Thursday, October 25, 2012

Why did I become a Gentle Sleep Coach?



I didn't even know that sleep with young children was a possibility, but I have loved sharing sleep filled nights with parents everywhere! And I have taught not only my children, but countless families how to get sleep in place with gentle sleep solutions so they don't have to leave their child to cry it out.

 
My journey as a mother began in 2006 with the birth of our son Connor.  What a life altering experience childbirth can be!  It was filled with the roller coaster of emotions that all new mothers experience; moments of happiness, feelings of being overwhelmed, and many sleepless nights. Not to mention the confusion from an abundance of free advice found in so many places. I quickly began to wonder if in the sea of books, videos and websites, how my husband and I would ever know what advice to believe.  

I still remember thinking that the weeks of decorating and preparing Connor's room for the perfect sleep environment, seemed to be so easy.  We had every stuffed animal in the perfect position, curtains and sheets that matched the rugs and lamps, and the books far outnumbered the toys.   This was the kind of room that my husband and I wished we had for ourselves; Connor was going to love sleeping in his room.  However, as the months turned into a year, he ended up in our bed every night.  I can also remember saying "at least I can get a few hours of sleep here and there”.   We all know how that story ends up.

Months later, sleep deprived and begging for a full night’s sleep, I turned to that sea of books, videos and websites mentioned above.   I would hear things like: "oh, my child did that too" or "they’ll grow out of it". I started to come to the conclusion that this is what motherhood was about, and I needed to become better prepared for this sleepless journey.

The next chapter of that journey occurred in 2008, with the arrival of our second son Bailey.  Let me tell you, learning to juggle an infant and a toddler was quite a transition from the life I knew.  This time around, the one thing I was sure of, was that Bailey would have good sleep manners.  I mean how hard could it be for a baby to sleep?  And again, I think you can guess how that story ended up.  It was at this point that I think both boys held a meeting and decided to test my ability to never sleep again.  Connor began protesting his naps (unless I would lie down on the floor of the same room he was in) and Bailey refused to go to sleep unless he was held and rocked. Needless to say, I was beyond exhausted and losing more sleep than any person should.  Soon those nap time dilemmas carried over to night time troubles.  

Here I was, lying in the world’s most comfortable bed, wondering "why won't anyone sleep in this house?  What were we doing wrong?"  I tried everything I knew.  I let the boys cry it out, I held and rocked, I cried, I prayed, I watched videos, and I surfed the web for help.  

The only thing I didn’t have to wonder about, was the fact that what we were doing, wasn’t working for me, my husband, and most importantly the boys.  Something had to change.

Finally in January 2009, I was introduced to the book The Sleep Lady's Good Night, Sleep Tight: Gentle Proven Solutions to Help Your Child Sleep Well and Wake Up Happy
 by Kim West a.k.a. “The Sleep Lady”.  After I implemented Kim's strategies, our lives immediately began to change for the better.  My children were sleeping, my husband was sleeping, and I was finally sleeping.  I couldn’t believe it, our family was on the way to healthy and happy sleep behaviors.  Instantly, I felt like the haze had lifted, the dark clouds parted and my life was sunny again, not to mention how the other aspects of parenting became easier after a good night's sleep.Now as a caregiver of children, I realize the importance of healthy sleep habits.   

Therefore in creating Loving Lessons, I want all parents to remember are that:  

  • No one is perfect and we can all learn from our mistakes
  • Sleep is a skill that has to be taught
  • Parenting is the hardest job you will ever do
  • You have to be intentional in your actions
  • You have to reach out for support
  • You have to be patient
  • You have to always breathe! 

The purpose of my work is for parents to obtain knowledge and help, when needed, with a wide variety of sleep and educationally based problems children often face.  Through my years as a teacher, a mother and now a Gentle Sleep Coach; I desire to see all families grow and live as healthy as possible.  I truly believe that all children are capable of learning healthy habits for a healthy future.

Sweet Dreams,

Irene

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