First Things First
When I first heard of MommyCon my interest was immediately peeked. As a friend of mine put it "is this a convention for nerdy moms?".
MommyCon is a natural parenting convention directed at the cloth diapering, baby wearing, co-sleeping crowd. Designed to introduce moms to new products and ideas it a great idea and my friends and I jumped on the chance to go!
Pre-MommyCon we stalked the website and Facebook religiously and were a little bit disappointed by it. The website seems to be rarely updated and even when they change prices of things those changes are not made on the website itself, but rather when you get to check out and realize they are charging you more there than what the website says. Little things like that, which end up being kind of annoying after a while. They also love posting things on the Facebook page like "Who wants to see a sample schedule tonight!?" and then not posting the sample schedule for several more days. I think one more PR person and one person who really knows about websites would really help them out a bit.
But onto the actual convention...
I attended the San Francisco MommyCon with three friends and their three babies. The four of us rented an apartment just a couple of miles from the convention center for the weekend (Thursday-Sunday). We had all purchased tickets to all four of the VIPs (Babywearing, Expectant Moms, Motherlove, and Toddler Time) so we had things going on Friday afternoon and all day Saturday. I am really happy we decided to make a weekend out of it, and I am also happy we didn't decide to stay at the hotel, which was really expensive even with the MommyCon discounts. The four of us paying for this 2 bedroom apartment for three nights was cheaper than a room in the hotel for one night! Not too shabby! And BART was easy enough to navigate, even with babies in tow.
As I stated before, we all purchased all four. Two of them- Expectant Moms and Babywearing- were on Friday afternoon. Expectant Moms was basically a gathering of pregnant and hopefully-soon-to-be-pregnant women and Abby Theuring of The Badass Breastfeeder. It was rather unstructured and didn't seem like a whole lot of thought was put into it. We started with the host going over what can be found in our goody bags (which WERE fantastic!) and then Abby Theuring got up and basically just asked if anyone had any questions.
No one did. Abby sort of awkwardly stood up there talking about whatever came to her mind first until I decided to ask about tandem nursing and nursing while pregnant. Which pretty much took up the whole Q&A time. Then we played Mommy Bingo (basically Bingo with the names of common baby brands). One of my friends won a t-shirt. It wasn't quite what I had expected, but fun and worth the price for the goody bag.
Even worse, though, was the Babywearing VIP. This one I was REALLY looking forward to! I knew there was going to be Babywearing trivia where I thought the questions would pertain to the benefits of babywearing, types of carriers, etc. But in the end it was just "how much do you know about Beco and Ergo!" and questions about those two companies. Womp. We were split into two teams- the Beco Team and the Ergo Team and asked questions. The Beco team won.
Only, they were nothing to win. Seriously. No prize. None whatsoever. Very anticlimactic. I mean, what's the point? So we can learn useless company facts??
We did get baby carriers at the end, which was nice and worth the price of the VIP, but not at all what I was expecting. I guess I was just looking for more information about the topics, not just a gathering of women solely there to get the goods.
The next morning was Motherlove and Toddler time. They happened at the same time and since only two of us really had "toddlers" we decided to go to Motherlove as Toddler Time was just a little play group. I will say, however, that the Toddler Time goody bag (which we got even though we didn't go to it) was hands down my favorite! Mostly because the bag itself was a stuffed bear backpack from Just Pretend Kids and included octopus Doodle Pants. It was also the cheapest so that was a good bonus!
Motherlove featured Jessica from The Leaky B@@b and was by far my favorite VIP and the only one I feel was really thought out. She had all of us move our chairs in a circle and then we went around and shared our breastfeeding experiences. From the good to the bad. It was such a supportive and awesome time. I spent most of it chasing my crazy crawling baby around, but loved hearing from all of the moms there. From the lesbian couple where both moms planned to breastfeed (uh, genius!!!) to the mom who had to rely on milk donations after being hospitalized and was able to keep breastfeeding as a result. It was encouraging. And included my second favorite goody bag, complete with a LilleBaby carrier (which my husband has decided is his) and a great Motherlove package of goodies that I am already using most of!
Really, I think the VIPs would have been better if some more thought had been put into them. I felt like they were thrown together just so people could get the goody bags, which were awesome, but I also wish the events themselves would have been better. I kind of feel like we wasted our time going to the two on Friday. Except Motherlove, of course! That was awesome.
The vendors were awesome. I really enjoyed exploring the vendor booths, talking to people, and getting to see new products. I really felt that there was a good variety of companies and products that made the whole thing fun. I was disappointed that I didn't buy anything. I came with money and there just wasn't anything that caught my attention enough to pay for. So it was fun to look and I got some free samples (and one of my friends won a high chair!), but no purchases made.
We had several of the classes that we wanted to attend but didn't actually make it to many. After our first, on Essential Oils, we realized that having the kids with us made it difficult to focus on anything in the smaller rooms. We were chasing them around and it was hard to hear the presenters. I got a free sample bottle of Lavender, which was great, but that's about all we got out of those.
...We opted to hang out in the larger conference room. There were toys and kids everywhere and everyone was really entertained! These were also far more interesting classes and the sound system was better, so we were able to hear everything. It also allowed us to grab front row seats for the evening's keynote speaker, Alanis Morrisette.
We learned a lot, played a lot, changes poopy diapers, marveled at how our kids could nap through all of it, and just enjoyed our time there.
One small pet peeve is their method of picking door prize winners. It seems there was just a list and they read the winners off the list. Only, instead of crossing off or marking off names of people who won prizes they would just repeat the list over. So the names at the top of the list won multiple prizes before someone realized they were just repeating what had happened before. Maybe I'm just bitter because I didn't win anything... but it does seem like another element of disorganization that was a little bothersome to us all during this trip.
Being able to see Alanis in person was awesome! I've loved her music since I was a kid and her birth story on "More Business of Being Born" seemed so genuine and real. It made me want to listen to her more and meet her. She had a lot to say about her new book and parenting style. I really, really wish my son wasn't so active at this point because I found myself very distracted by him and not able to focus as much as I wanted. But I enjoyed the keynote speech and interaction. It was well worth staying to the end for!
Other Bits and Pieces
There was a baby wearing room, but we really only went in there and glanced around quickly then left. It was small and kind of crowded and the kids just weren't into it. I wish now I'd been able to spend more time in there to try on some carriers. Maybe next time!
The nursing room was great, too! I went in there with Barrett and nursed and enjoyed the company of other nursing moms. I have no issues nursing anywhere, but it was fun to go in there and chat with other people. So, big plus for having that, MommyCon!
Now... a little complaint about the location. I get that it was "San Francisco MommyCon", however I don't feel it needed to be held in the middle of a very busy part of downtown San Francisco. It made it too expensive to stay at the hotel and too scary for me to drive my car. So we took BART, but then had to put all of our goodies into a cab and send my poor friend from Ohio back to the apartment in it, while we took her son in a stroller on BART back. I really wish they'd held the conference in an area near SF, like East Bay, not in the actual city. It would have made things so much easier for ALL of the moms that went, not just us.
All in all it was a lot of fun and I loved MommyCon! Most of the annoyances we had are probably just little things that need to be ironed out over time. I look forward to attending another one someday and see how they improve upon them!