1. Sensible shoes
Oh, how I laughed when the first of my friends to have children told me she hardly wore heels these days. “When you’re a mum, you just don’t,” she told me knowingly. “I’ll never be like that,” I swore to myself, vowing never to abandon my trusty heels. But walking for miles with a buggy, running around after two pre-schoolers at soft play, and trampling through the woods or the local park whilst I was pregnant or now pushing a buggy, mean I’m all about the flat shoes these days. I even own sandals with an ankle strap. An ankle strap! My pre-kid self would undoubtedly mock someone like me. But I’d rather be the kind of mum who kicks a ball about with her kids than one who sits on the sidelines worried about her heels sinking into the grass. I do wear heels when I’m going out (which admittedly isn’t very often) – but only if I know I don’t have to walk home and can sit down wherever I’m going.
2. An across-the-body bag
When you’re navigating a double buggy and a walking pre-schooler, you haven’t got time to worry about your handbag slipping down off your shoulder or swinging into your children when they walk. A bag without a good strap just isn’t practical – and so there comes a time when you realise you have to invest in one that can be worn across the body, with no danger of falling off. Incidentally, I cleaned out my bag earlier this week. Contents included one Spiderman figure, one Mike The Knight, Tinkerbell sunglasses, two half-eaten snack bars, half a dozen scrunched up tissues and a selection of hair clips and bobbles.
3. A mac
Not a stylish Burberry-type trench coat. No, a £15 Peacocks jobby that has a hood with a draw string so that it doesn’t blow down – it’s impossible to push a buggy and hold an umbrella – and big pockets filled with all the crap my children hand me when we’re on the go. It’s the nicest waterproof coat I could find, but it is definitely a mum-mac meant tackle the school run in the rain rather than a style statement.
4. A supermarket wardrobe
I have three children under school age. Of course I don’t have time to go into town shopping. Or the money, thanks to three maternity leaves and part-time working in between. And so I pick up the odd item of clothing while doing the weekly shop. You can find some lovely on-trend clothing in supermarkets these days. The only problem is when you bump into a woman more than twice your age wearing the same.
5. A box of washing up liquid bottles, loo rolls, cereal boxes etc
I panicked when a good friend of mine told me she had a box containing all the above. “What if my children need to do make something needing a washing up liquid bottle and mine is full?” she asked me deadly seriously. What if, indeed. Not a chance of that happening in my house now that I have followed her lead in collecting such a treasure trove myself. School projects – we are ready for you!
6. Four different types of cool bag
Yes, you read that right. I own four different types of cool bag in varying sizes and shapes depending on where we are picnicking and how much food we need to take. I also have cool bag envy as a friend recently told me he has a cool bag rucksack. Can you imagine?! A rucksack that also keeps your food chilled. Genius! Double the dose of practicality! I’m hoping Santa will send one my way.
7. A Thermos flask
It’s a standing joke among mums that once you have children, you never get to drink a cuppa while it is still hot. Aha! You do if you own a Thermos flask, my friends. I am continually amazed by this little beauty’s ability to keep my drinks warm.
8. National Trust and Cadw membership
Pre-kid me thought this was strictly for old, retired people. But family day trips can be expensive so this works out great value. Okay, so I don’t quite own NT membership yet, but Cardiff Daddy is getting it for Christmas. Please don’t tell him; he will be so excited!
9. A family car
When I upgraded my car a couple of years ago, I had two priorities. The first was I need a car that fitted three car seats in. The second was a big boot that would fit a buggy, change bag, various bikes and scooters and the weekly shop in it. Sadly, you can’t do that with the kind of stylish city run-around young professionals buy. And so I now possess a people carrier – known to a couple of Cardiff Daddy’s childless friends as the Mummy Wagon. They might mock me, but I love it! Even if it is continually full of crumbs, snack wrappers, dropped toys and mud.
What mummy (or daddy) essentials do you now own that you would never imagined purchasing before you had children? I’d love to hear your suggestions.