5 Reasons to Keep a Sharpie in Your Purse
Suzanne Cowden

I’m a reluctant purse carrier.  I miss the days of tucking a credit card, my ID, and a key in my pocket before heading out of the house.

Now that I have kids, the idea of sailing through life without a purse seems impossible.  My wallet bulges with insurance cards, library cards, and other necessities.  I carry two car keys, three bike keys, and a container of hand sanitizer.  I carry a checkbook and chap stick and a small bottle of Advil.  When I clean out my purse, I can usually find a small wadded bag filled with the dust of pulverized goldfish crackers.  And, of course, there’s always a Sharpie.

My husband has kept a Sharpie tucked in his pocket for as long as I’ve known him. I’ve watched him use it in a million different ways over the years — to label his science experiments in the inter-tidal, to jot down part numbers as he’s building equipment, to change his name on conference badges since they always display his given name rather than the one people might recognize.

It didn’t take long for me to start borrowing his Sharpie, and once I finally started carrying a purse, it seemed only obvious that I would tuck one inside. Whenever I pull it out of my purse to use, other moms marvel at what an on-the-ball, organized mama I am.

In truth, I’m usually just barely holding it together, so their amazement always make me laugh.  Having a Sharpie on hand means I don’t have to plan ahead for the following situations:

1. Keeping track of personal items.   It’s a universal law that kids will lose track of their possessions.  They get hot on the playground and take off their sweatshirts or they set down their backpacks at the library before running off to look for books. Once they set something down, they just forget about it.  Here’s the deal, though:  I’m forgetful, too.  I almost never remember to label my kids’ stuff before we leave the house. If I have a Sharpie in my purse, though, I can bust it out at school and add a name and phone number like I did the other day when my daughter wore her brand new coat to school for the first time.

2. Reducing waste If you’ve ever cleaned up after a kid birthday party, you’ve picked up a million mostly full juice boxes/water bottles/plastic cups. Kids seem to take one sip of a drink and then run off to play.  They set their beverages down and forget all about them.  When they’re thirsty again, they just grab another.  It’s so easy to reduce this waste by writing kids’ names on drinks. Once kids can write for themselves, they love to label their own drinks.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve taken out a pen and helped kids label their cups at various events.

3. Entertaining kids I have a small purse, and I don’t keep a full compliment of markers in it for my kids to use when we’re out and about. Sharpie will write on anything, though, and kids love to use them. Just make sure your kids know to put a magazine or paper bag under the doodling so it won’t bleed through onto the table or floor.  I’m lucky enough to have the sort of kids I can trust not to start writing on the walls with permanent marker, but I recognize that this isn’t universal.  Please don’t hate me if this one doesn’t work out for you.

4. Helping your kids find you if they get lost.  The first time we went to Disneyland with our kids, we Sharpied our cell phone numbers on their arms.  “If we get separated,” we told them, “find a mom and ask her to to call us.” We started doing this whenever found ourselves in crowded, bustling venues.  On multiple occasions, other parents have looked on in puzzlement as we scribbled with permanent marker on our children. Almost always, though, as soon as they see the phone number taking shape, their jaws drop.  And then they ask to borrow the Sharpie. I love this simple, easy safety-precaution that doesn’t require any fancy equipment or expensive tools. And it works! The one time we lost track of our youngest daughter for a few minutes, we retraced our steps and found her holding out her arm to a mom who was madly punching the digits into her cell phone. We got there before she even had time to call us.

If the idea of writing on your children doesn’t convince you to tuck a Sharpie in your purse immediately, maybe this last one will do it for you.

5. Keeping track of your wine glass.  Like a little kid at a party, I just can’t hang on to my drink.  It’s too hard to hold a plate and feed myself and sip wine and mingle all at the same time. Bringing personal wine charms would make me feel like a lush (and require some advance planning), but it’s easy to label my glass with a Sharpie if need I to set it down for a few minutes. Because I’m a good party guest, I always remove my name when I’m finished — simply scribble over your name with your Sharpie and wipe the surface clean with a paper napkin.  Cheers!


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 This post was written by Suzanne Cowden exclusively for BonBon Break Media, LLC.

Suzanne Cowden usually writes about sweet and savory baking projects over at Flour Arrangements, where she focuses on food as a centerpiece for both everyday routines and special occasions. Each recipe, from simple loaves of bread to fondant decorated birthday cakes, comes with a story that blends life with cooking. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her geeky scientist husband and two Sharpie-loving daughters.