Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Avoiding the Bottomless Mommy Purse

Many women have purses much like the bottomless bag we saw Mary Poppins bring out when we were children. The purse seems to have no end and anything imaginable is likely to be found in it. For years, I refused to carry a purse because of years of watching and waiting while my mother scrounged for her checkbook or the keys she had dropped in absentmindedly when we were headed into the store. I opted for one of those wallets on a chain. After all, I had only my driver's license, insurance card, and debit card. What else did I need?

Well, then I became a mother. I realized that every trip to the store could mean that I would need a diaper, wipes, and a bib. For the first few months, I just used the handy new diaper bag we bought, which my mother-in-law insisted looked as if it belong to people who wanted to pretend they did not have children, for my things also. I tossed in the checkbook and my other belonging along with my baby supplies. Then it became a hassle. My son was an older baby and needed toys to occupy him. I started to have to scrounge in his bag for everything I needed. So I relented and got a purse.

Now that I am an official grown-up and a mom, I have returned to using a pure but with organization. A purse really only needs a few essentials to be effective, and although it may be tempting to carry everything with you, a mom's purse does not have to be the dumping ground for everything the baby could need. First, any purse needs a sturdy wallet. The wallet should be long enough to include a checkbook and pen as well as all forms of identification and cash that you will keep in your purse. Having all of that in one place will help you find it at a moment's notice.

You also should include a small notebook in your purse. It is always when you are standing in line at the grocery store that you think of the perfect gift for Cousin Emily, but you cannot remember it when you get home. Having a little notebook in the purse will give you a place to jot these notes to help you keep the rest of your life organized. Along with this notebook, put in a small calculator. It should not be anything fancy; even an arithmetic calculator will do. You just need something to add up what you are buying, determine a sale price, or keep little fingers busy while waiting.

Next you should have the basics for runny noses and such. Keep a purse-sized pack of tissues as well as a packet or two of headache medicine and sanitary products. You do not want to need any of these items and be caught without them, and they can most likely rest in an inner pocket. Keep these items in your purse instead of in the diaper bag. First they will be easier to find. Second you could let your baby go into the diaper bag, and he or she could end up with the Tylenol if you forget that it is in the diaper bag. Keeping it in your purse will guarantee that you will retain control of it.

Finally keep two change purses but be sure that they look different enough that you can differentiate them immediately. One should be for change. While your wallet probably has a change pocket, few wallets come with pockets that work well. A change purse will be much better for keeping your change handy. The other one is for receipts that need to be recorded when you get home, buttons you lost on your blouse, and other items that need to come out of your purse and go somewhere else. Make it a point to check the pouch when you get home.

These few items really are all you need. They will allow you to keep your purse free of clutter and useful. You can be a cool mom who has to keep a purse but does so with all the style and gusto of someone who does not want to be Mary Poppins.

By Julia Mercer

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