Who are they kidding – that is no purse!

by Lela Demeter

I am addicted to bags.  I need to join a support group for my bag addiction.  Before I had my baby, I loved my bags.  Seriously.  Who wouldn’t?  If you gain weight, your purse still fits.  Many purses still look nice, season after season.  Spend a little bit of cash and your purse is an investment piece that doesn’t need to be dry-cleaned, in most cases, can be repaired and will, with care, last until your fickle heart finds another.

One of the biggest things I looked forward to when I got pregnant was that I finally had a reason to buy my coveted Coach baby bag.  When my DH purchased it, I thought all of my baby bag needs were met.  The morning I left for the hospital, I lovingly packed my Coach bag and went to have my little darling (with the bag safely stored in a closet at least 20 feet from where I gave birth).

Ha ha.

The first time I took my fall baby out (November in Chicago), I, like many new mothers, completely overpacked.  Diapers, wipes, vasoline, pacifiers, extra outfit, a thousand bibs PLUS my wallet and cell phone.  Do you know that some moms have the wherewithall to put a first aid kit in their bag (now that is good planning, or what)?  Forget the zipper.  That Coach baby bag was STUFFED and things were FALLING out of it.  Did I also mention that the idea of putting something that my little darling puked or pooped on INSIDE my Coach bag was completely repellant to me?  So I decided I was only going to use the Coach bag for “special” occasions. Until I brought it to a bridal shower (at a country club on Chicago’s Northside) and it flipped over and everyone at the shower saw my son’s and my (it was that time of the month) diapers.  GOOD TIMES.

So then I went in search of a utilitarian diaper bag.  Obviously a gigantic trash bag was out of the question.

Now, Google search “diaper bag” and the options are limitless.  Google “stylish diaper bag” and that is also a cornucopia of options.  However, the idea of a STYLISH diaper bag is about as unreal an expectation as pregnancy not completely decimating your body.

First off, cost.  Anything stylish usually costs money.  Anything stylish usually requires care.  And money and time to care about something other than the breathing, crying and complaining people you live with – is something that most moms do not have a lot of.  Just count how many “dry clean only” items you have in your closet (you know, the outfits that are sitting next to the purses you haven’t used in a while and the shoes that fit before you got pregnant and had the child).  Now count how many times you have worn them since having a child.  Now count how many times you have worn said outfit with said child. Same goes with the “dry clean only” diaper bag.

Any diaper bag that I carry must pass the PP (puke and poop), a.k.a the SS (spit and sh*t) test.  I must feel comfortable sticking things that either have been or will be puked or pooped on in said bag.  I am not sticking something that belongs in a PortaPotty in a bag that I have spent more than 50 cents on. Plus, if you plan on taking your child anywhere but the mall, plan on that bag being treated worse than your favorite pair of tennis shoes (i.e. dragged on a stroller, thrown into a car, falling off a car seat, being ransacked by DH, etc).

Very few new moms consider what should go in a diaper bag.  As mothers, we are usually prepared for any occasion or disaster.  Most times that means schlepping half the house with you.  Any “stylish” diaper bag is usually TOO SMALL to be packed in preparation for World War III. But, here is a short list of my essentials that should go in the diaper bag:

1) Diapers, wipes and diaper cream.  All of this can fit very nicely in a Ju-Ju-Be Be Quick.  The Be Quicks are affordable and very handy.

2) Your stuff – i.e. wallet, cell phone, day planner, makeup bag.  Prior to my DS, I was an overpacker. Ha ha. No more.  I am also putting these essentials in another Be Quick.

3) SEASONAL clothing.  Because I love mafia movies and Chicago style pizza, I will probably never leave the Chicagoland area.  Due to this, I pack clothing for my son like we will be traveling through at least three climates.  I usually bring a washable bag so I can stick the PP clothes in the bag so I can wash it.  New moms – nothing says love like machine washable.

4) Pacifier and pacifier holder.

5) Something to entertain the kid.

This is all you need to leave the house.  So, the criteria for a diaper bag should be: reasonably priced, requires little care, and maybe machine washable.

The first bags I looked at (after I decided that the Coach bag was my new work bag where it would be far, far away from my little pooper) were the Petunia Pickle Bottom bags.  Very cute.  Until I asked my DH how to clean brocade.  After he mumbled something about our checking account, I thought I would ask an expert.  When I found out that brocade can stain, I moved on.

The closest I have come to meeting the aforementioned criteria is the Ju-Ju-Be line of diaper bags. Every Ju-Ju-Be bag is treated like it will be shipped off for a hard tour of duty (which it will be).  Its coated in safe, stain-proof materials that require little care.  Sure, if you spill something, you can use the baby wipe – but the best part about these bags is that you can stick them in the washer and pull them out to air dry and your bag is as good as new.

These bags are reasonably priced.  In fact, one of the only complaints I have is that they are a little hard to find.  But most online retailers carry them.  But if you want to look before you buy, good luck finding one close to you.

These bags also come in all shapes and sizes.  Most of the prints do kinda scream “DIAPER BAG.”  But, they have debuted a new program where you can customize your own bag.  I personally own two Ju-Ju-Be bags – the Packabe and the BeTween.  The Packabe should really be called “the stuff as much sh*t in it as humanly possible without it exploding” and the BeTween should be called “the I am only planning to be out of my house for a half hour and I am hoping the kid does not poop like he ate a can of Beano.”

These bags meet my criteria for being durable and fairly (around 100 bucks) reasonably priced for a bag you will use over and over again.  As a mother, I am embracing my inner MacGyver and going for utilitarian and sacrificing a little bit of vanity.  Besides, I figure that I will never carry a small purse again – I gave that up when I got married and started carrying around my husband’s stuff.

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