Slingababy has grown a lot since we posted similar news 3 years ago!
We now have over 500 consultants, over 100 peer supporters, and now we are even training feeding and carrying advocates. We have travelled overseas, we have had people joining us from all over the world with more than 20 nationalities represented within our consulting community.
Whilst this is fantastic news for babies everywhere, we want to ensure we can keep up with looking after you after your training, to the same high quality standard we’ve always strived for. This means that, despite trying our hardest to keep our prices down, we are going to need to increase them slightly. The consultancy course package (plenty more than the 4 day course!) will now be £575 and the one day courses will be £100. We can still facilitate payment plans, so do not be afraid to ask!
At the latest Slingababy CPD (Continuing Professional Development), my dear colleague Emily who runs CalmFamily and I got into a discussion about language and semantics. We were discussing how so many parents, specifically mothers in this discussion, carry the self-loaded extra weight of aiming to be perfect in every way. They want to be the perfect mothers, the perfect wives, the perfect workers, the perfect housekeepers, the perfect lovers, the perfect friends, the perfect women… They judge themselves every single minute of every single day. Their high expectations are relentless and most of the time they struggle to reach these perfect expectations dictated by a lifetime living in our marketing-based society.
The problem when you are bombarded by advertising is that it makes you believe that the white couch in the show home, with the perfectly happy smiling family of photoshopped people, is a reality for some, therefore it must be achievable. So we keep on putting on the masks, pretending that we are there most of the time and eventually we fall short of these completely unrealistic expectations. Sadly instead of looking back, laughing at the unsustainable nature of these expectations, brushing them off and carrying on, we become part of the problem as we hide what we feel are our fallings and try to glue the masks on.
I have a way of getting around this and so does Emily. Emily describes the Good Enough Mother. I describe the Perfect Human. Both of these concepts end up saying the same thing. In short: these expectations are ridiculous, what you do is just right already. The fact that you care proves that you are amazing!
As I can’t talk on behalf of Emily, I will tell you how I feel about my humanity and my fellow humans’ humanity. I, and you, are perfect. That’s it. We are perfect already. It might not look like the adverts but it doesn’t need to, because our lives don’t last 15 seconds on a screen. Life is a marathon, you need to look after your body and your mind to last till the finish line, or you run the risk of getting a shorter race or one you don’t enjoy.
Being a human requires to accept that to learn you need to run experiments and study their results, just like a scientist. Some results are positive and some, not so much. These negative results are the greatest teachers. When you are not aiming to learn but just to enjoy life, you need to balance your needs and those of people around you. You need to be. You need to feel. You need to do. You need to compare your list of goals for your existence and the list of expectations you have set for yourself.
And then you need to let go of the heavy load that you don’t need. Remember that you are a perfect human, one who is alive, one who can learn, one who can love, one who is loved. Extend your compassion to yourself, and cut yourself and others some slack. We are all trying our best with our humanity.
At Slingababy, we do take a lot of pride in how we support our existing consultants. Once the course is completed, the support is delivered in three main areas: a very active Facebook support group, constant growth of the course and Continuing Professional Development (CPD).
Explaining how these three key elements work always feel like we’re blowing our own trumpet, and in a world where confidence and arrogance are sometimes confused, it is a step we struggle to make public. So putting our big pants on, we have this blog post for you!
The Slingababy Consultants Facebook group is a place that we like to qualify as the best place on the internet. It has nearly 400 members. That is 400 people who have the same passion for supporting families. Questions are always welcome, and the answers bring a new dimension to our learning. We sometimes go on a tangent because both learning, carrying and humans are complex topics that are intertwined in a manner just as complex. Learning and growth are encouraged, whether as an active participant or as a by-stander. The members of this group one day decided to call themselves a family and the term stuck. The Slingababy family is a supportive, encouraging environment. It is a place where falling and making mistakes brings deeper learning, whilst being supported back up by the great hug that is this family. A clip that we recently shared in our group and that, you too, may enjoy summarises this approach.
The Slingababy course is nearly 5 years old! We have been very lucky that we have had the opportunities to allow the course to grow in many directions, to fine tune the content and the delivery. Recently the very first attendee came again to re-sit the course. This is something we not only allow but encourage as we know how one can only learn what one is ready to learn, and this will evolve over time. It was such a proud moment to see from her eyes how far we had travelled down this path. We do encourage our consultants to share what they feel could be improved as well as doing our own reflective practice. Learning and growing are not linear paths, and the three key elements (Facebook group, course and CPD) feed into each other to make Slingababy the truly special experience that it is.
And it brings us to the Continuing Professional Development or CPD that we offer. Once you’ve completed the course, you get invited to attend two weekends a year. That is four workshops for free, every year! The topics are varied. We have covered many subjects: from direct sling use, to updating our teaching practice, to understanding the varied customers and how we can adapt to increase accessibility, to looking at the physical side of carrying for both children and adults, to understanding further about mental health, and also about general business skills. The latest session took place in October and one of our amazing consultants is the Marketing Manager at Ergobaby UK, Amanda Loveday. She came to inspire us and give us some skills towards more effective marketing.
We definitely needed this session and this blog post is about trying to make use of these new skills. We learnt about calls to action, so if you liked what you read here, about what we offer, if you would like to look into what we do further, I would like to invite you to check our Facebook reviews to see what our consultants think of their experience, and from there you may check our website too.
Baby-carrying knows no borders. Love knows no borders. Slingababy knows no borders. We have always supported the act of carrying for all, whether doing it a lot, a little or none at all, whether doing it every day or once in a blue moon, whether using expensive carriers or everyday items. Whilst we are passionate activists in our personal lives, we try to keep Slingababy a place for all, whatever ways you look at the world. Our teaching is coloured by our passion for inclusion, compassion and understanding. We’ve always encouraged the slowly-slowly approach to get reluctant people interested, even if only interested in asking questions. Once hearts are mellowed, a deeper understanding can take place but the need for connection has to come first.
Sadly, as a European living in the UK in times of great change, I, Lorette, the founder of Slingababy, feel that I cannot be silent anymore. I cannot be slow in getting the change I need. I cannot be gentle. I cannot be understanding. I cannot look at my life, my work, my family, my dreams, my hopes, my employees, my pension schemes, and just be a bystander whilst UK politics threaten to take everything away from me. Or not? Or maybe? Or only if the EU does not play the game the UK wants to play.
So what shall I do? What shall we do? Normally I just would say “look for options. What are your options? What can you do?” What can one do with this? I don’t know, because I don’t know yet anything for sure. All I know is that I can’t keep staying silent. I can’t just let things happen without trying to make my voice heard.
I know a lot of my friends and family, and consultants are behind me, and behind many like me, who don’t know what’s going on. But that’s not enough! Your love and your prayers, they won’t make the change. And this is why Slingababy is joining in “One day without us”. One day when we are hopefully going to show you what it would be if we were not there. A day when you can see how much we have contributed whether financially or not, because contributing to our society is not just over how much taxes we’ve been paying. We’re better than just the pounds, we’re better than just money.
So, “One day without us”. I hope you notice. I hope you care enough to tell your MP. I hope you care enough to sign our petitions. I hope you care enough to stand up and not just shower us with your love and your prayers. But you’re really making what we need to ensure that our lives aren’t just shattered from one political decision, from one advisory referendum that had turned wrong. Thank you!
As it is time to lay 2016 to rest and welcome 2017, I want to give a big hug to the year.
I returned from my maternity leave in January after having enjoyed the first seven months of Alice’s life. I was able to run 12 courses with my daughter present before she needed more care than I could manage whilst looking after the budding consultants. I feel very privileged that I got to have her with me for such a long time.
So, as the year draws to a close, what did we achieve this year:
118 new consultants including 31 outside of the UK, that means we have now trained 284 Slingababy consultants!!
2 courses abroad including New Zealand
2 pilot peer supporter courses (read more here)
2 CPD weekends covering 4 workshops
The first Slingababy Family Camp
A new website
A new Facebook to help facilitate groups getting together for courses in locations other than Rugby area
The lovely Suzanne and Emily joining the team
And a relocation!
2016 has been a very busy year indeed!
Whilst I know many refer to 2016 as a year needing to be forgotten, I want to think of all the love that is generated through the carrying that we got to facilitate. Let’s see what 2017 has in store for us. If you want to stay updated, do sign up for our newsletter!
The Slingababy school has focused for nearly 4 years on delivering the highest quality consultancy course we could provide. During this time, there have been many instances when a one-day course for advocates/peer supporters has been requested.
For a long time, we wanted to encourage all of our consultants to train their own supporters as we felt they had adequate skills. We still do! There are eight consultants who have trained through Slingababy who are part of the excellent Born To Carry network and created their own courses. We will still be recommending their courses as we love the diversity created by this network and several trainers means more local availability.
The time is also right for us to offer the unique Slingababy touch to the world of peer supporters. We have had the opportunity to trial the content twice so far, once in New Zealand and once for BabyCalm. This is what two of our attendees had to say about their experience:
“The course was jam-packed with content, and Lorette’s in-depth knowledge and experience shone through. Lorette made the day fun and relaxed for us, as well as being very focused on what we needed to learn. Not only did this course help me develop my practical skills in using slings, but also in how to teach effectively and to be a sensitive, empathetic Peer Supporter. I’d wholeheartedly recommend this course to anyone wanting to take their first step towards supporting parents with carrying.” Marianne
“I absolutely loved the one day Peer Supporter Course at the CalmFamily CPD in November. There was a lot of new knowledge and skills packed into the day and I came away with the confidence to go out and put it into practice. It was both informative and inspiring. I would heartily recommend the course to anyone working with parents and slings in a peer support capacity. ” Helen
This is some of the topics we cover:
– Brief history of carrying
– Role and limitations of a peer supporter
– Benefits of carrying
– Busting some myths
– Safety and carrying
– Basic handling and positioning
– Perceived advantages and drawbacks of the different types of slings
– Basic front tying skills on various sling types
– Common troubleshooting
We have released 4 dates for 2017 for the one-day peer supporter course:
5th of March
15th of July
3rd of September
2nd of December
These courses will be held in the Rugby area at Slingababy HQ. If you would like a course nearer to you, get in touch as we may be able to facilitate it for a minimum sized group of 6.
If you are interested in baby-carrying and intend on supporting parents, the course is made for you! If you already have some carrying experience, even if you are already a carrying consultant, the course has potential to really benefit you too, as you will gain more structure, tips and tricks as well as how to handle various situations and explore your boundaries between the various roles and settings where you operate.
For the last three years, the Slingababy course had a maximum of six trainees per course. As we have grown both in experience and reputation, we now have waiting lists for most of our courses. After careful considerations and a recent trial run of a bigger group, we have decided to open bookings to up to eight new people! That’s right, a potential extra two consultants to carry the gift of love!
If you would like to join us on any of the courses this year, you’d better be quick to reach for these extra spaces as we work on a first arrived first served basis! Have a look here to see what courses we have
Looking forward to having you as part of the Slingababy family <3
When I founded Slingababy, it was very important to me that I would find a new way of living, a way that embraced my family life as well as my passion for my job.
One thing that I always tell the Slingababy consultants is that there are many shapes and sizes for our businesses. Some people are committed to making a full-time job out of their consultancy and are looking for a full-time income to match their dedication and some have more of a volunteer approach to their work, and then there are all the shades in between. I also say to them, and I will tell you also, that if you resent an aspect of what you do, you need to tweak it until you are happy.
Pancake day at Slingababy HQ
For me, the quest for the perfect work-life balance has led me to some very clear boundaries after a lot of trial and error. I used to answer emails, messages, queries, questions in groups as soon as they were pinging. Quite often, I was in the middle of spending some quality time with my son. This time was far from quality when I look back. What I also found is that my answers were not of the quality I wanted either. By doing everything all the time, I was doing a terrible job of everything! I also felt that I never had a break.
So what did I do? I created some rules for myself!
A typical fortnight looks like this:
Monday: Family time. I may do some extra admin work during nap times and evening.
Tuesday: 100% Family time
Wednesday: Admin catch up!
Thursday: Do all the preparation for the course including shopping for refreshments. Driving to the location or clearing the space if the course is in Rugby.
Friday: 9 to 5.30 is teaching time, 5.30 to kids’ bedtime is family time. Early bedtime for all!!
Saturday: same as the day before
Sunday: same as the day before
Monday: same as the day before
Tuesday: 100% Family time
Wednesday: Admin catch up!
Thursday: More admin catch up and extra projects
Friday: Family time. I may do some extra admin work during nap times and evening.
Saturday: Family time. I may do some extra admin work during nap times and evening.
Sunday: Family time. I may do some extra admin work during nap times and evening.
Standing desk for all the admin
Admin work is varied and includes: answering queries from prospective customers, booking customers and previous customers, networking, improving services, marketing, accounting, branding, learning, research and development, blogging, web designing, juggling the diary, coordinating consultants and Slingababy team, supporting, reaching out to the community…… The to-do list is a bottomless one!
This means that non-urgent emails may have to wait a whole 7 days to get a reply. It also means that the sacrifices my family is making so I can follow my calling have the reward of dedicated quality time. Whilst I work with all my heart, I also play with all my heart. We just make sure not to overlap both activities. We also plan regular trips to visit family or recharge our batteries camping.
The Slingababy course will have reached over 200 consultants this weekend!
We pride ourselves on the quality of the course but also on the quality of the after-care which is second to none in the UK. As we now have so many consultants, we have had to get some extra help to keep the quality outstanding. Whilst I know the team is passionate and dedicated, they also need to pay their bills which means that the course fees will need to increase. As we want you to get prepared, we are giving you plenty of notice as the price increase will be implemented for courses taking places in 2017. Do remember that we always welcome payment plans to help you reach your goal!