Naomi, sling support superhero


This week on Sling Support Superheroes it’s “the week of the volunteer”. I’m going to feature an entirely random selection of the sling library volunteer staff!

 

First up is Naomi, she accidentally agreed to train to be a peer supporter and has never looked back. Working with Naomi has been a joy, at first she was incredibly unsure of herself and her new skills. In the library we have a strict rule that you’re not to do anything you’re not confident doing so Naomi stuck to that and asked to shadow, to practice, and to have the support she needed to feel confident.

That confidence came when I was very ill one week, I couldn’t stand up let alone run a sling library! The volunteer rallied to kep it running for the week I was ill but the change in circumstances seemed to awaken a new library teaching machine in Naomi and when I came back she had blossomed! It was a privilege to witness and I still love to see her teach now remembering how hard she worked to get that confidence to do so.

Naomi has said to me before that she enjoys volunteering the library because it makes her feels like a grown up again! I think all parents can identify with that feeling! She juggles library commitments around two small children and many pets. I rather get the feeling Naomi would have enough to own an animal sanctuary given the chance! (As if to demonstrate my point so also runs a small animal boarding business “Sophie’s Place”, the “Where’s Donald?” posts are my current favourite facebook thing!)

Many of you will have met Naomi as she’s the one who will always rescue me when I’m short staffed (if she can!), and she’s immensely popular with everyone!

Today she helped someone new to the library, her stretchy wrap wasn’t ticking her boxes any more and football with her older kids was becoming tricky. Naomi walked her through a few that seemed suitable:

A Zensling

 

A Sleepy Nico (I was called over to check this as Naomi didn’t think it was a good fit for the baby, she was correct)

 

And they quickly settled on the winner, a Connecta!

The mum wanted to pass on a very sincere compliment to Naomi:

“Naomi was looking after me and my baby . She made me feel extremely comfortable and explained everything to me and help me make a perfect choice she even had my baby so I could have a brew.”

That really is indicative of Naomi and all the other library volunteers!

– Rachael

Part Exchange


 

We get many people who tell us they purchased a low cost sling or carrier to try out babywearing but then find that although they love babywearing they don’t like what they’re using. Or their child has outgrown what they’re using. Or they just don’t like it!

Whatever the reason you may find that it’s tricky to sell those items on and you’re not sure what to do!

Well we can help! Bring us any sling or carrier and donate it to us. You can then get two weeks free hire when you purchase at least two weeks from us! Like a part exchange! Swap your uncomfy carrier for a hire of a comfy one! We’ll teach you how to use your new hire and help you find the one that works the best for you and your child!

Rules:
You must own the item you are donating, if it was gifted to you please get permission to donate to us.
All donations are final and cannot be reversed.
Hire credits must be used immediately.
Donated items can be any kind of carrying aid in any condition.
Donated items will either be redonated to charity or sold to raise funds for the library.
Hires are subject to the standard sling library terms and conditions.

Bring A Friend


 

To keep costs down you are all my advertising executives! You do a superb job and I thought it was time I motivate you to do it even more (and reward you for what you do!). For each friend you bring to the library (who pays to hire) we’ll write your name in a book. On January 1st (ish) I’ll draw a name at random out of that book and you can choose your prize from my little collection of cool (sling related) things!

Rules:

You don’t have the physically bring your friend they can pass on your name when they come.
You can have your name written in the book multiple times but only once for each friend.
Each time your name is written in the book it will count as one entry.
You are resonsible for ensuring your name is handed in and written down at the time of entering. Names cannot be added at a subsequent date.
Your friend must be new to the library (or have not hired within the last six months) and must pay to hire.
You must be registered on the sling library myturn database and by entering you give us permission to contact you via your registered email address if you win. We will only look up for your details for this purpose and nothing else.
The winning email must be replied to within 48 hours or it will be redrawn.
In person collection of your prize is preferred but can be posted if required. There will be no cost for this.
This offer can be combined with any other offer we have as long as the other rules are still met.

And now we are nine!


Friday August 17th was an auspicious day in the WaWiSH sling library world because it is the ninth (yes NINTH!) anniversary of the very first meeting we had where no one took any photos as I just thought it was a way for me to make more friends (which I did but thats not the point!)

I thought you might like to know what I did on August 17th this year!

I started off the day with an early consultation to help a mum back carry her three year old! She already carries the baby but days out with a toddler brought her back to me to crack back carrying (and discuss tandem carrying). Mum was a natural and the three year old was a superstar at staying still and helping to rescue a stuck camel (one of my tricks to motivate toddlers into a back carry, it’s very effective!)

It’s the summer holidays then so me and child went on a trip to Acorn Farm because they have guinea pigs. we cuddled the guinea pigs (the photo is Charlie, he purred happily on the child’s knee, I got to cuddle Zoe, I think her breed was a Teddy so that ticked my boxes.) and a rat tried to hide in my hood!

We had another slingy appintment that afternoon, this mama has hired before so knew exactly what she wanted and she needed it quick for trips out! I always try to fit people in when I can (so if I say I can’t, I really really can’t!).

A mad dash to pick a replacement washer for the faulty one (many of you will have heard my whinging about my extremely broken washer so I was very excited to persaude them to replace the flipping thing!) and I ended the day cuddling another guinea pig!

Nine years ago it was an informal session in the park, just parents meeting up who liked slings. Back then there were few training courses and none in this country at all (I don’t think?). Over the years I’ve had training as it became available, and as the training became more accessible we’ve added lots of peer supporters (And the insurance, and policies and other exciting paperwork that come with all that!). Nine years ago you could have a go with someone else’s carrier but the only way to try one at home was to “holiday” a carrier. As that was someone’s personal possession, holidaying carriers and wraps generally only went to friends. In nine years the community and the industry has grown so much, the library has grown and changed with it, and we’ve got a lot more growing to do! Stick with us and recommended us as much as you can to help us keep growing!

A beginners guide to wrapping


Now, this is a story all about how my life got flipped turned upside down, I’d like to take a minute just sit right there and I’ll you how I become the Almighty Sling Goddess.

Well, not quite, but I will tell you the basics about wraps (and no more raps).

bty

The first thing you need to know about wraps is a Front Wrap Cross Carry. This teaches you the basics of how to make woven wraps do what you want them to do. The best place to learn this is face to face at a private consultation (we can teach a small group in this setting too) as it takes a little time to get to grips with but we can (and do) also teach this at the library sessions. If you’ve used a stretchy wrap it’s just a short hop, skip, and a jump to a woven!

This video from Slingababy shows what we teach.

 

Your “base size” is the size you need to tie the wrap on as above. For most people that’s a size 6 (4.6m). If you’re a distance from the average for height or weight then you may need a wrap that’s shorter or longer than a 6. As a rule of thumb the sizes increase or decrease by 40 centimetres for each size step. We have a wide range of sizes for you to try at the library.

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When it comes to what the wrap is made of for me it’s really simple. Find one that you like the look of and don’t worry too much about the blend (i.e. whether it’s 100% cotton or cotton mixed with something else). The only caveat I would add is to be aware if you’re buying new that linen and hemp can sometimes take a while to become soft, and if you’re considering silk/wool they require a little more careful washing.

Adele

The second hand markets is the perfect place for new wrappers as second hand wraps are often softer through use (called “broken in”). Some manufactuers offer a large discount off your first woven wrap though as long as you go through some stages with us first.

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Wrapping can be daunting but you are rewarded with an extremely versitile carrier, and for looks, nothing can be as pretty as a woven wrap!

bty

bty

End Of Year Round Up


HAPPY NEW YEAR

There have been highs and lows in 2017!

We end the year having processed around 1000 hires! We have 200 active (hired within the last six months) users and 200 items for them to choose from!

We have 12 volunteers (plus the librarian!) that attend the library sessions, 2 of whom trained to be babywearing consultants this year! That gives us a total of three conultants, five trained peer supporters and five admin volunteers! Each one of them is amazing and give their time freely to benefit others.

We run from five venues all around our bit of the North West and covering different types of venues too from a Parish Hall to Soft Play!

This year we received our first ever funding grant! This meant we could add our new free stretchy wrap hire scheme and we had a photoshoot with Hazel Hughes Photography to get professional photos to use as advertising.

But getting this scheme up and running scheme was one of the year’s lows. Unfortunately it all became very difficult when the original wrap manufacturer (Snugiwraps) disappeared into the sunset with the funding for the wraps. Although the biggest high of the year was the librarians around the rest of the country and our new manufacturer (Hana) stepping in to save the project!

We introduced late fees in February, intentionally set high in order to encourage people to deal with it sooner rather than later. This has worked extremely well with overdue hires reducing by 50%! We have still had some that gone significantly overdue though and due to this and non contact from those hirers I have submitted three small claims court proceedings this year. Each one has made me indescribly sad.

On the whole though we’ve had a superb year, many babies have been carried and many parents and discovered that they can use their hands again! Here’s to an even better 2018!

– Rachael

Festive funnery


The library will close completely for Christmas on Dec 22nd, after that there will be no hire, no returns, no consultations and very limited email and social media contact until early January.

For most of the year my house looks like a fabulous sling shop, over the festive season though I try to make it look more, well, festive!

It’s also the season of giving so this year I’m giving you TWO special offers! Read them both very carefully so you know what you’re doing!

 

Hire anything (except accessories!) from the library and if your return dates falls within our Christmas holidays you’ll get an automatic free extension!

Green and Red Illustration Christmas Naughty or Nice Card

The second offer is a bit more complicated and even more special. I’m hoping to encourage people out of their comfort zone to try something new! On the myturn database some items are marked as “special offer” they must be reserved via the myturn system (create an account, select the item and dates, and then “check out”, if you don’t get an email confirming your reservation it isn’t reserved!), check the sling library dates before reserving as you have to set a session to collect from.

If you fail to collect you may still be charged the £10 and the item offered to someone else. Items cannot be returned early and cannot be swapped. If you do not return your item on time you will be charged the full usual library hire fees and may be charged late fees on top as per the standard t&cs. Please do not hire unless you agree to these terms.

New wraps!


It all got a bit exciting in the librarian household recently as these boxes arrived:

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But what was inside I hear you cry? This from Hana Baby!

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Well actually more accurately all of these:

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Yep, that’s what a whole load of wraps looks like! But they are very special wraps:

04 05 06

 

They will be for our free stretchy hire project starting in Wigan (hopefully very soon, keep watching for details) and they are personalised with our logo! They you so much to Melissa for helping with this. Part of my funding bid was to have personalised wraps this is to promote the scheme but also to discourage theft!

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That’s (some of) the wraps all packed ready for Carolyn when we start lending them out, watch this space!

And lastly one very excited librarian trying on the new wraps!

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We had our photoshoot with Hazel Hughes Photography so we’ll have some really lovely promotional pictures to show you soon that should help us with advertising!

 

Project update


I think it’s time for another project update don’t you (for details on what the project is see here: http://bit.ly/supersecretspecial). This one is, well, the best word to describe it would be long so grab a cup of tea and please read to the end, it’s important!

So, funding came in back in March and I put the wheels in motion, I spoke to Steph at Snugiwraps and sent over the money for the wraps and a secret element that I am determined to still keep a secret for a bit longer!

It seemed to go well at first, but then my emails didn’t get replied to. I noticed an announcement on the Nova Carrier facebook page (also run by Steph) about a delay, sent another email and when there was no reply to that I got a sinking feeling. To cut a very long story short it all became incredibly stressful with a lot of back and forth and a lot of phone calls and emails to try to sort things out. The upshot of it all is though, I am told that without resorting to court action I won’t be getting the goods I paid £1100 for or a refund of my money.

But this update does have a happy side to it, after all this project is about making our little section of the world a nicer place in a small way.

I want to tell you about the customer service girl Ana, who stepped in to help Steph and try to help her get back on track, so many people got their items or refunds thanks to her working tirelessly.

And I want to tell you about Louise and Carolyn, who have listened to every panic stricken word I’ve had over the last few weeks, helping me get things in perspective and figuring out a plan to ensure the project will still run.

Because that’s the thing the project is still going to run! And thanks go to some absolutely amazing people. Hana Baby wraps for example, I contacted Melissa and explained things, she agreed to supply wraps on the same terms as I had (which meant she had to offer a hefty discount, which she then discounted even more!), keeping me updated and generally being patient with me.

Plus, the other sling librarians. I mentioned what had happened, I needed them to be aware, I’d suddenly got very ill and while I would recover perfectly fine it would take a little while. I thought it was important they knew my situation even though I wasn’t in a position to say anything publicly for a while.

The next thing I knew I was flooded with kindness, compassion and offers of wraps for the project. Then when I explained Hana was sorting out wraps for me, monetary donations started arriving. I picked them up in the short bursts that I was able to work and it was almost overwhelming to be wrapped in this cocoon of loveliness! Maebh from Sling Heaven offered to donate her “Warehouse Sale” takings to me, so she auctioned a number of items to other librarians who bid and all the money came to me. Carol Kite from Salisbury library organised a bring and buy sale, librarians donated items, other librarians bought them. I mostly cried with gratitude! Carol entitled her sale “Sling Librarians To The Rescue” and that summed it up for me really.

This has been a really unpleasant time, I’ve felt hopeless and lonely. Then along came the people above and they restored my faith in people and lifted a weight (that I didn’t realise was even there) from my shoulders. Between them the librarians replaced every single penny, and more besides (which we’re using to get another library’s free hire scheme!).

So, the project will continue, Hana are busy sorting the wraps for me and they should be here soon! I’ll update again when they are because I’ll need you for something very special! For now though, go and thank a sling librarian, they will have just done something very wonderful!

Maternal Mental Health – Naomi


Hi, I’m Naomi. I’m a peer supporter at the library, if you come to the St Helens meet you will probably have seen me there! I am many things. I am a mother, wife, vegan, not so closet hippy and I am also a sufferer of post natal depression. I have had depression for most of my life. It disappears for months or years at the time, but it always comes back. After the birth of my second child, I was on cloud 9 for the first 2 weeks. When my husband went back to work, leaving me with two very young children by myself, I really started to struggle. I had the perfect home birth I wanted, and fought very hard to get, I had a supportive husband, precooked meals in the freezer and I’d even managed to get out of my pyjamas and outside of the house, so why did I start to feel down and sad? Practicalities of life with two smalls hit me like a small ton of bricks and I started to flounder.

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Taking the biggest (and smallest) to visit the rescue ponies at Shy Lowen

I had worn my eldest child in a variety of slings since she was around 6 weeks old, a stretchy then moving to a woven. I discovered Rachael, and the library, when Livia was around one and I met Rachael for a back carrying consultation. I learnt to back carry and Rachael told me about a peer supporter training course and very kindly let me loose on parents at sling meets, sharing my love of babywearing. When I found myself outnumbered by both girls, and after the eleventy millionth nappy change (newborns eh?!) Livia wanted me to sit with her and make worms out of playdough, I pulled out the brand new Oscha woven wrap I’d bought for Genevieve and wrapped my teeny newborn to my chest, pulled up a ridiculously small chair and got busy making ‘worms’. For the first day, I felt I’d got the parenting smalls lark down! It’s my go to on those bad days. It takes so little time to wrap her up now, it’s my parenting secret weapon. Reflux? Sling. Teething? Sling. Won’t nap? Sling. Wants cuddles and the big one wants me to fetch/carry/play/make food? Slings. It’s even my go to for a poorly, grumpy, teetering-on-the-edge-of-a-meltdown 2 year old! Slings, almost literally, have given my sanity back and have enabled me to reconnect to my children when I feel so overwhelmed that I just can’t cope any more, even the process of wrapping and making sure I meet TICKS (very important!) gives me enough of a breather to calm myself down. It also gives me the chance to make food, wash my face, brush my hair and all those really small things you can’t do with just one hand!

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Parenting a poorly big girl

Slings won’t fix postnatal depression. Only a supportive village (also found at a sling meet!) and professional help will do that. They do, however, go a long way to helping you deal with the day to day stuff that life with smalls throws at you and enabling you to do the things that help take care of you and your mental health which can seem insurmountable on some days.

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