a peek inside the fishbowl

06 Mar, 2013

Parenting baggage

Posted by andrea tomkins in: Misc. life|parenting

I have a purse that I like to carry around with me, but I think I should stop and call it for what it really is: a bag. A very heavy bag.

I had a meeting yesterday and brought it along with my usual briefcase. (Sidebar: I dropped in to the Art-is-in bakery for a latte – which was surprisingly gross – and bought a loaf of bread, which I carried to my meeting IN my briefcase. Ha!)

So I had the briefcase (with extra loaf) and my bag, and they both hung off my right shoulder. And that’s when I noticed, for the umpteenth time, what a heavy load I was carrying. I was practically hunched over.

I don’t carry a briefcase very often, and it’s really only pen and papers in there anyway. It’s my purse that is the worst offender. There’s a lot of stuff in there, but that’s what moms are supposed to do, right? My internal Guide To Being Mom tells me I must:

  • Carry everything and
  • Be prepared for hunger pangs, bloody noses, chapped lips, headaches, flossing emergencies, blisters, etc etc. at all times.

I wouldn’t be surprised to find a set of screwdrivers and a package of DD batteries in there.

I think my desire to be prepared stems from our diaper bag days. When I was a new mom I got into the habit of tossing everything in there JUST IN CASE: diapers, bottles, snacks, clothing… and I don’t think I ever recovered. I don’t like to be underprepared for anything.

One of the things I always have with me are pens and notebooks. It is a way for me to jot down my ideas and to entertain my kids. I can’t tell you how many co-operative stories, games of hangman, tic-tac-toe, and doodles we’ve doodled in them.

Doodles the cat

I would love to be the kind of person who carries nothing but a credit card and my iPhone. I am currently coveting this kind of iPhone wristlet, but that would mean I couldn’t carry my favourite notebooks. Hmm. I need to give this some more thought.

What about you? Are you BIG BAG mom? Or tiny wristlet mom? :)

17 Responses to "Parenting baggage"

1 | Chantal

March 6th, 2013 at 9:10 am


I fit smack in the middle, but I forced myself to this end by buying a medium sized purse (it is even a bit on the small side). I always had huge purses. One day someone called one of my purses a carpet bag and that stung and I started working towards smaller purses after that. I will admit I don’t miss my big bags, My current purse fits my wallet, my kobo (when I need it) and a surprising amount of kids toys. When I have the littlest one with me we have a backpack with his things in it. Which thankfully he is now old enough to wear (and young enough to want to) :)

2 | Allison

March 6th, 2013 at 9:20 am


I’ve moved from big bag to wristlet – as if I am carrying a bag with me, it is always *full*! I do make an exception from time to time – actually I’m like Chantal, if I’m with the kids I will often bring a backpack, or if it’s for a dressier occasion then I sometimes have my larger purse, so I can put their toys/snacks/etc in it. But for the most part, my phone and cards all fit in my wristlet!

3 | Susan

March 6th, 2013 at 9:20 am


Ha – I totally just bought one of those Michael Kors wristlets but I fear it may be wishful thinking that it will actually work for me. My key chain alone is too big to fit in it. The worst offender in my bag is always receipts, though. They’re not heavy, but they sure make a mess. I am going to try to make a habit of cleaning out all the bits of paper and loose change (now that gets heavy) on a nightly basis.

4 | Martina

March 6th, 2013 at 9:38 am


Before I was a parent I carried just a small wallet, and would love to go back to that. Like you, my purse has become a carry-all but it’s not too big so that helps.

5 | Sarah McCormack

March 6th, 2013 at 9:53 am


i travel light! in my small purse; my wallet. chapstick, small flip phone. maybe one kleenex if i’m lucky!

6 | Giulia Doyle

March 6th, 2013 at 10:14 am


While I do carry a notebook and two pens (two kiddies), I have pared down considerably since the diaper bag days. Wallet, phone, small pouch with pen and notebook and business cards, small pouch with with band-aids, tampons, advil, mini mascara and lipbalm, mini hand sanitizer and a fold-up reusable bag. All of this fits in a small handbag and because of the pouches can be transferred easily to other bags.

7 | Sasha

March 6th, 2013 at 10:52 am


I’d say I’m a recovering big-bag-mom. It was a major achievement to get my diaper bag down to a MEC purse that measures roughly 8x12x3″. And still, you can get two diapers, a change pad, a wallet, wipes, granola bars, and a pocket knife in there. What I’m constantly battling is the accumulation of receipts etc, but the nice thing is, I’m FORCED to clean it out once in a while :)

8 | Tarah

March 6th, 2013 at 11:45 am


Great post idea! I have a 2 year old and work full-time so I have a MEC small backpack we use for Max’s stuff (diapers, extra clothes, emergency snacks, tissues, a straw sippy for water). We take that with us whenever he is with us. For myself I have a Guess tote (that is getting raggedy – I asked for a new bag for Xmas but the one I received wasn’t appropriate at all so I gave up using it :( ). In it I have things I need everyday (wallet, keys, iPhone, lipbalm, hand sanitizer, tissues, my stethoscope – I even keep it on me when not at work, any books for work, pens). If I’m going out at night I move necessary items over to a purse of choice. :)

9 | Sarah McCormack

March 6th, 2013 at 1:02 pm


oh…and ADVIL.. of course!

10 | Life of K

March 6th, 2013 at 2:13 pm


I’m not too bad, but I still cringe when my husband takes the kids somewhere and doesn’t take anything except his wallet and car keys. Really??

11 | Life of K

March 6th, 2013 at 2:14 pm


I should mention that one kid is just out of diapers and the other is in cloth. Hello!

12 | Janet Dubac

March 7th, 2013 at 7:12 am


I used to carry a small handbag with me all the time but after I had my little boy, I now carry a medium-sized shoulder bag with all the baby stuff that I need. You’ll never know when something might happen especially if you’re tagging your little one along. :)

13 | Jayda

March 7th, 2013 at 9:53 am


I am both. I lug a big bag full of the ‘essentials’ pens, paper, USB sticks, receipt folder, current assignments to mark, etc but I also a wristlet for a quick pop in to a store.

14 | Lynn

March 7th, 2013 at 11:22 am


Ugh, I’m a big bag lady, despite my husband’s best efforts – he keeps buying me cute little leather purses and I try them, but I always come back to the Big Bag.

I absolutely have to have with me:
wallets – I have two, one for cards and one for cash
extra car key – has saved my ass on numerous occasions
meds – due to food allergies I travel with a big bag of epipens, allergy medication, puffers
bag of granola bars and other on-the-go snack foods
rolled-up cloth bags for stores that charge for bags
personal hygiene products

I can, if pressed, stuff this all into a smaller purse, but the problem is that then there’s no “digging around” room. I need space to shove stuff around to find the thing I’m looking for. GAH.

15 | Lynn

March 7th, 2013 at 11:23 am


Oh, and left off the list – at least one notebook with several pens, OF COURSE.

16 | Kathleen

March 7th, 2013 at 10:57 pm


I love a big purse. Notebook, pens, camera, phone, epipen, keys and random stuff. My ‘purse’ is big enough for a U-lock for my bike or a novel. But if I need to carry my laptop I have to bring along my briefcase. And that briefcase is so big I’ve been asked on more than one occasion if I’m making deliveries. If I’m every going somewhere fancy and want just a wristlet, I borrow a dress-up purse from my daughter.

17 | Hilary

March 12th, 2013 at 9:20 am


Oh good, someone else who has discovered that the lattes at Art-is-in are TERRIBLE. Such a shame because I love the baked goods and the vibe. They need to do something about their coffee stat, though.

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My name is Andrea and I live in the Westboro area of Ottawa with my husband Mark and our dog Piper who is kind of a big deal on Instagram. We also have two human daughters: Emma (20) and Sarah (18). During the day I work as a writer at The Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre. I am a longtime Ottawa blogger and I've occupied this little corner of the WWW since 1999. The Fishbowl is my whiteboard, water cooler, and journal, all rolled into one. I'm passionate about healthy living, arts and culture, family travel, great gear, good food, and sharing the best of Ottawa for families. I also love vegetables, photography, gadgets, and great design.

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