So, the question on everybody’s lips is: where were you during International Babywearing Week 2012? We were in Sheffield (as is our wont) and very glad we were too, as there was certainly no shortage of things to do!
Sheffield Slings kicked off IBW with a fun family walk on the Sunday, from Endcliffe park to Forge Dam <insert cake break here> and back again. Around 18 mums, dads and elder siblings slung their babies and toddlers through the mud and fallen leaves to Forge Dam, where the latter were released into the wild playground and the former enjoyed a well earned rest at the cafe. This was a wonderful way to start IBW celebrations and include the whole family in some fun exercise in the fresh air.
Tuesday saw one of Sheffield Slings’ quintessential Coffee and Cake meets, these are pretty much what we live for! We took over @851, a new cafe on Ecclesall Road which we just love. There’s plenty of space for us to spread out and a ball pool, toys, books and a colouring table to keep the little ones entertained, leaving the oldies free to chat about, oh, I don’t know, slings or something. The wonderfully friendly and accommodating staff helped us shove some tables together (and then another, and another) as more and more people arrived. We met some lovely new members and there was much swapping of SSCs and demo-ing of wrapping techniques. More than one person left with a slight Babies in Space obsession, that much is clear.
Sheffield Slings decamped to Chesterfield on Wednesday to help the lovely Lindsay celebrate Chesterfield Sling Library’s first birthday party. Lindsay and a couple of helpful friends had been selling raffle tickets beforehand and with so many amazing prizes up for grabs including slings, accessories and money off vouchers, it’s no wonder the final tally came to £475! An amazing achievement and one which slinging mamas in Chesterfield, Sheffield and the surrounding areas will greatly benefit from – expect to see loads of new stock comeing soon, including a half buckle from Monkey Mei Tai, infant and toddler sizes mei tais from Pouchlings, a toddler sized Connecta, infant and toddler full buckles from Babies In Space, and a linen ring sling and a mesh/water sling from Comfy Joey! Exciting! Sheffield Slings members had a fab time at the party, rather a lot of chocolate cake was demolished and there was the obligatory wrap demos from our very own Rosie.
Wednesday was also the day we heard we were the proud winners of the International Babywearing Award for Best Babywearing Outreach Program by a Non-Vendor! This was a lovely little piece of recognition for what we love to do.
On Friday we got back out into the fresh air again, this time with a visit to Graves Park. The little ones loved seeing the animals, feeding the cows and goats and finishing off with a charge around the playground, of course. The mamas enjoyed a stroll around the park, with (can you guess?) plenty of coffee and cake in the cafe afterwards. Historians will argue but I do believe there was talk of slings at some point too…
Meanwhile, one of our members was chatting to BBC Radio Sheffield’s Rachel Kerry, who’d happened to hear about us and wanted to know more. She interviewed Lily about the group and our award for the Saturday news bulletins.
Saturday was the end of IBW (sob) so we knew we’d better make it count! The morning was spent listening out for the mention of Sheffield Slings on the radio, then we braved the football traffic to get to the town centre for our Grande Finale – The Mass Wrap.
We had planned to hold this in the Peace Gardens but the unpredictable weather put paid to that idea so we skipped off to the Winter Gardens instead. We shared the space with some Morris Dancers, a wedding party and a local artist (who was very interested in our slings and insisted on having photos taken with us!) so it was nice and cosy! We met a new family and their beautiful daughter who happened to be wearing the World’s Best Hat – hand knitted by mum, of course – and helped them out with an impromptu double hammock demo. The toddlers played happily together, it’s lovely seeing their shyness dissipate and confidence increase as they become more familiar with one another. As much as Sheffield Slings is about the mamas and papas meeting likeminded parents and building their own support network, it is wonderful to see our children becoming firm friends as well.
Saturday evening found Sheffield Slings admin fervently counting and recounting votes in our photo comp. Congratulations again to the lucky winners!
And so, International Babywearing Week 2012 is over. We really enjoyed it and we hope you did too. Now, to start planning next year…