Ah, I remember the days of helmet hair. Seriously. I rode a motorcycle exclusively for nearly 10 years, on top of being an avid cyclist, so I am personally all too familiar with the issues surrounding helmet hair. I had everything from a short pixie cut to long hair down to my waist, yet I was never pleased with how my hair looked after being smooshed by a helmet. I thought I had encountered everything. Until I met the afro puff.
At a high of 84º here today, Boo decided that she finally wanted to get back out on her tricycle. Fortunately for her, I could actually fit one of her helmets on her head. And when I say one of her helmets, yes, that means she has more than one. She actually has two helmets that she can wear, depending on the hairstyle. Some styles are puffier than others and require a little more space. These yarn twists are an example of a thicker style, requiring her larger helmet. A smaller hairstyle would be cornrows, or anything that doesn't have the addition of yarn.
All that being said, when Boo first started wearing a helmet last year we were often confronted with the issue of trying to fit one on her head when she was wearing puffs (or head full of twists, or Bantu knots, etc.). And that's when it occurred to me: I needed to make some decisions about what styles I was going to have her wear during certain seasons. The last thing that I wanted to do was tell her that she couldn't ride her bike or scooter because her hair was going to be in the way. Talk about creating a negative association with her hair!
I'm often asked how I plan what styles I'm going to do for Boo. There are lots of factors to take into account, of which wearing a helmet is one. If I know the weather is getting better (i.e., it's not wet or too cold) I will plan a style that will allow Boo to wear her helmet, just in case she wants to go riding or scootering. Styles that fit this category are basically anything that allows the helmet to fit properly (yes, I'm a stickler about that), such as cornrows, long twists, or puffs that are at the base of her neck. Some veil styles work, too, although I try to avoid anything with rubber bands at the base because the helmet pushes on the rubber bands, putting additional stress on her hair and scalp.
When shopping for a helmet, I highly recommend doing your child's hair in her signature style (i.e., your go-to style, or something that she commonly wears) so that you can get a good idea of what will fit. Boo's signature style (pictured above) makes wearing a helmet easy, since I position the higher puff right above her ear in such a way that pulling it through the straps is easy.
I soon discovered after doing yarn extensions that the helmet that regularly fits her did not fit properly with the added thickness of the yarn, so I purchased an additional helmet a size up from her regular size, just to be on the safe side. I don't expect her to crash at 60 mph (as I have on my bicycle), but I figure there's no time like the present to teach her the importance of safety. And there's no need to spend an arm and a leg on helmets; you can always find used ones at garage sales.
As lovely as our chocolate girls' hairstyles are, there are a few drawbacks of having hair that's styled to last a week or more. I just never want Boo's hair to stand in the way of her being able to do something, so it's my responsibility to make sure that I make the necessary decisions to see that it doesn't. And as silly as it may sound, choosing helmet-friendly styles is a part of that.
I'm happy to say that Boo is finally getting better at peddling up the small hills of our neighbourhood, so I expect that she'll be wanting to ride her bike more this year. In the heat of the day she huffed and puffed her way to the top and was happy to enjoy the downhill afterward. She cooled off after her ride with a run through the sprinkler and an afternoon with friends at the water table. It was a good day.
UPDATE: We actually use a loose sleep cap (one of the cheap ones that can be found at Walmart or Target) on to puf any style underneath the helmet now. It helps keep her hair from getting fuzzy and/or sticking to any velcro inside of the helmet. She rides her big-girl bike almost daily now and we are happy to report her hair is none-the-worse for doing so.