The #1 question from new moms in mommy forums, mommy groups, playdates and any watering hole for parents is about sleep. On the tip of any mother’s tongue is the question:
‘So how’s your baby sleeping?’
This is not an article about baby sleep.
This is an article about a family who had a troubled little sleeper. As you guessed, I’m a Paediatric Sleep Consultant, some moms call me a coach (or an angel) but the technical name doesn’t matter. I help parents figure out what THEY actually want in regards to their children’s sleep, as opposed to what they are being told by their surroundings or google or forums, and so I develop ways to reach sleep goals for moms without judging them or pushing them into doing something that goes against their wishes. It doesn’t matter what their parenting style is, I always have a solution to move forward.
This is a story about a client that is dear to me, we worked together because mom was just constantly in tears, physically aching and the day before she called me, she left the house in only pantyhose (yes really, just pantyhose) because her brain was so sleep deprived that she’d forgotten to put her skirt on.
The relationship between her and her husband was very strained. He was tired from not sleeping watching the kids and managing the household all day. Every passing day she became more and more resentful because her husband got to spend alone time in his office.
The husband was frustrated because he was not able to focus at work and was feeling guilty because he felt powerless when seeing his wife so distressed. He had no idea what to do.
Mom was not only feeling tired, she was feeling guilty too. Though it was hard to admit, she was starting to resent her baby and it felt like she really couldn’t turn to anyone without being judged or worse having them call social services. They needed help from someone who wouldn’t judge them, who knew what they were going through and have the tools to help them get through the tough time. That’s why they called me.
A sleep coach is not for everyone BUT for this family, and my clients, it is the right solution.
Sleep coaching isn’t for everyone. Yes, as a sleep coach, I turn away clients who:
- Have no interest in having an unbiased opinion from an outsider on how to be more healthy and happy when they have a troubled little sleeper
- Have a child who is not the perfect sleeper but your life is absolutely tolerable for their family
- Act out of pressure from outsiders on what they should or shouldn’t do and deep down inside don’t really feel like there is anything wrong with their situation.
However, if you’re going through more than a rough patch, sleep coaching can be for you. I’ve helped:
- Couples who have been fighting for the last 2 years to finally have date nights again and enjoy their time with each other.
- Children get the sleep they need and become more balanced, less fussy, more patient and healthier.
- Children who were poor eaters are now eating much better to the great relief of their parents.
If you might be afraid that your family is falling apart and you are aware and starting to worry that neither you or your child are getting enough sleep to be healthy and happy: There is help.
Sleep coaching can help you to figure out a way to get your sleep back in the way that works for you so that you can finally enjoy your family time together feeling energetic, happy and guilt free.
So for some moms, like my clients, a sleep coach is a knight in shining armour.
But even knights in shining armours have rookies and experienced professionals.
Choosing an experienced professional makes all the difference.
Here are 10 ways to recognise an experienced and professional paediatric sleep consultant:
- A true professional will always give you options that work for you. If you are opposed to any crying, your sleep coach should be able to give you solutions catering to that and also let you know what realistic outcomes are.
- You should never be asked to start when it might be too late in the day or you still have a lot of changes to make. If your child is already overtired there is no way you should start that evening but rather take a day and start when everything is in place.
- If your child has never slept in her new room, ideally you should be given at least one day during which you can spend more time in that room to acclimatise.
- Your coach should also make sure that your rigidly document your progress in a sleep log. It is highly effective to see how things evolve in black and white. My favourite tool for this is a google spreadsheet, which my clients and I have access to and which I can also comment on whenever I have time during the day.
- Your plan should be customised as much as possible. There aren’t a gazillion options when it comes to sleep training. A lot of strategies resemble each other for the sheer reason that they work. However, a sleep plan should take your relationship with your child into consideration and explain each step so that you can re-read it when you have time because consultations are so packed with information that it can be tough to take it all in during that time.
- Your coach should be asking you about your birth and how it went the weeks after that. Often we, as moms, subconsciously carry a lot of guilt around with us when things didn’t go exactly the way we imagined them whether it was a caesarian instead of a natural birth, whether we couldn’t breastfeed and wanted to or whether we had a post-natal depression and kind of missed our first weeks with our newborn. All of these things are important and your sleep coach should be able to help you with this.
- Your sleep coach should look at many different aspects of your life, such as nutrition, routines, schedules, sleep environment and so forth. You should not just be given a plan and then be done with it.
- Your consultation should be thorough and you should have enough quiet time for it so that you really understand each step and can have a clear conversation so that you are fully prepared as to what comes next.
- Your sleep coach should check in with you, even if you don’t think it is necessary. The efficiency of having an outsider working with you is that they can see your blind spots. So even if you think everything might be perfectly on track you might miss something that could make a difference and that your coach will be able to point out during your check in.
- And lastly your coach should be flexible and help you adapt or find different solutions if one isn’t working for you and most of all you should be made aware that it is always a process and not a single event. Results don’t happen immediately and the first night is the most rough, anyone who tells you differently should have you running the other way.
If you have questions about what an experienced Paediatric Sleep Consultant can and cannot do for you and your family, I would be happy to answer your questions.