What's so wrong with looking 'mumsy', anyway?

"It's really not fair to think that being mumsy is such a bad thing."
"It's really not fair to think that being mumsy is such a bad thing." Photo: Getty Images

"She's had her hair cut and it's kinda … well … mumsy."

When I overheard this conversation last week in a café I instinctively reached for my own mop, casually glancing at my reflection in the glass. Did my hair look mumsy? Sure, it looks unkempt, and words like shiny and groomed are probably not ones I would use to describe it, but mumsy?

Come to think of it, what does 'mumsy' even look like?

It's a description that I hear often, always when referencing something that is, for want of better words, frumpy or sensible. I'm yet to hear anyone at the hairdressers asking for a 'mumsy haircut', or a woman being directed to the 'mumsy shoes' in a department store. So why is it that the word 'mumsy' has connotations of such a negative nature – but seems to be the only other option apart from 'yummy'?

As a mum, there are certainly enough stresses and pressures on us, without the addition of trying to be 'yummy' and not 'mumsy'. Yet the truth of the matter is that not many of us have the time or inclination to focus on being one and not the other. And honestly, on reflection, I have accepted that I probably am more of the mumsy type than the yummy variety.

Of course there are times when being yummy is great – you know, like date nights with your husband, or a night out with the girls. After all, it's those nights when you get to remember a little bit about who you were pre-child. The times when you get the chance to dress up, actually apply make up that doesn't make you look like you had a fight with some war paint, and put on a pair of sexy heels you can no longer walk in.

But the reality is that 90 per cent of the time, yummy is not achievable. When sitting in a park or chasing a raging toddler around, neither is it practical, functional or convenient. And when it comes down to the bare bones of it, practicality, functionality and convenience are actually the priorities here – and, in essence, I guess it's really what being mumsy is all about.

The mumsy hairstyle that requires no styling, simply because it has no style, is perfect when rushing out the door late for a play date. And the mumsy all-in-one make up cream that promises miracles, yet delivers nothing, is all you have time to slap on. As for the outfit? Well, it's all about comfort, not fashion. Whoever thinks it's possible to be yummy while sporting a jumper complete with snails trails of snot, dried Weet-bix and other unidentified food items is delusional.

And what about my mumsy shoes? Sure, they're flat and sensible and the only dirty thing to have happened in them is toddler wee, but try doing sprint training chasing a little one around the park – trust me, then you'll want these shoes.

So is it fair to think that being mumsy is such a bad thing? It's more of a default mode that many of us find ourselves in when we enter parenthood. A mode that kind of envelopes us and sinks its claws in bit by bit, and a mode that we succumb to because the reality is that life is too damn short to worry about being perfect all the time.

I'm thinking it's about time we stopped the negative connotations around being mumsy. Maybe we need to adjust our attitudes a little, and realise that it isn't bad at all. It's just part of a new life for many of us mums.