More Than Just Slings – Jen’s Story
When I was 12 I was diagnosed with ME, a chronic and fluctuating condition causing fatigue, joint and muscles pain, and a host of other neurological, muscular and other symptoms. This has meant my life was timetabled differently to a lot of people’s. I was unable to go to school for several years, but I wanted to learn. I read, and researched, and had home tuition to make sure I was covering the basics. Being self-directed and developing the skills to self-teach from an early age has actually been an excellent asset for “real life”. Living with a chronic condition often means people have different expectations for how your life will look. I was determined to go to university, which I managed with the help of an electric wheelchair. I met Andy there, and we became best friends, and three year after we graduated we got married! When we felt settled, we decided that this was the right time for us to start our family, even though I was more ill than I had been in several years. I was pregnant and using a wheelchair or walking frame when I was well enough to leave the house. At home I was using hands to hold onto furniture and rails to move around. We began considering what parenting would look like for us.
A sling is the thing!
Out and about with a baby
Going out was a different matter. He hated the pushchair as much as the Moses basket. I wasn’t confident going out with him in a sling without anything to lean on and with nowhere to put the half dozen changes of clothes, and nappies that I insisted on taking JUST IN CASE! (Just in case what, I’m still not sure!) What I found I was doing was pushing an empty pushchair whilst carrying my baby in a sling. This was unwieldy and inconvenient. I found that carrying in a sling whilst leaning forward over the pushchair was uncomfortable and with a child that had doubled his birth-weight by 12 weeks I was finding the stretchy wrap wasn’t always feeling supportive enough. Off I went to my local sling library to hire “the other type of sling”. I headed up to a meet of Coventry Slings, and there I saw what seemed to me an utterly overwhelming range of slings. I had thought that “the other kind” was a buckle carrier and that was all there was. Well, after actually bursting into tears about the number of options I had to choose from, two lovely ladies helped me find the option which was perfect for me and my baby at that time. One of those ladies was Em, who you will now know as the other half of It’s A Sling Thing. The carrier was a Meh Dai, and it felt so comfy and supportive. I found it much easier to tighten and loosen on the move than the stretchy wrap, and I loved it. I hired it over and over again for months! I went along to every meet, joined as a member, tried other options too, but always keeping hold of the Meh Dai.
Perfect, for now
Here comes another one
Dads carry too
A new beginning
Early in 2017 I spotted an exciting sounding business prospect. An unnamed online Sling library and retail service was for sale as the current owner was ready to move on. The idea really excited me. The ability to support parents across the whole of the UK would be incredible, and it would allow me to work from home to support my family. I talked to Em about it, and we both thought that it had real potential, so, together, we put an offer in to buy It’s A Sling Thing. To our intense excitement, and a bit of trepidation, Kerry accepted our offer! In July 2017 we took over the running of this amazing business, and together we have so many ideas that we will never run out of things to do. Earlier this year (2018), when the opportunity to train with JPMBB presented itself, I leapt at the opportunity. Em and I are both looking forward to training as CalmFamily consultants too, starting later this month. Our future partnership with CalmFamily will give us a range of opportunities to support parents.
I still love slings, and both Andy and I use them daily, for longer walks, tired children, bedtime walks, commuting, to keep the kids safer near water or roads, and to just offer connection and comfort. Last night before bed my youngest begged to go in the wrap, just for a wander around the house, for a cuddle and to snuggle in. Earlier in the afternoon I had made them a wrap hammock under a table (a great way to break in sturdy wraps, by the way). My kids are getting older, and are incredibly independent and confident, but slings are still a useful tool. They have allowed us to climb mountains with the kids. I look back and think that I first picked up a sling because I couldn’t walk around the house holding a baby. I thought there were 2 types of sling. I sit here now, in a room with hundreds of slings of dozens of types and think about how I have walked up mountains with my children. I could never have imagined this life-changing journey, the people I have met, who have enriched my life. My future is about supporting more and more parents and carers to find more than just the right sling. It is about supporting families and their unique needs.