There's a lovely little board book you might have seen called My Mummy's Bag. The mummy it's modelled on clearly has a busy life, requiring a laptop, credit cards and notepads to see her through her day. Good for her.
Alas, my own handbag is less dynamic, sprouting a forest of half-used tissues and some scrunched up receipts. Time for a new handbag, methinks. It's easier than getting a new life.
So now I have my funky new vegan leather handbag from Matt and Nat. But I also have two children who are heading out of school and expecting holiday entertainment galore.
Here's my top 10 checklist of things that'll help your handbag become a mobile family operations zone:
- Prepare for emergencies
Depending on the age of your child, this means a spare nappy or pair of pants. For nappy changes, check out Melobaby, a changing mat that folds up to the size of a clutch bag.
- Wipes You can never have too many wipes, they literally do cover all areas, from faces to bottoms (though preferably not with the same one). Johnson's 3 in 1 wipes are widely available and can be used on both adults and children.
- Suncream With the UK weather as it is, you never can tell when it might get sunny. I like this suncream from French company Avene, which has no scent and is much less thick and gloopy than other factor 50 creams.
- Sachets of medicine
- Something for cuts and grazes You never know when your child will fall off their bike, or your stilettos will produce a few blisters. Keep a plaster or two handy, or this organic Australian Tea Tree Antiseptic Spray is a good natural antiseptic in a handy little bottle. If you've really got an accident-prone family, Savlon have just launched a mini Day Out First Aid Kit, containing a selection of products.
- Bug busting equipment
I used to think that people were overly cautious in using things like this, then my son was laid low with a nasty tummy bug. Now I'm taking no chances. Stash a few sachets of antibacterial gel in your bag to clean hands easily. These are useful if you're on a day out at the farm or anywhere substantially grimy.
- Small toys Good as a distractor while you're waiting for your order to arrive in a cafe. Playmobil, Lego and Wikki Stix are all good mobile child-occupiers that won't take up too much space.
- A Camera So you can record the little darlings being darling, pack a small camera like this ultra-slim model from Samsung. The makers of the Flip Video miniature camcorder say it's mini enough to fit in any handbag. I am too much of a tech-doofus to operate such things, but it might be right up your street. If I had one of these, the children would be more likely to use it to film me, and we can't risk that happening.
- A book For you I mean. Well, you want to encourage independent play don't you? Let them have a good run around the park whilst you catch up on a few pages of Richard and Judy's latest recommendation. It still counts as supervision if they can see you and you're in the same postal code.
- Shoes Well, OK, I'll admit that a spare pair of shoes aren't exactly an essential. But how much playgound kudos would you get if you trod in something nasty, and dealt with it by opening your bag to reveal a pair of these fantastic looking fold-up shoes.