Learning how to braid was one of the best skills I could have learned. Not only has it created great bonding moments for me and my girls but it has probably saved me THOUSANDS of dollars. It is VERY time-consuming but I would be spending the same amount of time (if not more) to bring them to a shop to get their hair done.
Although I did go to cosmetology school in 2006, I didn't learn how to do braiding there. I actually learned in a very unlikely place at a random time. I was living in some apartments while going to beauty school (maybe around 19 years old at the time) and there was a teenage girl who had just had a baby who lived at the complex. Loving babies how I did, I was drawn to her and we became friends. Somehow, in my short time living in those apartments, she taught me how to do cornrows and I practiced on my mannequin heads from beauty school constantly. I practiced on my little sister (bless her heart) and I practiced on anyone who would let me do their hair.
Fast forward many years and now having mixed daughters who have very different needs for their hair than I do myself, all those hours of practicing braiding are paying off. And I’ve needed to educate myself further. And practice even more. I've learned about braiding and protective styles, wrapping their hair at night and smoothing down their edges.
It's not something that came naturally to me. It's not something I easily picked up. It took time to research and practice the skill. And it's an ongoing process because I care about it. It's important for me to teach them hair care for their hair type and to spend time investing in their hairstyles. I can't just claim ignorance or make an excuse that I don't have time because you make time for things that matter and with technology we have these days, you can learn DIY skills every day! So, here I am, continually learning.
Truth is, from start to finish process, it’s a 3-7 hour timeframe PER HEAD (depending on the style), but I’m so glad I can do it myself. (7 hours if I am doing start to finish small box braids, for reference.) I’ve spent countless nights sitting up in bed watching YouTube videos and learning different techniques on how to do crochet braids, box braids and tree braids. And I’ve practiced on the girls. And made horrible mistakes. And have had to take out styles that took me hours to do and then redo them again. I’ve learned how to best care for their scalp to their ends and how to bring out the natural curls from their gorgeous afros. These little ones have their daddy’s Liberian hair genes for sure.
And being the crunchy granola mom I am, I don’t use many products on my girls hair. We use Young Living shampoo and conditioner + essential oils and coconut oil to moisturize their scalp. I use hair beeswax for their braids and locks and smoothing down their edges. And we keep it quite simple.
I tell them all the time how gorgeous God made their natural hair. They’ve all gone through a phase around the age of 3-4 where they ask to have their hair “down” (like mommy's) but it’s presented such great opportunities to talk about their unique and wonderful hair and how it is perfect just as it is. And more of then than not, they want to rock to rock their natural afros the majority of the time. Because I am still teaching them how to care for their own hair along with me, we venture into many different styles so they can learn themselves.
I love that I get to be the one to do their hair and I get to be the one to teach them how to do it one day as well. It's another thing to add to the "to-do" list and many more hours a week of something I need to accomplish, but I consider it a blessing to do so.