Welcome to our post box

I was just a little excited by a delivery we had this week. A parcel drop box! It’s even red. This box had been purchased to allow out of hours returns a little easier as it does not require me to be in. As you can imagine I spend a considerably amount of my time collecting parcels. I’m on first name terms with 2 different courier delivery drivers, 3 postmen and the sorting office staff. 

How does it work?

It is a locked unit, place the parcel on the top draw and then close. Once closed the parcel drops inside and this prevents them from being accessed by anyone without a key. 


Where is it?

The box is not positioned next to our front door but fixed to the side of the garage (behind you when you are stood at front door). It is not visible from the road.

Who can use it?

It can be accessed 24/7. Simply ensure your parcel is securely wrapped in waterproof packaging (it is made of metal but not completely waterproof) and labelled with your name (we have several slings that are same colour or due back at same time etc). Please send us a message once you have put your parcel in there so we can collect it.

What about postal returns?

Unfortunately the box won’t necessarily be able to accept all returns as many require a signature.  I will still collect these from the sorting office but those which can be left in a safe place will be put here.

Will my parcel fit?

The vast majority of the parcels we receive are classified as “small parcels” by Royal Mail. They should adequately fit. Those with boxes bigger than 19cm x 35 cm x 26.5cm will too big for the parcel opening (w x h x d). These will need to be returned by post, the box flattened but in way that can be reused or returned to agreed session/time. Most of our slings do not come with the box (they take up too much storage room so I don’t tend to keep them). I have just tried it with one of the newest arrivals and one of the largest boxes we have: the Beco Toddler Cool and it fits!

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The role of a library

This weekend I have to admit I haven’t been feeling my best. In fact this morning I dragged myself and the boys to out of hours to find I am quite badly dehydrated. Today has been all about rehydrating. The fact I haven’t been feeling very well might also explain why I spent a large portion of yesterday afternoon in tears and generally feeling pretty down. The reason: one text message. I suppose this blog is a follow up to the one I wrote recently on entitlement.

NESL is here for all families. There are no “rules” over the parents we help. I want NESL to be able to help as many families as possible. We are though at heart a lending library. We loan you a sling for 2 or 4 weeks and then you bring it back on the date given when hiring (and sent via email). In cases of ill children, broken cars etc I get that people won’t make sessions to return. I get it. I am a Mum first and foremost. I will work with you to find a solution; often extending or retuning to a different session.

I also understand that you may want longer to try the carrier. Usually it is possible to extend your hire but it is not a guaranteed right. There may be times, especially with new or popular or specialist slings, times it isn’t possible. I will always give as much notice as possible of it won’t be possible. For example, our “summer slings”  are popular in well ‘summer’. I have requests from parents daily and usually I can accommodate them. Some may request a specific sling and I will do my best to help them get it. 

I know it isn’t nice to be told you can’t keep something. I vividly remember the anger of getting a “reservation notice” from the university library meaning I wouldn’t be able to extend the loan longer to finish that essay. I got that the books were popular. Some so popular you could only loan them for 24 or 72hours. But I got it. I understood they weren’t mine. If I wanted them longer then that’s what Amazon and Waterstones were for: to buy. If you are enjoying the carrier so much you want to keep it let me know. If I can extend hire I will, or I will help direct you where to buy one (you never know I might even have a discount code available) but please remember it isn’t yours.  If I ask for it back it is so I can help another family. Please don’t try to make me feel guilty or make demands with sense of entitlement. That isn’t how NESL works.

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5 years of helping the NE to carry their babies big and small

5wordyNESL is 5 today!! Let’s celebrate. I’d like to wish a very happy birthday to Roamy of South East Slings (formerly East Sussex Slings) as we are birthday twins, launching our libraries on the same day. Happy Birthday to Mummy Roo of Slumber Roo, one of the largest supporters of NESL, and of course my Grandad, who today is 91 years young! We are off to Miss Tina’s shortly for our monthly drop in. I am sure we will eat lots of cake to celebrate.

 

Thank you everyone who shared their photos. I also had a peak back through our archives. Thought I would share some of the feedback I have received over the last 5 years too. Your support over the past 5 years has been amazing, and your messages over the past couple of days since I announced the changes which are happening from September has really warmed my heart.

NESL has allowed me to make some amazing friends. It has helped others make friends too. Here is what Kirsty said when I asked for reasons why you like NESL.

I’m sure people will have plenty to say about slings but I wanted to say how grateful I am for the friendships it’ll had brought me. I cam guarantee nearly everyone who walks through the door is there because they parent with a similar mindset to me. The first time I met Carla was at a sling library masterclass and so when we bumped into each other again, we knew we had common ground and formed a friendship. She’s now one of my best friends!

And what Suzie said

NESL helped me at a time in my life I was suffering from severe anxiety following the birth of baby Theo. It allowed me plenty of skin to skin, to continue our breastfeeding journey, walk the dog and build up an incredible bond with my son. I’ve met some amazing people through here too ❤️

Thanks again x

Maria is a mum to twins and a new baby. This is what she had to say:

I never carried my twins but I am now a big baby wearing advocate. Slings have helped us immensely as a family with the arrival of our little girl to continue with activities as normally as possible. From picking the older ones up from school or attending rugby matches to making the tea, going for an outing or big family occasions slings have been a godsend. Ofcourse slings have also ensured we have had a happy and contented baby most of the time! Thank you to NESL and a fantastic baby wearing consultant for making all this possible!

Over the past few years I have kept all the thank you cards I have received. Here are just a selection of them. These plus the emails and messages to page each make me smile. I never started NESL for thank yous but they do make me warm and fuzzy.

Here are some of the feedback I have received since I started NESL.

From Judith: “Looking forward to coming to see you again tomorrow and to tell you how babywearing has changed my life. Been telling everyone who asks about your wonderful library”.

From Natasha: “Thank you very much for your help this morning. Can’t wait to get out and about :-)”

From Laura: “I love how accessible and flexible the NESL is. Living 45 mins away with 2 young children means its not possible for me to get to meets. Being able to arrange hire through Facebook and post has been invaluable to me. I have been using the sling library for almost 3 years and really value all the advice Rachel has given me over this time – I am very grateful! Happy Birthday NESL!”

From Amy: “Visited the sling library for the first time with my little one today and was introduced to a cosy caboo! Can’t wait to try it out! I think little Hollie is going to love it”

From Rachel: “I love the NESL, without it I’m not sure I could have coped with a reflux baby and two under 2. It’s ensured our adventures out and about continue what ever the terrain. Plus, squish sling cuddles are the best.”


From Gemma: “Ben in the inbetween size R&R that i would never have even contemplated buying without the help of the sling library. Thank you very much”.

Thank you everyone for making NESL as big and as strong as it is. Here is to the year ahead.

5 years

A new horizon, a letter from the Library.

new logo1The North East Sling Library has been in existence since July 2011. Since the moment I decide that the NE needed my services I have put my heart and soul into building it, growing its reputation and helping the parents of the NE to carry their babies big and small. I have been extremely lucky and privileged to help so many families of all shapes and sizes, to begin, develop and grow their babywearing journeys.

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The friends I have made while running NESL will be friends I have for a life time. I am indebted to them for their support and friendship. Never did I think my hobby would become my job. But for the past 3 years this has been my only ’employment’. NESL helped me through the darkest moments of my life. The library has made me laugh, smile and cry. I cannot believe we are now 5. Inspired by Emily at the South London Sling Library and Nicola at The West Yorkshire Sling Library I took the plunge. With a stash of just 23 slings we held our first meet in my tiny living room. We have grown unrecognisably since then and are fast approaching 300 slings.

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The sling scene has changed a lot since we began. Gone are the days were slings were an odd site. They are now spotted daily and there is an active and growing babywearing community here in the North East. There are now 7 libraries serving the region, when I started I was the only one. I am a very small part of a much larger community. I am independent of the other libraries but work with them when needed. For example, Jess and Judy from Upsy Daisy Sling Library are hosting our session on Monday because I cannot make the first hour as Isaac has his last visit to school.

IMG_3859It is the fact Demo Doll Isaac is starting school that I am writing this letter to you. Being able to work from home and take him with me to sessions meant the library worked perfectly for us. He is now a big boy and it is time for me to be a big girl. This means I am going back to work. I am very excited about what the future holds for me.

I am not returning to teaching but I will be working as a primary school teaching assistant from September. I love NESL, it is and has been my life for 5 years. But I have more to give. NESL will continue, we are not closing. My new role is currently part time, mornings only during term time and as such I will still be running sessions. These do though need to change. I have managed to move or find cover for all but 1 session that we currently offer. I will continue to help the NE to carry their babies in person and by post, it just won’t be the only thing I do. I hope you understand and appreciate my decision.

What is changing and when?

Firstly, all the changes will begin from September. So we will continue ‘as normal’ during July/August with exception of holiday closures. Please check our Facebook page for these.

One to One Consultations – These will be available in school holidays and by arrangement on evenings and weekends. I will also be opening some afternoon slots once I have settled into my new work schedule.

Postal Hires – Slings will continue to be available to hire by post across the UK. I will still be able to post everyday

Workshops/Born to Carry – During the school holidays I will organise workshops and Born to Carry peer support courses. Our next BTC course is booking now and is being held on 25th October 2016.

Sling Library Drop Ins – The original and oldest sessions, our ‘Slings at home’ sessions are stopping. This means our last Wednesday at home session will be August 10th. I will though be offering an extra Saturday Slings drop in on 4th Saturday of each month. These will be 2nd and 4th Saturday of each month 2-4pm.

Durham City Sling and Real Nappy Meet – This group will continue to run on the 3rd Thursday of each month but will be led by trained peer supporters only. The Nappy Library will also return from September. I will be providing Sharon and Kelly with a ‘kit’ of slings so that they have their own stock, but extra can be added just ask. All slings will still be part of NESL.

Miss Tina’s, Washington – This is moving to the 1st Monday of each month instead of 2nd Monday and will be held in afternoon from 1-2.45pm. For September we will meet on 2nd Monday (12th September) and will switch to new date from October.

Ace Playce, Killingworth – This is moving to a Tuesday (1st Tuesday of the month) between 1.30-3pm. We will return to Ace Playce on 4th October, we will not be able to attend during August or September.

Birth and Baby Drop in – This will become a peer led session with Maddy. Madeleine is a trained peer supporter. Like DCSM, Maddy is going to have a kit of slings. Unfortunately we will only be able to offer the morning family drop in. Our last all day visit will be 17th August. During school holidays I will attend.

Consett Tesco drop in – Our visit to Tesco Consett will move from the 4th Monday of each month to the 1st Thursday. We will meet from 1-2.45pm.

I will be updating the online calendar and our website shortly. I hope you will continue to support NESL. Thank you for your support over the last 5 years and I hope we can grow and get even better over the coming years.

Rachel

A little request from an exhausted Sling Librarian

cash-1138036_1920Many moons ago I wrote this article for the Natural Mamas website: A plea from a Sling Librarian. It was an attempt to explain a little more about what I do, and what my life entails. It was written after a spate of “requests”. Time has come to update it.

The sling library is currently my sole source of income. It became my full time job in September 2013. For the last 3 years I have our my heart and soul into it. I have always tried to be as flexible as possible on arranging events, creating new meets and out of hours hires. I have been known to make 3 or 4 visits a day to the post office to get slings posted across the country as soon as requested, even taking them with me on holiday so I can post from the nearest post office. post-box-1335582_1920

I work and run NESL primarily alone with support from a lovely bunch of ladies who peer support. Working by myself though does not mean I work in isolation. I have colleagues and friends across the country who are all helping their region to carry their babies too. We have our own support networks where we can chat and ask for help. Where newer libraries  seek the advice of more established ones. Where we ask if they have experienced x,y or z. But, over recent months I have noticed something. I have noticed librarians becoming frustrated, upset, and some simply wanting to give it up. I have read comments in various Facebook groups moaning about local library. Why?

We live in a 24 hours a day/365 days a year fast food, fast service culture. We have grown expectant that our question will be answered instantly, when they aren’t we often take to Social Media to complain. An entitlement culture has developed in our day to day lives. Unfortunately this has an impact on the services sling libraries provide. Many are run on a voluntary basis. A few like myself provide our income and others pay their staff as part of a CIC. However, no matter what model they operate under we should not need to be ‘on duty’ 24/7. We should not be expected to reply instantly (even if Facebook has for the past year had the responsiveness button). We have our own families. We have our own opening hours. We are allowed a day off.

Over the past few months I have seen how other librarians, as well as myself, have to face this attitude of entitlement daily. We have faced comments such as:

“It’s too far for me to return” (please remember that for 7/10 sessions I travel to them too), “We have swimming (or any other baby class) at that time”, “that’s when my baby naps”, “Its’ too expensive”, “I can’t afford deposit”. Others are worse, “I haven’t used it so don’t think its fair you keep my money”, “can’t you come and collect”, “I see you live nearby can I simply pop in”, “I can’t return today, I’ll bring it tomorrow”.

brothers-457234_1920The last of those comments is particularly frustrating as it assumes we have nothing else to do but wait for you to come. When you hire you are given a date it is due for return, by hiring you agree to those terms. If your library operates a deposit system and you can’t afford it ask if there is an alternative you can do. You won’t know unless you ask. Yes, I am aware that best laid plans with babies don’t always run smoothly.  I know babies can have a bad night, they might be poorly, you might just simply need to sleep. We aren’t ogre’s: we are mums, we do understand. If you contact us and explain solutions can be found, but sending us messages after slings were due back, or telling us what you are going to do is not appropriate. You would not tell your GP or hairdresser – “I can’t do that time, I’ll just come now” etc. You would accept that they give you an appointment. Why should a sling library be any different?doctor sign

If we make a recommendation for a carrier based on the size of your child, do not ask us to give you a toddler or preschool size, when we have judged it is not suitable. If you decide to buy that size, that’s your choice, but don’t ask us to go against manufacturer instructions or recommendations, or product recalls, so that you can carry, that would invalidate our insurance. We are wanting to keep your baby safe, it isn’t us being mean. Don’t ask for a one to one service and not expect to pay a fee. We have insurance, training, overheads to pay. We can’t afford to give our services away. We are just trying to make a living; pay our mortgages, allow our little ones to go to clubs on trips, we are not huge multinational companies.

I will continue to do my best to be flexible. Currently, for example, I can’t do 1;1 appointments due to my annual exam marking season but I am ensuring sling library sessions run, I am still offering postal hire. Out of hours hires are offered if I can do it. This is getting increasingly difficult as my children are doing an increasing number of clubs and mums taxi is in full flow.

Please, I simply ask that you consider how you phrase your request. Please ‘ask’ your sling library if you can do something,  don’t tell them what you are going to do.  All sling librarians want to help as many families as possible so there is always a solution. We just ask that you accept we aren’t on call 24/7 and,  that even if we are a business, our families will come first.