Wednesday I’d written a good n’ ugly post full of mom whine about how having a 4 year old son with Autism whose primary means of communication is screaming like a banshee, all day. all. day. Sometimes, all day for consecutive days, and I can’t simply drop him off with a random sitter because hello non-verbal-yet-screaming-Autism and what untrained person is supposed to be able to handle that, and woe is me all day long. Woe, woe, woe. I didn’t post it, which goes against why I blog (to overshare all the mom lyfe things), but I guess I’m like growing up or something because I decided to sit on the post for a day and instead I grammed it with a one liner.
Your responses in solidarity and encouragement were just lovely and what I believe every mom needs to hear/read during really bad days. I thank you mamas from the bottom of my still-cringing ears and now full mama heart. Today has at least started off much better, and that’s a grand improvement. See, I didn’t need to post a 1500+ word essay for you to get it. YOU GET IT. I’m saving the ugly post I didn’t publish, I’ll revise it and share it another day– I’m guessing this is what veteran mom bloggers do, oh wise ladies, you. If we all lived in a commune, I’d suffocate my introvert and have you all over for baked confections and coffees, because at this juncture in parenthood, getting through the day is a sufficient Lenten sacrifice. I’d leave off the sprinkles.
SO! Lesser things! Diaper bags!
I’ve had this one for 4 years straight. Karen’s a fine old gal and truly shows no signs of aging or wear. Really, she’s classic and I should just keep it up with her until she gives out, but:
1. I love this bag and would like to have it as a secondary, hopefully prolonging its life.
2. I just plain want a new one.
Something my mom does for her grandchildren after they turn a year old is gives them each a backpack for Christmas. When we go out, diapers, wipes and sippy cups go in the backpacks and I carry a spare diaper, extra wipes and then emergency mom stuff in my bag. The older the boys get, the less I need to haul, and the responsibility of taking what they need goes to them and their backpacks. I’m all about giving away responsibilities. Collin put his sock on by himself today, so now that’s his job. :)
But hey there’s a new baby coming in April and I get to go overboard on bringing plan B outfits, and baggies to hold poopy, puke-y clothing, and burp cloths, and nursing covers, and nursing pads, and extra socks, and an extra shirt for me because baby fluids, and and and and and!
So here I am with my iron fourth child know-it-all mom fist to demand you follow these practical rules when picking out a diaper bag. Kidding. Actually, I’m having a hard time finding one I like right now, so I’m open for suggestions! In the mean time, these are my basic guidelines I consider when I’m giving a potential candidate the once over. Enjoy! Feel free to add your own tips in the comments :)
How does this bag make you feel?
A lot of times, I feel like I need to get something RIGHTNOW. Something that’ll do the job. But if I settle for a bag I don’t really love, I end up hating it, and then I want another, and then I’ve wasted money. The Karen is only my second diaper bag I’ve ever owned. That’s because when I put it on my shoulder, the angels sang and my eyes sparkled and I felt like a woman and then my brain played a Beyoncé song. I shopped patiently and waited (and waited) to find something that made me feel like I could carry the bag without children in tow. I’ve found that truly, in mom-dom, the little things matter so much as far as how it makes me feel …or maybe that’s only if you’re a mother of three males. If I feel like a woman, instead of the cable guy and his utility belt full of dipes, wipes and pacifiers, it goes a long way toward a happier outlook on the motherlife. Yes, I look at a diaper bag as an investment in my well being. Whether that’s a sad, shallow thing or not, it works for me.
Consider the fabric.
Am I thinking about paying over a hundo, over two hundo –for POLYESTER? non, Je refuse. Rien de rien. Am I paying upwards of $100 for a lovely cotton bag that will be stained forever the moment I bring it home and my newborn promptly vomits on it (cause they will. They always do.)? Always consider the make of the bag. Is it going to pill and get grimy after it rubs repeatedly on my carrying hip? Can I easily wipe off bodily fluids and spilled coffee splatters? Or will it soak up moisture and eventually reek of motherhood? What is the maintenance? Can I wash it, can I wipe it? My first diaper bag was beautiful, yellow, cheery– and made of a sateen blend with a leather trim. Anything that stained the sateen was only aggravated by me trying to wipe it off. The material was so soft that it snagged on various obstacles I encounter in the daily mom safari. A melted mixture of jolly ranchers and chewing gum lured a trail of ants to the deep corners, excessive pockets, and in the end, I felt I had no other option than to wash the entire bag. Most likely a bad call on my end, but the oils from the leather trim stained the sateen eternally. and awfully. This bag was more high maintenance than I could take care of. In my humble opinion, I’ve grown to appreciate easily wipeable nylon and a patent leather combo- they both repel water and look great. My Black Beauty is proof.
Think about closures and hardware.
Ohhh! OH I LOVE THIS BAG!!! –but wtf is this enormous strip of VELCRO doing there? Velcro??? Why any diaper bag designer thought that putting an enormous velcro strip on a bag which will be opened and closed and opened and closed repeatedly while in the silence of Mass, or while baby may be sleeping leaves me incredulous, furious, even. I have lamented the beautiful diaper bag enslaved by common velcro. Stay away from the velcro, you will regret it …unless you don’t. I like minimal, shiny hardware, if the bag has to have any at all. It makes me feel fancy. Brushed, dull, chunky hardware on a baby bag make me feel crummy, they add to the weight of what I’m carrying, and I already suffer chronic neck pain. They make me feel like I’m carrying shackles. I’m already carrying a baby, why throw myself to the dungeon? I kid you not, I will reject a bag based solely on its hardware.
That print… can you handle that for 12 months?
Maybe you’re different than I. Maybe you have a budget that allows you to buy a new bag each season, but like I said, for me picking a diaper bag is an investment. Generally, I swerve from the printed stuff. I see you, designers, thinking that throwing the secret garden on there will aid in disguising dirt, you tricksters. It doesn’t really. Honestly, I love a floral print. I LOVE IT. But if I’m looking for a bag to have and to hold for a number of years, my scrupulous artsy eyes notice how quickly a printed design dates, and how much I’m sooo not feeling it during the different seasons of the year. This is just me though. I choose something plain or solid, something versatile, so that my bag is forever a staple. If I want floral or tribal or whatever, I’ll find it in the form of an inexpensive scarf, or in a pair of leggings during one of my Tarjay Vacays.
Look for the un-diaper bag version.
So, wow, diaper bags are stupidly expensive. Yes, they’re larger. Yes, they have pockets. omgsh pockets!!! But does a mom truly need to carry an extra child in the form of a bag? Does she really need 50 pockets? For me, no, if I am smart about what I pack. Also- older kids: backpacks, carry their own stuff, right? Right. Mom doesn’t have to carry the whole house for everyone if her children are able to help.
Just because it isn’t found under the category “diaper bag” doesn’t mean you can’t use it like one. Once I realized this, a whole new world of bags opened up for me. The one I’ve used for years is not a diaper bag! It’s a regular purse, and it’s still huge. I cannot imagine carrying the larger (ridiculously more expensive) diaper bag version of it. Are there 50 pockets? No. But in my purse dump post, you’ll see that I have separate containers to hold all my hard-to-fish-around-for items, and if I’ve tolerated it for this long, I’d say it’s worth the money saved.
Extra tip: Shop the outlets.
Yes, shop the outlets, shop the sales, shop the outlet sales online, check ebay, check second hand stores. Check check check all the places. You might find a treasure. Usually the bag I’ve got my eye on goes on sale, and eventually to the outlet store, if I can wait an extra month or two. Instagram is actually a source to shop sales and giveaways, too. Find your favorite brand, then find your favorite blogger who is a rep of that brand (is she always talking about one particular brand? Yep, she’s probably their brand rep), and enter some giveaways or use their discount codes they offer. It’s great for you, and it helps the blogger, too. I’m not saying you’ll win a free bag every time, because you won’t, along with the surplus of moms hoping to do the same, but it can’t hurt to try while you’re patiently searching for your bag-to-be.
Now it’s your turn to hit me with your best tips! I’m numbering this one so I can qualify for 7 Quick Takes with Kelly, cause it’s been way too long.