African women are renowned worldwide for moving and working everyday with their child on their back. They like to work in groups with their babies in slings. The children are so contented and often fall asleep. They wake up during the day if they are hungry and mum simply turns the sling around her back to her side or front to breastfeed the baby.
No hassle for the mom, as she continues with her work. Western parents are under the illusion that the work is physically heavy – but no – they are just parenting.
Think about it!
It’s a habit, a very old habit. When I grew up, that was obvious. Still I cannot remember a mother who once complained that her baby, toddler or pre-schooler was too heavy. We even have a saying that “an elephant never finds her own horns heavy.”
It was a culture shock for me when I came to the Netherlands aged 22. It’s not the just a case of getting used to the language, but several other factors:
-Change in diet
-Getting used to a different power supply
-Geting used to too many choices and too many supermarkets
-Other types of bread, compared with the one or two choices which we baked ourselves in Africa
It was all too much! Nevertheless, you do your shopping, you eat and want to try out new things. You are going to say that we are indeed poor in Africa but this simply isn’t true.
What happened to me at some point was that I had to fight against becoming overweight. How? In Europe, the weather is not always as beautiful (or as warm) as it is in Africa. Metabolism must always be manually stimulated, yet in Africa this is easier.
To do this, a European woman goes to a gym or she must be motivated enough to combine children and work. Even though she is motivated, somehow the baby becomes a victim of all the hustle, as there is less opportunity for bonding.
For someone who grew up Europe, it is easier to digest certain types of food. For me this was not the case. I will always be like an African marigold plant growing in the cold and that does not always work well.
I’m sure parents want to go back to their old weight and to feel fitter. However, it takes a lot of effort to go to the gym and the gym is not for everyone. So if you do not have money you cannot participate in group sports.
The right photo shows two African women who are at working collaboratively together. On the left picture, we see Western women working hard during a bodypump class.
Both pictures make it clear why I came with this new concept. Parents carry children from A to B, sometimes in a sling and sometimes with a car.
When I became a mum, I missed direct contact with others. Before I had a baby, I went to a gym 3 times a week, as I did not have any obstacles to this. I had the time to take many classes. I couldn’t see that being a mum could be an obstacle.
As a new mum, I found it difficult because I had to arrange childcare so I could go to the gym, or just do something more energizing than going for a walk. My husband worked irregular hours, so I could not always exercise in the evenings.
Even though I could sometimes exercise in the evening, this was not always easier.
My husband was not at home all day so we hardly saw each other if I was going out to exercise and our relationship is a big priority to us
I often needed to sit on my couch with my husband to reconnect after a busy day with the baby
My husband couldn’t always stay at home with the baby, so I could go out to exercise
My in-laws live far away, and most friends and neighbours worked long hours
That’s how it goes. Not looking after myself could cause pelvic instability and other problems such as becoming overweight.
Even if I had someone staying with my baby at home, even if a gym had the perfect creche, I missed some things. I was no longer the experienced one. The first few times I visited the gym, I suddenly was in an aerobics lesson, with young girls who were constantly playing sports. I thought it was hard. There was no modified movement for women who were still recovering.
A peer group I could relate to
Special movement / sport that suited me as I recovered
Access to a Basken-Physiotherapist, for example, so that I did not incur extra costs in addition to my subscription
A supportive babywearing consultant to teach me how to move safely with my baby.
Unfortunately, I had a lot of appointments a week: one to the physiotherapist, one for a counselor, one for the gym.
In short, problems are created as well as solutions to problems that should never have arisen such as:
Other factors, for which an expert is required for each individual problem in Western countries.
In short, it costs money.
Sports, delivered by parents for parents, and babies who also grow together with the sport and community can create a beautiful future! My dream is to ensure that all parents can access baby care workout.
Benefits of exercising and dancing with your baby:
A relaxed mum (happy mum = happy family)
A close family (by parent and child being physically close)
A socially strong parent (because mum shares an interest in sports, she more easily shares her burdens, troubles, and experiences with the other parents taking part.)
Men come home and enjoy everything they see around them.
A better developed baby, toddler because he / she is contained in a safe nest.
African women are not alone at work. They also often have fun, play games and they sing together!
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