From bonding to reducing crying and fussiness, the benefits of wearing your baby are endless. If you haven't tried it yet, Byron Bay-based beauty and mother of two Lena Catterick will inspire you to want to carry your baby...
“Baby wearing will save your life,” says Catterick who founded Yoli and Otis after her daughter was born. She launched with a range of organic baby carriers and slings and has since expanded into natural clothing and accessories for children and babies. “Find the right carrier for you and persist with it. All they want is to be close to you. Whether it’s feeding, sleeping or exploring. They can’t communicate love with words so they need touch, intimacy, your smell and your warmth,” she says. Catterick would know. As a mother of two – Yolanda, 2, and Louie, newborn – she vividly recalls the closeness her babies needed when they were born. “Yoli needed a lot of closeness as a baby (quite the opposite to now, as she’s become very independent). We knew the best way to achieve this was through wearing her,” she says. We caught up with the gorgeous Catterick to find out more about carrying your baby and life in Byron Bay…
What has motherhood taught you?
Unconditional love. There are so many powerfully beautiful moments we share with our children, but as we all know, it’s not all peaches and cream. It’s testing at times, but we always find the strength and voluntarily succumb to the labour of love, nurturing our little ones with every second of the day… and night. There’s not a minute up our sleeves for ourselves, but as mothers, we’re okay with that. It’s unconditional.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
To trust more. There is so much wrong in the world today, and because of this, we are taught to be sceptical, or weary of the unknown from a very early age, which can also work against you in certain situations. I realise now the importance of being open minded and more trusting. It allows you to see more good in the world, opening up doors to a new way of looking at love, life and health, enhancing prosperity for myself and my family.
What qualities do you love most in people and what qualities do you want your children to value?
Honesty. A common answer but one that’s very hard to come by, which makes it an easy one to appreciate! Another favourite quality I’m always drawn to is the ability to tell a good story. A vivid imagination. Something I would love my children to portray and also appreciate. These are the people who seek adventure and are wonderful to share life with.
What does your daily beauty routine consist of…
I suffer from a skin condition called rosacea, so anything I put on my face needs to be as close to natural as possible, to avoid any inflammation. So just cold water and a flannel, a vitamin B serum by Aspect and a natural tinted moisturiser on top. For colour, just a mineral blush in coral.
What’s your fitness routine like?
We live less than a kilometre from the beach, which we walk to at least once a day with our dog Otis. That and running around after a toddler seems to be all I have time for.
Do you enjoy pregnancy?
I experienced very different pregnancies with each. My body responded very defensively with Louie, being a boy, a make up of testosterone had an almost ‘alien’ like effect on me. Morning sickness for four months, I cried less, but was agitated a lot of the time, like a ticking time bomb. My skin became patchy and discoloured and my hair thinned out. I gained more weight than ever before but I slept a lot better! Girls I think have a different effect, in different ways for different people. For me it was more of an emotional state in the sense that I cried a lot. Yet I worried less and had no sickness. My skin was glowing, my hair was full, but I got less sleep. Regardless of the highs and lows, pregnancy and creating life is a beautiful thing. It was never going to be an easy task, but a life transforming one, that’s for sure.
Do you follow any routines?
The only routine we’ve managed to maintain is their daytime naps which are both at midday. It’s hard to say whether or not this minimal amount of structure has had any affect on their happiness, but they’re definitely laughing 90% of the time. Even Louie, I’ve never known a baby to smile so much, we find it incredible. If he’s not smiling, he’s sleeping.
Can you tell us about how you came to launch Yoli & Otis?
It all started when we discovered baby wearing. Yoli needed a lot of closeness as a baby (quite the opposite to now, as she’s become very independent), we knew the best way to achieve this was through wearing her. We tried so many different carriers, loved the convenience of the structured carriers but preferred the comfort of a stretchy wrap. Neither option was making the baby wearing experience more appealing. So we went on to design our own carrier combining both comfort and convenience. Et Voila! The Yoli & Otis wrap doesn’t require any tying AND is easily one of the comfiest carriers we’ve worn.
Why is Yoli & Otis unique in the market?
On our journey to discovering the different types of fabrics we also came across herbal dyeing. It’s an ancient method practiced since the days of Indus Valley civilisation. In this process, natural textiles are dyed with herbs such as turmeric, henna, aloe vera and indigo, making the garment 100% natural, not one chemical is used throughout the entire process. The colours are richer, and possess natural healing/calming properties known to those particular herbs… AKA sleepy dust! Upon discovering this unique and magical way of dyeing, we were also saddened to learn the devastating impact modern day dyeing has on not only the planet, but our children and the workers as well. We were left completely gob smacked. It may only be a small difference we’re making, but by spreading the word it can become something a lot bigger. This is what fuels our determination.
Can you tell us about your experience with wearing your babies?
As they say, ‘wearing is caring’. It’s caring, and so much more. I will always remember, as a child, falling asleep in the car and being picked up and carried into bed. Sometimes, I’d pretend to be asleep just to avoid having to walk, but not because I couldn’t be bothered, but because being held like that, close, in my parents arms, was the best feeling in the world. A sense of calm washes over you, safety, trust. All of those things are crucial in parenting. The second Yoli was in the carrier, there was no struggle, she would relax into a dead weight state. Her eyes still wide-open, looking up, but not always at me. I’d catch her staring off into the distance, no idea where we were going, but with every ounce of trust in her body, she knew it was the right way. Baby wearing is a way of life for us. We don’t really have a check list when they’re upset, because if it’s not something obvious, than it’s only ever that they just want to be held. And this has proven to work far too many times to ever doubt it. We wholeheartedly LOVE baby wearing.
How do you manage your time and balance work with family?
Carlo is my balance. He knows me better than anyone. He senses when I need some space and solitude, then instantly gathers the children and heads out the door with the dog for a walk to the beach. He baths and reads stories to the children every night and this is my time to work. When they’re asleep, I finish up with work, regardless of whether it’s complete or not. For us (and for most, I’m sure) family always comes first. We’re just fortunate enough to not have to work to a deadline.
What’s the most challenging part of running your own business?
Decision making! I’ve always been indecisive about everything. Even looking at a menu is a struggle for me.
What do you love about raising children in Byron Bay?
Oh Byron. What’s not to love? Gosh. My favourite thing is an obvious one – the beaches. Then secondly I think just a general sense of community, health and wellbeing. Big takeaway chains such as McDonalds don’t exist here, nor do traffic lights. Everything here is simply good. The people you meet are good for the soul, all the fresh organic food is good for our bodies and the slow paced vibe is good for our minds.
What clothes do you live in day-to-day?
Anything white, easy and breezy. I also love straw hats! I’m not a fan of sunglasses, so this is my best protection from sun glare.
So far what’s the hardest and best part of being a mother?
The hardest part is seeing them cry. The best part is watching them grow. It’s bittersweet.
What’s your favourite part of the day?
Bath time. They bath together, and because they’re at such different stages, it’s rare to see them interact for long periods. In the bath they’re confined to the tub and play and laugh for the entire time.
Lena’s little list of loves:
Staring at my children, watching them blossom, laughing at their little quirks.
Baby wearing, our key parenting tool, for many reasons.
Evenings with the family at the beach.
The book The Fragrant Pharmacy. Discovering new ways of using a variety of natural oils, particularly for the children.
Designing our new women’s and children’s range, made with all organic natural fibres.
Morning gatherings with friends.
Day light savings.
My beautiful plant dyed rugs from Pampa.