How to Avoid Becoming a Crazy Bag Lady

I’ve got baggage.


During the school  year I become the crazy bag lady. On any given day, you might find me toting back and forth to school a million items in various totes and bags.  My arms are always so full of bags, people seem to constantly take pity on me, by helping me open the doors, or they just stare at me, wondering how my 5’2″ frame can possibly hold that many bags without tipping over.  Oh the joys of a traveling teacher!


So, what I am carrying around?

First, I take my lunch bag and water bottle, my laptop/work bag, my purse, my pump (when I was nursing) my winter coat and boots for recess duty,  perhaps a folio of artwork to put up at a local business, and sometimes a hot mug of coffee will top it off in one hand as I enter the building and my keys dangling tediously from the other hand to open the door. Yikes! At one point I even purchased a little metal cart to haul things back and forth, but looked like such a dork rolling that thing around, and found it was a hassle to set up, and wasn’t worth my time. What’s a girl to do?

I made it my mission the last few months of school to carry LESS BAGGAGE (literally) back and forth to school.  With a baby to drop off (meaning now I am also brining a diaper bag, bottles, etc, with me in the mornings) it was simplify or bust.


How to Avoid Becoming a Crazy Bag Lady

#1. Leave Your Purse Behind

I left my purse at home (and just brought my wallet, keys, and phone along) One blogger showed here how she simplified her purse situation, and I just love this idea and plan to implement it next year.

#2. Don’t Take Work Home

I left my laptop and any school work in my classroom from night to night (except on the days I was traveling). I found even when I brought the work home, I never got around to doing it anyway. It was a waste of energy. I just use my time at work more efficiently now.

#3.  Pack Lunches in Bulk

As far as lunch goes, some days I would bring my lunch, or I would bring 2 days worth of lunch with me to school, keep it in the fridge, and not have to bring my lunch tote home every single day. I also know teachers who keep 5 cans of soup, 5 yogurts, and 5 granola bars at school so their lunch is packed for the whole week. This is so smart!

#4.  Have Doubles of Everything

I kept a set of winter gear (Scarves, hats, gloves) at booth schools for recess duty. Plus, I would keep an extra pair of shoes at each school so in the winter when I wear boots back and forth, I didn’t have that horrible feeling of forgetting my shoes and having to wear my hot and clunky boots (fashion emergency!) all day long while I teach.

This left me carrying only 2 things each day:  My phone and keys in my pocket, and my lunch bag on some of the days.

The traveling days I just accepted I would have at least one more bag.

I can honestly say these simple changes really helped lower my stress level considerably. As art teachers, we always have a lot of “stuff” that comes with a lot of “baggage” :) No pun intended. The more we kick the clutter in our lives, the more mentally clear we will be so we can function at our highest level in the classroom. (And it saves our aching backs, too!)

What are you toting back and forth to work?

Any other tricks to minimize what you bring in and out of school every day?

Jessica Balsley

Jessica Balsley is the Founder and President at AOE. She is passionate about helping art teachers enhance their lives and careers through relevant professional development.


  • Maryldepalma

    This is me right now. I am pumping too so I look like I am going away for the weekend (or maybe longer!) when I leave home in the morning! I have my purse, work bag, coffee, lunch, pump in my cooler… it’s crazy. You know it’s bad when coworkers constantly make comments on how much I am carrying.  I will definitely try to use these tips to streamline.

    • Joy to the World! I am not alone!

      • Siegs2

        No.. You are not alone! I love this site! As I walk in in the AM (some days after multiple trips), I often say, “I wish I had a job where I can just carry my purse!” :)

    • Jboremski

      I bought a second pump to keep at work. It was the best thing! I never had to feel like I forgot it at home and WHAT WOULD I DO?? And I never had to carry it around. I also had a second set of pump parts to leave at work. Now, that pump stays in my car for emergencies…

  • Ldeziel

    I just bought the coolest key chain at ACE Hardware! It is a key chain on a pull out reel that hooks on to your waist band or belt. You just pull on the cord, use your key and it winds back up when you release your keys! My keys are always with me, they never fall on the ground, and my hands are free to carry all the other things art teachers need to carry.

    • Theresa Gillespie

      I have a similar key chain and I don’t know how I’d live without it! I have 3 buildings that I teach in each week – so most days are travel days and require more bags. And with 3 buildings come 3 different sets of keys – one building has electric key card to get in building but still need room key and the other two buildings have regular keys. I also keep my badge on this key chain attached to my waist or pocket rather than around my neck. It’s so much easier not have to worry about where your keys are – just reach down grab it, use it and let it go!

  • Ajones

    This is totally me too!  I have it down to computer/bookbag, lunchbox, and purse.  I have tried to not bring the purse inside, and I always find myself needing something.  I need to definitely streamline that.  Most of the time I have a reusable tote full of “other” things I might need for projects, etc.  I often think why am I bringing my bookbag home everyday when I never have enough time to open it?  I think I would feel lost if I didn’t have my “baggage”.

    • There is a whole website called Working and Pumping.
      I find this hilarious and practical all at the same time!

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  • Toby

    Go to an office max or Menards type place and get a rolling crate! They save your back! Not expensive and great when the weather is nasty too! I drag mine through the snow! Toss into the car and off I go! The handle is telescopic so easy to fit into your vehicle. About the size of a milk crate. Some come with covers so you can stack and roll out like a hand truck.

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