I wrote a guest post recently for Mimijumi after connecting with them to thank them, as with them I finally found a bottle my son would take that allowed me to seamlessly switch from breastfeeding the majority of the time to the odd bottle of pumped milk. They actually featured a sweet and honest photo of Avery and I that I sent in with my gratitude email, showing my big relieved mama grin at his first successful pumped feed in weeks (more on that later!).
Naturally we got talking about BALANCE and how difficult it can be to strike the perfect balance between achieving what we aspire in motherhood and taking care of ourselves. It isn’t at all easy to ensure that while you are working your way through parenthood often doing only what is best for your child, that you do not risk burning out.
What makes it so difficult is that instinctively, something kicks in where we place the needs of our children before our own. This natural motherhood instinct tends to override one’s own self-preservation triggers in the short-term. SO we need to actively monitor and control this hierarchy of instincts that develops once we have children. If we are not working to be conscious and find ways to answer to our own needs (for sleep, nutrition, exercise, space to think, etc.) we may slowly but surely harm ourselves while our parenting instincts dominate.
In the guest post, I touch on the process I use to help my clients find this balance, and I wanted to elaborate here for you.
As a sleep educator, my unique philosophy takes a holistic BIG PICTURE approach that considers overall health and wellness of the whole family. This approach presents options for you to incorporate into your life to increase rest and well-being for everyone. I coach you to consider the facts, the tools that you have available, your personal values, and the unique temperament of your child, and how to check in with your own intuition throughout the process.
We work together through the process described below together to help you find balance!
1. What is the problem?
First we sift through all that you are trying to deal with and figure out the major underlying reasons why sleep is not working for you, or for the baby, or for the family the way it currently is.
2. What can we change?
If it surfaces that a change is needed, we analyze everything to figure out what the change might be.
There will be times that the change will be big and directly related to your sleep relationship with your child, such as night weaning as I documented in my guest post on Evolutionary Parenting, moving the child to their own room, or deciding to start bedsharing for example.
There will also be times that after our sleep education piece we discover that the sleep is actually developmentally normal and healthy, so on top of gentle nudges towards better baby and family sleep (taking into account sleep environment, a repertoire of ways to parent to sleep, profiting on the sleep sweet spots, etc.) the change may just as likely be about YOU and your self-care.
We may work to discover that your true WHY for coming to me might be that the hard nights are imposing on your ability to _____ (fill in the blank: have more time with your partner, rest/sleep more yourself, get out for fresh air, go to yoga etc.), and we might use the tools to make sure THOSE changes occur too!
3. Is now the right time for this particular change?
We work through a weighted assessment tool (don’t worry, you just answer questions and I take care of the rest) for you to decide if you are ready to make the change at this time. This allows you to be completely confident and comfortable with your decision before you go ahead so that you feel empowered, can more easily follow through, and have no regrets.
4. Make the change a success!
We work through a model that includes six sources for change, to ensure that you outline your motivation and ability to make the change happen personally, socially, and structurally/ environmentally. In other words, we outline all of the tools to make sure the change is a success! Instead of me coming in with a prescriptive sleep plan that may not truly resonate with you, YOU own your plan. It is a proven system for making effective change as you are addressing the issue from all angles, and most importantly YOU are empowered.
What we end up with is a collaboration to create the best strategies to meet your family’s needs and goals for sleep and overall wellness.
What we end up with is BALANCE. The balance of meeting your child’s needs while also meeting your own, and it is a beautiful thing.