What we learned from our sleep coach

What we learned from our sleep coach | RISING*SHINING

In June we hired a sleep coach to help us establish better sleep for Dashiell and Cedric. It made a big difference for us and I'd love to share a bit more about the experience. 

It feels like great sleep has never come easily for us with Dashiell, as I've alluded to many times here and on my podcasts. Early this summer we were in a very frustrating - and exhausting - pattern that involved drawn out bedtimes (our 7 pm bedtime was delayed until 8 pm), multiple night wakings and very early mornings (4 am hour). At the same time, Cedric wouldn't fall asleep unless we were in the room with him and was waking during the night. We were so tired, y'all!

A friend saw Chris post something about getting very little sleep on Facebook and recommended the sleep coach that she worked with and I knew it was something my family needed. We hired our wonderful sleep coach, Jennifer, and had an initial Skype call to give details about sleep overall including details about napping, bedtime, etc. On the call we talked through some strategies and decide what fit best for us. The same day Jennifer sent us a detailed written Sleep Plan. Because of all the sleep issues we've dealt with holding a tangible, written sleep PLAN felt like a gift and such a relief - finally someone would tell us what to do!

Here's how we approached new sleep habits with Dashiell:

+ We had a family meeting and announced that we would be a family of Super Sleepers (!) and talked out what Super Sleepers do - do bedtime routine, stay in bed all night unless going to the bathroom, stay in their bedroom until their clock turns green (we use this toddler alarm clock). We were surprised at how engaged Dash was in this conversation and how enthusiastic he was about being a Super Sleeper. We also drew out our sleep plan showing the steps of bedtime routine, staying in bed all night (unless going to the bathroom) and waiting for the clock to turn green.

+ After the bedtime routine, during the night and any time before the clock turned green we used the technique of silent returns to put Dash back to bed. A silent return is giving as little attention as possible, even avoiding eye contact and touch if possible, and returning a child to bed. This is done as many times as needed.

+ To push back the time that Dash was waking in the morning we slowly moved the wake up time of his alarm clock. Once we waited in his room until the clock turned green for at least two days we would push the clock back another five minutes. Dash is clearly wired to wake up early (like Chris and I are) and so he still is waking around 5 am everyday but we have his clock set for 5:30 am.

Establishing better sleep habits with Cedric was more straightforward. At nap time and bedtime we followed our routine, put him to bed and left the room. The first few nights were tough because he cried but the wonderful thing about having a sleep coach is being able to text them during the hardest parts and get reassurance. Cedric cried, at the most, for close to 30 minutes. It was not fun or easy but Jennifer reminded us of our motto: short term pain, long term gain. Bedtime and nap time with Cedric are nearly laughably easy. Cedric reaches for his crib and if I try to hold him a minute longer to snuggle he demands, "night night!" and sometimes nearly chuckles as I lay him down. As soon as I lay him down I can leave the room and he doesn't make a peep. 

Overall, our current sleep situation is much improved from June although we've realized sleep is going to be something we continue to work on, especially with Dash. A wake up time around 5:30 is about as good as it's going to get for now (maybe this will change when Dash drops his nap??). The difference now is that we have strategies to implement and we can respond consistently and that feels much better. 

A couple of big take-aways from working with our sleep coach are:

+ Look at the big sleep picture and look for signs of being over-tired. Night time sleep is affected by nap sleep and vice versa. The state of being over-tired is confounding because it can cause a child to stay up later and wake up earlier, compounding the issue! As a result the solutions can be counter-intuitive: it might seem logical to push back the bedtime of a super early riser but in fact they may need to go to bed even earlier. Nap times might need to be adjusted to ensure the child is appropriately tired by the desired bed time.

+ Establish boundaries, communicate them and then follow through and stay consistent. This was the biggest take-away for me from our sleep coach. Before working with her Chris and I did have some routines, like a bedtime routine and consistent bedtime, but we weren't dealing with night and early wakings consistently. Therefore we didn't have boundaries, although we desperately wanted them!

If you are experiencing a really hard time with sleep with your children I have so much empathy - hang in there! I would also HIGHLY recommend considering a sleep coach (ours is awesome), it created empowerment out of what felt like a powerless situation. Recently I was on the Coffee + Crumbs podcast and during the show chatted with the Lesley Miller and she also highly recommends her sleep coach


We named our house!

We named our house! | RISING*SHINING

Slowly we're working to put our personality into our cookie-cutter suburban house. And somewhere in the last year I decided that our house needs a name. Because a name distinguishes a thing from the rest and you name the things you love.

It took months before Chris and I could agree on a name. Naming our house might have been more challenging than naming our boys. I suggested things like East Nook (since we live in the east Phoenix valley) or something French-inspired with the word Chez (meaning "house of") but Chris didn't love them. But Chris came up with a great name that we both love...

HiFi House!

HiFi is short for high fidelity, which is usually used to describe audio recordings and refers to a reproduction that's an accurate, good-quality copy of the original. We loved the nod to audio because Chris plays guitar, we love having dance parties with the boys and two podcasts are produced out of the house. High fidelity has another meaning to us as well: it means striving to live a life that mirrors our ideal life and having high fidelity to our values. I think it's so lovely. Isn't Chris clever? 

Since we bought our house eight years ago I've been slowly falling in love with it. Bringing home two babies and watching them grow here has been part of it. Meticulously going through a.l.l. of our stuff two years ago, keeping only what we need and love, and getting rids of SO MUCH of it was another turning point. And more recently having the interior and then the exterior painted has made our house feel even more like home. 

I still swoon over renovated mid-century modern homes or a craftsman bungalow with nooks and architectural details. But maybe a bit less so. I definitely still have a long list of updates that I'd love to make to our house but our house is home and we are happy here, at the HiFi House.

Do you have a name for your house, or if you don't what would you name it? I'd love to know!

Chatting about being a working mom

Chatting about being a working mom | RISING*SHINING

Recently I've had the opportunity to guest on three different podcasts and have chatted about my experience as a working mom. I love sharing what's great, what's challenging and what I've learned during my three and a half years of being a mother and working full time. 

I'm a regular listener of each of the podcasts I was on and if you haven't listened to theses shows I would recommend them! They are all available on iTunes or wherever you listen to podcasts.

The Mom Hour // Inside the Lives of 3 Working Moms

Coffee + Crumbs // Episode 15 part 1 & Episode 16 part 2

The Postpartum Podcast // Episode 52 (Sarah is a guest on this episode, too!)

Goals - September 2016

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Whoosh - it's nearly mid-September already! And whoosh! the very worst of the summer heat is behind us. Even though it's still hot (and technically still summer) I have welcomed fall into my home and into my heart and am breathing a sigh of relief. We're at the very beginning of the very best stretch of months here.

We're venturing outside more and more. Soon, oh so soon, we can head to the park any time of day and that will make all the difference: to take our boys, bounding with energy, outside to play and run instead of finding something else to do inside.

The month is marching along and it's already been full but there's lots more to come. On Friday I get to hug Sarah Bagley for the very first time, even though we've been friends for over two years. This weekend Sarah, Erica and I are heading to Sedona to write and talk and laugh for three days straight and it will be glorious. Just two days later I dive into solo parenting for three nights. And the next weekend Chris and I have a date night!

Amidst lots of fun and travel this month my full time job has been demanding and bit more stressful than usual. Plus Erica and I have been working to develop new content for The Girl Next Door Podcast and I'm collaborating with a good friend on a new little side project. It's a lot! But all good stuff and hopefully the work stress will subside as will the extra creative projects tasks. With so much going on this month I'm giving myself only one goal on top of all that I'm already doing. The fall does seem to be a time to be productive!

Big things happening in September:

+ Chris turns 39!

+ Weekend family trip to Prescott. We had so much fun!

+ Sedona writers' retreat. YES.

+ Solo parenting. Chris heads out of town just a couple days after I get back from my writers' retreat. But after July I'm a veteran solo parent so I got this!

September goals:

+ Plan and consolidate weekday evening work sessions. Recording, editing and prepping for podcasts; responding to emails; writing blog posts; and doing general household and life "admin" work often falls to weekday evenings although often all I want to do is curl in bed with a book. Instead of doing a little each night I think I could consolidate everything to just one or two nights per week. I hope this will help me accomplish what I need while letting me relax on the other nights.

Recurring monthly goals:

+ Exercise three times per week. On Monday and Friday mornings I go to Orange Theory and in August I was able to fit in a few weeks with TWO runs. My goal this month (with so much going on) is to fit in one run per week.

+ Publish to RISING*SHINING at least once a week. I'm finding I get into a blogging groove and then lose it, but then find it again. I'm accepting the ebb and flow and know that I always get back to it, that's just life right now!

+ Record and produce new episodes of The Girl Next Door Podcast and Matrimoney on schedule.

Happy September!

End of August catch up

We're settling back into our routines after our weeklong travel to Austin and Dallas. I'm going about it rather slowly. Disconnecting from my full time job and all the responsibilities of my creative projects was really glorious and made me realize just how much I've piled on my plate. Overall they are good things, endeavors that energize and fuel me, and for the most part things I actively chose to have in my life, but it is a lot. I told Chris to help me enforce a rule of not taking on anything new until after the new year (at least!).

Our trip had many firsts including the first time I wasn't nervous about how Dash would do on a plane, the first time Chris and I were away from both boys since Cedric came along, the first time the boys have stayed overnight with anyone other than their parents, the first time I saw a Hindu wedding ceremony. We had so much fun and it was also the first time traveling with kids that a trip felt like equal parts fun and work or maybe even more fun than work (!!). 

I absolutely love having my boys at my parents' house, my childhood home and shady, wooded property that is so deeply familiar. During this trip Dash slept at my parents house for the first time each night - in my old bedroom! - while Chris, Cedric and I slept at The Bunkhouse guest house next door.

The boys did wonderfully while Chris and I were away for two nights at Chris's best friend's wedding in Dallas. It was the most fun. We stayed in a nice hotel, were with a fun group of friends that I'm sad not to see more often and although Chris was the best man I had zero responsibilities other than to relax and enjoy myself: CHECK. Seeing the boys do so well while we were away makes me even more excited for the four night trip Chris and I will take - just the two of us! - this fall to the Pacific Northwest.

The first couple of days back in Gilbert after being in Austin are always a little hard for me. I love the city of Austin and the important people in it fiercely. It's my hometown and when I'm there and with those people I feel a deep sense of belonging and being "of" a place. It's a nostalgic and cozy feeling. 

But, as always, I soon get into the groove of our cozy life here in the desert. And we are getting hints of the season change to come. Certainly not in the daily high temperatures, which still soar above 100, but there is a near-coolness in the morning. I'm getting a bit giddy about fall and winter this year, I think it'll be our best yet. Bring on the fall candles.

Happy Wednesday!