Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Babywearing in Britain (read 'the rain')

I didn't set out to be a babywearer. I bought a wrap in my second trimester because, renovating our home, I thought it would be a good way to carry on working hands free, just strap it (the baby) on and off we go. (Anyone who is also a parent will be stunned to know this hasn't really happened.)

I didn't like the ones with fabric between the baby and parent as I thought that, if I had one that held them as close as possible, it would keep them happier. So we got the Flo wrap from Mamas & Papas when it was on sale and that was that.

Nothing could have prepared me for the insane, hormones-plus need to protect my bundle. Speaking to other parents, not everyone has this, (you're possibly lucky), but I felt panicky if or little girl was anywhere but on me or my husband (where I could see him, to start with). The wrap meant she never had to be anywhere else.

For the first 6 weeks or so, my insides would clench whenever anyone except me or my husband held her. Whilst I did battle with those clenches to ensure grandparents were - gasp - allowed to hold her, it doubled up as a magic forcefield when we went out, keeping all those loving, adoring coos the other side of our cocoon and meaning that no overzealous relatives or friends could take her for cuddles then whisk her off out of sight (particularly useful at church).

The munchkin decided from day one the sleeping anywhere except on us was a no-no so the uses continued. If she needed to nap, into the wrap she went, and I would do housework, bake, or walk the dog. In the early days when she basically napped non-stop, this was a lifesaver.

It got to the point where I felt naked if she wasn't with me, like when you take off a favourite necklace. Also, my paranoia that she would spontaneously combust if she wasn't attached to me was calming down but still very much present. I got all wobbly the first time I put her in a buggy and felt nervous the entire 10 minutes she was in it - nervous like at the start of a rollercoaster ride when you're going up slowly and it's making that clicking sound (without the knowledge that any second it'll get all exhilarating). Roll these things together, combine them with an inordinate amount of love for the munchkin which required regular snuggles, and that was it, I was a babywearer.

That would all be fabulous if it wasn't for our glorious British weather.

This summer has been irresponsibly warm for England with hot, humid days for weeks on end. It started late April so I bought a length of thinner, lighter coloured fabric and made a new wrap.

Then, as July came around, even this was still very hot-and-bothered-y so I made a mei tai (thanks to Hobo Mama and Grunts & Grumbles for the patterns and how-to's I used to create my modified pattern - I'll put links at the end). It turns out, as an aside, that making mei tais is really addictive and I've started making them as gifts now too...

Anyway, that hot weather had now gotten wet-and-hot. So now what?! Well, whilst an umbrella is fine in a light drizzle, in a dog-walking deluge it just doesn't cut it. My first idea was to make a new mei tai out of oil cloth and add a hood, but her little legs would get wet...Cue a brainwave (my dad's actually, I can't take credit).

So the munchkin now has an aged 4-5 pack-a-mac which I stretch over the sling, once the little'un is safe inside, tucking it in around the edges, tying the arms to the sling straps and pulling the hood up over her head. I then put my mac on and pull the front as closed as it'll go. We look awesome.

And we are ready to face the British weather as a team until one of us decides we're big enough to announce that we can go out alone and have our own mac and wellies (because it will be her, I'm sure of it).

(How to make a mei tai :

Both of these were great starting points and then I sort of adapted from there but you could just go crazy and follow one of them properly.


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