Category Archives: Sleep consultant

A message to Dad, the sleep coaching skeptic

tired-dadEach week I speak to many moms during my free 15 minute phone consultations.  The story is often the same:  it takes hours to get a baby or toddler to sleep at bedtime, there are multiple night wakings, mom is doing a lot of work to try to get said child back to sleep, at some point in the night dad may even try his hand (sometimes with success, sometimes not)—or dad may sleep through the whole thing because he doesn’t hear it or is even sleeping in a different room.  Everyone is exhausted, and if mom is home with her child during the day, she also spends much of the day trying to coax the baby or toddler into one or several naps.  And the process repeats again the next night/day.  It is sort of like the movie Groundhog Day.  It feels never ending and unchanging.  At the end of our call, mom is enthusiastic about the changes we have spoken about and optimistic about the progress she feels her child can make.  She feels relieved to know that help is on the way.  I have given her a realistic picture of what to expect.  She knows that it will be hard work, but at least it feels like there is a light at the end of the sleepless tunnel.  Often we even have scheduled the consultation.  The call often ends with the statement, “I will speak with my husband and get back to you.”  And it ends there.  I either don’t hear back or I get a defeated sounding email a few days later saying that her husband didn’t feel like they needed to spend money on this right now.

I understand that this is a big decision and feels like a leap of faith to put your trust in (in circumstances when you don’t have a personal referral) a virtual stranger who your wife has found in her late night stupor of Googling.  However, there is a reason that your child isn’t sleeping well.  Yes, it is often a puzzle to be put together and figured out step by step.  Sometimes, as the parents in the “thick of it,” it is hard to see all the details and to figure out how to make lasting changes.  Much of child sleep is not intuitive.  Whether you are a new parent or this is your second, third or fourth child, sleep deprivation is painful and impacts your entire family.  Here are just a few of the reasons why hiring a sleep consultant is a good decision for your family:

  • It is okay to ask for help.  At your job, if you needed a problem solved that was outside of your area of expertise, wouldn’t you go to an expert for advice and help with trouble-shooting?  Babies and toddlers present multiple challenges.  I often think of raising a child as a moving target.  As they grow and change, their behaviors (of which sleep is often the most challenging and produces many of the power struggles) change and develop.  Learning how to handle and adapt these changes is what makes being a parent such a tough job.  By hiring a sleep consultant, you are working with someone who is an expert at helping with these very challenging behaviors.  This, in turn, will educate and empower you as you become a better parent.
  • Your partner’s sanity means your sanity.  There are few children’s behaviors that produce more anxiety in moms then sleep.  If your partner sent you this link, it is likely that she is feeling overwhelmed, stressed out and exhausted by your child’s sleep troubles.  With many families I work with, these struggles are starting to take a toll on your relationship with your partner.  Debates and arguments about what to do to fix the problem ensue and sleep deprivation often makes these discussions irrational.  Yes, it is likely that she is more into the idea of hiring me then you are but she wants you to be on board with it.  I strongly encourage both parents to be a part of the consultation so that everyone can be on the same page.  Consistency is the key to success for every family I work with, and there is nothing more inconsistent then parents who are arguing about what Linda did or did not say at 2 in the morning.  Please remember that this has been very hard for her, and this is why she contacted me for help.
  • It’s a great investment.  Teaching your child how to sleep means that you are giving your child a skill that he/she will use for the rest of his/her life.  By investing in your child’s sleep, you are setting them up for success both now and for the future.  This ultimately leads to happier children and a happier family.
  • A trained sleep consultant is the “real deal.”  It’s okay to admit it.  When she said “sleep coach,” there may have been some eye-rolling.  Being a sleep coach doesn’t just mean that I have read a few books and have sleep trained my own children.  Not only am I a licensed clinical social worker with a master’s degree in helping improve family functioning, but I have completed an extensive training and certification program with one of the world’s most well-respected sleep coaches, Kim West.  I am also a part of her advanced program, meaning that I participate in continuing education as well as ongoing weekly case consultation and supervision, which is a tremendous support to the families I work with.  I have done additional training in the area of infant and child mental health as well as newborn sleep development.  There is a reason that families I have worked with are happy to report that their lives are no longer sleepless.  If you would like to speak with someone I have worked with (even a dad!), I can arrange that as well.
  • Brownie points.  You know it.  Happy wife=happy life.  Even if you aren’t 100% convinced, it would go a long way towards showing your wife that you support her.

Still have questions? I am happy to speak with you.  Feel free to contact me so we can set up a time to talk about your concerns.  I realize that this is a financial investment, but it is also an investment in the physical and emotional health of your family.

The value in hiring a sleep consultant

Parents often wonder if the cost of hiring a sleep consultant is worth it.  Many feel that being sleep deprived is just a permanent state of being once you enter the realm of parenthood, and there is nothing that can be done to change this.  I disagree.  You don’t have to live in a fog of sleep deprivation and, in many ways, you can’t afford to wait for things to resolve on their own or for your child to “grow out of it” (which, for older children, often does not happen) due to the fact that there can be long term consequences of not sleeping, especially in the first 5 years.

Some of the consequences are:

-disrupting the natural and necessary neurological connections for your child’s development providing the foundation for all future cognitive, sensory-motor, and social emotional development
-inability to play independently and adapt to changing environments
-behavioral concerns
-creating a sleep debt for your child which could result in symptoms that look like ADD/ADHD, but really are sleep deprivation
-undiagnosed sleep disorders contributing to ongoing poor sleep
-Obesity
-Insomnia

It may sound alarmist to think that sleeplessness can cause the above problems, but these are real concerns among school age children, and they are often largely the result of long term sleep deprivation.  You also can’t minimize the fact that, as parents, when we function in a perpetual state of exhaustion, it becomes harder for us to focus the effort and energy on building a quality and connected relationship with our children.

As a sleep consultant, I am not there to sleep train your child.  I am, in fact, working myself out of a job.  It is my job to equip you, as parents, with the tools and strategies you need to help improve your child’s sleep.  This is not something to be outsourced.  Your child trusts you and by helping him learn this skill, you are building on this trust.  You are showing him that you respect this ability to learn a skill that he will use for the rest of his life and you are teaching him this in a supportive and nurturing way.

Following our time together, you will have a “toolbox” to use and to continue to build on throughout your parenting journey.  Teaching your child how to sleep with love, understanding, compassion while being intentional and positive is the greatest gift you can give your whole family.  After working with a family and helping them resolve their child’s sleep problems, I have often been told that the cost of hiring me was the best money they have spent since becoming parents.  Don’t you own that to your family?