Why I Baby-Wear

1

I’m a pretty hardcore baby-wearer. I don’t own a pram or pushchair. I wore Nookie until she was three, and now Smushface spends hours every day in the sling. She takes most of her naps in the sling. I have a growing collection of various slings; a ring sling, a few Mei Tais, a Moby wrap and my newest addition, a podaegi. I just love baby-wearing. Why? Here’s why:

  • The closeness. I love having my babies near me. I love their smell. I love being able to just put my head down and kiss them on the head. I love cuddling them. I can’t imagine having them away from me in a pushchair. They should be right there, snuggled into my chest.
  • Breastfeeding. I can feed Smushface in most of my slings. It’s a bit of a tight squeeze, but I can. So I don’t have to stop whatever I’m doing, sit down and feed my baby. I just whip my boob out, stick it in her mouth, and then resume whatever I’m doing. Walking the dogs, cooking dinner, playing with Nookie… I’ve done them all whilst feeding Smushface in the sling. Having a baby around is so much easier when you don’t have to be pinned to the sofa feeding them! I also never worry about nursing in public because no one can see a thing!
  • Practicality. Getting on a bus with a pram? Putting a pram in a small car? Storing a pram in a tiny house? Getting a pram into any shop! Fuck that. I can’t actually describe to you how much easier using a sling is. I used a pram with Nookie for about three months and hated it (as did she!). They’re fucking cumbersome things. Granted, there are a few occasions when having a pushchair is easier. Baby-wearing in hot weather is a bit sweaty, for example. But a sling is more practical in about nine out of ten situations I would say.
  • Price. Unless you buy a pram or pushchair second-hand (like I did with Nookie), I understand they cost a pretty penny. And their resale value is negligible. Granted, some slings are hugely expensive. But they don’t have to be. My favourite Mei Tai cost £50. And when I’m done with it it’ll probably sell for about the same amount of money. I’ve bought and sold numerous slings as I’ve tried them out, and they’ve always sold for about the same amount as I bought them for so long as they’re well looked after.
  • Getting on with daily life. There aren’t many things I haven’t done whilst baby-wearing. Cooking, cleaning, walking, climbing with Nookie, ironing, mowing the lawn, planting trees, walking the dogs, putting up a tent… hands-free parenting! And the added weight must be making me stronger and fitter. Double bonus!
  • Aesthetic. Have you seen some slings? They’re beautiful! My podaegi is just gorgeous. My Maya wrap Mei Tai is so boho and pretty. Some of the woven wraps out there are made of the most intricate, beautiful fabrics. I love matching my slings to my outfits and wearing them. They look awesome!

Overall I baby-wear because it makes life, especially with an older child, much MUCH easier. I can’t imagine how I could do so many of the things I do without my slings. I don’t have to sacrifice any of my daily activities for my baby. She just fits into our lives.

Community

0

A few recent events have really made me think a lot about community. Or rather, the lack of it in this age. We each live in our own little bubbles, isolated from each other, surrounded by people living in theirs. We go about our daily business alone except for our family, whilst our next door neighbours go about theirs. We’re probably doing very similar, or even the same, activities. But we do it in isolation. The more I think about it, the more crazy it seems.

Going to the home-education camp recently really brought it home to me. Being surrounded by close friends, sharing the load, always having someone there… it was amazing. The kids would wake up and all go off together on their adventures, whilst the adults chatted while we cooked and got on with the few chores that camping entails. There was always someone there to hold the baby. If someone was doing a load of washing up they would take everyone’s. There was always someone with some spare hot water for a cup of tea, or a bit of leftover dinner so someone wouldn’t have to cook. We shared, we cooperated and most importantly of all, we were a community. If only it could have lasted forever…

I knew that coming home would be a culture shock. But it’s not just that. This way we live seems crazy to me. Why don’t we know our neighbours?! Why are we all so reluctant to come together and share? We’re all people aren’t we? We all want similar things in life. What is this sickness that is our culture?

Over the last few months I’ve had the great pleasure to be part of a wonderful community of women on Facebook. What started off as a group to support us through the process of Intuitive Eating and healing ourselves of a lifetimes damage when it comes to body image, has become so much more. Being amongst these women, sharing our innermost feelings and problems… it’s been an inspiration. And an invaluable emotional resource the like of which I’ve never known before. Here are women who are genuinely trying to help each other in any way they can. Whether it’s a virtual hug, a listening ear, someone to call in the middle of the night when you’re feeling down, practical help… they’re there. They’re always there. And not in the platitudinous, empty “we’re always here” that you often get from well-meaning people, but know they don’t actually mean it. In a very real, going-that-extra-mile kind of way!

But it’s made me realise what we’re missing in society. Why do we live the way we do? Isolated. Why don’t we share? Why is it that I share a garden with two neighbours and we each have our own play equipment that we would never consider sharing? Why couldn’t the more fortunate members of the community come together to help those in need? Why are we relying on the state?! Why can’t we rely on each other?! It’s insane.

I long for a tribe: a community. If only my friends and dear family had the money to buy our own plot of land and build our own community on it. It would be wonderful!

But it has got me to thinking about where we live, and what I could do to make it better. Not waiting for someone else. Actually doing something. Am I brave enough to break outside of society’s recipe?

The Best Bits of Home-education

1

It’s the little conversations. That’s where the real learning happens. Yes we do learning activities. We cook and do experiments and paint pictures and have trips out to museums. These things all have their value. But the chats in the car or whilst on the train; the running commentary about life discussed as we walk to the shop to buy sweets… this is where the questions arise and the explanations are given. Informal, relaxed, about things that matter there and then.

Why do those plants look spiky?

Why do people drop litter?

Why do workmen dig up the road?

Learning. Happening. Constantly. Language developed. Curiosity fed. The web of knowledge expanded and connections made in unknown ways. Known only to her. Meaningful only to her. Some things will be forgotten. Many things will be remembered. But it’ll be what’s relevant to her, not what can be assessed by another.

This is learning.