In the Fourth Installment of Honoring Babywearing Volunteer Educators, we would like to introduce you to another nominee who inspired her community, Aisling Schenck!
Tell us about yourself- where do you volunteer, and how did you get started?
I am an educator for the Atlanta chapter of Babywearing International and serve as Secretary on the Babywearing International Board of Directors.
My first two children were twins and when I found babywearing, I realized what a great way it was to meet both of their needs more easily. I started attending local babywearing meetings and learned so much from the kind and welcoming volunteers there. I quickly became more involved with the group by volunteering and educating and, with two other coleaders, began the process of affiliating our group with Babywearing International.
Who is your babywearing role model?
One of my most positive babywearing influences has been Meredith Sinclair. We first met through an online parenting community and I found her enthusiasm for babywearing as well as her eagerness to educate others, infectious. She was responsible for introducing me to the incredible community at thebabywearer.com, and from there my love of babywearing took off. Her dedication to the babywearing community is unparalleled. She is both a wonderful educator, a generous volunteer, and one of the kindest people I know.
How has babywearing impacted your life?
Babywearing was a major contributor in easing the transition into motherhood for me. At times during my first pregnancy, I doubted my ability to meet the needs of two infants at once. With babywearing as a tool, however, I never felt as though my twins were missing out on a moment of touch, affection, or closeness. I could hold one child while tending to the needs of the other, or provide much needed cuddles while completing other necessary tasks. It's also much easier to get around without a double stroller to contend with all the time! When my third child arrived, I could enjoy outings and activities with my preschoolers without slowing down a bit. It has most definitely made life with my children easier, and educating others has satisfied my desire to give back to my community.
What is your group/volunteer experience like?
Our group reaches caregivers throughout a large metro area and has grown so much since it's inception. We work very hard to ensure that our meeting attendees feel welcome and supported. I am so proud of how far we have come. I love seeing the joy on a caregivers face when a carry "clicks" or they master a new skill.
What advice would you give to a brand new volunteer?
Remember what it was like when you were a new parent, and keep that in mind as you work with caregivers. You were probably tired, overwhelmed, and wondering if you were "doing this parenting thing right". Be gentle, focus on safety, and don't feel as if you need to teach everything about every carrier all at once. Try to help new parents find one solution that will work for them right now or for the long term.
What advice would you give to a brand new mom?
Be gentle with yourself, you are doing the most important and sometimes most difficult job there is. Take time to nurture yourself. Try your best not to compare your parenting journey or your baby with others.
What is your biggest triumph or accomplishment as a volunteer?
Seeing how my local group has grown in the last few years has been immensely gratifying. I also so very proud of the volunteer educators that we have trained in our group. Every one of them is a truly excellent, empathetic, and skilled educator, and an asset to our community.
How do you make volunteering "fit" into your life?
Babywearing and subsequently, volunteering as an educator, has been a part of my life since the beginning of my parenting journey. As such, my children are at home at our meetings and have met many of their closest friends there, as have I. I have met many of my closest friends through volunteering the babywearing community. Now that my older children are at school, I teach at meetings during the school day and bring my youngest, who is forming his own babywearing friendships. I try to fit in work for the BWI Board of Directors wherever I can, often after my children have gone to bed.
Do you have other hobbies or interests?
I have a large vegetable garden at home and love spending time there. I also enjoy outdoor pursuits such as hiking and camping with family.
What's your favorite place to visit?
One of my favorite places in Atlanta is the Atlanta Botanical Garden. I especially love the Orchid house and Japanese garden.
What's one thing someone may not know about you?
I studied jewelry and metalsmithing at Georgia State University. I haven't been making jewelry since the birth of my children, but I would love to get back into it someday.
Thanks so much for participating and sharing your wisdom with us, Aisling!