Protecting your shoes when you live with children! by Lynn Morrison

One of my favourite pastimes is to line my little babies up and stare down at them; basking in the beauty that I’ve created. Of course, whenever I do this, inevitably a sticky-fingered kid comes running in to play dress-up. Oh, sorry, did you think I was talking about my kids? No way. I meant my extensive (and expensive) fancy shoe collection.

Like many women who grew up in the Sex and the City days, I’ve got a closet full of designer heels that I am terrified to use around my children. If they aren’t dropping ice cream on my feet or kicking up dirt, then they’re running over my toes with their bicycles. Even my Gore-Tex trainers have a hard time keeping up!

In a last-ditch effort to keep both my sanity and my nice shoes, I reached out to founder Vanessa at The Restory for advice on damage control.

L. Most days I’ve got miles to go before I sleep…literally! How can I keep my 10K+ steps a day from killing my shoes?

V. Layer up! If you are like me and wear your shoes hard or rely overly on a few favourites, the soles will wear down quickly. We recommend reinforced toe pieces (especially for pointy-toed boots and stilettos) and we highly recommend protective soles which will defer wear-down, keep liquids away (we don’t ask which ones) and generally make the shoe a bit more comfortable; especially for higher heels, and when you’ve traipsed hand-in-hand to the bathroom for the millionth time. 

L. My kids suffer from severe cabin fever if we stay indoors for more than a few hours at a time. What can I do to protect my shoes from rainy playgrounds?

V. Just don’t. Everyone with young children (or dogs) knows that every patch of grass turns to mud in this country in the winter. Leather – especially suede – and mud don’t mix. But if you find yourself often enough unprepared (we how it goes from sunny to stormy in 30 minutes in the UK) or you simply can’t get down with wellies or non-designer trainers (I know we girls have to keep some standards), opt for smooth leathers, preferably black, and polish them with clear polish (or call us to do it). Neither you nor the men in your life ever need coloured polishes – it doesn’t make a discernable difference and eventually it will get on your carpet or on those light suede booties you saved for when you’d be nowhere near a park. I’m not a fan of weather proofing sprays as I don’t believe they really work, and because the oils and chemicals risk discolouring your shoe.

L. Ok, but what about the serious investment pieces? (Not that they are all accruing value in the way of the Birkin bag…)

V. Keep them out of harm’s way – and we’re still not talking about your kids! Proper storage is necessary; even more so when you have a small human tornado of destruction wandering your hallways. Measure how tall your child can reach, double that number, and that’s the safe height for your shoes to live at. Dust bags or boxes are recommended as a matter of good shoe storage practice, and they also add another barrier of protection in case of any UFMs (unidentified flying messes). Also if you have clothes, towels or sheets that can’t be brought to the charity shop, use them to stuff your handbags when they aren’t in use to keep them from looking squashed when you finally break them out.

L. Back to damage control, are there any quick fixes or ways I can tart up my go-to shoes in a hurry?

V. Absolutely. Dampen (don’t soak) a gentle white cloth (I’ve used white socks from the laundry bin) to wipe off dirt. You can use this on suede too…lightly. And it’s all you ever need for patent. Keep two cheap-as-chips polyurethane sponges and a tub of colourless leather cream nearby. One sponge is for conditioning (when necessary) and one is for buffing. My husband likes an old-fashioned buffing brush but the sponge works just as well. Don’t use baby wipes – they often have lotions in them that may discolour some leathers. If you spill anything oil or fat-based on leather, raid the kids’ cupboard again for baby powder or the larder for cornstarch to stop the absorption and then call us to do the rest. Really don’t do anything else.

L. Thanks for the insider advice. I suspect the strategies for most moms out there will be a combination of those DIY tips, phone a friend  – like The Restory – or to just choose a sensible uniform of clothes that give you the physical maneuverability of an SAS commando, and shoes you are willing to burn on that joyous day when all of your precious darlings are able and willing to wipe their own bums. Until then, keeping a safe minimum distance between treasured belongings and treasured little people may be the only sure thing!