And possibly the best decision of your life!
I was there, sleep-deprived, and it was affecting every important aspect of my life. I wasn’t myself, struggling every day to be a mom, wife, and professional.
Self-care? Ha! There was no time or energy for self-care.
And bedtime…? I loathed the thought of bedtime.
The only thing that felt predictable in my life was my son’s unpredictability with sleep. I dreaded putting him to sleep at night because I knew in a few short hours, my ears would be ringing, and a screaming baby would awaken me.
Every. Night. Rinse. And repeat.
It was a vicious cycle.
I was at my breaking point. After a 2 am Google Search, an email was sent to a sleep consultant (yes, really, at 2 am!); we hired her the very next day and haven’t looked back since.
Our lives were forever changed!
On night 2 of working with our sleep consultant, my son, who was waking every 2 hours, all night, slept 12 hours straight through the night! Our sleep consultant’s support was immense; my son learned a life-changing skill, and we were able to teach him! And quickly, might I add!
Because of this experience, I found my passion. It became my mission to share the good news with other moms, shout it from the rooftop: just because you have a child doesn’t mean you have to be sleep-deprived forever!
And so, I became a certified sleep consultant. My family is healthier and happier, and so are the many, many families I work with.
I can say with confidence; the decision to hire a sleep consultant was the best parenting decision we’ve made for our family. And today, I’d like to share five reasons why.
1. Dramatic improvements in your life
If sleep is a struggle in your home, the effects are more than just feeling tired. Your work is compromised, your relationships are stressed, mom guilt is high, you fear your child isn’t growing and developing on par, your immunities are down, leaving you sick more often, you have no time or energy for self-care. And ultimately, you feel like you can’t keep your head above water. These are all things clients have said to me when they’ve hired me for support.
Some families fear the confinement that comes with having a “strict schedule,” but I assure you quite the opposite is true. There is a freedom that comes with having your child on a predictable sleep schedule. You know exactly when your child will sleep, so you can actually plan your days.
Long gone are the days you have to cancel your lunch date because your baby’s nap schedule is off. No more missing that AM workout, hitting snooze too many times because you are so tired from being up all hours of the night. No more being too drained for your job, intimacy with your partner, house projects, or playdates with your kids. No more missing adult-only parties because your child threw a two-hour tantrum at bedtime, and you couldn’t leave them with a babysitter.
So, yes, your child will want to sleep at specific times because of this predictability in her sleep schedule, but this allows you to plan your life with ease. I called it structured flexibility! And guess what? Not every nap has to be at home. Once you have a great sleeper, naps can happen on the go. Children with solid sleep skills are much more resilient to occasional changes to their routines.
2. No more guesswork
When you try something new, you are bound to have questions, and with sleep training, we had a ton of them. “What time should he go to sleep? When is he supposed to nap? How long do we let him cry? Did we comfort him too much? Did we comfort him enough? When are we supposed to feed him?” And these are just a few. And we never felt alone, left to figure it out.
This is where it’s at! The extensive and personalized support we received from our sleep consultant was nothing we could have ever gotten from a blog, a book, or a Facebook Mom’s Group. The advice was customized for our son, tailored exactly for what we were going through.
Sleep consultants work with you through the entire process, tracking your progress, making recommendations for change, tweaking the plan if something is not working, celebrating your successes, answering ALL of your questions, being your biggest cheerleader, and holding you accountable for the changes you want to see. So, if you’re working with a good consultant, and if you’re honest with them and follow their advice, it’s pretty fool (and fail!) proof. Sound too good to be true? I promise, it’s not!
3. Your sleep consultant can relate
Most all sleep consultants got into this line of work because they’ve been there. Most are moms that have been through the desperation of sleepless nights. They’ve researched everything that makes the promise of more sleep…Google searches, sleep books, random blogs, Facebook Mommy Groups, advice from their pediatrician, friends, moms…you name it, they’ve tried it. Anything to get their own infant, toddler, or even school-aged kiddos to sleep better. And it didn’t work. So, like me, they hired a sleep consultant, and it was so life-altering, they became one.
So, when you hop on the phone and talk to your sleep consultant about the life-changing effects of getting a full night’s sleep or are crying and upset because it’s hard and you’re not sure if you can do it, they’ll truly know exactly how you’re feeling. Empathy is a powerful tool.
4. Let’s talk about the crying for a minute
The elephant in the room…the crying. It’s the number one question I get asked about as a sleep consultant, and rightly so; this was a huge fear and concern of mine as well when we hired our sleep consultant. Crying is often the hardest part of sleep training. As parents, we are not biologically wired to listen to our children cry and not want to stop it; it triggers us.
Most parents think that the only way to sleep train is the cry-it-out method. And yes, this is a method to sleep train, if you are comfortable with it, but I’m here to tell you that it’s not the only way to teach your child healthy sleep habits. There are more gentle methods, like the ones I use with my clients.
That being said, I’m also here to tell you, yes, your baby will probably cry during the sleep training process. If there was a way to do this tear-free, trust me, that’s what I’d be doing. The cries and protests that happen with sleep training are natural; it’s your baby’s response to the confusion and the frustration with the changes to their sleep habits; and while it cannot be prevented, the goal when working with a sleep consultant is to get through this process faster with less stress and far less tears.
My job as a sleep consultant is to talk you off of your ledge when your emotions get the best of you, which is easy to do in the midst of your baby’s cries. I know for me, if my sleep consultant didn’t have an open and honest discussion with me about the crying, sleep training would have been that much harder, and I’d probably given up.
5. You become your child’s sleep expert
As a sleep consultant, my most important job is to educate you on all things sleep, the sleep needs of your child, how to fix your child’s sleep problems, and prepare you for future sleep snags.
I quickly realized how much I didn’t know about sleep, particularly infant and child sleep, when we worked with our sleep consultant. I learned about sleep cycles, how much sleep my son needed for optimal growth and development, why he was having such a difficult time with sleep, and how to fix all the problems we were having with sleep.
The immense knowledge my sleep consultant provided was a game-changer for us as parents. Sure, we could have read a book and learned all these things. But we were so sleep-deprived, there was no way we could stay awake long enough to read an entire book, let alone retain all of the information and follow through with sleep training solo.
Our sleep consultant coached us through becoming a competent and confident sleep teacher to our son in a matter of two weeks.
And I do the same with my clients. And not only will you know how to solve your current sleep problems, but you will be equipped with the information you need to keep your child on track long into their future because sleep needs change as children grow and develop and life happens…. developmental milestones, travel, teething, and illness are all things that can disrupt sleep. But after working with a sleep consultant, you’ll feel confident you can manage any hiccup that comes your way.
As you can see, I wholeheartedly believe that hiring a sleep consultant is 100% one of the best parenting decisions, if not THE best parenting decision we’ve made.
Lack of sleep is not only detrimental to your child, but it also wreaks havoc on the entire family physiologically, emotionally, and socially. Sleep makes for healthy, well-rested, and happy families. Sleep is not a luxury; sleep is a biological necessity, and the effects are profound.
You don’t have to do this alone.
Kala Guichard is a certified pediatric sleep consultant and founder of Sleep at Last Pediatric Sleep Consulting. She lives in South Louisiana with her husband and two boys, and they are expecting the arrival of another little one in September.
Kala is passionate about sleep. As a mother and a sleep professional, she has been educated on a variety of parenting styles and has a breadth of knowledge on sleep science. Her methods incorporate her knowledge and expertise to develop a customized sleep plan and personalized one-on-one support to not only get your child sleeping well but to improve the quality of life for the entire family.
Kala strives to not only end the sleepless days and nights but to empower parents to help their children through the process of learning to sleep well with healthy sleep habits while ending the stigmas that surround sleep training. To learn more about Kala, visit her website at www.sleepatlast.net.
Note: Guest blog posts are shared for informational and educational purposes and may not reflect the official policy or position of SlumberPod (parent company, Dovetail Essentials, LLC), our employees and/or contractors.