Zoe Woodman

Spotlight on a Slingababy Consultant: Zoë Woodman

Spotlight on a Slingababy Consultant: Zoë Woodman

Can you give us a quick introduction as to who you are?
I have 3 children aged 12, 7 and 5. I live in Surrey Hills Uk. I have a Psychology degree. I started the sling library in 2012.

Can you tell us more about your journey from carrying to becoming a consultant to now?
I trained as a consultant in 2016, when my third baby was 5 months old on the day the result of the Brexit referendum was announced. It was a sombre start to the course. I set up The Sling Consultancy as a way to reach parents that didn’t subscribe to the traditional views of stereotypes around those who carry their babies. I’m coming from a science evidence based background.
We fell into carrying purely because we lived in a flat and thought it would be useful and as our neighbours downstairs had bought one too but actually I didn’t like the carrier we had and didn’t use it much.

I then saw someone on a train when my eldest was around 9m and it was different to other carriers I had seen and asked her about it, then I bought that same carrier. We used it until our eldest was 3! Having moved to an area of outstanding beauty we enjoyed going for long walks.

Then my second baby was born and I found carrying invaluable for the school and nursery runs and for feeding in with another child needing their needs to be met.
And again even more so our third! He lived in the sling!
I love delving into the why behind infant behaviour as once we know why we can be more understanding to meet those needs.
I share the science from many fields linked to carrying, neuroscience, attachment, trauma, stress, and how it supports infant development and supports parents development. Impacting positively on both physical and mental health, short and long term.

What is your favourite part about being a consultant?
Seeing parents faces when their baby gently falls asleep on them in a sling/carrier and they realise they can do other things if they choose to.seeing that lightbulb switch on in their brain connecting shifting. Happens online as well when what you say clicks with someone.

Would you share a special memory that sticks out for you?
Being invited to talk to carrying professionals at the wrap show in 2019 about the science of carrying and links to adverse childhood experiences, attachment and trauma through the neuroscience.

Where can we find some of your work?
I have written for Juno magazine on toddler carrying and how carrying can be both an intervention and a prevention for adverse childhood experiences and trauma.
And also for Netdoctor on safe babywearing.

Is there anything else that you get up to, when you are not writing or supporting families?
I also run, with another consultant, the Brilliant Babywearing Business group for those involved in businesses linked to carrying.
It isn’t about carrying as such, but about what goes into running a business alongside mindset work we cover many practical aspects too. It is so important to human brain development that it really matters that our businesses are sustainable to support parents to carry, to be responsive. To help shape the brains of the next generation.

What tip would you give yourself if you could get back to the time before you were a parent?
Meet their needs – ask what does my baby need right now. Most of time it’s you.

Why did you choose to train with Slingababy?
I loved the Slingababy ethos and way Lorette teaches it is hugely empowering as consultants and even more so for our clients.

Do you want to say a few words about your Slingababy experience?
The Slingababy community is such a welcoming non-judgemental place and the people are amazing. It encourages an entirely different way of thinking and often leads to bigger changes it is so much more than about carrying or slings.

How can people get hold of you?
https://www.theslingconsultancy.co.uk/

On the socials as @Theslingconsultancy I’m most active on Instagram

http://brilliantbabywearingbusiness.co.uk/
https://www.facebook.com/groups/663289250738286/

Zoe Woodman

Zoë Woodman carrying her child in a woven wrap

 

Deborah Moore tandem-carrying her two girls

Spotlight on a Slingababy Consultant: Deborah Moore

Spotlight on a Slingababy Consultant: Deborah Moore

Can you give us a quick introduction as to who you are?
I’m Deborah , mum to two girls. Aged 3 and 7 and wife to Tim.
We live in Essex, Uk.
I am a hairdresser by trade and still do mobile work.
I trained as a Babywearing peer supporter and started a sling library with a friend in May 2016.
I went on to do my consultancy course with Slingababy in 2017.
I now run South Essex Slings.

Can you tell us more about your journey from carrying to becoming a consultant to now?
I had a stretchy wrap given to me when I had my first. I rarely used it. Found it too faffy, thick, long and hot.
When she was about 8 months I borrowed a buckle carrier from a friend. That was it, I was hooked.
I found a local sling library and tried some other options before buying myself one.
During this time I met a friend who would start a sling library with me. We did our peer supporter training in May 2016 and opened the library.
In 2017 I did my Slingababy consultancy training whilst 8 months pregnant with my second.
This enabled me to push the sling library forward and offer more support.
I now solely run South Essex Slings. I absolutely love it.

What is your favourite part about being a consultant?
My favourite part of my job is seeing the relief on people’s faces when they get baby in a sling and they snuggle in. The visible relaxation and calm that happens is just something I will never get tired of.

Would you share a special memory that sticks out for you?
A couple of years ago I helped a family, their two year old had additional needs and really struggled with his siblings school drop off times, and anywhere else busy. He was very heavy and mum was struggling to carry him. He fought he a lot when in arms too but wasn’t happy to be in a pram.
The family were skeptical but gave me a try. Mum got her son in a buckle carrier on her front and he calmed instantly. He snuggled into her and they stayed there swaying for a while.
She later said he’d never done that ever.
That will stay with me, that connection, the calmness, the love.

What tip would you give yourself if you could get back to the time before you were a parent?
To learn more about babies and children before I had them!

Do you want to say a few words about your Slingababy experience?
I didn’t read up anything about Slingababy before doing the course. Therefore had no expectations.
I had a couple of people tell me that it would easy and I knew most of it anyway (they’d done a course with a different school)
How wrong they were.
I knew nothing – nothing.
The 4 days spent with Lorette was extremely intense. I don’t think I’ve ever concentrated for so long.
I learned so much, not just about how to use slings, but about myself. How to be kinder, how to speak to people better, how to listen better.
Slingababy changed me for the better. I will be forever grateful.

How can people get hold of you?
South Essex Slings on Facebook and Instagram.
Website is nearly ready – www.southessexslings.com
Or email southessexslings@gmail.com

Deborah Moore tandem-carrying her two girls

Deborah Moore tandem-carrying her two girls

The Perfectly Good Enough Human

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.

Good night 2017 and good morning 2018!!!

 

First of all we want to wish everyone a wonderful year ahead, full of love, full of connection, full of growth, full of learning, full of laughter, full of life!

 

2017 has been a busy year and 2018 will likely be just the same which makes us very happy.

So here are the stats:

  • We now have 401 consultants, 117 of them were trained in 2017. They are spread over 6 continents and are from 20 countries!
  • 17 consultants completed their training by receiving enough positive feedback from their customers and by submitting a project that benefited the wider community.
  • We trained 55 Peer supporters
  • We ran 17 consultancy courses
  • We ran 4 CPD (Continuing Professional Development) workshops for free for our existing consultants.
  • We had 2 social get-togethers, one of them being a week long camp for our families.
  • We had too many interactions on our Facebook group to actually count them!
  • We opened our sister branch in New Zealand and they trained 11 consultants!
  • We offered over £3000 worth of vouchers for 2018 during our yearly Christmas Competition.

It has been quite a year 🙂 And we are ever so proud to keep working on improving the support we give to our existing consultants and peer supporters. Come on, let 2018 be the year you join us too!

Learning and growing, how about marketing?

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.

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