Finally a professional-looking bag that will fit your mini cooler and your laptop

By Sharon Kanter
November 13, 2018 11:29 AM
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There are many reasons going back to work after maternity leave can be challenging. I didn’t think my work bag would be one of them. But, shocker, it was and here we are. (Yes, I’m talking new mom essentials again.)

I chose to continue to nurse when I went back to work. (Quick aside: This is a very personal decision for a lot of women, and every mom has a different situation. I’m simply sharing mine.) Deciding to pump at work meant that I needed to figure out how to lug around everything that it takes to do so in an office setting — which, no matter how you slice it, is not fun — on top of what I normally carry.

I am nothing if not efficient (and slightly obsessed with packing), so I started by taking inventory of what I needed to bring on a daily basis:

  • Mini Cooler (with ice packs and empty bottles)
  • Pump parts (after a little trial-and-error, I found it was easier for me to keep an extra pump at the office and then bring the parts back and forth)
  • Laptop (because I had to leave early to get home for the baby and then sign on later)
  • Card Wallet (in an accessible place to grab Metrocard, credit card, etc.)
  • Mini Pouch (for lip balm, hand sanitizer, gum, pen, notepad, discount cards I can not live without)
  • Phone #1 (for work)
  • Phone #2 (for personal)
  • Change of shoes (sometimes)
  • Lunch (personal preference, as my colleagues know)

My first try: Backpack (for the big stuff) + a crossbody (for the wallet/phones/etc.). This did not work. It was too much. Not to mention, the crossbody strap kept getting caught in the backpack strap. Frustrating.

I knew I could do better — and I was willing to invest in something that would help.

Then this Cuyana Classic Structured Tote came along thanks to a recommendation from a colleague. It was under $200 (just barely, but still), fit all my stuff (and had the right pockets to gain access to said needed stuff), while also looking professional enough for business meetings.

I carried it every single day for eight weeks, including weekends. There are two interior pockets where I shoved my card wallet, phones and Metrocard. I used the big section for laptop, cooler, parts, shoes, etc. The firmness of tote’s structure allowed me to play Tetris with my necessities and fit in everything perfectly. The straps were tested with all the weight I put in there (see below, as modeled by my little nugget), and yet they maintained their strength, impressively.

Worth noting: I skipped the Tote Organization Insert in order to fit more, but I’m considering it for when I don’t have to carry some of the bulkier pumping items.

Credit: Courtesy Photo

Overall, finding a bag that could fit everything really made my life simpler, especially when I was juggling so much transition at once. And as a new mom, I’ve learned to treasure the things that make life simple so I have time for the really important stuff, like work.

Just kidding, you know I mean the baby.

Buy It! Cuyana Structured Tote in Burgundy/Blush, $195;