by Susannah Davda – Director, The Shoe Consultant Ltd
Do parents really need different shoes?
Shoes pre- and post-parenthood are different beasts. Our shoe evolution starts from conception. Pregnant mothers often give up on heels in order not to fall and hurt the baby, or damage their extra-stretchy ligaments. Towards the third trimester, they abandon lace-ups in favour of styles they don’t have to bend (or persuade partners/neighbours/the random woman at the swimming pool) to put on.
New dads and mums don’t have any spare brain capacity to think about their own shoes. Pushing through the dense air of sleep deprivation means a matching pair is a bonus. In those early days, weeks….let’s face it, months; I found a lack of my preferred 8.5 hours of unbroken snoozing made my hands numb. No good for fastening laces.
Time is of the essence in those early days. Leaving the house involves parcelling up your progeny, taking their clothes off again to change their nappy, gathering ALL the things you’ll need and trying to work out how the buggy functions. If you take too long putting on your own shoes, you’ll miss the window of opportunity for going out before the feeding, nappy change part of your little dictator’s cycle starts again.
The pace doesn’t slow as your baby grows into a furious toddler, an argumentative pre-schooler, and a stubborn school child. Getting out of the door is still as detailed an operation as sequencing the traffic lights at a complex junction. Simplifying your shoe selection will knock those high stress levels down a notch.
As a parent, and a shoe consultant with 21 years’ experience in the footwear industry, it’s time for me to give you a helping hand…or should that be foot?
The golden rule
Once they can walk, wear closed toed shoes.
Sandals are a recipe for stamped on toes, you screaming out in pain, and your small person screaming because they’ve been screamed at.
I imagine at some point your children will become wonderfully coordinated human beings, carefully stepping around their beloved parent’s delicate extremities. Until then, armour up. If you want something comfortable to wear around the house then some people would recommend japanese room shoes as a great option.
Five shoe styles working parents can put on in 10 seconds:
A smart casual classic for men and women. Chelsea boots have elastic on both sides, so they slip on easily, and cling to your foot when they’re on. A new pair can be a little stiff at first (time to get your shoe horn out), but you’ll wear this style so much it won’t take you long to soften them up.
Chelsea boots have been my uniform for work and play since my son was born.
Tip: The soles they come with aren’t always very grippy, even if they’re rubber. Once they’re worn down, ask for the grippiest rubber replacements from your shoe repairer.
Slip on shoes
Loafers and other slip on shoe styles are a less sweaty equivalent of Chelsea boots for the warmer months. Bridging the gap between formal and horizontal, while being easy to slip on and off (you’re not lazy, you’re efficient).
The laceless gold Gibsons in the photo have carried me to meetings, parties, networking events, and awards ceremonies, and always worked much harder to dazzle than I have.
Tip: Only buy slip on shoes that fit you perfectly. While Chelsea boots hug your feet, their lower cut shoe cousins are less forgiving. Keep your credit card tucked away if you’re experiencing toe squeeze, or slippage on the heel.
Being a parent means you have to grow up and be very responsible, as well as ungrowing up and being incredibly silly. Wearing wellies at the same time as your diminutive companions, gives you the freedom to find the joy in Peppa Pig’s muddy puddle jumping obsession.
Tip: The higher your wellies go up your legs, the fewer suspicious-looking splats you’ll get on your trousers or tights. Ankle boot wellies might look sleek, but they’ll be full of rain and puddle juice in no time.
Easily laced trainers
Trainers are becoming acceptable attire in many more places: work, parties, hipster weddings…They allow you to leg-it to work, an appointment, or nursery pick-up after a train delay (those fines are savage).
I can often be found spouting the same old phrases (look where you’re going, what do we do when we get to the road? Watch the dog poo) while running alongside my balance-bike riding child. Oh I do love a bouncy rubber sole.
Tip: Some trainers come with annoyingly fiddly laces: thin things that slip out of your grip. Allbirds wool runners feel like slippers and have lovely fat laces that stay done-up.
Boots with zips
Smart ankle boots, mid-calf or knee-high boots are easy-to-put on and make you look put-together. They can give a sleeker look than a Chelsea boot, and tend to be available with smarter, less chunky soles.
Not necessarily the best option for doing actual parenting in (try steel toe-capped boots for phalanx stompers), but perfect for a quick school drop-off and stride to work.
Tip: If you can afford leather-lined boots, invest in them. Leather linings help prevent your feet and legs from feeling clammy. Leather absorbs any sweat away from your skin.
Have you noticed how your difficult-to-put-on shoes just don’t get worn anymore? Perhaps it’s time to edit your shoe collection. Before you say goodbye for good, please share an image of your shoes with me on Instagram or Twitter using the hashtag #ratemyshoes. I’ll let you know my honest opinion. Brace yourself!
Find Susannah at shoeconsultant.com.