Black Babywearing week is upon us, and it love what this week gives homage to. Babywearing is sacred to me. Not only is it a beautiful part of my journey as a caregiver, but as a black woman, I join the legacy of the women who wore me.
Babywearing doesn’t have to end in toddlerhood. If you are able to bear your toddler’s weight, I would make the argument that it is just as important and useful as in infancy.
No matter how independent and adventurous toddlers get, they still crave the closeness and security that comes with wearing.
As my babe approaches 3(!) and weighs over 30 lbs, I see no current end in our babywearing journey.
Here are 4 reasons we are still babywearing in our house:
Toddler’s have big feelings. Wearing them allows them to self-regulate by being close to you. It fosters secure attachment, allows them to feel safe, and cared for too.
Safety and Security
Toddler’s be running. Sometimes i’m in less than ideal places like carnivals or crossing busy streets. Wearing reduces my worry as I can keep her close.
I’d much rather strap my kiddo to my back , than navigate a stroller in and out of my car as I run errands. Also, as a minimalist, I prefer to travel simple. A carrier and a bag is typically all I need when spending all day out with my toddler.
My kid is on a shoe strike, and prefers to be barefoot all the time, sometimes in inconvenient places like the grocery store. Toddler’s also sometimes have meltdowns or want to be carried everywhere. Wearing helps in several different scenarios. It is so convenient.
Fun side: All the carriers i’m using in this blog post are from Bijou Wear, a Kansas company who I love very much. I own two, but the rest of these of these carriers are borrowed from friends, or from Bijou’s own lending library.
“When I got pregnant my last year of undergrad, I began to reflect on my childhood and how it shaped me as a scholar and as a person. I thought about my identity as a Black woman in America. What experiences did I want my offspring to have?
I had felt so much pressure living in a world that expects us to work twice as hard for half as much. I decided to unplug from that narrative and live life on my terms. It felt almost like a matter of life and death, and for many Black people in America, it is.
After moving to the States I noticed the pressure that Black caregivers and their children are under in a world that considers them less than. Our kids must be well-groomed and well-behaved at all times, even at the expense of their childhood. There’s a scene in the Netflix movie Nappily Ever After …”
According to google, Mindfulness is defined as “the quality or state of being conscious or aware of something.” Most days my brain is going a mile a minute- writing lists, meal planning, remembering when the last diaper change was, whether or not I had a playdate scheduled, or when I need to wash the linens. Punctuate that with parenting a rambunctious toddler and constantly distracted by my phone and you have a very busy brain on your hands.
This May 12th marks my 3rd (!) year as a mama! I have been on a slow journey to tap into mindfulness as a way to reconnect with myself. I know that when I am nourished and well rested, that I am a better mom.
I attempt the habits I am about to share only when I can, and when they feel good. Never forcing anything.
Going on a small solo walk and talk to nature
My newest habit feels really good, I just walk down a couple blocks and point out the flora and fauna I see to myself. Sometimes I greet them, or thank the trees for the oxygen they provide me. This exercise requires me to focus and to be present. Which works great for me since I tend to live in the clouds.
Taking a hot bath with herbs, Epsom Salts or ACV
I’ll let you, reader, find out the benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar for yourselves. They are both a bath staple in our home. I don’t take baths often, I can barely scrounge up time for a shower, but I have been making a point every so often to slow down, put on a face mask, dry brush my skin, and hop into the bath for 15 mins or so. Sometimes with a book, sometimes with just my thoughts.
Making a nourishing meal for myself
This one is hard for me, because a lot of my own energy goes in to taking care of the people in my families dietary needs, I barely have the spoons to eat something nutritious for myself when I do make the time to sit down and eat. Slowing down though and eating a meal rich in good fats and amazing spices or drinking an herbal infusion always hits the spot.
Reading a daily devotional or journaling
Journaling regularly has always been a dream of mine. But the truth was I couldn’t get to it everyday, then felt ashamed at the large gaps between my entries until I had finally discouraged myself from even trying. Thankfully I released that hang up a few years ago and happily journal when the mood strikes. I have also been reading a couple of day books. I don’t get to them every day, but when I do, I don’t try to play catch up, I read the message for that day, because thats the one I need to see. I’ve been reading Simple Abundance a Daybook of Comfort and Joy, and 365 Tao Daily Meditations.
I hope you find the time this week to celebrate yourselves in one some way. I leave you with the words of Asia Suler:
“No matter who you are, what you’ve done or what you’ve yet to accomplish — you are seen, cherished, and welcomed into the fold. The Earth, and the family of beings to which you belong, cares about you as an innate part of the whole.
You are as precious as the winged seeds of the maple, as beloved as the first cherry-colored blossoms of spring. As integral as the bee, pollen-dusted and in love with everything. You are seen in the same rose-tint as the bee sees the bloom and the soil sees the seed.”
Happy 2019! I hope this blog post finds you, reader, in good spirits.
So let’s get right to it. Easter stuff is already everywhere you look. I purposefully tried to avoid all small holidays in the USA the first few years of Thandiwe’s life because it just seems like a giant excuse to ply kids with candy. But now, as my little one is getting older and has shown interest in things like birds, bees, bunnies, and mushrooms, I see an opportunity to use Easter to teach her about rest, renewal, and the beauty of transformation.
Christian Easter will be celebrated on April 21st, but we are tying our Easter celebration to the Spring Equinox which will be on March 20. Whatever beliefs you have, I hope you find time to find the beauty in the green blooms that will be coming out to say hello.
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The Easter Basket
Reuse a basket/box you already own or go to a local thrift store and get a wicker one for cheap.
This is the perfect time to get your child spring and summer items they may have outgrown. Each season I go through Thandiwe’s wardrobe to find out what she has outgrown or needs repaired. In her case, she had outgrown her swimsuit and water shoes.
Since she has an obsession with mushrooms (like her mama!) I reached out to my IG friends who recommended so many good books, but I liked this one the best. Our lesson this Easter will be around the life cycle of mushrooms.
Instead of Easter grass, I will be using a playsilk that I plan on dyeing with blackberries. Really any scarf will do. Scarves are great open ended toys because they can become a cape, bandana, tutu, or baby sling. I have a post about toys here. You could also use newspaper or craft paper to make your own compostable easter grass.
If I had any crocheting skills, I would make these myself, but instead I pay my lovely talented friends instead. Here is a link to the Etsy store pattern for these . You don’t have to add toys to the basket, but Easter isn’t only about bunnies and chicks, there is ample opportunity to chat about nature in general.
The Easter Egg hunt
I got a bag of the plastic eggs from the thrift store to use. I spent some time researching biodegradable and recyclable ones (there are not many options) before decided to just buy some second hand and take care of them so we can use them for many years to come. Luckily, the ones I found were slightly bigger than a standard size, so if I chose to fill them with something bigger in the future I am set.
Ditch the candy if you can. Instead use
Coins or cash (kids love money)
Yogurt bites, or yogurt covered nuts/ fruit
Gummies that aren’t full of gross stuff
Lip balm/Nail polish/Lip stick for the makeup loving kiddo in your life
Rings/ Beads and string to make jewelry
I hope this gives anyone searching, some ideas. At the end of the day all our babes want is to connect with us. I look forward to restart our walks in the neighborhood where we point out all the cool flora and fauna that is local to us. She recognizes spots from last spring/summer where the bunnies hid and where mushrooms sprouted and she searches for them whenever we do make it outside. I love this graphic from Little Oak Learning.
It is quite hard to not get caught up in the buying frenzy that is in the air during the holiday season. My spouse and I take full advantage of the fact that our two year old is none the wiser and choose not to buy into the hype. However, we want to build meaningful tradition and ritual for our family and that includes thinking about what we want this time of year to look like for our family.
If you are feeling the pressure this holiday season with all the marketing and ads coming your way, Let me remind you that what your children want most is your time. Toys come and go, clothes are outgrown, but memories last much longer. If you must make purchases, here is a graphic to keep you in check.
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With winter approaching we have been focused on getting our babe some open ended toys. What are open-ended toys you ask? Basically any toy that doesn’t have a fixed use and can be played with in a variety of ways. I thought i’d share some of the open ended toys that have been on our horizon for months now.
Play silks can become tutus, capes, headscarfs, doll slings, dresses, forts, and much more. The soft biodegradable material feels good on little hands too.
EarthTiles are made from sustainably sourced wood and these magnetic tiles are a beautiful way for babes to engage in STEM play.
A kinderboard can be a balance board, a reading nook, slide, bridge, booster seat, and much more. I am probably the most excited to see all the ways she will play with this. Much like most open ended toys, it is an investment and will probably be in our family for a long time.
Rainbow stackers are not only beautiful but are a lesson in math, science, art, and fun in general.
As for books, thrift stores and thriftbooks.com are still my favorite place to search for titles. Right now my wishlist is full of books about eating and enjoying food as I try to encourage her to eat more.
At the end of the day, my daughter is most happiest when both of us are playing hands on with her. No toy can match that. Our favorite thing to do right now is play with homemade play-dough and cookie cutters.
I hope this holiday season gifts you with time to spend with those you love.
Being a third culture kid has its pros and cons. On one hand, I am adaptive, can pick up languages very easily and love being a citizen of the world. On the other hand, I suffer from some sort of identity crisis sometimes. I used to wish I had one culture. A set of rules and rituals I could lean into during life’s moments. Practices that are set in stone and were practiced by my people and their people before them. Instead, I have a mix of Setswana, Shona, British, and Kansan culture and traditions in my head.
Colonialism took away a lot of culture and tradition for some African tribes and I mourn the loss of our traditions that were demonized by western Christianity. I’ve tried hunting down records of how my people lived before colonization but the information is scarce.
As my toddler gets older, my spouse and I are questioning everything we know. Will we celebrate Christmas? Yule? Easter? Birthdays? If we do, how can we do it in a way thats authentic to us and our values. Its important to us to engage in rituals and traditions that are meaningful and bring true joy to us. Not just because they are the norm.
She is only two though, so for now, having these conversations looks like singing rhymes and lullabies. Going on walks and exploring nature as it changes before our eyes. Jumping in rain puddles, picking up dandelions, acorns, pumpkins, and sticks.
Things that I know for sure are that I want to celebrate and cherish the beginning and ending of each season wherever we are living. Recognizing the growth and harvest time in Summer and Fall, and the rest and renewal of Winter and Spring. Knowing where our food is from and giving thanks to those who grew, picked, and cooked it. Recognizing our role as stewards of the land and the First Nations people who were here before us. Cooking Zimbabwean food for her so she knows her culture even though we are so far away from it. Standing up for her rights and those of others. There is so much I want to show my babe and I am excited to learn it all with her through her eyes.
I am Jon Snow, I know nothing. No amount of books, anecdotes, podcasts, or documentaries prepared me for childbirth or motherhood. I had the birth I had, not the one I wanted. Thats a story for another day though.
I am constantly in awe of the gifts that motherhood has given to me, and the things it has taken away too. I thought i’d share some of the lessons I have learned over the past two years.
Community is so important because caregiving can be isolating. Reach out.
Being a steward of the earth is important. Maybe you don’t give a heckin heck about animals, or have no interest in growing plants or going vegan. But you can recycle, and buy ethically raised and organically grown foods and meat if your life allows you to. You can teach your kids where their food comes from and how to be ethical consumers because you owe it to them to teach them how to survive on this planet and not trash it.
I have to be gentle and kind to myself.
My body is magnificent. Even though sometimes I am dehydrated and sleep deprived, it continues to show up for me and my grabby toddler each day with minimal complaints.
I owe it to myself and my kid to follow my own dreams.
Constantly access what is in front of me and be creative.
They are watching you (your kids, that is…not ‘the man’ lol).
You will probably lose friends. Certain friendships are seasonal, and when you enter a new season in your life its ok if they don’t want to join you. Even if it sucks.
Your kid is a product of their environment. They will learn how to cope, manage their emotions, and express themselves from how you do the same.
Your kid will probably lose it in the grocery store.
If someone is acting like they have their shit together, they are lying.
I am often accosted in Target by exasperated well meaning white caregiver’s with multi-racial children who have curly hair. They need tips, and I have lots, but not always while i’m shopping. The internet has a smorgasbord of awesome content for just how to maintain a thriving curly mane but sometimes you need just the basics. If I could keep this infographic on me to pass around I totally would.
This is my introductory advice on how to get thriving curls:
What if I told you that you could wear a pair of shoes all day and after an active day, experience no foot pain? What if I told you that a majority of the shoes we wear and buy are trash for your feet?
We all know about bunions, corns, and callouses on feet but many of us don’t know that they are typically caused by prolonged wear of uncomfortable and improperly-sized shoes. Wearing tight or unsupportive shoes can damage the feet over time as they cause the many different bones, muscles, and ligaments in our feet to atrophy.
I love a cute shoe. Before I discovered minimalism, every time Old Navy had their $1 flip flop sale or Charlotte Russe was having their $20 boot sale you would find me there spending my hard earned money. It never occurred to me that the poorly made items lasted me less than a year and even though they hurt my feet a few hours into the day, I never made the connection between comfort and quality because I was trying to be cute.
In the beginning of my pregnancy, I was working full time and going to school full-time. I was interested in finding comfortable shoes that would support me and my hectic schedule. I also knew that once my kid was born, I wanted to be active with her, playing, hiking, going on walks, and I needed shoes that wouldn’t have my feet aching at the end of the day.
After some trial and error and research, I found that the best shoes are:
Flexible -They should move with your feet. Your foot shouldn’t be doing extra work to keep them attached to your feet like the action you make when walking with a flip flop. Not great.
Zero-toe drop – In a nutshell that means there should be no heel in the back of the shoe. The sole of the shoe should all be the same height so that your feet aren’t putting all the weight on your toes because of the height difference.
Wide-toe box – Give those toes room to breathe and flex in the shoe. This is especially important for kids as their little feet are still developing.
I slowly built up my comfortable game over the past two years and phased out my uncomfortable shoes and wanted to share some of my favorites brands, tips, and tricks below.
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During summer, I am try to spend as much time in/near water as possible and I was looking for an easy on and off shoe that works well at the pool/splash park with Thandie and that is perfect for running errands in the Kansas humid weather. I found that Teva makes an amazing strappy, flexible, flip flop that changed my life. I am NEVER going back. NEVER.
I visited a local Browns shoe fit and got measured for some walking sandals. My favorite thing about visiting stores that focus on ONE thing (as opposed to big box stores that sell many things) is that even though their employees main goal is to sell you something, they typically are knowledgable about the shoes, materials the shoes are made of, the company and what works best for your feet. I tried on several sandals and ended up leaving with a pair of Chacos that ended up seeing me through a few 5 mile walks while 32 weeks pregnant in Texas during our baby moon. Side note: Chacos are definitely a try on in-store shoe.
Tip: Shoe sizes vary per style/cut of shoe as well as company. Go to a professional shoe store and have your feet measured properly. Also try shoes on and don’t assume based on size and if ordering online make sure to order from places that allow free returns.
I had to kiss my cute, beloved and old ass adidas trainers that did nothing but leave my feet aching and sore after a workout to the curb. I went to a different small store that focused on shoes for runners and athletes called Gary’s Gribbles Running Store. I invested the most I have ever spent on a sneaker on the comfiest Saucony shoes that really support my feet through workouts.
I mentioned my Keen Boots in my January favorites post but I have to shout them out again because it’s seriously like walking on a cloud.
My latest challenge has been finding cute sandals. A lot of the brands like Keen and Teva that make ergonomic, wide toe box shoes typically make fugly sandals but as they try to reach out to a younger audience their styles are improving. Jhene Aiko recently had a campaign for Teva that resulted in some cute “flatforms” that I have been searching for second-hand on eBay too.
It is imperative for children to wear shoes that make room for their feet to grow. So far for Thandiwe I have purchased or been given pairs of See Kai Runs , Roobeez, and Tevas all of which I am comfortable with because they are flexible and allow her feet to move and flex within the shoe. If they are going to be in flip-flops, make sure they have a back strap.