Tag Archives: babywearing

Why I (still) love wearing my preschooler

The unschooling diaries: week thirty-eight

Arthur is definitely in the process of levelling up again at the moment, and there are so many moments I could write about that I’m struggling on choosing one to focus on!

Seeing as it’s International Babywearing Week, though, I thought I’d take the opportunity to reflect on our continuing babywearing journey – one thing I am very glad he hasn’t grown out of just yet.

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It certainly raises eyebrows with some people, seeing my tall three year old perched up on my back in one of our trusty preschool Connectas. I suspect they think he’s older than he is – though admittedly plenty of people would balk at still wearing a child of his age anyway!

I don’t wear him as often as I used to, but I still very rarely leave the house without stuffing a Connecta into my backpack – just in case. It gives us the freedom to set off on adventures (in the city or the country) without a particular destination in mind. There are days when Arthur can quite happily walk his ten thousand steps alongside us, but there are others when his legs get tired and all he needs is a cuddle.

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Sometimes he’ll sleep, but often he’ll want to chat. We talk lots when we’re holding hands as well, but there is something about the closeness that babywearing affords that makes the conversation flow even more easily. I was reflecting recently on why babywearing seems to have such a positive impact on language development, and there is no denying that it has helped Arthur become a confident communicator, just as happy talking to adults as he is to children of his own age.

It is an important reminder too that whilst sometimes he seems wise beyond his years he has only been on this earth for less than four, and so much of what he is experiencing balances precariously on the fine line between inspiring and overwhelming.

In fact there are lots of things we do together – many of them revolving around live music – that I’m not sure I’d be brave enough to venture into if I didn’t have the ability to hold Arthur close in the sling, to keep him safe and secure.

I am so grateful that I persevered through those early, sometimes confusing, babywearing experiences to find a way to make it work for us – and especially grateful that Connecta came into our lives when Arthur was eight months old to open up a whole new world of opportunities. It remains my one and only real blog collaboration, but has developed into so much more now that I manage the company blog at Connecta Lives and get to work within a truly inspirational community – one which has given me so much confidence as a parent and as a writer tentatively trying to carve out a new career.

Both Arthur and I have benefited so much from this babywearing adventure: we’ve no intentions of giving it up quite yet!

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“A portrait of my child, once a week, every week, in 2016.”

We had a bit of an impromptu adventure last Thursday.

We’d been supposed to go to a mums and kids exercise class, so had set off early to get the bus. We just missed one (of course), and then the next one didn’t come, but still we were vaguely on schedule. Until we got to pretty much the exact halfway point on our journey and ground to a halt in standstill traffic. There had been an accident – not a dreadful one, but it had involved a police car so they were letting no-one through.

I pondered for a few minutes, accepted that there was no way we were going to make our class, and decided that walking home would be a really great idea – via the coast path, and a couple of gorgeous little beaches that we very rarely get to visit. I thought it would be a bit of a mission, but actually wildly misjudged how long it would take. I’d forgotten just how windy the path was, and just how much of it traipsed up and down through woodlands. It was beautiful, but by the time we’d finally made it home my phone was telling me we’d walked for eleven kilometres.

And this one managed almost all of it, only taking a break in the sling for about twenty minutes in the run up to our (very overdue) break for lunch.

I was so proud of his stamina, and his determination to keep going. So many times when I’ve been wearing him over the past three years people have tutted and said he really should be walking, that by wearing him I wasn’t giving him the chance to build up his strength. I knew deep down that this was nonsense, that he was perfectly capable of walking but that didn’t mean that his little legs didn’t need a break from time to time.

The wonderful thing about the Connecta is that it’s so easy to stash in a bag as back up, leaving us free to go wherever the mood takes us. We might not have planned to go on this particular hike, but I am very very glad we did.

 

Linking up with Jodi at Practising Simplicity for The 52 Project. 

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“A portrait of my child, once a week, every week, in 2016.”

There are times when not driving really does have its advantages. Take last Friday for example.

Once I’d got past the trauma of having of leave the house within half an hour (ish) of Arthur waking up, the rest of our hour and a half long journey across the bay to gymnastics was pretty close to perfect.

I wore him for the walk into town – his little legs just wouldn’t have been able to keep up the pace – and as he snuggled into my back he chatted away, telling me about all of the things in the world he was worried I might be missing. When we got on the bus he was excited at first – especially when we got the best seats.

And then he just settled in for the ride. We sat, side by side, and admired the view, nothing in particular to do, our journey taking care of itself whilst we savoured the time it gave us.

It might take longer getting to places without a car, but I hope that when I do eventually learn to drive I don’t lose that wonder at the journey in my pursuit of the destination.

A lesson for life, really. And one that Arthur has got the hang of very nicely.

Linking up with Jodi at Practising Simplicity for The 52 Project. 

Connecta Lives

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In the craziness of the run-up to Christmas I forgot to mention a very exciting new venture I’ve become involved in – the blog for Connecta Baby Carrier, otherwise known as Connecta Lives.

Having done a bit of modelling for them back in October 2013, I have become very attached to my Connecta carriers – as regular readers of this blog will no doubt have noticed.

So it’s a real privilege to be working with them in a more formal capacity as one of their regular bloggers, especially as they have sent me some particularly beautiful carriers in exchange for my words. And also, let’s be honest, it’s awesome to have another outlet for all that babywearing love…

I’ve just published a post about how handy the Connecta was over Christmas so feel free to go and check that out, as well as all the other fabulous content of course!

Why I love wearing my toddler

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I’ve been meaning to write this post for ages. I got distracted during International Babywearing Week and a few irritating encounters meant I ended up writing about the things not to say to a babywearing mama. But actually my experience of wearing my ever-growing baby is an overwhelmingly positive one, and as Arthur approaches his second birthday that’s what I want to focus on.

So without any further ado, here are the reasons why I absolutely love wearing my toddler:

1) It gives us both some company

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I don’t drive, which means that getting anywhere tends to involve lots of walking and often also the bus. This would mean that Arthur would be spending an awful lot of time in a pram, which to me would seem a rather lonely option for both of us!

With Arthur in the sling, he’s up on my level. He sees the things I see, and we can talk about them. When I bump into friends he’s right in the middle of the conversation – not waiting for me to finish whilst he looks at our knees.

I love that he’s included in my world, and that I get to have him there as a little companion. Even with a parent-facing pram I think that closeness would be very hard to achieve.

2) It keeps him safe

Now I’m not saying that prams aren’t safe, but there have been lots of situations when I’ve been glad that Arthur’s up where I can really keep an eye on him.

In crowds for example, especially if there are smokers about. Or in heavy traffic: less of an issue in Devon, but on the London streets I become very conscious that a pram would put him at exhaust level. On our country walks dogs are more often the issue – we’ve had a few close calls when he’s enthusiastically run up to embrace them, but it’s nice to know I can whisk him up if I need to.

I know if he’s too hot or too cold, if he’s frightened or sad. Ultimately there can’t really be anywhere safer for my little boy than cuddled up next to me.

3) It keeps me strong

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There is no denying that walking around with a 15kg weight strapped to you feels like a pretty good workout after a couple of hours. My carrier distributes the weight evenly so I very rarely have an aching back, but my core and my legs are definitely working harder.

With wearing a toddler, it becomes even more important to have a well designed carrier. I love my Connecta for it’s combination of support and ease of use, whilst other toddler-wearing friends swear by the more traditional Mei Tais or woven wraps. There are a whole range of slings and carriers designed for toddlers and even pre-schoolers on the market – something I had no idea about before I entered the wonderful world of babywearing, and something well worth investigating if you’re keen to keep on wearing your baby for longer.

4) It makes nap time a breeze

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I realise this will be a little controversial for some people, but Arthur has almost all of his naps in the sling. He can sleep elsewhere – but he sleeps longer and deeper if I’m wearing him.

He still has two decent naps a day, and that time is invaluable for me to get writing done – all the more so because I’m forced to stay reasonably still rather than getting on with chores around the house!

And if we’re out and about it means he’ll sleep when he’s tired – no rushing home to get him into his cot. He’s even happy to begin his night’s sleep on me if we’re out in the evenings, and there have been a couple of times recently when I’ve managed to transfer him from sling to bed, via nappy change and pyjamas, without him waking up.

5) It’s an instant tantrum soother

Arthur hasn’t really hit full on tantrum mode yet, but on the odd occasions when it looks like it might be approaching there is nothing more effective than holding him close in the sling. He might struggle a bit at first, but actually invariably cuddles are what he really wants and wearing him for a while will help him calm down and get back on top of those troublesome toddler emotions.

6) It’s made it so much easier to continue breastfeeding

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If I’m honest, I’m not sure I’d still be breastfeeding Arthur as regularly as I am – if at all – if it weren’t for babywearing. I’m fully aware of all of the benefits of extended breastfeeding, but if I had to stop what I was doing every time he wanted a feed I reckon I would have started to think about weaning a while ago.

But the Connecta is brilliant for breastfeeding – comfortable, and utterly discreet. I don’t even think twice about feeding Arthur when he needs it, and he certainly seems to be pretty happy about that.

7) It’s a closeness that daddy can enjoy too

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I know that I’m tremendously lucky to get to spend all of this time with this incredible little person, especially since a lot of that time is spent holding him close and benefitting from the magical little person cuddles. But I am also very glad that the fact Arthur loves to be worn means that my husband can also share in that wonderful closeness – often when we’re out and about at the weekends it’s Leigh who wears the baby, and it’s clear how much he and Arthur gain from that.

8) It gives us freedom 

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The first (and only) couple of times I took Arthur out in the pram I felt terribly self-conscious. I guess you must get used to it, but I just didn’t seem cut out for lugging this contraption around. There was one day, one of my first trips out after Leigh had gone back to work, when I walked into town with the intention of picking up a couple of bits, maybe grabbing a coffee. But the shop I wanted to go into had steps I’d never noticed before. And the coffee shop was busy – I really didn’t fancy negotiating my way around the chairs. So I gave up and went home,  resigned to not really going out much again.

But then we started babywearing, and we’ve never looked back. Whether it’s country walks or escalators, crowded pavements or steps down to a beach, music festivals or art galleries, it’s just so much easier with a sling.

And now that Arthur wants to spend at least half of his time when we’re out and about running around that’s even more true. I’m really not sure how people manage to keep one hand on the empty pram whilst chasing after the toddler. I know I couldn’t!

But with the sling it’s easy. If I need to get a move on, or we’re near a busy road, or he’s tired –  then there’s somewhere for Arthur to go. But when he wants to explore then I can clip the sling around my waist or slip it into my rucksack and I’m hands free again – ready for that all-important toddler chasing.

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So there you have it. I could go on, but I’m sure it’s pretty clear by now: I really, really love wearing my toddler.

I’d love to hear about your experiences too if you’re a toddler-wearing mama – please share them in the comments below, and if you have any questions then I’ll do my best to answer them.

 

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Mums' Days

Word of the week: London

This week, Arthur and I have been hanging out in London. We were going to be up for the weekends anyway, with two family birthdays to celebrate, and as Leigh had a big exam this week and I had lots of friends to catch up with it made sense to stay in between. It was a little bit daunting – my parents were around last weekend, but after they headed back to Devon on Monday it was just me and the toddler. It turns out I needn’t have worried at all – we’ve had a brilliant week, and Arthur has taken everything in his stride.

We’ve traversed the city to touch base with some of my oldest and bestest friends, meeting new babies and hanging out with growing toddlers. Arthur has really impressed me by his ability to share and play nicely, and he’s enjoyed the journeys as much as anything – there have been lots of trains and tubes and buses and escalators to ride.

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Possibly his favourite place has been the London Transport Museum, where he marvelled excitedly at the wide range of vehicles to admire and play with – more on that to come!

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We’ve made the most of all the different cuisines available to us, managing to fit in Vietnamese, Spanish tapas, dim sum and Italian – and sushi on the South Bank before Arthur’s first cinema experience.

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There’s been other culture too – architecture and street art and busking. I’ve missed the vibrancy of London, the sense that there’s going to be something new and exciting to see every time you turn the corner.

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We haven’t entirely avoided the shopping, though I suspect on the whole I’ve enjoyed that more than Arthur. But he’s valiantly offered to carry my bags. And we did brave Hamleys, which wasn’t actually as bad as I feared.

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Arthur hasn’t got to play outside as much as he normally would, but we did have fun embracing autumn (and trees) in Hyde park, and found a brilliant play area yesterday where he could let off some steam.

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Although we’ve really enjoyed each other’s company, there’s no doubt Arthur’s missed his daddy too. He’s kept up with him through photos and hilariously surreal conversations on the iPad.

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It hasn’t been quite the same though, and Arthur was very excited when he got to see him in the flesh last night. We both were.

We’ve got one more day in London, and by tomorrow I think we’ll be more than ready to head home. There’s lots to love about the buzz of the big city, but I’m very much looking forward to seeing the sea.

 

The Reading Residence

 

Things not to say to a babywearing mama

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I’ve been wearing Arthur since he was five weeks old. It was a bit of a revelation to me, and in many ways has shaped my whole approach to parenting. In the beginning the world seemed pretty supportive of my choice: there were still those who had something to say about it, but most mums I know wore their babies at least part of the time when they were tiny.

However as Arthur’s got older – and bigger – an increasing number of people have felt the need to voice their opinion on me wearing him, from well-meaning friends and family to total strangers in the street or on the bus. Most people are of course still lovely and supportive, but there are others whose comments range from the slightly irritating to the downright disturbing – and having spoken to other babywearing friends I am by no means the only one on the receiving end of them.

So here, in no particular order, is my list of things you might want to think twice about before saying to a babywearing mama.

“You’re going to spoil him, you know.”

Now I get this quite a lot. I suppose it’s my own fault really, for leaning towards the attachment parenting side of things. But as I’ve said before and I’ll doubtless say many times again I don’t believe that keeping my baby close and secure is going to spoil him. Yes, he’s very happy being worn. But does that mean I should be choosing to follow an approach that makes him less happy, just in case? I think not.

“Gosh – is that safe?” (For one friend I spoke to this question was combined with vigorous tugging on the straps of her baby carrier)

Um, yes, thank you for your concern, but this is perfectly safe. (At least it was until you started to undo the buckles!) There are of course precautions to be followed when wearing a baby, just as there are with any means of transporting a child. People have been wearing their babies for hundreds of years, and if I didn’t think it was safe then I wouldn’t be doing it.

“Oh your poor back. He must be so heavy!”

Now I feel a bit bad about including this one, because I know that most people who say it do so with my best interests at heart. But still, when you hear it several times a day it can get a bit annoying! There are of course carriers on the market (naming no names of the carrier that inexplicably seems to be the most popular despite managing to make newborns feel heavy) that are not as comfortable, for mums or babies. However having fallen in love with babywearing I’ve done my research and found one that is supportive and spreads the (quite considerable) weight of my baby evenly. There are lots to choose from, but the carrier we use now is a Toddler Connecta, designed for babies from 18 months. It’s fab, and I find it decidedly easier to wear my son than I do to carry him in my arms.

“Heh heh, I wish that was me nuzzled up in there.”

This one freaks me out a bit to be honest, and depressingly it’s the one I’ve heard most. It’s most commonly uttered by old men, and why they think they can get away with expressing to a mother walking with her child their desire to have their face in her breasts is beyond me. Seriously gross.

“Can’t he walk?”

Do mums with pushchairs get this one? I’ve been hearing it since not long after Arthur turned one, and I’m not entirely sure what the implication is. Yes, he can walk. But like most not-even-two-year-olds his little legs get quite tired when I’m rushing around trying to get things done. And if he couldn’t walk..? Well that would just be entirely inappropriate.

“You don’t want to still be doing that when he’s a teenager!”

And we’re back to that other attachment parenting chestnut. My son is one. Much like co-sleeping and breastfeeding, I very much doubt I’ll still be wearing Arthur when he’s a teenager. I might be wearing him for a while longer yet mind – I’ve been quite inspired by mamas wearing their pre-schoolers, and he still feels light as a feather when I put him on my back.

So there we have it: the things I most definitely don’t want to hear whilst I’m wearing my baby. I’d love to hear about your experiences so please share them in the comments below!

 

 

Mums' Days