My bag of tricks...
Over the months, I've used a variety of handbags to serve as changing bags, mostly because I haven't had much luck with the nappy bags they sell in shops (they never seem to be roomy or accessible enough, and the on-sale Cath Kidston bag I purchased when D was born was an aesthetic success, but I could never seem to find what I needed in it and the compartments were too snug). I find that regular totes work just as well, with the added bonus that you can take them out in public when you're doing something without the babe.
After water spillages and food mishaps, the interiors of most of my bags are in a pretty unfortunate state so I rotate my nappy bag fairly frequently. The monstrosity above is the current incarnation of the nappy bag, formerly a beach bag that I wheeled out last month as a wishful prayer that the sun would come out after two weeks of nonstop rain. It didn't work.
Using a sheer nappy bag has its advantages – easy to find stuff – and disadvantages (I am probably a likely mugger's target, since everything is on display), but mainly, the see-through aspect is an issue because despite the bag being entirely devoted to D, with the exception of my wallet and one lip gloss, D will sometimes reject everything in it until she finds my tube of Clinique Black Honey, which she will then attempt to ingest.
In the early days, the nappy bag was fairly straightforward: nappies, wipes, disposal bags, a change of clothes, a bottle of milk when I stopped breastfeeding, a dummy and a couple of teething toys would suffice. Of course, at that point, remembering all of those items at the same time seemed really daunting, so I was constantly dealing with awkward situations like using a napkin as a nappy replacement and having my child come home semi-naked after a bad accident that I hadn't brought a change of clothes for.
If only I'd known how much harder it would get.
As D's gotten older, my nappy bag motto has been: Be prepared for anything. This is why I am like a modern-day, slightly (OK, vastly) less successful Mary Poppins and carry the contents of my daughter's room with me on a daily basis.
These days, D needs the equivalent of a small toy store (or handbag shop) to get out the door. Diana likes to keep her life organised in a bag like mummy. She also likes to be weighed down with stuff, which means that I need to take about three bags with me every time we leave the house (can you spot the sequinned, jungle print and canvas bags floating around in there?)
Of course, bags on their own aren't enough because D needs to stuff them with things: phones, keys, fruit – D prefers the real versions of these objects, which she gets at home, but makes do with plastic alternatives in public. Cue more junk in bag.
In case we go out for lunch, I need to pack an assortment of other goodies that will hopefully entertain D enough to make it through the meal, or a marathon 20-minute version: a stuffed Bolshy, her favourite book, The Baby's Catalogue, and Play-Doh have all been lifesavers.
There are also more snacks than I can count, from raisins to mini oat bars to grilled chicken and cherry tomatoes and cubes of cheese. I never know when we'll be waiting too long for food, so I always try to be prepared, but the gloopy mess of mushed bananas drenched in water and mixed with raisins at the end of the day (OK, week if I'm honest – I can never be bothered to clear anything out of this bag) does sometimes leave me wishing for the days when I used to be more forgetful about packing D's essentials.
Despite carrying everything but the kitchen sink around with me at all times, there's no guarantee that tantrums won't ensue anyway, when the bag of goods has been exhausted or D herself is too tired to be appeased. Those days, I'm just the frazzled idiot carrying a red and a green plastic apple because I wasn't sure which one D would be in the mood for (It was neither).
If the contents of a lady's handbag reveal something about her personality, I have none at all at the moment and live to serve my 21-month-old. Empty out D's handbags though, and everything from plastic toy thermometers to wooden trains and Daddy's long-lost phone will come tumbling out, forcing me to draw the conclusion that D is a busybody. With klepto/hoarder tendencies.