has 4 adult and 4 kid ponchos.
- Towel to wipe off wet bleachers/park equipment for little siblings
Activities for Siblings / Fun Bag
- Mitts and balls
- Coloring Stuff
BRING YOUR OWN FOOD
I love the idea of supporting the league by making purchases from the Snack Shack. However, we’ve got mouths to feed. Baseball is expensive. Not only do you have to pay the registration fees, but those fees usually only cover the shirt and hat, and you are left to still have to purchase pants, socks, belts, cleats, and equipment (batting helmet, bat, mitt, etc).
Having a large family with multiple players, we spend anywhere from 3-8 hours every Saturday at the ball field (plus anywhere from 1 to 3 weeknights). Buying everyone’s meals, snacks, and drinks from the Snack Shack for the whole season would be insane.
We have chosen to allow our kids to take their own money to buy their own junk food from the Snack Shack, but we don’t typically buy anything for them. Every once in a while, we have one of those days where nothing goes as planned and we end up at the field without a dinner. This happens a
Instead, we plan ahead and bring our own drinks, snacks, meals, and even candy.
Cooler / Ice Pack
I finally found a good cooler that I love. It is a large, soft cooler, but has a hard bottom. It has a rectangular top, rather than just zipping from one end to the other. You lose SO MUCH SPACE when a cooler does that. This one has as big of a top as the bottom. You can pack a LOT of stuff in this thing. I love it!
I got really sick of using all of the little ice packs from school lunches, especially for weeknight games when we only have about an hour between school and when we need to leave for the baseball field. By that time, the ice packs had been in the kids’ lunchboxes all day, so they often needed a recharge in the freezer.
So I decided to get one SPECIFICALLY for our family cooler. One that wouldn’t fit in the kids’ lunch bags, and therefore would always be in the freezer when I went to pack the cooler. This ice pack (affiliate link) is my favorite one that we own and it stays frozen for days ($29.99 whether on Amazon or YETI.com). It lasts all day on a Saturday when we’re at the field all day, and it is always available for me when I go to pack our cooler for an evening game while the kids are still at school. I stick it at the bottom of our cooler bag and load everything else on top.
- See my entire Gatorade section in 10 Baseball Mom Hacks.
- Water – a MUST
- Sometimes I will fill a large thermos with hot chocolate and bring styrofoam cups (Smart & Final or Costco) to the field. It is always a welcome drink on a cold game day!
I’m not gonna lie. I don’t go to great lengths to get super creative with meals at the ball field. I really only have 2 recommendations, and neither of them
1 – Pizza. We are
2 – Sandwiches. This is about as boring as it gets, I know. But! I have a few things I do to spice it up a little bit and make it feel like it came straight from Mr. Pickles (kind of).
- Sourdough bread – lightly toasted
- Spread cream cheese on the lightly toasted bread – this adds such a gourmet feel to the sandwich, it’s unreal.
- Spread mashed avocado on top of the cream cheese layer; not sliced avocado – smush it around.
- Turkey – honestly, with all this other stuff, I don’t think you need to go fancy on the meat. It doesn’t need to be freshly-sliced or anything.
- Havarti cheese – available sliced and ready to go at Winco and Costco (or just something other than the classic cheddar cheese)
- Sprouts. Seriously – just trust me. Have you ever noticed that lots of fancy sandwich shops have sprouts? It’s because they have a way of making your sandwich feel and taste so fancy and grown-up and sophisticated. Do it. Get the sprouts.
- This may be over-the-top, but I think it is so much fun, and I even do it with the kids’ sandwiches in their lunches sometimes. I bought a box of 100 Sandwich Wrap Sheets from Smart & Final. I know it’s 100% psychological, but it makes it feel “legit” as my kids would say.
- If I have time, I wrap a dill pickle spear in a separate sheet of paper, just like Mr. Pickles used to do before they started charging for the pickle on the side.
If you haven’t noticed, I like Ziploc bags a lot. But sometimes, you just need some shape. I much prefer putting little snacks (like granola bars or cheese and crackers) in hard plastic containers than Ziploc bags. So I found a few old containers that didn’t have lids anymore and put them to good use! This helps keep the snacks contained and organized.
- See DIY Nachos section in 10 Baseball Mom Hacks
- Hard Boiled Eggs
- String Cheese
- Fresh Fruit
- Trail Mix (I like the Nuts & Berries one from Costco)
- Granola Bars
- Dried Fruit
- Nuts (bulk at Winco)
- Scrabble – our favorite homemade Chex Mix
- Beef Jerkey
- Slim Jims
- Fruit Cups
- Dry Cereal
If I am really on my game, I will have each of the kids choose their own snack for the day; if they choose it, they can’t complain about it! I have them load up their own tupperware container with their name on it, which keeps things from getting smashed.
- Winco bulk is the way to go here. Buy the same exact candy that your kids would buy at the Snack Shack, but buy it in bulk at Winco and bag it in small quantities. Depending on the candy, I like to use these little plastic containers with lids from the Dollar Store, or mini zipper bags.
- Smart & Final also has a lot of the candy that is available at the Snack Shack. In fact, all 3 of the Snack Shacks that I’ve worked
atget their inventory from Smart & Final. There are a lot of options there that just aren’t found at normal grocery stores.
- Suckers – if you read my Movie Theater Post last summer, you can probably guess why I think suckers are a FANTASTIC thing to take to baseball games.
- Red Licorice! I don’t know why, but baseball screams Red Vines to me! Most Snack Shacks sell them, but I have an issue with germs. An open bucket of licorice? No thanks. I’ll bring my own. And in case you were wondering…Smart & Final and Costco are incredibly competitive in price for Red Vines.
Now for something to put all the snacks in…I want the space that a full-sized bag gives you, but I hate having a flimsy bag that doesn’t keep its shape. So I got a little bucket from the Dollar Store and stuck it right in there. The bucket is flimsy enough that I can
Packing the Wagon
I know it seems like a lot, but it really isn’t as much stuff as you think. I put all the BIG ZIPLOC BAGS (Every Day, Cold Day, Hot Day, Rainy Day) in one cute bigger bag that I’ve had for years (the black and white bag in the picture below). The cooler fits next to that.
Then I put the snack bag, licorice (disguised in the emptied out bucket of baseballs) and little kid chairs on the other side. Remember…our adult chairs are on our backs. But when I am alone, or if the kids are beat, I just stick the chairs on top and sometimes use a bungee cord to hold them all up there. Those are the days I REALLY wish we had the double-decker wagon!
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Before you leave, check out these other baseball mom posts:
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