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What the hell is a Sleep Consultant? Part 1 of 2

November 10, 2013

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A sleep consultant is simply the greatest gift you can give your family.  Seriously. Ever.  Screw that trip to Disney, get a sleep consultant.  If I seem a bit like an evangelist, keep reading and you’ll see why.

The meaning of exhaustion

Every parent knows the hardest thing about kids is the complete and total lack of sleep we parents get.  This gets exponentially worse every time a child is added to the family. Below is an example of how bad some nights would be.

 

 

 

Pre-Sleep Training Schedule:
8:00 pm:  2 and 4 year olds in bed
12:00 am: Baby in bed
12:01: Parents asleep
12:45: 4 yr old visits bedroom with the least convincing “I’m scared ever.”  Dad walks him back to bed
1:00: Baby is awake. Mom rocks her to sleep.
1:30: 2 yr old wants covered back up, dad takes this one
2:00 Baby is awake again, wife nurses her
3:00 Wife wakes up from rocker, puts baby down, goes back to bed
3:15: 4 yr old is back.  Mom walks him back to bed
3:45: Baby is awake again, dad rocks her back to sleep.
4:30 Baby is awake yet again, wife nurses baby again
5:00 4 yr old wet the bed, Dad changes him, brings him to parents bed, too tired to change his sheets
5:30 Alarm goes off, dad gets up, goes to work
6:30 2 yr is up, loudly calling for someone to come get her, wife is up for the day

The end result of all of this was 2 overly exhausted parents who were rarely happy.  This lead to 2 stressed out kids who had to result to bad behavior to get attention along with, what we learned later, was an overly tired baby.

I am not going to sugar coat it, there were points where it felt like our family was spiraling out of control.  It was pretty awful.

The AHA! Moment

Then, one day, a blogger we follow wrote a post that would change our life.  It’s time to sleep train the baby, by Mommyshorts.   That was the first time I ever heard of a sleep consultant, which is basically someone who helps you implement sleep training for your kid(s).  We like mommyshorts, but sometimes she gets some extravagances from her blogging that makes me think “yeah, if only we were all popular bloggers who would get that crap for free!” Overall though, we like mommyshorts cause she parents a lot like us.

That is where I left the sleep consultant thing. Who can afford to pay some person to teach you how to get your kid to sleep?  Total freaking luxury.  Then, after another awful week of sleep, my wife blurted out “I don’t care how much it costs, I so want to get that sleep consultant that mommyshorts used.”

We were at the end of our rope, so we took a serious look at this sleep consultant thing.  We were surprised to find that the woman she used was only $150.  There are others that go for upwards of $800.  We talked about it and decided that $150 is a paltry price to pay for a proper functioning family again.

So. I sent a message to Pickles and Ice Cream sleep consulting to fix our family.

Enough suspense.

The results

Three weeks later Sarah now only wakes up once per night to nurse.  She takes ~2 hour long naps at 8:30 am and 12:30 pm with a 45 minute nap at 3 pm.  She is in bed no later than 7 pm.  Every.  Single.  Day.  We also put the older kids in bed at 7 pm now and this has virtually eliminated all wake ups.

Now our schedule looks like this:

Post Sleep Training Schedule:
7 00 pm: All three kids are in bed
10:30 pm: Parents go bed
Between 2 and 4 am: Baby wakes up, gets nursed
6:30 to  7:00 am: All 3 kids are up.

That’s right.  3.5 hours of child free time every night. Wholly freaking crap!

To say this has been amazing for our family would be like saying “a diaper blowout is like a wet fart.”  Amazing, incredible, life changing, a miracle, etc and none really cover it.  Just look at the two schedules.

Now, I have a lot more to write about this, but I am saving that for a second post. Below is a quick list of positives and negatives of sleep training followed by what we love about having a sleep consultant.

The Good and the Bad

Negatives: Let’s just get these out of the way

  1. It’s hard.  Seriously, crazy hard.  If you are squeamish on cry-it-out, this may not work for you.  Erin may have options for avoiding it, but they would certainly take longer.  We needed it done…now!
  2. It’s really freaking hard.  My wife was tortured by the baby crying.  And she cried a lot (the baby and my wife).  Even three weeks later I am sitting hear listening to the baby cry herself to sleep, although most nights its only a few minutes now, if at all.
  3. You have be brutally consistent.  Pick a time when you don’t have any major distractions coming up. Your life will be upended for a few weeks while you attempt to get the baby to acquiesce to the new schedule.
  4. You can no longer rock the baby to sleep.  This is killing me, especially now that its the season for putting the baby in comfy sleepers, making her extra snugly.
  5. The kids are all awake between 6:30 and 7 am.  If you are used to sleeping later, this could be difficult to adjust to.

Positives:

  1. Sleep.  Sweet, precious, beautiful sleep.
    1. I am back on the top of my game at work again
    2. We no longer snap at our kids constantly
    3. We are losing weight cause we actually feel like eating healthy
  2. A huge jump in mommy/daddy time.  We use it for all kinds of stuff:
    1. Eating a late dinner for two with no tantruming children to force feed
    2. Planning the week so we are actually ahead of the game
    3. Returning our house to a manageable amount of disorder
    4. Eating healthy
    5. Exercise (soon, we swear)
    6. I actually get a few minutes daddy-time now
  3. Significantly happier atmosphere
    1. I no longer receive text messages at 7 am from my wife telling me how awful “my” children are today
    2. There is laughter in our house again
    3. Things are just smoother
    4. The kids are much better behaved

Why a sleep consultant?

  1. Confidence.  There is no chance we would have made it through this sleep training if we didn’t have Erin backing us up.
  2. Help.  Sure, you can find all kinds of sleep plans on the internet, but at some point you are going to wonder if you are doing it right.  Things are going to go awry.  Erin would always respond to our questions with plenty of detail and reassurance.
  3. Impetus.  It’s easy to say “yeah, we’ll start sleep training next week.”  But, there is something to be said for spending money being a great motivator to taking the leap.
  4.  Time. Erin has the knowledge already.  It took all of 30 minutes of our time to get a detailed sleep plan for our baby.  It would take that long to get through a single chapter of a book.

So there you have it folks.  Sleep training with a sleep consultant has change my life for the WAY better.  I am now an evangelist.  I suggest it whole-heartedly.  And at $150, its an absolute no brainer.  I don’t advocate credit cards, but if there was ever something to plop on one, its this.

Stay tuned for a more detailed look into how the whole process went for us.  The good, the bad, and the ugly.

If you have any experiences with sleep training I’d love to hear about them.

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4 Comments
  1. how old was your baby when you go the sleep consultant?

    • She was a little over 4 months when we started. She’s almost 6 months now and is sleeping great. The blog I first read about this on had a 3 yr old and almost 1 yr old. So i think it works for a wide range.

  2. Linda Thompson permalink

    I hired Erin to help sleep train my 2 year old and it was a complete waste of $243. She has a cookie cutter approach that works for some toddlers, but not all toddlers. If your kid doesn’t respond well to her approach like my son, then she won’t adapt and stops responding to your emails even though you have paid for her support for 7 days. My son was pushing bedtime really late and sleeping in too late. We didn’t know if he needed to cut his nap or adjust his bedtime to fix the schedule problem. Erin’s approach is the same (exactly what you read on Mommy Shorts). She makes your toddler go to sleep so early like 5pm if they have not napped that day or 6:30pm if they did take a nap. I would have to leave work at 3-4pm to meet this crazy schedule she put me on. Not realistic. My son was not tired enough to go to bed that early (he was going to bed at 9-9:30pm before the sleep training). She would make him cry it out for hours without allowing me to rock him or console him when he was hysterical – I was only allowed to do a 30 second quick check-in every 10-15 minutes, no holding him. She even told me to continue the cry it out even if he vomits (which my son almost did from crying so hard the first night)! Erin said to clean him up quickly, no engaging and put him back in the crib even if he continues to cry! Heartless!

    After 5 days of him crying on and off for a minimum 45 minutes to 2 hours and him refusing to nap when he was such a good napper before. Things were getting worse, not better so I was done with her approach. She refused to adjust. By Day 5, Erin’s sleep training method resulted in him hating bedtime, kicking and screaming fiercely when we started the bedtime process, and my son trying to escape his room because he didn’t want to go to bed. His separation anxiety peaked after the 5 days of sleep training. It was really impacting him emotionally. Erin kept insisting he was overtired and had to go down that early. When it wasn’t working, she didn’t return my email after Day 5 when I paid for 7 days of support.

    He was not overtired – he just wasn’t tired enough. On my own without Erin’s help, I found his ideal sleep window was 7:30-8pm, not 5pm or 6:30pm, and his naps finally returned to normal. He loved going to bed again, fell asleep within 5 minutes and slept 11 hrs at night and took a 2 hr nap consistently. No wake ups at night and he woke up very happy! I found his ideal sleep window on my own, which is what Erin should have helped me figure out. So disappointing!

    Unless your child fits her cookie cutter approach and likes to go to bed really early (falls asleep within 5 minutes at 6:30 pm like in Mommy shorts) and you don’t mind crying-it-out for hours until your kid vomits, then feel free to call Erin. Otherwise, don’t bother wasting your money.

    • Thank you for sharing this. Since the approach worked so well for us we didn’t realize that she wasn’t very flexible. We did pay for a re-up when our youngest was ready to go down to one nap. We weren’t all that impressed with the service for that if I am being honest. We ended up mostly figuring it out on our own. That being said, for our original problem, it was amazing. Our daughter is 3.5 now, and other than going from 2 naps to 1 (she is at none now) bedtime has bee super easy.

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