Ho! Ho! Ho! Welcome to “What’s in your changing bag?”; my weekly Tuesday feature where I ask one Yummy Mummy (or Daddy) to share the innermost secrets of their changing bag, and the five items they couldn’t possibly live without!
It’s Christmas Eve! Hooray! Today I’m joined by Rachel who has two changing bags to share with us.
Hi Rachel – beautiful photo! Please can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Hi! I’m Rachel, and I blog at Make a Long Story Short. I live in a tiny flat with my husband and two boisterous boys: Henry (two), and Edward (five months). I’m a freelance editor, when I’m not making messes, refereeing dance contests, building train tracks, writing at midnight or reading whenever I can get a hand free.
What would you say is your favourite thing about being a Mama?
Watching little personalities develop. I have loved the toddler talking phase more than I can express, because I finally get an insight into what’s going on in his head. And the fact that you can fail in every possible way, and they will still wake up the next morning with a fresh face, having totally forgiven you.
What would you say is the hardest thing?
I do not do well with lack of sleep. HATE it. Also the moment with my oldest boy when needs turned into wants, and suddenly I was parenting: I always worry about where to draw the line and which strategy to use at which time.
I hear you on lack of sleep! I’m dreadful with no sleep…
What three words would you use to describe Motherhood?
Exhausting. Exhilarating. And messy!
How do you preserve/maintain your sense of self?
I really feel like we use all of ourselves to mother with, and that you don’t stop being yourself just because you’ve had a baby. You still have your old interests and passions, and your children will be the richer for it. So I make time to write, read in the bath, go out of the house without them occasionally. And I love to go on dates with my husband. He knew me before I had babies, and he can see the person I’ve always been. He can help me remember it too.
That’s so lovely! We love a date night in this house too.
So the last question, before we find out about your changing bag; if you could share one piece of Motherhoodly wisdom with us all what would it be?
Oh, my dear new Mother. One of the hardest transitions to make will be the fact that you will never, ever know for sure whether you’re doing a good job. No performance reviews with babies. Please remember this: your baby needs to be fat and happy. And you need to be sane and happy. And it doesn’t matter in the least how you make this happen. Feed them and sleep in the way that works best for you both. Use a routine, or don’t. Go back to work, or don’t. But don’t ever feel like you’re not doing a good job. Your baby thinks you’re wonderful, and you’re trying your best, and that is all that matters.
Fantastic advice. Thanks Rachel!
It’s business time: what make are your changing bags?
I started out with the brown Koto changing bag from Boots, on the right. I love it, and still use it for playdates or when we’re going to be out all day. When I had Henry, I wouldn’t leave the house without cramming it full of things for every possible emergency. Once I had Edward, I realised that packing this much stuff for two boys – and carting it around on a double pushchair built like a tank – was only going to give me backache. So whenever I can, I use this little satchel on the left (I think it was from Dorothy Perkins, originally). It’s the perfect size for a nappy each and some absolute essentials, I can carry it hands-free…and I quite enjoy the challenge of seeing how little I can get away with!
What are the five items in your changing bag that you just can’t live without?
1) Paper Straws. Toddlers are unpredictable beings. You never know when the cry of ‘I’m thiiiiiirsty!’ will float up from the depths of the pushchair, and you’ll end up trying to tip a wide-necked bottle of smoothie into their mouths. Enter the straw: he can drink from any bottle himself, and he finds these stripy paper ones from Tesco too thrilling for words. Better for their teeth, too!
2) Formula dispenser. This thing is a life-saver. Both my boys have been at least partially formula-fed, and for so long I brought a little box of powder with a scoop, managing to spill it on every possible surface. Once I discovered this, I felt very silly. Now I fill up the different partitions with milk powder and snacks, for emergencies.
3) Pocket camera. It’s the little moments I want to remember with my babies – but the little moments are the ones I’m most likely to forget. So many of them happen when we’re out and about, and my iPhone camera is now too battered to be of much use. So my small Canon point-and-shoot comes out with us too.
4) Block books. Every mother of small children knows that sitting and waiting time – in shops, in cafes and even in the bathroom – can be a ticking time bomb. I always have an assortment of toys on my person, but I love these block books: the boys love to stack them, name the colours, use them as slides and bridges – and then finally, read them!
5) Wipes Wipes, wipes, wipes. They will clean up everything: dirt, sick (and much worse), and the random stickiness you can’t quite put a name to. I’ve used them on faces, bottoms, clothes, walls and floors. I cannot imagine a world without wipes. Who would want to live there?!
Thanks for sharing the contents of your changing bag with us, Rachel. I love the paper straws… and great use of the formula dispenser!
Rachel blogs at Make a Long Story Short and tweets as @longstorytweet.