The Baby Bag Diary of Genevieve
Welcome to the Baby Bag Diaries. A series where we share real stories from real mums exploring the transformational journey into motherhood, shining a spotlight on their favourite products and the pieces of advice they wish they had before having a baby.
New mum Genevieve opens up about her challenging postpartum journey and how her life has changed since becoming a mother. She reminds us that there is no ‘perfect’ routine and shares all her favourite items that have made the transition into motherhood a little bit easier.
Tell us about yourself? When did you become a mama, how many babies do you have?
I am a 32-year-old mum to a beautiful and cheeky 18-month-old boy. I fell pregnant in 2020, which was stressful! I gave birth right at the start of 2021, and while it was a rough start to motherhood due to postpartum anxiety, I gradually found my groove and what worked for me. I now work part time as an Administrative Assistant, but my main focus is on being a mum and enjoying these early years with my family.
Who were you before you became a mum?
Before I became a mum, I did a lot of travelling and studying. I love Europe, particularly France, and learning languages. I’ve always loved to hang out with friends and family, bake and read a lot.
Are you still that person? How has motherhood inspired or changed you? Any light bulb moments?
A lot of what I used to do has flown out the window since becoming a mum - some of that because of Covid, but mostly just because of how intense and busy motherhood is. I hope to get back to my previous pursuits one day, but for now just enjoy the different pleasures that life brings.
Motherhood has made me a more sensitive person (and I thought I was sensitive enough before). I’m so aware of how precious life is, especially how precious our littles ones are.
It’s also made me become obsessed with baby bags and accessories! Not only because it’s fun and brings me joy to have something stylish when I’m otherwise constantly decked out in the same old comfy clothes - but also because having a super organised baby bag is one thing in this hectic mama life that I feel like I can control. Like when needing to change a nappy out and about, it just makes life that little bit easier when I can easily whip out the change mat and have everything ready to go at my fingertips. When you’re a mum, every second that you can save and any little thing that can be done more easily, is precious!
Tell us what you thought motherhood would be like before you became a mother?
I thought I’d be able to still ‘hold onto my identity’ outside of being a mum – or that I would want to. Now I know that would be impossible, because becoming a mum has become such a fundamental part of me that I wouldn’t change for the world, and that I am proud of. I love it so much, despite how full on it can be.
What’s in your baby bag right now?
I’ve always got my Ben & Ellie change mat clutch and an extra wipes case for when I need to grab a wipe quickly. I have a trio of packing pouches, in the smallest of which I put my essentials like lip balm, mints, tissues and band-aids. In the medium pouch I have a silicone bib and snacks for the ever-ravenous toddler, and in the biggest pouch there is a spare change of clothes for him. I like all these items because I can easily transfer them between bags, and they keep everything compartmentalised within the bag.
Designated baby bag, nappy backpack or your handbag with baby things packed in it. What’s your style?
I have a designated baby bag, which is the original Arch bag. I love it because it is not a ‘typical’ looking baby bag and it suits my style. It switches between a tote and backpack and is nice and roomy so I can throw in my B&E nappy change clutch. As beautiful as handbags can be, for me they just aren’t practical anymore when you’re carrying a baby or chasing after a toddler.
Let’s talk looking effortlessly chic even after having a baby. We know this is an area that many women including ourselves find challenging, dressing our new postpartum bodies and reconciling our personal style with motherhood. Do you have any advice for new mums?
I like to keep it simple. Wear what makes you feel comfortable and confident, and then add a cute bag or accessories. When I was breastfeeding, I invested in some beautiful breastfeeding-friendly tops that gave me the confidence to feed in public while also looking stylish.
Baby shower, gender reveal or baby blessing? Did you have either one of these? Tell us about it!
I was lucky enough to have two! I had a low-key baby shower brunch at a restaurant with my close family, because with Covid I was worried about having something huge. But then some friends also threw a surprise one for me! They had cute decorations and my favourite Nutie donuts (gluten free donuts made in Sydney) and I felt so lucky and spoiled.
We’re always on the lookout for interesting baby shower gift ideas. What were some of the best baby gifts you received?
Amongst all the beautiful baby clothes and newborn items, I was also given a ‘starting solids’ kit. This included a b.box water bottle, a silicone bib, plate and cup set, and a freezer tray for purées. Although I didn’t need it straight away, it made it so much easier when we started solids because I already had what I needed ready to go – which was very helpful since we happened to just go into lockdown at that point!
What is your go-to baby gift that you give to others?
My sister recently had her second baby, and I gave her a ‘mum’s organisational kit.’ It had a B&E refillable wipes case, B&E hand sanitiser key ring, and the OiOi packing pouch trio to help organise her nappy bag now she has two kids to wrangle. These are all things I find so useful every day and I wanted to share that.
What baby products could you not live without?
- The Ben & Ellie Baby change clutch – my absolute favourite baby product!
- The Nappy Society cross-body bag – I love it because it doubles as a stroller caddy and fits so much inside.
- When my son was a newborn, the Love to Dream swaddles were everything. It is so much easier to zip up a swaddle rather than faff around trying to wrap a little Houdini baby in a muslin!
- Amolin nappy cream. I like it because it’s gentle on baby’s skin, creates an effective barrier and doesn’t leave any white residue.
- The VTech Lullaby Lambs mobile. It has a star projector and plays music or nature sounds. When my son was a baby, he loved to stare up at it while in the cot and it kept him calm. When he got older, we detached the mobile and still use the star projector for him to look at while falling asleep.
- Boppy pillow. This was a total game changer when it came to breastfeeding.
Sometimes as mums we come across the trifecta of baby products – items that are gorgeous, functional and make your life easier! What are some of your “best kept secret” baby products you’ve discovered?
As I said above, the B&E Baby nappy change clutch is my absolute favourite baby product. It brings me joy to look at because it is so beautiful and sleek, while being uniquely functional and compact. All I have to do is unfold it and I have everything at my disposal for a nappy change. There’s no need to grab multiple things from the depths of my bag while struggling with a wriggly baby!
If we have a big day out, I pop it in our baby bag along with what else we need. If it’s a quicker trip to the shops, I wear my cross-body bag and carry the clutch on its own (with the convenient handle) to pop in the bottom of the stroller. People always comment on how cool it is, and I’m so glad I invested in it.
What advice would you give to a first-time mum shopping for all the baby stuff? How do you wade through all the noise and know what you truly need?
Make a list, and then for the best advice on what products and brands to get - ask other mums! They know what actually works, the things you wouldn’t think to get, as well as what you don’t really need. If you are lucky enough to have a baby shower, that is hugely helpful as people give very thoughtful gifts that come in very handy.
Hospital bag saviours – was there something that you didn’t pack but wish you had?
I got so hot and stuffy on the first night in hospital, and the biggest saviour was a little USB desk fan that my husband brought in for me the next day. I have a tendency to overheat, and it cooled me down and was easy to plug into my phone charger and fit on the bedside table.
If you could go back to a pregnant you and give yourself one piece of advice, what would it be?
It is extremely difficult for me to choose just one piece of advice! But what would have made the biggest difference to my mental health in the first couple of months would have been to know that babies don’t all fit to the same sleep schedule. Ignore all the noise about wake windows and how many hours in a day they should sleep or how long a nap should be. Just go by your baby and you’ll slowly learn their tired cues and they will fall into their own pattern.
What kind of mum are you now – can you describe your parenting style in three words?
I would say I’m affectionate, accepting (of the craziness of mum life, and of my toddler’s big feelings!), and organised (when it comes to my baby bag, anyway).
What is the best lesson motherhood has taught you?
How strong I can be.
Any final advice or words of wisdom for pregnant or new mums reading this?
Enjoy your baby – play with them, cuddle them as much as you like, relax, and don’t worry about being a perfect mum!