Sleep Training 101: Finding a qualified sleep consultant

Lets take it back to September 2015…

I was a new mom, with 6 month old twin girls. Having twins in itself will normally present some newborn sleep challenges … one waking the other being the most common. But I found myself exhausted and frustrated with TWO newborns that just. wouldn’t. sleep.

We had seen a specialist pediatrician to rule out the common causes: silent re-flux, prolonged colic (yes, that’s a thing), throat and ear infections, or any other medical condition that could be hampering their sleep.

We had established a solid bed time routine, we ensured they were not overstimulated, overtired, overfed or hungry at the time of going to bed.

We ensured the room  temperature was optimal and we made sure the crib was comfortable and safe. So why were our girls not sleeping?!

After one particularly harrowing night of being up literally every 30 minutes between the two of them, I got on the phone to a sleep consultant who had been recommended by a friend.

I have no idea what I was expecting from that call…but I’m SO GLAD I called!

Our sleep consultant made an Skype appointment with myself and my husband (we were both in this together!). Be wary of those that work with one parent individually, as sleep training really needs a collaborative effort from all those involved with the child’s sleeping schedule to ensure consistency.

Before that appointment, I needed to fill out a detailed questionnaire with information regarding each of the girls. A separate one for each twin as the approach would be tailored for them specifically.  The questionnaire covered everything from day and night routines, eating habits, family dynamics,  medical background, growth and development milestones,  environmental factors, and sensory environment. The questionnaire also covered the child’s specific personality traits and temperament. There was some miscellaneous information I had to provide regarding favorite toys and foods, and our methods of play etc…

I also had to include some information on what sleep training methods (if any) I had tried before, and what I expected from our forthcoming consultation. (“To sleep, duh” – was apparently not an appropriate answer)

The questionnaire was very, very detailed to the point of exhaustive! But I truly do believe that a great sleep consultant will ensure she gathers the utmost information she can about your particular child to ensure that the approach she uses is tailored to your child. Sleep training is definitely not a one-size-fits-all technique.

One particularly important piece of information I also had to provide prior to our actual consultation was the level of Cry It Out (CIO) I would be comfortable with. On a sliding scale, I chose ‘minimum crying without intervention” (the lowest level of CIO acceptance).

I think what scares many moms away from sleep training is the fear of CIO. And rightly so. It is gut-wrenching to imagine leaving your child to scream in distress for extended periods of time without intervening. I truly believe that a qualified sleep consultant will recognize a parent’s aversion to extended CIO and will be willing and able to work within your comfort levels to achieve a successful result in your quest to get your child to sleep better.

With all the information we provided in the questionnaires, our sleep consultant came up with a detailed and specific plan for each twin which we then discussed in our Skype call consultation. We used a holistic approach, taking into account all factors contributing to poor sleep and looking to alleviate them without too much disruption of her current routine.

She established a sensory profile for each of our children as well as an in-depth sleep prognosis. She gave us a plan which we were to implement that same night, and the take home message of the entire meetings was: CONSISTENCY.

She stressed how important consistency was in getting a child to sleep well, and how any lack of consistently on our part would cause setbacks for our goal of getting the twins to sleep well.

One of the very best advantages to having a sleep consultant working with us directly, was the benefit of having someone available on the phone when things got tough. She may not have been available 24/7, but there wasn’t a single text or Whatsapp message that went more than a few hours without being answered. And perhaps most crucially, on those first few nights, when I felt like giving up…she was on the phone with me, talking me through the plan and helping me brave it out.

I’m happy to say that we learnt SO much about healthy infant and toddler sleep from our consultant. We know now just how important a sound night’s sleep is for their development and growth, and I know the basic concepts of ensuring a good night’s sleep. I understand the do’s and dont’s of getting a feisty toddler to bed each night and that consistency is key.

I know that many families are struggling with sleepless nights, but are totally against the idea of sleep training due to the misconception that sleep training automatically means extended CIO.

However, a good sleep consultant will and should be able to work within the framework of what you find comfortable in regards to CIO. After all, there isn’t anyone who knows your child better than you, so you’d be in the best position to determine this.

A good sleep consultant will ensure she has all the relevant background information prior to formulating a sleep plan for your child.

A good sleep consultant will develop a sleep plan that is tailor made specifically to your little one, taking into account the child’s routine, personality and family dynamics, among other things.

A good sleep consultant will ensure that anyone and everyone who is involved with the child’s sleep routine, participates in the sleep training consult…to ensure consistency for the child.

A good sleep consultant will provide step by step support through the implementation of the sleep training plan.

Going the sleep training route was the best decision we made for our family. Giving our children the gift of sleep, has done wonders for the entire family’s well being.

The basic principles we learnt during the training process will stay with us for life and help us through all the little sleep regressions we encounter along the way.

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Diana’s Greatest Role

I remember exactly where I was on 31 August 1997. Much like the day the Twin Towers fell, this date is forever etched in history, as the world woke up to the awful news that Princess Diana had died in a car crash in Paris.

I remember the outpouring of grief, the shock, the TV channels gripped by reruns upon reruns of her smiling face next to the mangled car.

In the 20 years since her death, the world remembers her many roles: reluctant princess, humanitarian, fashion icon, celebrity, activist. A Jane of all trades, she mastered them all, but wore one hat more proudly than any other: that of ‘Mother’.

She truly never looked happier or more at peace than when she was with her boys – and the world knows that happiness and peace were two attributes that she deserved more of in her short, often fraught life.

I feel an immense sadness for her children having been robbed of her love and her influence. But I surely believe that it is precisely due to her early influence and unconditional love that they turned out to be such fine young men.

So on this day, 20 years since her tragic death, let us remember her above all, as the loving, protective mother she was.

“I will fight for my children on any level, so that they can reach their potential as human beings and in their public duties” – Diana Princess of Wales.

* Ghetty Images

Ballerina themed Party Ideas

The Twincesses turned 2 and we celebrated them with a beautiful, and very girly, ballerina-inspired party.

Think shades of pink and glittery gold, wafts of tulle and ribbon, dainty details and pretty textures… The themed was whimsical and perfect for any little girl.

We once again reached out to Tricks and Treats (our go-to event decor experts) to put together the party of our dreams!

Below are some of the awesome and intricate details that made my girls celebration so spectacular!

So if you’re looking for inspo on throwing your own ballerina themed event… look no further:

When your child is sick…

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When you child is sick, all urgency disappears. Everything that just couldn’t wait before, suddenly loses all importance. The dishes piled high in the sink isn’t pressing anymore. The piles of laundry become insignificant. The business deadline loses all meaning and time seems like its standing still.

When your child is sick, you can’t help but regret. The scolding they got for dropping milk all over the kitchen floor. The way you lost your temper when you had to break up yet another fight over the Legos. The way you felt so relieved when they finally went to bed. You will regret it all. Every minute spent being what you perceive as a ‘less than perfect’ mom, will fill you with a deep dark regret.

When your child is sick, you notice everything with fresh eyes. That curl that keeps getting in her eyes, the one that annoys you on most days as you search under the couch for a hairclip to hold it back… that very same curl becomes the most beautiful thing you’ve ever seen.  The dimple on her left cheek will bring tears to your eyes and her tiny hands might just be the most perfect little hands ever created.

When your child is sick, you make promises. You promise you’ll scream less and have more patience. You promise to laugh, and re-laugh at their silly antics even if you’ve seen it for the 100th time. You promise to join in when they sing and dance to Barney next time. You promise to say “I Love you” at every opportunity, and that kisses and cuddles will outweigh reprimands and discipline. You vow to be better and do better.

When your child is sick, you find yourself bargaining. With your God, the higher powers, the Universe. You make little pleas, and gigantic deals. You’d sell your very own soul for their recovery.

When your child is sick, you become angry. You question ‘Why”??? Why my child? What did she do to deserve this? You get angry because you’re so helpless. Your only job is to take care of them and ease their pain, and yet you find yourself unable to do anything to make it better.

When your child is sick, you voluntarily become unimportant. You’re unconcerned with sleeping, and eating becomes an afterthought. You’d rather sit by your little one, than take a long hot shower, and you don’t care if you look like the walking dead.

When your child is sick, you become a warrior. You track down doctors in the middle of the night. You ensure your child is not just another number on their already too long list. You research and advocate for your child. You find donors, your raise awareness, you fight. And then you fight some more.

There is nothing like seeing your child sick and in pain to bring a parent to their knees. So with this post, I acknowledge all the warrior moms out there who, in this moment may be going through the darkest times of their lives. Love and Light to you, and all your precious little ones.

 

 

 

10 Best responses to the ‘Are they Twins?’ Question

Parents of multiples are asked many annoying, inappropriate questions.

From, were they conceived naturally, to whether your boy/girl twins are identical…like seriously???

But there is one particular question I find the most annoying of all: ARE THEY TWINS?

Do people actually think that 2 babies (who are very clearly around the same age) are siblings born months/years apart?

Here are some of the best responses you can practice giving these nosy people:

(PS: I’ve used the last 1 about half a dozen times which results is incredulous looks)

  1. What? There was only 1 when we left the hospital!
  2. No, they’re brothers who were born 3 minutes apart
  3. The hospital had a buy 1 get 1 free offer
  4. No, there are actually 3, but we keep the third one for spare parts
  5. No, one is a stunt double
  6. No, the first one was so wonderful we decided to have him cloned.
  7. Hmmm, I don’t know, they have 2 different dads.
  8. No, I found the other 1 in the parking lot and thought, why not?
  9. No, one is a clever forgery
  10. No, they’re triplets. I leave the ugly 1 at home.

Finding Strength on the “I Can’t Do It Anymore” days

I can’t do this anymore”. It’s a phrase I find myself muttering at least a hundred times a day.

At 3:15am, when I’m standing alone in the darkness, patting, patting, patting the warm back of my tiny human. Exhausted and in desperate need of sleep because it’s the 4th time I’ve been awakened by her cries… I find myself holding back my own tears that threaten to spill their dam as I plead silently with God “Help me, I can’t do this anymore”.

At lunchtimes when we engage in yet another battle of wills, and I find myself bribing, negotiating and finally, pleading with my child to eat just one more mouthful … I mutter – defeated – under my breath “I can’t do this anymore”.

In the evenings when my already high maintenance child turns into the worst form of herself, throwing her head back screaming in yet another tantrum for no apparent good reason, I choke back hot tears as I contemplate running away and think “I just can’t do this anymore”.

On Sunday afternoons, after a long weekend of not having even a single minute to myself, still in pajamas because I haven’t found the time to shower, expired from the endless cycles of feeding, playing, singing, reading to the kids… all the while building a wall of guilt around myself for not doing enough, I find myself feeling drained and inadequate with only one thought:  “I can’t. I can’t do this anymore”.

If you’re a mom, I’m pretty sure you feel this way at least once (if not many times) a day. When the fatigue overtakes you, coupled with a healthy dose of guilt for good measure, it’s not hard to feel like you’re coming up short in just about every area of Motherhood.

But what I need you to remember is this:

In those dark hours of the morning when you feel all alone rocking, nursing, patting, lulling your baby back to sleep for what feels like the millionth time … You are NOT alone. I can guarantee you that a few hundred other moms are walking in your shoes at that very moment.

When your child won’t eat the meal you found time to lovingly prepare, and would rather spit it down the front of her T-shirt … know this: You are NOT alone. All over the world exasperated moms are fighting that very same war.

When your toddler throws down the mother of all tantrums because you won’t let him smack you in the face with the TV remote … stand strong – you are NOT alone. Parents have lived through their children’s outbursts since the beginning of time.

When the weekend seems never-ending and you feel like you don’t have a single thing good left to give … hang in there. You are NOT alone. Monday will come and Daycare will reopen; and as you sit at your office desk surrounded by the adult company you longed for, you will find yourself daydreaming about those sticky, chubby hands around your neck.

My point isn’t that misery loves company… but merely a gentle reminder that you are NOT alone.

The world over, moms have faced arduous moments. Moments that threatened to break them. Moments that seemed to expend all they had inside them. Moments that made them want to scream out loud: “I can’t do this anymore!” But they got through it… by sheer will, by insurmountable love; because no other choice exists but to keep ploughing on.

And when they had climbed their respective mountains and reached the other side where the sun shines so brightly, they realised that they COULD do it. They had it in them all along.

And so do you.

Exhausted, frustrated, sleep deprived mama: on those days that seem unending, in the groundhog existence of feed, change, sleep and repeat … just keep putting one foot in front of the other.

Keep ploughing on. This too shall pass.

Let Humanity Win (My thoughts on Disney Gator Attack)

I have been at a complete loss for words since hearing about the 2 year old who was dragged away from his parents by an alligator at Disney, Florida.

This, hot on the heels of the worst mass shooting the US has ever seen, and the senseless gunning down of Christina Grimme, a beautiful, talented 22 year old…all in Florida, all in the space of a few days.

And while thoughts and anger, emotion and sadness has been filling my head and mind since these horrific events have unfolded, I’ve been at a complete loss on how to put those words down on paper.

But today I woke up to the news that a little body was found, mere feet from where his helpless dad had watched him be snatched as he tried to pry open an alligator’s mouth with his bare hands. A child… loved, cherished, cared for… very much like my own two children, and my heart breaks into a million tiny pieces.

Then I see the fury that is brewing on social media…fury, blame and anger aimed at the parents of the 2 year old, and it makes me want to bury my head in my hands and weep for what we have become.

People are citing parental negligence as the cause of this heart-breaking incident. But tell me…how many visitors walk that exact park each day? Each month? Each year?

How many children get close to the water’s edge, squeal with laughter and run excitedly back to their parents? How many wander around, happily creating memories, carefree and full of life?

Now tell me, how many have been attacked by an alligator while doing do? Disney has never had an incident like this occur before. And while Florida may be rife with alligators, they rarely attack humans.

NO ONE could have seen this coming.

The child was NOT unattended. He was NOT swimming. His parents were NOT negligent, and they DO NOT deserve this. No parent does.

The internet has killed our humanity. It has emboldened us to become horrible, horrible monsters … people we would never portray in real life.

Would anyone taking a dig at these parents have the guts to walk up to them, in this moment of utter grief, point a finger to their faces and say: “It’s your fault your child is dead. You should have been a better parent”

No one would dare say it to their faces, yet we sit happily behind our screens, the keyboard our assault weapon of choice, as we pick off strangers one by one.

Gorilla mom faced the internet’s fury when her child fell into Harambe’s enclosure. I admit, I was one of the first to point my finger. But in the end, my humanity won over my need to join the internet mob.

And a ‘mob’ is precisely what we’ve become. A bunch of angry, vile people, spewing words of hate and contempt to people we have never met, and will never know. We have become a society who has taken it as our duty to blame, to judge, and to tear apart anyone who has ever made a mistake.

It doesn’t matter if it’s a grieving mom, a panicked, helpless father…

It doesn’t matter if we made that same mistake last week. No one was there to see, and there was no tragic outcome, so it’s ok.

For all those thinking they know better and would have done better. Stop. Please stop.

A child is gone, his parents will NEVER recover from this pain and anguish. They will pay a price – far worse than you could ever wish on them – for the rest of their lives. So please, I implore you: Stop.

Stop letting anonymity make you less human. Stop letting your screen and keyboard make you the judge and the jury.

Please let compassion take over. Please, let humanity win.