Tonight I got asked a question.. And it really sparked a little something in me.
I’m not sure why.
Maybe because this is my passion. Maybe because this is my life’s work.
Maybe it is because every day I seek to refine my skills to ensure every family who comes under my wing has a slightly easier transition from “no sleep” to “sleep” than those who walked before them. (I literally try to get better at my job every.single.day because.. This is me. I like my work. I’m a self proclaimed “people pleaser”, a “perfectionist”, and all around “sleep wizard”). And I don’t want to just walk around calling myself a sleep wizard. I literally want to BE ONE.
But I keep getting asked for free advice. I know. You’re not shocked. And neither am I.. but here is the thing. I can’t give it to you.. I really wish I could.. But I just can’t. And here’s why..
I don’t know you yet.
^^ Yup. That is pretty much the only reason why.
I’m not trying to be greedy. I’m not trying to hold every ounce of sleep knowledge inside my brain only to be shared with the parents who can afford to hire me.
It is literally because I don’t know you from Adam. I don’t know what good advice is for your family. What advice will help you, and not send your anxiety spiralling, and what advice is healthy for you or your child.
People often ask me.. Can you give me an example of something we might do if we worked together? Sure.. I can give you an example. That is no problem. How about I put them all here for you in a blog post? Which.. I am about to do a few minutes from now.
But funny story.. There are literally 924 combinations of things I “might” tell you to do to get your child sleeping. Want to know how I know this? Let me explain.. It is a bit of a story. Probably not highest on my priority management list this week, but one I feel like telling tonight after a long day with my children, and a couple of glasses of wine.
So here is the confession.
I hate writing sleep plans.
I know, probably not what you really want to hear from a business owner who gets babies to sleep for a living. But, I just can’t sit down, know exactly what it is I want to say for that particular family, and hammer it out with great ambition. And trust me – you other sleep coaches out there.. I know a lot of ya’ll are hitting copy paste like nobody’s business when you write your sleep plans.. And you are probably wondering how on earth I get babies sleeping without them (the answer – technology.. But I will save that for another blog post.. Or.. my future training program.. Wink wink.. Nudge nudge).
But for me, until I see a baby in action. Until I really know the family from the inside out. I can’t really write a sleep plan.
And even then, I find myself reorganizing and rejigging the plan leftways, backward, and sideways.. And before you know it, we are on a completely different plan than we started with because I now know YOUR baby. I now know the strategies that are going to work BEST for your family.
Earlier this year I set out to try and solve this problem of not really loving writing sleep plans. I poured over my options..
Maybe someone could write these for me? Maybe a robot could do it? Is there an app I could plug the information into and bada bing bada boom, a new sleep plan would be created? And in anticipation of finding just that.. I started to write.
Off the top of my head one night I wrote out all of the different approaches I *might* tell a family to use at bedtime. Everything from nursing their baby to sleep, to sitting beside the crib holding their baby’s hand, and everything in-between.
And guess what – there were 12 different ways I might suggest a family helps their baby go to bed at bedtime. This didn’t include the videos I send showing you how to actually succeed at rocking a 6 month old to sleep in your arms, or the one that shows how I would pat and shush a 10 month old on the bum to go to sleep. Those also all exist, and they are sent to my clients’ inboxes every day as they are needed. So yeah – if you consider the weird way I might tell you to blink your eyes, or hold your elbow.. There are probably more than 12 combinations here.
Then I started to write out the middle of the night responses.. To which there were 11. Sure I might say, dreamfeed your baby at such and such a time, and then 4 hours later we are going to feed them again.. At every night waking in between you are going to do x, y, z in the soothing department.. But the thing is, until I have really worked with your baby – I don’t know where the best time in the night is for them to be fed. I don’t know if “dreamfeeding” your baby is the best option, or if the latching struggles you have experienced in breastfeeding might actually be aggravated by such a sleepy feed.
We have to talk it out. You tell me what you are comfortable with – what you think you can be successful with – and then I go in my brain and open the tab that I think might work and say, “how about tonight you try this…”. There are a lot of tabs in my brain, and it is likely that I have one I can open that will help you feel successful.
I believe when it comes to families and sleep, that they will be the MOST successful in making sleep changes, when they use the strategies that they feel calm, cool, and collected in. Which is why I create our action steps DURING our consultation, and every day thereafter in custom emails to your inbox.
Okay Lara so… 12 x 11.. That is 132 different combinations. We get it. But where do the other 792 different combinations come from?
Well friends.. That is timing. Scheduling. Based on your baby’s developmental age and stage, their unique sleep totals day-to-day, and what I have observed of them in the app you are using to track their sleep.. there are 7 different timelines I am most likely to use for the babies in my care.
These are starting off points, and they tend to change and shift ever so slightly after..
You guessed it..
Me getting to know your baby! Ha.
So the next time you ask me… is there any advice you can share with us right now? Or, do you know the reason why my 15 month old is waking up so much in the night? Or, can you give me an example of some of the methods we might use in working together?
You now know why these are hard questions for me to answer.
I know you probably think I am holding back advice because I want you to hire me.
I do want you to hire me. That is kind of not a secret..
But, when you do hire me I want to assure you I am giving you the best of the best of me. The solutions that are TRULY customized to you, and more than you can google. I want them to be safe for you, and your baby. I want them to honour your breastfeeding relationship, your attachment, your fears and anxiety, your unique experiences with parenting, postpartum depression, anxiety, post traumatic stress disorder, or other traumas.
I am not giving you Sleep Plan A or Sleep Plan B.
And now you know why they cost an additional $125. (I actually suggest they are a worthy purchase AFTER we are done.. To collect everything we did in one, easy to read place, so that you have it as a future reference point and guide, and therefore, never find yourself in an argument with your spouse at 3:30 am trying to remember what Lara said).
Examples of things we might do if we worked together include:
Nursing your baby to sleep
Rocking your baby to sleep
Holding your baby to sleep
Patting your baby to sleep
Bouncing your baby to sleep
Wearing your baby to sleep
Side jiggling your baby to sleep
Holding your baby’s hand until they fall asleep
Laying beside your baby until they fall asleep
Holding your hand across their belly like a seat belt until they fall asleep
Shushing loudly in your baby’s ear
Singing to your baby
Humming to your baby
Sitting silently with your baby
Talking to your baby
Playing with your toddler for 3 – 7 days in play therapy before starting any kind of sleep work
Setting up new expectations for your toddler through family meetings, social stories, and role playing
Moving yourself further away from your child at bedtime
Moving yourself closer to your child at bedtime
Responding to all night wakings with feeding
Responding to no night wakings with feeding
Responding to some night wakings with rocking back to sleep, while holding back to sleep at others
Co-sleeping all night, and weaning of nighttime feeding
Co-sleeping for half the night, and crib sleep for the other
^^ I think you get the point here.
There are literally so many different things I do in my work with families… which makes this work immensely satisfying, so interesting, and incredibly gratifying for me.
I will support you with all of the above. As parents you are going to know you have been seen, and heard.. And that your child has been very much seen and heard as well, and that we are a TEAM in this. There is no “I” in team. I just felt like saying that.
Thanks for listening.