Some people wear signature lipstick and power suits. I wear Aquaphor and H&M t-shirts.

We all have our tricks and tips that prepare us for the day ahead. When the day involves wrangling my four kids, I turn to my trusty mom uniform: a washable, comfortable, versatile get-up that helps me conquer the day and face with grace whatever mishaps come my way.

When I wake up each day, I put on the full armor of motherhood by layering on the following 10 essentials:

The Bra

The most essential base layer that I strap on quickly before the kids start piling on my lap for stories or bites of my cereal—because that just gets uncomfortable, nursing or not.

The T-shirt

By noon this is usually stained from PB&J gone awry or sunscreen globs strewn about during our morning wrestling match. Short sleeves for summer, long sleeves for winter. Catch me in a sweater or dress and you know you’re special. Everything must be machine-washable—I can’t shake the habit from the two entire years I spent feeding babies who spit up like fountains.

The Yoga Pants

Again, easy to wash. Also great for those catnaps I try for when baby sleeps. While jeans are my go-to for winter outings, I immediately change once back home. Do I do yoga? Only if you count the pretzel pose I just twisted into to rescue a beloved Skye figurine from under the dresser.

The Cardigan

Perfect for battling the air conditioner at the kids’ gym or the East 91st Street wind tunnel. This is also great for covering up while nursing or hiding whatever kid mess graced your shirt.

The Flip Flops 

In the heat of summer, my waterproof Vionic flip flops keep me ready for impromptu playground sprinkler time. They have enough arch support to stroll across Central Park and are sturdy enough to wade through rainstorms. They are also easy to wash when a child knocks over that bowl of watermelon I’m slicing. I keep a pair of Havaianas or slippers on at all time in my apartment. They make it a degree less excruciating when I step on Legos or stub my toe on kid-rearranged furniture.

The Baseball Cap 

I’m not a baseball fan by any means, but a baseball cap works perfectly with my messy bun. With it, I’m prepared for both sun and rain. Plus, it didn’t blow overboard while completing my staycation bucket list on the East River ferry.

The Crossbody Purse 

I don’t have any extra hands to dedicate to my purse. I need every one of my extremities ready to carry baby gear or grab a kid toddling toward a street. And leaving your purse in the stroller is a recipe for disaster the moment you dash across the playground to rescue a child who wandered into the swing area and is about to get decked. Tuck in a mini bottle of hand-sanitizer or Aquaphor and you get instant rock star status.

The Hair Tie 

I overheat the moment I let my hair down. I don’t want anything in my face when I bend over to wipe up soggy Special K or orchestrate our bath time assembly line. Hair comes down for showers, dates, church, and bed—in other words, when I’m not on mom duty. Maybe I just need a haircut.


Bonus points if my outfit involves pockets for those random bits of trash, Kleenex, or prized possessions (Googly eye! Shiny rock! Baby pinecone! Sequin heart!) my kids beg me to hold and that I eventually find in the lint trap on laundry day. Stash an extra hair clip to replace the ones that constantly disappear into the land of play. Maybe they are hanging out with all the missing socks of the world.

The Watch

This is the only jewelry I wear with kids around. Earrings are too tempting to yank and make for awkward catnaps. Necklaces complicate diaper changes and invite the inevitable pleas of, “Can I try it on!” followed by the requisite beads flying everywhere. I set my watch two minutes ahead to give myself a miniature grace period for our arrivals. Plus, it’s a great excuse to push bedtime up 60 precious seconds when this mama is just done with the day.

My mom attire brings me to my happy place. So bring on the crazy, oh kids of mine. You are no match for this wardrobe.