The birth of my first daughter in 2011 was a huge learning curve; everything was new and as a family we were bombarded with all sorts of advice and information, much of it was contradictory and confusing and came from a number of sources. I wish I had known then what I know now: that following your own instincts and parenting style is so much more important for your own self-confidence and growth as a parent.
My first daughter struggled to sleep for a good year or so. I know that was completely normal now but at the time I was confused, sleep-deprived and second guessing myself constantly and thought that we were doing something wrong. Parenthood is such a journey, you learn all the time, not only about yourself but about this little person to nurture! Over time, as I relaxed more about it, my daughter relaxed and we fell into this rhythm which worked for us – she rarely napped at home or in a cot but slowly the sleep improved and we all began to feel better, less anxious, less stressed and able to enjoy parenthood.
My second daughter arrived about 3 years later. She didn’t sleep for the first two years of her life for quite considerable stretches! Again, not a lover of daytime naps in her cot – we spent longer having naps out and about, babywearing for as long as possible in the park, at the zoo, at the shops, on trains, planes and just about anywhere!
We were so conflicted when our first daughter was born, I read all about the different sleep techniques and how I could ‘fix’ the sleep. Against our parental instinct, we tried cry-it-out when we were going through a particularly rough time. It was unbearable, not just for me but for our daughter also. We stopped, took a breath, paused, and decided to follow our own intuition with sleep.
I love sleep (who doesn’t?!) and it was so hard in those early days and even years, it felt like I was surviving on barely anything and working a pretty stressful job at the same time.
I feel a great connection with families who are struggling in the same way we were. Sleep is so crucial to our mental and physical health, when we don’t get enough, we all feel it and yet we all know that sleep is impacted by so many things. We are not taught to sleep, it will happen eventually – even if we do nothing, things will improve. That doesn’t mean that we should walk around barely able to function and our life being miserable. These years are precious and need to be enjoyed too!
I decided to step out of my comfort zone and to look more into sleep and how I could support parents in a way I wish I’d known about when my children were very young. I knew that my interest was definitely rooted in supporting sleep from an holistic perspective, having tried cry-it-out and read all about supposed ‘gentle but non-responsive’ strategies, this certainly wasn’t for me.
I firmly believe that parents can improve sleep, feel well-rested and feel better mentally without having to compromise on their own parental instincts around connection and being responsive to their little ones. Once I completed the Holistic Sleep Coaching programme, I knew I had found my tribe of like-minded people! I loved the ethos of the course and this really resonated with my beliefs and values. I am certified to OCN Level 6 (the highest certification in this field).
I am currently completing additional education and training for a L4 OCN accreditation in Infant Reflux, Colic and Allergy to complement my practice as well as completing training with BASIS (Baby Sleep Info Source).
I love working alongside families to provide options and suitable approaches to help achieve better sleep. It’s not a magic wand solution and it does requires time and effort, but what you invest in this process will be one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself and your little one!