My Quest for a Mom-Friendly Purse

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I honestly couldn’t decide what to title this post: My Quest for a Mom-Friendly Purse or Ways the Buxton Bag Sucks. It was a toss-up, but I decided my judgment is currently clouded by my disappointment with the Buxton Bag, when the real issue is the lack of great purses for moms.

I have toddler twins and a 5-year-old. I need hands-free first and foremost, and that eliminates about 90 percent of remotely decent bags. I am also an early adopter gadget geeky mom, which means I have a variety of gadgets that need a safe, cozy spot in a purse: iPod, Smartphone, digicam, etc.

Since becoming a mom, I have bought purses. I mean, a lot of purses. I always have such high hopes for them. Then I use them and usually within a day, maybe a week, I hate them. I endure them usually for several months before I resort to trying again.

Then one day I saw the infomercial-esque commercial for the Buxton. It looked so alluring. They were showing like an endless number of things going in and out of the thing. I thought to myself, “I know this is probably a scam… yet I can’t help but wonder if I should get it. I DO have a lot of crap.”

Jump six months later, and I was standing at a Bed, Bath and Beyond store. And there it was. The Buxton. I couldn’t resist the impulse to try it. I even pulled it out of the bag before making my purchase and thought two things: “This looks like a cheap crappy purse,” and “This does NOT look like it can hold a bunch of crap.”

I was right on both points. It barely held my wallet and AT&T Tilt Smartphone at the same time! It does have several pockets, but they are miniscule pockets. For example, I couldn’t dream of getting a gadget in there like an iPod or even a slim digicam. Not unless it was the only thing going in there.

And I’ve had it less than a month, and there are already sections tearing. Probably from my attempt to make more than two things fit inside.

Oh, and the best part? That little cell phone pocket they brag about? I don’t think the stylus for my Smartphone would even fit in there.

So I’ve decided I’m sick of trying purses that are not mom-friendly, only to waste money, waste precious time I don’t have moving crap from purse to purse, and then just be aggravated with it later.

I’m making a call-out to PR people, companies, manufacturers, Etsy crafters, whoever. If you have a purse you think is mom-friendly, contact me and I will test it. If I hate it, I will write about it (sorry, but I’ve got to share!). But if I love it, I will write about it and gush to my mom friends. On several social networks. (Psst: I have a lot of mom friends. I mean, a lot. And most of them have blogs too. Just sayin’.)

Here are my demands of a purse. I would read them closely. These are non-negotiable. For a purse to be mom-friendly, it should be all of these things:

  1. It must be hands free. I have three kids. When they see my hands tied up, they plot against me. Two of them are 2-year-olds. Enough said? I need my hands. I don’t care what makes a purse hands free. It can be a backpack, a messenger bag, and it can float right next to me for all I care. But I need it to be hands free in a comfortable manner (as in, not a back breaker!).
  2. If I have to let go of it or set it down suddenly, and open, it needs to keep all my crap inside. I know this demand probably sounds a little unreasonable, but here’s the thing. Because of said kids above, I often have to put down a purse without forethought and effort to zippers and snaps. Some purses will allow gravity to keep crap down, but some actually have gravity working against you. If you leave your purse open, it WILL dump its contents. I can’t have that.
  3. It must have multiple secure, closable inner pockets and pouches that will hold a variety of gadgets. A mom-friendly purse should be able to hold cell phone (yes, a big one), PDA, iPod, digital camera, maybe a Flip. If these pouches can be padded, all the better. It should also have plenty of room for you to organize checkbook, wallet, keys (how many times must I dig around a stupid purse looking for keys? I want a special pocket easy to get to, but not subject to fall-outs, that holds keys). A purse that is just one bag sack is useless. You can’t find anything in a rush, and moms always rush.
  4. It must be roomy, but not ginormous. I know this is a subjective thing, but size with purses never seems quite right. If it’s huge (and one big glorified tote), it is a back-breaker and you also carry everything but nothing since you can’t access anything. If it’s too small, well, it’s utterly useless.
  5. It must not stain easily. Because let me tell you. Something will get spilled on it.

Beyond that, there are some features that would be nice, but not mandatory:

  1. It should look good. I would love to actually put that in the mandatory list for a mom-friendly purse, but I’m trying to be reasonable here. If it could look great and stylish, that would be an amazing bonus.
  2. It should be manufactured/made/designed by a mom.
  3. It should be reasonably priced (accessible for most moms to buy).
  4. It should be environmentally-friendly. A purse made with recycled materials, for example, would honor a mom’s desire to protect the planet for her own children.

Here’s the totally weird thing about my quest to find the perfect mom-friendly purse: moms are buying a crapload of purses. Aren’t they a major purse demographic? I mean, are they testing these things on any actual moms? I can’t help but wonder.

I’m ready. Do you have a purse that can stand up to a type-A mom’s test?

And if you’re a mom, what annoys you about purses? Have you found the perfect mom-friendly purse? I would love some recommendations! I’m getting desperate here!

Photo of woman with purse, © Ugur Yilmaz.

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My Quest for a Mom-Friendly Purse, 8.2 out of 10 based on 6 ratings
About the author: Kelby Carr (521 Posts)

Kelby Carr is the founder and publisher of Type-A Parent. She also is the organizer of the Type-A Parent Conference. She is the author of Pinterest For Dummies and Pinterest Marketing For Dummies. You can follow her on Twitter at @typeamom and circle her on Google+.

 

Comments

  1. Bonnie Sayers (autismfamily)

    August 19, 2008

    I bought my last bag this past spring on QVC and it looked a lot bigger on the show. I love the color of it (teal) and get many comments on it.

    It is a medium sized Tignanello.

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  2. Laurie/Halo Secretarial

    August 19, 2008

    I hope you get some great suggestions here – I’ll be watching! I use a simple hobo style bag now – easy enough to keep stuff in but not organized and absolutely not well-designed interior pockets (hello – moms can carry a blackberry not just a tiny cellphone!)

    Laurie/Halo Secretarials last blog post..The Cost of Hiring a Virtual Legal Assistant – Part 1

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  3. Heather

    August 19, 2008

    Check out more gadget oriented bags- my Timbuk2 commute bag satisfies all of these conditions!

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  4. Mary

    August 19, 2008

    Thanks for helping me decide NOT to buy the Buxton Bag. Every time the commercial comes on, my older kids say,”Mom, you should get that!” I even liked the red one. But I SO don’t have money to waste. I hate the bags that are just giant cavernous holes that swallow all your stuff into the abyss. I’ll be waiting to see if you find something great!

    Marys last blog post..I’m a Winner!

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  5. Sarah

    August 19, 2008

    I know they won’t send you one free, but if you are interested, there is a company in Canada called Mountain Equipment Co-op. They make a variety of packs, from big huge camping packs to very usable, and affordable, day packs. You might want to check out their Right Hand (or Left Hand) Pod Sling Pack, or the Big Pod. I gave a Pod Sling Pack to a friend when her third child (in 4 years) was born, and she loves it. You can find them online at http://www.mec.ca, and then click on Packs>Daypacks(lifestyle). These ones are down at the bottom. While they aren’t made by moms, they do fit almost all your other criteria, including being environmentally responsible, and they are a co-op, with good social roots.

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  6. ella

    August 21, 2008

    I can’t find my bag on the Tignanello website, but I love it, and I can attest to the quality of their products. One of the greatest things about it is that even though it looks like a regular medium-sized handbag I can fit a crazy amount of extra stuff into it along with what I usually carry, and still do the zip up. I’m not a mother, but it was a gift from *my* mother so I guess that means it’s mummy-approved.

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  7. TheresaK

    March 15, 2009

    Kelby, Those are great tips. I experience the same problem. I buy a purse cause it looks cool. Bring it home and use it for a while and realize there’s always something I don’t like about it that I never considered when I was in the store. Not enough pockets, doesn’t look good with my outfits, etc.

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  8. Peggy E.

    May 6, 2009

    I may be pretty late to chime in, but I have found THE mom purse. Overland Equipment sells the “donner” model. I bought it a couple of years ago at REI on sale and have used nothing but this purse ever since.

    I’m due to buy a new one because while my old one is still in perfect condition (all zippers work, all pockets still in perfect condition) it is getting drab to me. I’m looking at the new styles right now to decide. I won’t change the model however. The donner has it all: two bottle holders, key clip (I have a bad habit of forgetting where I put my keys and this solves it), pockets for my large G1 phone, checkbook, change, hand santizer, lip balms, bandaids, etc. Plus a huge roomy interior that holds my wallet/wristlet. Best of all it has the strap so I can go “hands free” which is important because I have three kids.

    Yep, I love this purse/bag!

    http://www.overlandequipment.com

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  9. Elle B

    October 7, 2009

    Fleurville!! Stylish, designed by moms, environmentally friendly!! I have an “escape pod” and love it. I’m thinking of getting another Fleurville bag now. :)

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  10. Kim

    October 22, 2009

    I’ve also been frustrated by not being able to find an appropriate bag for myself and kids. I have a newborn and a 2-year old so to carry my purse and a diaper bag for each is ridiculous! After searching for awhile online and seeing your blog, I looked at each of the recommendations of the ladies above. There have been some great suggestions but not looking like what I was looking for. I looked at a website for a local ‘Mom’ specialty store and found a link for Amy Michelle bags. The website is http://www.amymichelle.com and they have wonderful, stylish bags! I’m going to have to talk my husband into it because the bag I like is $135 but if he sees I won’t be purchasing 5 (or more) other bags a year at $20 a pop, he might just think it’s a good idea! They also donate 5% of all proceeds back to a charity–I like this a lot! They are worth a look!

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  11. Karie

    November 7, 2009

    I couldn’t have said it better myself! Can’t wait to see what purses you find to fit those requirements.

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  12. Cassie

    February 25, 2010

    Hello!! I knew I needed a “Mom purse” when I had my 1st son and my bag would slide down my arm and hit him in the face when I put down his baby carrier. I have used a black back pack purse from Target lots since then, but it is tearing up. It has 3 sections – all zip closed.
    With 2 boys born 2 yrs apart – I also needed a hands free bag that I could run with (like to chase them!) and it not bounce all about on my back. The strap adjustments would slide out and leave it pounding on my back.
    I need a new one and found your blog here. I say DITTO to everything!! I have bought tons too – don’t like what I get and then go back to the old one.
    Looking forward to the results of your research!

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  13. lori milstein

    July 9, 2010

    I am going crazy trying to find just what you have described in a backpack that gives back support and is easy on the shoulders and neck. No luck yet! Lori in DC

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  14. K Vail

    December 30, 2010

    I finally found the perfect mommy purse, and you'll be just as stoked as I am. Plenty of pockets, zippers, slots, pouches, and places to organize and hide your things. There's an incredibly accessible place for keys or anything you need to throw in quickly and retrieve quickly. It looks small in the picture, but it's so huge. And so wonderful.

    http://www.target.com/Merona-S

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    • Jo Davies

      March 20, 2011

      My only problem with this purse is that I have one a lot like it and it is constantly falling down my shoulders so I wonder about the “hands free” capabilities of it… if I am constatntly putting it back on my shoulder I don’t consider that hands-free…

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      • JessL81

        April 12, 2011

        I agree, this purse is not hands free.

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  15. Lillian Perkins

    January 24, 2011

    So I am in love with my purse – husband found it, and as I have 2 little ones and love my gadgets – here ya go http://www.pacsafe.com/www/ind
    (Pacsafe 200) – anywho… good luck!

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    • Jo Davies

      April 23, 2011

      I kinda think this purse is ugly…. I would still like a fashionable purse… just my opinion though…

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  16. Chicbabybags

    April 18, 2011

    I couldn’t agree more! Moms need to look in style as they go throughout the day, but we also need to be practical too!

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  17. Ecwichm

    September 8, 2011

    well, my Eagle Creek purse/fanny pack has met all the requirements with the reasonable price desirement for me for a decade that included the births and chauffering of my two kids, tho it’s not exactly stylish.  It’s also not for sale anymore, and I’ve no idea if the (much more styling) purse/”waistpacks” they now sell would meet the set-down-open test or not.

    As for key-hunting, I have a hook on mine, and hang them from either a belt loop or the purse strap at all times.  My 3yo thinks that’s what the loops on his pants were put there for!  (oops…)

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  18. Lorraine C. Ladish

    September 17, 2011

    Oh, did you ever find it? I Have tried the Ameribag – good for your back back – little day packs by Eagle Creek and a number of other things. The Ameribag is ok (microfiber and leather) – but it´s not perfect. It is great for the back though and semi-hands free – I got it when my kids were a tad older so I don´t know if it would work with little tots. Ahhh.

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  19. Pagingnursejoy

    September 21, 2011

    What about a Vera Bradley Bag? There are a lot of styles and sizes and most of them have multiple pockets inside and out. They are also machine washable and high quality.

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  20. Cami Duffy

    November 2, 2011

    Praise God!  I thought I was the only one feeling like this!  I totally agree that moms alike would line up for this purse and pay a decent amount for it because of all the qualities above and durability.  Let me know if you find one that fits the bill! I’ll be second in line to purchase it!

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    • Cami Duffy

      November 2, 2011

      OH and I’m a mom of twin toddlers as well…so I feel your pain!

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  21. Sara

    March 17, 2012

    I recently bought a (mommy) backpurse purse from a seller on Etsy. It’s awesome! I even requested certain things, like a drink cup pocket to be added on the outside, and extra pockets sewn on the inside. Very stylish and cute. And durable! Very well made. I have a 3 year old and it has just been the perfect thing to carry around some little toys and extras, water bottle…etc. I was such a great experiece being able to tell her exactly what I needed in a bag, and she was able to make it for me.
    Link below:

    http://www.etsy.com/listing/72628857/backpack-purse-size-child-size-size-s

    Her site is called NJOYNLIFE

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  22. k

    April 8, 2012

    The Ameribag has line of earth friendly bags..My hubby got me one for Christmas, and it is all that I carry now.Iam in love with bag…I have a 2year old, so i needed a hands free bag, with enough space to keep his things and mine, there are tons of pockets so I stay organized, and i can stuff it full but it never hurts my back or shoulders, and its so easy to clean, the only thing is I wish it came in more colors.You should really check them out, Ebags usually has them or Zappos

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