Hammocking is a way of life. In some way, it’s an expression of personal values — a statement of belief.
I believe in the importance of relationship and also of individuality. In family bonding alongside introspective reflection. I believe in the critical importance of physical and mental rest, even though our world of deadlines, multitasking, and power lunches struggles to quantify – and therefore value – its treasured effects. And above all, I value finding and doing what works – what brings personal happiness, regardless of societal norms or expectations.
I’m a husband to a loving wife and a dad to two amazing 3-year-old girls. In a past life, I was an engineer, though I put my career on hold in order to parent our children full-time through their young, formative years. That’s a trade-off I hadn’t anticipated making when I was working my way through two college degrees, but becoming a parent changed my priorities irreparably, and for the better. Being a primary caregiver dad is an amazing, humbling, and fulfilling endeavor; and, although it comes at a significant financial cost and flies in the face of the expectations and societal norms typically placed on men in American culture, it was the right decision for our family. We do what works. We engage happiness and fulfillment where they are to be found and check the expectations at the door.
One of the best aspects of being a primary caregiver dad is the opportunity to witness and help my kids develop and grow. Reading, explaining new concepts, reinforcing boundaries and ground rules, seeing them interact with each other – all of it. Having been on “the job” for some time now, I’ve picked up a few tools and methods that help us in our daily lives together. My family owns several hammocks, two of which are hung at any given time. I’ve personally found that incorporating the hammocks into our daily routine sets a tone of relaxation and comfort that can assist in lengthening attention spans, creating an open space for communication, and carving out a bit of “centering” time in between activity sessions. Reading a kids book to the sway of a South American hammock, one child nestled into each shoulder is honestly one of my favorite places to be on this earth. I’ve also found that our hammock creates a “safe space” that really allows us to work through discipline issues in an open and constructive manner. During independent play time, I use the hammock myself, to be in the room and available while allowing them the freedom to explore without direct supervision.
One of my family’s favorite pieces of furniture is our La Siesta Joki children’s hammock. Shaped like a teardrop or cocoon suspended from the ceiling, the Joki allows one child to comfortably rest on a thick pillow cushion contained in its base. The Joki is perfectly sized for one child to sit cross-legged or with feet dangling, and my kids often take in a book to read. One of the best features of the Joki is the way the side walls of the hammock wrap around the child, allowing enough light in to read, but limiting visual and auditory stimulation. I notice my children use the Joki most often as a break nook, when they feel tired or overstimulated from playing. Checking out from the sights and sounds of playtime for a short period of time allows them to “recharge their batteries” and may even reduce the frequency of overstimulation-caused behavior issues.
Another excellent feature of the Joki hammock is its enclosed suspension design. This means that, as there are no open ropes or dangling webbing that could pose a safety risk, I can feel confident in my children’s ability to play in the hammock in their playroom without supervision.
We’ve hosted several playdates with other families in our home, and the presence of hammocks both for adults and children is always a topic of intrigue and discussion. Most of the parents had never considered the possibility that a hammock could fit seamlessly and safely into their homes. Certainly within Western culture, hammocks inside the home are a bit of a rarity. Many adults might raise an eyebrow at the idea of one hanging in a family or living room, but for my family, hammocks simply work. They bring to our home a relaxing and comfortable space to interact, to seek solitude, to snuggle, to play, and to recharge. With the development of children’s hammocks like the Joki, parents can rest easy knowing that their children are hammocking safely. Though societal norms may still have some catching up to do, I truly believe there is room for a hammock in every home.