Hands Free.

By: Jen Shoop

*Photo above from Karothom’s Boutique, and the gorgeous mama is wearing this dress (on my lust list!)

I wrote not long ago about my increasing competence at multitasking as a mother of two (and, come to think of it, a corollary relinquishing of my ability to focus). One key learning has been how to remain as hands-free as possible while juggling two little ones, as there is always someone or something needing both of my hands at any given moment. And beyond that — I am straining to live in the moment and enjoy this time with my two little ones. When I’m simultaneously hanging onto a bag or phone, it’s hard to be fully present. (In other words, I’m giving slow parenting a shot.)

Below, my favorite finds for hands-free parenting:

+This phone holder, which I strap to my stroller hand-bar. Makes it so much easier to see who’s calling or navigate Google Maps without needing to fumble with a phone.

+Airpods. These are life-changing. To be honest, I feel awkward wearing them while running errands — it feels so rude speaking to other people with them in, even if nothing is playing on them, and even offputting to have them in while others are around, as if it’s a signal to “leave me the hell alone,” so I will take them out as soon as I enter a store — but when I’m walking Tilly through Central Park or en route to the playground or zipping around between stores, these are in. Makes it so much easier to place and answer calls during an otherwise “dead” time in my day. I love the Siri function on these. “Hey Siri, call my mom,” I say as I walk briskly with one hand on the stroller and the other tightly wrapped around Tilly’s leash. Magic. When I’m going for a long (likely sweaty) exercise walk or run, I use these Plantronics earbuds instead — they are water and sweat resistant, will not fall out, and — most importantly — Mr. Magpie won’t yell at me when I get home. (“DON’T WEAR YOUR AIRPODS WHEN WORKING OUT!”)

+State Bags beltbag. I bought this exact one — currently 60% off and in the most fun shade of lipstick pink! — and am in love with it. It’s the perfect size for carrying my phone, Airpods case, card case, and key. I use this principally when I’m walking Tilly or taking the kids to the splash pad / playground by myself and want to keep my essentials close by.

+Think King stroller hooks. These are fantastic. I use them for obvious things, like my diaper bag and grocery bags, but I also like them for hanging my Klean Kanteen when I’m walking through CP on a hot day. Speaking of —

+My Klean Kanteen. Have sung its praises dozens of times, but I love the sports nozzle on this water bottle. It’s a delight to drink out of and the best for moms with only one free hand (no lid to unscrew)!

+Apple Watch. I have actually been using this quite a bit as I slowly ease back into a fitness routine after scarcely using it (and scarcely exercising) for two years. I use it so I can track all my walks/strolls as well as the runs I’ve finally started taking (!) easily and visibly, even though my iPhone tracks how far I’ve walked in a day, which is the primary metric I’m attending to right now. This motivates me to pick up my pace and reminds me to keep moving throughout the day. I bought a new inexpensive band in the rose pink hue and — what is it about a new accessory that makes exercising more fun? (Also, the band is quite good despite its price tag!)

+MZ Wallace backpack. I’ve written about this extensively in the past, but I love this backpack so much. It’s extremely lightweight and well-designed for an on-the-go mom thanks to the two drink/bottle holders on the sides and the small pocket on the exterior to keep things like snacks, Purell, my subway farecard, and my key easy to reach. (I keep all other essentials — importantly, my wallet — buried in the interior zippered pocket. It would be SO easy for a shady person to steal something from a preoccupied mom’s backpack on the subway!) Trust me when I say that backpacks are the way to go when navigating the subway with children, when you’re never quite sure whether you’ll need to carry a stroller up and down steps, as elevators are routinely out of service and/or no where to be found.

+Zojirushi coffee mug. I love my chic Byta tumbler for home drinking (especially cold beverages — it keeps drinks SHOCKINGLY cold, as in ice cubes will still be fully intact hours later), but I was disheartened to discover it is not dishwasher-friendly (ughhhh) and it does not have a sealed lid, so you can’t toss it in a bag. The Zojirushi does not spill and keeps liquids hot. Love it. I will say that though we toss ours in the dishwasher, the colored exterior eventually flaked off due to hundreds of washings. I might just get it in the plain stainless steel if I were to do it again.

+Invisibobbles. I have been wearing more top knots than I care to admit these days, and these hair ties keep my hair up and out of my face without ever breaking my hair. (Bonus: mini loves using them as bracelets, so they can be a toddler toy in a pinch.)

Separately, when I solicited inquiries for my upcoming Magpie Mail post the other day, I got a few requests to share more of my daily outfits when caring for two small children. I have been wearing a lot of the same thing over and over again because my clothing requirements are rather stringent right now: must be nursing-friendly, must be postpartum-figure-friendly (i.e., loose), must be appropriate for the intense heat we’ve had, must not be too precious. I have been getting a ton of wear out of:

+a denim shirtdress from J. Crew (I like to throw one of my Hermes scarves around my shoulders with it);

+a handful of DVF “New Julian” wrap dresses (this one is on serious sale!);

+a khaki-colored shirt-dress from J. Crew;

+my $30 caftan (<<new colors just added!);

+and my Sleeper dress.

I love these easy-to-wear, versatile dresses because I can wear many of them with Supergas or Hermes Orans (really love these to get the look for less — but without looking like a copycat) for a casual look or pointed toe flats for something a little dressier. (With the exception of the caftan, which would look weird with pointed toe flats…)

On mornings where I’m going to be getting dirty at the playground, I wear my Align leggings with my APLs (on serious sale in certain colors here) or Birks.

Currently on my wishlist as additions to the above rotation: this simple but saucy (and form-flattering) tank dress in black and this tiger-print shirtdress.

P.S. LOVE this shirt.

P.P.S. A lot of these items are still on sale!

P.P.P.S. Summer must-haves from really chic people, things that make me feel good about myself, and what to do when you can’t sleep.

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5 thoughts on “Hands Free.

  1. Brilliant post — I appreciate hands-free living at any stage (i.e. even though I don’t have little kids, I still crave hands-free-ness!) and these are some great suggestions. Yes to belt bags — I have a sleek white leather option from Cos that I love, but this pink one looks to be a bit more functional (read: bigger) and I love having the option for a punch of color! Also: Invisibobbles are genius. I am partial to the clear version with tiny flecks of silver glitter (marketed to kids, but they work for my thick hair just fine.)

    Those KAANAS sandals are intriguing and I do appreciate how they evoke the Hermès sandals without copycatting too much. Do you know anything about that brand and its quality? I’m curious but have been burned before by certain brands I’ve bought from Shopbop. Ha! xx

    1. I hear you — I don’t know about Kaanas particularly…but at least SBOP has a good return policy, in case they arrive and look less than ideal quality-wise.

      Glitter invisibobbles! Didn’t know there was such a thing…!!

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