My Midlife Survival Kit: Sam Baker

For author Sam Baker, Birkenstocks, gallons of Monmouth coffee and a rescue cat called Sausage are all essentials in her midlife crisis survival kit.

A midlife crisis caused by the hormonal shifts of the perimenopause years is all too familiar for many midlife women. Overnight, your confidence shrinks, your brain fogs and feelings of gloom descend.

Every woman has her own treatment route for perimenopause, whether that’s HRT or complementary medicine or cold turkey. What we want to know is, what’s in the day-to-day survival kit? What do other women turn to when the feelings of midlife crisis loom?

So we’ve asked some of our favourite midlife women to share. What are they things that keep them happy and sane and fend off any lurking midlife crisis? Author Sam Baker’s list makes for brilliant reading – every woman needs a rescue cat called Sausage.

Birkenstock Boston clogs, £70


These grey felt “Boston” clogs let me move seamlessly from summer birks to autumn birks without so much as glancing at a heel. I’ve rarely worn heels since I left Red (where Sam was Editor) and have no plans to renege on that. Just add chunky socks and they’ll get me right through winter. Comfy, stylish (I think so anyway), I only take them off to go to bed or put my Dr Martens on.

1kg Monmouth Street Coffee, £27

Monmouth Coffee

Assuming I’m not allowed alcohol, I have to go for my second biggest vice, coffee. I’m not a coffee snob – I’m the kind of person who used to get thrown out of hipster coffee shops for asking if I could have one shot instead of three – but I do love this coffee freshly ground from the Monmouth coffee shop in London.

I was really happy to discover they take online orders. I buy it a kilo at a time and drink it by the cafetière full. (Yes, I do know that’s not good for me. And I don’t really care.)

Olay Total Effects eye cream, £9.95


I’m a skincare junkie so I need a whole separate survival kit just of skincare (e.g. The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid, Origins Night-a-mins and Ginzing, Beauty Pie Retinol, Charlotte Tilbury Wonder Glow… I could go on). As I’m only allowed one, I have to pick this 7-in-one eye cream that moisturises, smooths, brightens and conceals without looking like a concealer.

Cook, Eat, Repeat by Nigella Lawson, £24.18

Nigella Lawson

I’m not a big cook but I am a big eater. I’m also a big reader so Nigella’s new cookbook – a beautifully written love letter to comfort cooking and eating – couldn’t be better timed. Luckily I live with a great cook so I get to look at the pictures and then hand the recipes over to my husband Jon to do the important bit! My new obsession? Fish Finger Bhorta.

Apple AirPods, £157

Apple AirPods

I don’t know what I did before Apple created these. I walk every day – a minimum 12,000 steps (I’m a slave to my Fitbit) and I’m always accompanied by an audiobook. I’ve just finished listening to Matthew McConaughey’s memoir Greenlights – surprisingly brilliant – and am now listening to wonderful Louise Brealey read Halle Rubenhold’s The Five, which gives life to the women killed by Jack The Ripper.

When I’m not walking, I’m usually working and have pink, white or brown noise (from the Sleep Sounds app) pumping into my ears to help me focus.

My rescue cat Sausage, £Priceless


We got Sausage – a black, tail-less rescue cat – just over five years ago from our local RSPCA. They thought he’d had a run in with a lorry and whilst they were able to rebuild his back legs and hip, they weren’t able to save his tail. To say he’s needy would be a massive under-statement, as anyone who’s heard his guest appearances on The Shift podcast knows!

He was abandoned by his previous humans and all you have to do is put a bag in the car for him to freak out. I was never an animal person, but I can’t imagine our flat without Sausage in it. Adopt don’t shop, at the RSPCA, Blue Cross or Cats Protection League

Sam is the author of The Shift, How I (Lost And) Found Myself After 40 -And You Can Too. Download the brilliant podcast here.

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