I Used to Judge People Who Hired Sleep Consultants. Then I Had Kids.
I never thought I’d need help getting my baby to sleep. Before I was a parent, I laughed at the concept of sleep coaches. “Why on earth would someone pay another person to help get their child to sleep?!” I said. “Just put them to bed!” I said.
My hypothetical children were so angelic. Not only were they wonderful sleepers—they also ate everything I put in front of them, happily wore any clothes I set out, and got into their car seats without dawdling.
I think the pre-parenthood mind functions this way for a reason. If we actually understood just how challenging (and exhausting) it is to care for these tiny beings, many of us might have chosen not to have them. It makes sense that we don’t comprehend how difficult parenting can be before we can also experience the inconceivable amount of love we’ll feel for these miniature versions of ourselves.
My pre-motherhood self thought things like, “My children will never talk to me that way!” and “I’ll never allow that.” I lived happily inside that bubble for many years. When I heard some of my friends had paid actual money so someone could tell them how to get their child to be a good sleeper, I scoffed (only in my head, of course—I’m not a totally horrible friend).
But then, I had twins. Not imaginary ones, either. No… they were real, and they cried—a lot. And I was tired. Like, zombie-tired. Don’t-recognize-myself-anymore-tired. Falling-asleep-on-the-floor-while-my-babies-do-tummy-time and probably-shouldn’t-be-driving-a-vehicle tired. Before that, I thought I knew what sleep deprivation was; after all, I’d stayed up all night several times in university. But no. This was something different. I was functioning, but only as a shell of the woman I once was.
I’ll never forget the day I went to my husband (who travelled a LOT for work) with tears in my eyes and said, “I need help. We need to hire someone.” Being the frugal accountant he is, he asked me something along the lines of, “couldn’t we try reading a book first?” My tears turned into a full cry. A book? I couldn’t follow a dinner recipe, let alone several hundred pages of instructions. Crying is usually all that’s needed to get the message across to him… we hired someone quickly after that.
I told her that all I wanted was to sleep 3 consecutive hours on most nights. She laughed at me. I told her I didn’t want my babies to “cry it out.” She supported me. And then, she gave me a plan. Within a few days, my kids were sleeping 12 hours a night. Every night.
It was the best money I’ve ever spent.
Within days, I was a different mom. I began to enjoy my daughters in a way that I hadn’t been capable of before. I had energy to play with them, laugh with them, and take them places (other than doctors’ appointments). I had patience, empathy and excitement. And I had SO much love.
Now, I have three-year-olds who enjoy sleep. They recognize it as something that makes them feel good. They don’t fight bedtime, because in our house, it’s not just a routine—it’s a welcome one. My (non-hypothetical) kids are healthy, happy sleepers, and I LOVE IT.
So yes. I used to judge people who hired sleep consultants. But then I hired one. And it changed my life. So I became one, too. And my much-less judgy self can now say: it’s the best damn job in the world.