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Size Matters: How Big Is Your Bag?

Mothers, particularly mothers with young children, are faced with a dilemma nearly every day: Which bag should I use? The cute, compact handbag or the more practical tote bag? On the one hand, the handbag is small, easy to carry around, and stylish. On the other hand, the tote bag is spacious and ideal for, well, toting around items you or the children may need.

Those of you unfamiliar with the bag dilemma might ask, what could a mother or her children possibly need that might justify carrying a large tote bag around? To give you an idea, here are some examples: sunblock; a small first aid kit or package of band-aids; snacks; a spare change of underwear (this is a must for a child new to potty training, or undergoing potty training); if you have an infant add several diapers, wipes, a spare outfit (in case something erupts from one of the baby's orifices), and a pacifier; hand sanitizer; an iPod, for those times when you would sell a kidney to have a piece of glass installed in your car, limosine-style; a book. A mother must also have room in her bag for at least a couple of toys that her children insist on bringing with them and then hand off to her when they're tired of holding them.

New mothers might try carrying both a handbag and a diaper bag, in an attempt to have the best of both worlds, but they will quickly learn that unless she has a third arm hidden somewhere on her torso, it's impossible to carry a baby, a diaper bag, and a purse; it isn't worth the trouble. So they might try putting their personal items, wallet, lipstick, gum, what have you, in the diaper bag. But, believe it or not, often times there isn't enough room. Or she might ditch the diaper bag in favor of her handbag for a girls' night out, only to discover she's left her personal items behind.

Two summers ago, a friend of mine bought a tote bag. She was excited about it because it was large and had multiple pockets, both inside and out, and it was also "cute." In it she carried everything given for examples above, plus a few extras. It held it all beautifully. Unfortunately, the bag weighed about ten pounds.

After a day lugging it around the zoo with her friend and their combined children, my friend's back was aching and her arm felt like an overstretched rubber band. She realized that a tote bag is only practical if one uses it sensibly. Pack what you know for certain you will need, and forget the "what ifs."


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