Chicago mom Xza Higgins is gathering 750 like-minded moms and dads at the Austin Convention Center on June 25. Her MommyCon convention has a natural parenting focus with topics such as Cloth Diapering 101, Preparing For and Processing Your Birth Experience, and Sex and the Breastfeeding Mom.
While the majority of the MommyCon audience follow natural parenting techniques such as attachment parenting, natural childbirth, breast-feeding, using cloth diapers and making baby food, at MommyCon conventions there are moms (and dads, too) who are formula feeding, putting their babies in Huggies and using jarred baby food, too.
Before she had her 4-year-old and 1-year-old, Higgins had a career in small business branding and development working on everything from a cupcake bakery to interior design firm. She left that corporate world behind to have her children.
“I felt pretty alone while I was pregnant,” she says. None of her friends were pregnant. She was looking for women going through similar experiences. “I thought, ‘why not start a blog, and get those people together offline.”
The blog, The Mommy Dialogues, was about her experience, but she turned the blog into meetup events. The first gathering had eight people. Now some 3,000 people can be at one of 10 large MommyCon events a year.
Austin has become one of MommyCon’s favorite places to go, Higgins says. “It’s one of the larger cities in Texas with a population that is rapidly expanding with tons of new families. They are progressive and ahead of the curve and interested in getting an education in parenting.”
MommyCon has become her full-time job with six people on the team now. A few babies also come to work, too.
Each MommyCon event is a little different, and Higgins reaches out to local speakers as well as a national crew. In Austin, local mom Chasity Boatman will talk about postpartum depression.
This MommyCon Higgins is excited for the sex and breast-feeding topic. “It’s always a topic people are scared to talk about, but if you have it on the schedule, it’s always a packed session,” she says.
For her MommyCon is about sharing stories, so she looks for presenters who have all the educational materials and can share a compelling story.
Photographer Jade Beall will talk about her project to help women embrace their postpartum body through photography.
There’s also a whole room dedicated to just babywearing and there will be product giveaway session.
This is a convention is not just for Mom and Dad, but also for babies and kids, too. Each session room has a play area at the back with toys that are sanitized. There’s a baby food court and an arts and crafts area, too. There’s also a nursing area with bottle warmers and places for breast milk storage.
“Every session is family friendly,” Higgins says. She will often hear parents apologizing for their crying babies or running around toddlers at the back of the room.
“Do not apologize,” Higgins says. “This is the one time in life you don’t need to apologize for being a mother.”
MommyCon works with local divisions of national organizations such as Babywearing International, Share the Love cloth diaper bank, WIC offices, La Leche League and Attachment Parenting International.
After the conference is over, many of the baby supplies and toys get donated to local organizations rather than packing them up and shipping them to the next event.
“We hope that we continue reaching more families and give them more resources they need to succeed as parents,” Higgins says. “We want to give them the educational tools to raise happy, healthy children.”
When: 9:30 a.m.-5:15 p.m. June 25
Where: Austin Convention Center, 500 E. Cesar Chavez St.