My story started back in the Fall of 2003 at a neighborhood event. As a new mother, I was just so excited for some adult contact. I took my five-month-old, Madeleine, with me down to the gathering at a house around the corner.
My little girl was a good sleeper from week 3. I had perfected the Five 5s even though I thought my uterus was going to fall out. I was a pro at the swaddle, almost as good as a Labor & Delivery nurse. Madeleine knew the signals, it was crazy. She was a 1%er in the sleep department, but I worked hard to set the boundaries for her to learn. But still, something was off in our schedule.
Always eager to learn from other moms who had been through the same stages before, I mentioned to Michelle, mom of 3 year old Mia, that our morning feedings were off. I was breastfeeding, Madeleine was going down around 9pm before I went to bed, but our mornings were a mess.
That’s when Michelle said, “Well you know, babies can sleep 7-7.”
“WHAT? What are you talking about?” Nobody said that. My pediatrician didn’t mention that. REALLY?????
I went home equipped with a book Michelle had pulled out of her bookshelf for me.
You see this was shocking news to me, but by the time I had Madeleine I already had a lot of experience with babies and children. I have a BS degree in Child Development and Family Relationships. I nannied for newborn twins while I was observing preschoolers, like Michael Dell’s daughter, in the lab school at the University of Texas. I tested out every theory I learned in school on those adorable boy/girl twins I loved so much.
When I graduated from the University of Texas at Austin, I got a job at Early Childhood Intervention (ECI) in Fort Worth because of my ability to recite the developmental milestones from birth to 3 years old so quickly. This was probably because I had experiences with the twins to back up everything I studied in the books.
At ECI, I worked with the birth to three populations in their homes as a case manager. I learned how to create goals and strategies for each child’s individual needs and how to train parents to work with their children on those goals. I gained a vast knowledge of the sensory system and how if affects development, and learned how children interpret the world around them from the Occupational and Physical Therapists there. I learned about feeding and how to help underweight babies gain weight from the dietician. I learned how feeding goes hand and hand with speech development. I learned how important it is to offer solids with different textures in order to help babies develop their oral muscles, and how important having those foods in their mouths is so that they can process the feeling in a sensory way.
After ECI, I went on to teach Kindergarten in Dallas ISD. There I learned what children needed to be equipped with to be successful in the school setting. I learned what sponges they are. I saw how with encouraging, confidence building activities children could go from knowing one word in English to writing stories and speaking in full sentences by the end of the year. I learned how much some children still needed massive sensory input to help organize their bodies. I had one child from Ethiopia who literally played in the rice and beans sensory station for 6 months. During the summers off, I continued to nanny children.
In July of 2003, I gave birth to my first child. And then, in that yard that Fall afternoon, Michelle, the mom of the 3 year old, gave me a mission.
I was going right home to test this crazy theory that my little girl could sleep 7PM TO 7AM. I started to think of my nanny days and remember that older kids did this… but I was skeptical that my 5 MONTH OLD needed to do that.
Well by just 3 days later I adjusted up Madeleine’s bedtime and she slept from 7pm to 7am. She kept this sleep schedule until pretty much 6 or 7 years of age.
Yes, I am serious. I told you she was a 1%er. She also had firm boundaries from 6 weeks because she was healthy and a great eater. She woke up once when she was 2 and it turned out she had an ear infection. At 15, she continues to be the child that needs the most sleep in our family.
At 8, she was diagnosed with dyslexia. If you know about children with dyslexia, you know how much harder their brain has to work in school. They fatigue so much faster with tasks like writing and reading. Children with dyslexia are very intelligent and driven. They know their performance often does not match their intelligence, so they push themselves to be high achievers in the classroom. I hate to think what school would have been like for her from kinder to second grade if she was only getting 9-10 hours of sleep. I think I would have had a very different child and one that was less successful at school. She would have struggled to attend and focus in class running on less sleep.
That’s my story of how the seed for Sleep Happy was planted. Those words from Michelle. That challenge. That hypothesis. I had to test it.
OH I should probably mention that after 2 more miscarriages (I had an ectopic before Madeleine), I delivered surprise TWINS!!!
Twins, friends, two babies at once. Both my husband and myself are ONLY CHILDREN. Both of our moms are only children. Coming from the smallest families in the world we thought we were NEVER going to be allowed to have more than one baby. Be careful what you wish for… it may just get handed to you on a silver platter! 😉
So…if you have learned anything, you know me well enough that I got those TWO babies on a sleep schedule as fast as I could.
Yes, they took longer. They were pacifier babies. Madeleine sucked her thumb. I didn’t know about paci replacement training and a pile of pacis back then.
In the land of motherhood I was weird. I drew attention. I always got the questions like …. “Why are you so calm?”
“Why are you so relaxed?”
“Your babies go down AT WHAT TIME? AND WAKE WHEN?”
My story is different. When I had children I already has spent years being a nanny, spending time on the floor with 100s of children throughout high school, college, and into my 20s. I continued nannying even in 2015, which was the last time I nannied a 12-week-old until he was 6 months. After years of study of tiny humans, how they learn, and what they need to develop… after years of learning again from an interdisciplinary team on the floors of families across North Texas, I learned how to address even the most specific needs of the birth to 3 population. I learned what neglect looked like and broken attachments. I learned how much a child can learn when their needs are addressed early.
All these experiences and all these lessons, gave me confidence in working with children and families. It is THE gift I was given.
A gift I now know, I was meant to share. A gift my friends saw and pushed me out of my comfort zone to share with others who I could help three years ago when I started Sleep Happy Consulting.
My mission is to build confidence in mothers around the world. It starts with sleep.
While the seed was planted for Sleep Happy Consulting in the Fall of 2003 on Michelle Tran’s driveway in Dallas, Texas, the vision was not put out in the world until August 10, 2015. On that day… my friend and uber talented photographer friend, Melissa Zihlman outed me to her massive following…
And the rest is history… 3 years, over 300 families in 20 states and Ireland, children from newborn to 6 years. #happysleepers created every day!
Mommas have opened their hearts and invited ME to be a part of their journey. To be a member of their village. To support them in creating new sleep routines for their families. They have trusted me to guide them, share my expertise in how to look at things from different perspectives, how to interpret challenges and move past them, how consistency really is how their little one learns, and how their goals matter.
Thank you for the opportunity to serve you and your family. The journey has been beyond anything I thought it could become. I am no longer afraid to dream big. I am so excited about the future of Sleep Happy.
I want mothers to know that they do not have to live with the feeling of being overwhelmed, sleep deprivation, and frustrations that they have been living with. I can provide the knowledge and tools to equip you with the ability to create the boundaries for sleep that you want for your family!