1. Let us know you are coming! RSVP to the events so that we can do our best to have enough educators and volunteers available! If you decide last minute you are available, join us anyways! We’d love to see you!
2. Bring your own carriers. We are advocates for practice, not product! Our educators have a working knowledge of just about any carrier on the market. Our goal is first to help you feel comfortable and happy with what you currently own. If you want to try something new, you are welcome to try out the many carriers in our library. If you do not own a carrier yet, you are in luck! We have plenty for you to try and feel so you can be confident in your purchasing decisions.
3. Plan ahead for your child(ren). Kids of all ages are welcome at our meetings. Please come with whatever you need to keep your child(ren) happy: snacks, drinks, toys, books, whatever that may be. We ask that it be quiet and not messy as we meet in donated spaces. If your child has a special toy that would be stressful to share, consider leaving that in the car. When packing snacks, avoid nut products and be aware that many of our participants have food allergies (especially nut, gluten and dairy). We ask that you keep snacks contained (within arm’s reach to limit your child leaving food or drink where someone else could pick it up), and avoid sharing or offering snacks or drinks to other children.
4. Make Yourself Comfortable: We don’t set up chairs in any specific order, as whatever we take out we have to put back and many of our volunteer leaders have to leave as soon as the meeting is finished. If you would like a chair, grab one! Sit on the floor. Lean against a wall. Put a blanket down on the floor. Whatever makes you comfortable! Our meeting locations vary but you are welcome to make yourself comfortable as each location deems. Join us. If you come in late, that’s fine. Just slide right in.
5. Put Your Child’s Needs First: Feel free to parent your child. Our leaders will sometimes have to pause instruction or conversation in order to parent their own children, and we understand that you may need a break to do the same. The children are why we’re here, after all so do not worry if you have to step away to change a diaper, take someone to the potty, or sit down and feed your child. Please know that many of our leaders are stay at home moms or are working moms with some schedule flexibility, so we often have our children with us, too. Our leaders have kids that range from newborn to 12 years old. Many of us couldn’t volunteer as educators if we couldn’t bring our kids with us. Our leaders and attendees will also have older children that they need to bring, especially when school is not in session. We all try our best to keep older children calm and contained, but towards the end of the meeting especially, their patience may be wearing thin and hunger is setting in. If you see a safety concern, inform one of the leaders and/or the parent of the child.
6. Ask lots of questions! Please speak up and ask a question or ask for help when needed. It is not rude. If you need something repeated, just tell us. If you asked for help and we have not gotten to you, please remind us. Please do not leave if you feel like you still have concerns or questions. We want to help!
7. Trust Us: All of our educators are well versed in all the carrier types. While we may each have our own favorite(s), we are capable of helping you with what you need. For example, if an educator is wearing their child in a ring sling, it is still okay to ask them about soft structured carriers. If one of our educators can not answer your question, they will direct you to one who can or is best suited to help you.
8. Remember, we’re here to help you!! We volunteer our time because we want you to love babywearing and to be successful with it. At one point, we all walked into a babywearing meeting, unsure of ourselves, a little bit intimidated, not knowing anyone, and probably tired and frazzled, as well. But something special happened for us, and we came back again. And again. And again. And now we’re the ones standing in the front of the room, tossing a baby on our back again and again and again so you can learn to do it, too. We hope these tips will help make meetings a better experience for all of us, and allow us to better meet your needs and make you feel included. Happy wearing!
Much thanks, credit, and blatant copying comes from the amazing BWI of DC-MD-VA (Beltway Babywearers). If you are looking for an amazing blog to follow, this is a great one. To find the source of stolen and copied information, please see here: http://www.beltwaybabywearers.blogspot.com/2014/04/maximizing-your-meeting-experience.html?m=1. Special thanks to Ann Marie - for the many many many ways she has given to the babywearing community and for granting permission for the copying of her smart, educated, and well thought out words!