2 parents, 4 kids, 5 years of chasing amazing rainbows, 1 carrier
Sarah Jacobs of Hapa Holiday kind of makes me feel like I can do anything, like tackle Target on a Saturday morning kids in tow. Together with her husband, Kahana Kalama, the San Diego-based pair have created a lifestyle for themselves and their four children that involves lots of travel, beach days and laid-back fun that gracefully folds the mayhem of a big family into an easygoing, joyful approach to every day. And there’s always an Ergobaby carrier—or two—in the mix.
Where and when did you get your first Ergo?
I got my first Ergo, a cream-colored one, five years ago at my baby shower for my second child, Coco. I fell in love with it and have used it ever since. I was actually so bummed that I didn’t have an Ergo with my first. Just the hip flexibility that all my girls have from being in the Ergo compared to my son; he’s not as flexible because I didn’t wear him the same way.
It’s so true, as soon as you hit more than one, that’s when you really need to wear them.
Right, and Duke and Coco were only 15 months apart, so I just wore her always. She lived in that Ergo for two years.
How old are the kids now?
So my son is 6 and Coco’s 5. Then Rora is 2 and a half, and Trixie is 4 months.
What made the Ergobaby carrier “the one”?
Honestly, I have really big babies, so I love that it’s comfortable for the baby and me. Some carriers will have support for the baby—the baby’s fine—but I’m like, “My back is killing me!” Also, the Ergo is so easy to put on. I’ve tried a ton of different carriers, and I always come back to the Ergo because I need to be able to get it on and off quickly, I need to be able to adjust it quickly to feed while I’m wearing them. And it can be adjusted for my husband, for me, for my toddler, for my newborn. It’s just really functional for everyone involved.
Where do you and your family go in your Ergo?
We’ve gone hiking. We’ve traveled to Spain and Bali. All over the U.S. Big Sur. Joshua Tree. The beach. We’ve been to zoos and restaurants. I mean, literally, it goes everywhere. We don’t leave the house without an Ergo. Or two, just in case we both need to carry a baby!
What’s a favorite Ergo memory?
Honestly, it’ll be a sad day when I don’t have to wear an Ergo. [Laughs] This is my last baby, so I’m dreading that day when Trixie’s going to be too big. Every memory with our babies has an Ergo in it; they’re just part of our family.
If your Ergo could say something to you, what would it say?
Where next? Let’s go!
What superpower does putting on your Ergo give you?
Freedom. Freedom to live a very full life. Without it, I wouldn’t have my hands free, I wouldn’t be able to help my other kids, I wouldn’t be able to do any of the things that I do.
What’s one piece of advice you have for a new mom?
My biggest thing is exposure: If you expose your kids to more and bring them along with you for life, you don’t have to turn your whole world upside down to fit to them. Kids are so flexible and easygoing as long as you’re easygoing. I always try to encourage new moms or anyone with kids, just do it, just travel, take your kids out places with you. It’s not any harder to go to Bali than it is to go to Target with multiple kids. [Laughs] It’s, like, the same hard. But they’re going to be so much better for it.
We haven’t done a ton of traveling yet with our kids, so it’s nice to hear someone who’s such a pro say that.
Oh, I’m not a pro. Maybe I’m just brave, I don’t know. [Laughs] No, I’m not an expert at parenting at all, but I was raised by one. My mom has 8 kids; I only have 4.
With four children relatively close in age, are there ways that you and Kahana make space for each of them?
We definitely take them out individually. We make time to go on a daddy or mommy date with one of them at least once a week. But we also try to let them lead and give them attention individually in whatever it is they’re into. So my little one, she wants us to read to her, so making time to sit down and do that. And then Duke wants to draw, so Kahana will draw with him. But we do spend 95 percent of our time all together, so it’s also about allowing the kids, you know, like, “Coco gets to choose what we’re doing now” and we’re all enjoying what she loves to do. As a family, I think it’s important to work as a team, but also to understand that each person in the team has individual strengths and loves and needs, and we all can help meet those needs together. I mean, I grew up with 7 siblings. So the attention from parents was not always there, but we always had so much love because we all worked together. I’m still close with my siblings and the love that you have for your siblings is so different from the love that you have for your parents. Just understanding, like, how as siblings, they’re lifetime peers, you know? They get to do life together, whereas I’m not going to go to college with them, I’m not going to live with them in their 20s. So helping shape their bond together and helping them love each other and form that lifelong friendship is really, really important.
I think speaking positive affirmations out loud is helpful for the kids. Like, maybe one of them says, “I’m bored, I don’t have anything to do.” We’ll say, “Well, these are your best friends. You can play with them. You love them.” You know? Speaking it out loud allows them to internalize and to own that idea of: These are my people and these are going to be my friends forever. That’s something my mom always did for me and my siblings. She spoke to us like, “We are this. We do this. We love this.” You know? And it was all of us do this together. We as a family. These are our values. And I think that really stayed with me when I had to make harder decisions out in the world. I could always come back to, We are this, we believe this. I’m part of this bigger picture that is this small picture of a family.
Tell us about the joys and jobs of parenting.
I don’t like disciplining my children [laughs], but I know it’s really important and it must be done. It’s just exhausting to know that I want to be their friend, but they’re children and it’s my responsibility to teach them right and wrong and to help shape them into good people. That is part of the job I signed up to do to raise children. And it’s the hardest part and it’s constant, especially when you have so many kids at different levels. Each level of discipline is different and each child is so different. But also, it is rewarding when you see them get it and grow into good people.
What are some of the joys?
My husband and I have carved out a pretty interesting life where we’re very flexible as far as our schedules go. So we spend a lot of time together, which is a joy. We love traveling as a family; I just love seeing the kids’ excitement over things that I’ve seen a million times. Like, “It’s a rainbow!” And I can be like, “You’re right! It’s a rainbow and that is actually amazing!” They’re so pure and their love is so strong and their excitement for life is so big. They keep me grounded and excited for the next chapter of life.
Where will your Ergo go to retire?
Well, I have four younger sisters [laughs] and I am positive that I will be passing it down to them as soon as they have their babies.
Describe your Ergo life in three words.
Fun. Free. And full.