Thursday, June 30, 2016

Lending Library Love

Hi! I'm Alieta. I'm a Volunteer Babywearing Educator for the group. You usually see me at the West Dundee, Belvidere, or Rockford meetings. I took over as one of the BWI of NCIL chapter librarians in early 2016. I knew some of what the librarians do, such as checking in and out carriers so we knew what we have available. Or picking out and purchasing new carriers as we see the need arise and funds are available from your awesome memberships. And reaching out to companies, trying to request donations for carriers as well. But I had no clue it would be such a big job. I should have realized that since our 3 year old BWI of NCIL chapter already has over 250 carriers in rotation.

Yes, you read that correct. Over 250 carriers to keep track of, make sure they are clean and safe for meeting attendees and members to use, and move around so everyone has an opportunity to try out different brands. It really is awesome the resources we have available for caregivers to try on at meetings and try out at home with a BWI of NCIL membership!

I can say without a doubt that having a large lending library is one of two things that makes our chapter great. I hope you know what the other thing is - it's the amazing educators we have in our group. Their hours spent volunteering for Babywearing International of North Central Illinois are what keep the group running each month.

But hey, back to the lending library...and to my beginning.

When I stumbled upon Babywearing International, I had just a Moby. And a 1 year old. So he really had outgrown the Moby and I had no clue about all the other carriers. I thought I was done wearing when he got too heavy for the Moby to provide really good support anymore. I was also pregnant with my second child, which was due in the summer. You all know if you have ever used a stretchy wrap of any kind that they need three layers all spread out over baby to be safe. And those three layers and summer mean one hot mama! So my quest for those first meetings was just to find something to use that was not going to be so hot in the summer while wearing my baby so I could chase my toddler. And I tried on some different things while I was pregnant but was not really checking items out from the lending library at that point in time.

And our lending library could be just a library like that where people can only try on carriers at meetings. There are groups out there that are like that. But once you find a carrier you like after trying them all on, you would then need to go purchase it. No real test drive other than five or ten minutes at a meeting. No chance to see if it might fit another caregiver in your household that would wear the child as well. 

I remember trying on a certain carrier and then finding out how much they cost and thought people were crazy. So I kept visiting meetings and trying things on for a few minutes.

The fun part came once baby number two was born. He hated his car seat more than baby number one. I didn't even know that was possible! And I wanted to actually try using other carriers than my trusty Moby without having to spend big money on buying them. So I checked out a wrap, and then next month a ring sling, and maybe next month a different wrap or a soft structured carrier. I even learned there were carriers for my toddler! So he couldn't run away from me if I wanted to use the stroller for the baby. Or I could wear both kids at once, which was an even more obscure idea at the time. It saved me. It saved my arms from falling off carrying one of the two boys around at home or when we were out and about. It saved my sanity because I could get out of the house with two kids successfully on my own.

Our members of BWI of NCIL can do all those things too. With just a $30 annual membership to our group, they get those privileges to borrow from our lending library for a month at a time. 

But still, five years after finding BWI, with a few favorites that I have purchased and with obviously much bigger kids now, I still check out carriers from our lending library. To try something new. To play with a carrier I otherwise cannot afford. To be able to give good feedback on using it when someone at a meeting asks me how to use a particular carrier. And it still is that fun part being able to do that as well as helping oversee our lending library.

Our lending library is important to our community. It provides a valuable asset to give that tool of babywearing to parents who cannot afford to spend money on a carrier. Some of them can cost only $40 or $50 but we have some that cost $200 easily.

But remember, that lending library is nothing without our educators. So when you see them at the next meeting and they help you with something, appreciate them putting in their own time to helping others by sharing the babywearing love and knowledge they have. And if you love babywearing and want to help in some way, ask us how you can be involved in our group. Because more volunteers are how we keep our group growing and our members are how we keep the lending library growing.

Wearing my 9 month old son in our Moby, my 1st carrier. 
One of my first tries at tandeming was my Moby on front with my 5 month old and a Kinderpack checked out from the lending library of my local chapter that fit my 2 year old great.
Wearing the 2 year old in a ring sling, Natibaby Cyprus, checked out from our lending library.
Wearing Natibaby Clovers in a back carry from our lending library.
This day my son just loved hugging me while I wore him.
Wearing my 4 year old in a toddler size Kinderpack from the lending library.