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Hiring a sleep consultant was the best thing I did for my baby (and myself)

When I pictured a sleep consultant I envisioned a kindly woman who hid in the shadows and sang my son a lullaby whenever he stirred. In actuality, a sleep consultant is less a ninja songstress, and more head coach to your quarterback. She called the plays, I made the moves.

using a sleep consultant for sleep training
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The moment is different for every parent. Maybe it's when you put your curling iron in the fridge. Or perhaps it's when you poured formula into your coffee. For me, it was when I backed my car into a Toyota Camry named Doug that was parked in my own driveway.

That was it. That was the moment I knew my son needed sleep training, and that I couldn't do it alone.

Sleep deprivation is real, and it is hard. Lack of sleep can easily suck the joy out of anyone's day, but it can also rob you of your happiness in being a parent. It's difficult to be at your very best for your child when you are trapped in all consuming exhaustion. Trust me. I've been there.

Being a mom is hard, but sleep training doesn't have to be.

When my son was 9 months old, and our sleep routine was a dumpster fire, I was desperate. I Googled, I prayed, I talked with friends, I even begged our pediatrician for some magical method which would get my little guy to sleep and to sleep well. Everything I tried came up short, and I just came out even more exhausted.

I was a rookie mom and I was lost. Lucky for me, my cousin is a three time MVP sort of mom, she suggested it might be time that I speak to a sleep consultant for a solution. At that point, I'd never heard of a sleep consultant, let alone knew what they did or where to find one.

When I pictured a sleep consultant I envisioned a kindly woman who hid in the shadows and sang my son a lullaby whenever he stirred. In actuality, a sleep consultant is less a ninja songstress, and more head coach to your quarterback. She called the plays, I made the moves.


Like any good coach, she didn't get in the game, but she supported my play. She made me feel seen, heard, and understood. At the end of the day, connecting with the consultant was more about supporting me as I tried to support my son. That support was crucial, not only from the obvious sleep perspective, but from the bigger picture parenting outlook.

Sleep training is one of the first things as a parent where you put your foot down for your child's own good. It's not an easy thing to do emotionally or physically. You need a village, and you need someone who knows their stuff.

There are so many factors that can influence sleep; age, diet, wake windows, routine, temperature, position, comfort, lighting, and in some cases, the boundaries currently in place for parents and babies.It's a lot to take in and understand, especially when you can barely keep your eyes open.

My biggest regret was not connecting to my sleep consultant sooner.

To get the process started and to maximize your time with your consultant, start keeping a sleepy time journal. This will give you some concrete data to share on your call about sleep trends and might help you identify some sleep obstacles. Next set up your initial 30 minute video consultation with a Tot Squad sleep expert. This video chat will allow you to not only share your concerns and your experiences, but to also help identify existing challenges and long term goals.

The time it takes to sleep train varies from child to child. Some kids pick up on the routine over the course of a couple days, for some it takes a couple of weeks, others a smidge longer. I was lucky and noticed a difference after just one night. In speaking with my sleep consultant I learned what I was doing wasn't wrong, it just needed some tweaks. And hopefully that's all you need as well. A little push for you, and a little cuddle for baby, may make all the difference.

Tot Squad sleep consultation

TOT SQUAD  Sleep Consultation (30 Min)

This 30-minute video chat consultation will connect you with a Tot Squad sleep expert to discover your family's sleeping challenges and goals.

$50

Pineapple Sunshine's pink flamingo footie pajamas

PINEAPPLE SUNSHINE  Pink Flamingo Footie

Taking that first big step is the hardest part, but you can do this! One trick I used to psych myself up for the process was to raise the pajama game for me and my son.

I am a sucker for cute cuddly pajamas. Coming home to a new pair of snuggly pj's can make your whole day and night. When you look good, you rest well, I always say. Nothing says I am adorable and ready for 8 hours of quality sleep quite like Pineapple Sunshine's Pink Flamingo Footie Pajamas. The amazingly soft fabric and sweet design will make this bodysuit one of your sleepytime favorites.

$58

Pineapple Sunshine's blue sea turtle footie

PINEAPPLE SUNSHINE  Blue Sea Turtle Footie

Not to be left out, for your littlest beach buddy, take a peek at Pineapple Sunshine's Blue Sea Turtle Footie. This one piece pajama will make you swear you can hear the gentle sounds of the ocean.

$58

Dreamland Baby Dream Weighted Sleep Sack

DREAMLAND BABY  Dream Weighted Sleep Sack

The Dreamland Baby Dream Weighted Sleep Sack is so snuggly and so comfortable that I have already started asking if they have it in my size. This sleep sack utilizes pressure stimulation to promote comfort and relaxation. This piece is a great translational one for babies who have outgrown the swaddle, but still need a little extra support. Made with soft natural cotton, this sleep sack provides an extra layer of warmth without being overwhelming. As an added bonus, this sleep sack also features a convenient bottom opening for those late night diaper changes.

With a little help, these tips, and some comfy new pj's you are ready to slay this sleep training dragon. Go get them mama!

$79


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These challenges from Nike PLAYlist are exactly what my child needs to stay active

Plus a fall family bucket list to keep everyone moving all season long.

While it's hard to name anything that the pandemic hasn't affected, one thing that is constantly on my mind is how to keep my family active despite spending more time indoors. Normally, this time of year would be spent at dance and gymnastics lessons, meeting up with friends for games and field trips, and long afternoon playdates where we can all let off a little steam. Instead, we find ourselves inside more often than ever before—and facing down a long winter of a lot more of the same.

I started to search for an outlet that would get my girls moving safely while we social distance, but at first I didn't find a lot of solutions. Online videos either weren't terribly engaging for my active kids, or the messaging wasn't as positive around the power of movement as I would like. Then I found the Nike PLAYlist.

I always knew that Nike could get me moving, but I was so impressed to discover this simple resource for parents. PLAYlist is an episodic sports show on YouTube that's made for kids and designed to teach them the power of expressing themselves through movement. The enthusiastic kid hosts immediately captured my daughter's attention, and I love how the physical activity is organically incorporated in fun activities without ever being specifically called out as anything other than play. For example, this segment where the kids turn yoga into a game of Paper Scissors Rock? Totally genius. The challenges from #TheReplays even get my husband and me moving more when our daughter turns it into a friendly family competition. (Plus, I love the play-inspired sportswear made just for kids!)

My daughter loves the simple Shake Ups at the beginning of the episode and is usually hopping off the couch to jump, dance and play within seconds. One of her favorites is this Sock Flinger Shake Up activity from the Nike PLAYlist that's easy for me to get in on too. Even after we've put away the tablet, the show inspires her to create her own challenges throughout the day.

The best part? The episodes are all under 5 minutes, so they're easy to sprinkle throughout the day whenever we need to work out some wiggles (without adding a lot of screen time to our schedule).

Whether you're looking for simple alternatives to P.E. and sports or simply need fun ways to help your child burn off energy after a day of socially distanced school, Nike's PLAYlist is a fun, kid-friendly way to get everyone moving.

Need more movement inspiration for fall? Here are 5 ways my family is getting up and getting active this season:

1. Go apple picking.

Truly, it doesn't really feel like fall until we've picked our first apple. (Or had our first bite of apple cider donut!) Need to burn off that extra cinnamon-sugar energy? Declare a quick relay race up the orchard aisle—winner gets first to pick of apples at home.

To wear: These Printed Training Tights are perfect for when even a casual walk turns into a race (and they help my daughter scurry up a branch for the big apples).

2. Visit a pumpkin patch.

We love to pick up a few locally grown pumpkins to decorate or cook with each year. Challenge your child to a "strongman" contest and see who can lift the heaviest pumpkin while you're there.

To wear: Suit up your little one in comfort with this Baby Full Zip Coverall so you're ready for whatever adventures the day brings.

3. Have a nature scavenger hunt.

Scavenger hunts are one of my favorite ways to keep my daughter preoccupied all year long. We love to get outside and search for acorns, leaves and pinecones as part of our homeschool, but it's also just a great way to get her exercising those gross motor skills whenever the wiggles start to build up.

To wear: It's not truly fall until you break out a hoodie. This cozy Therma Elite Kids Hoodie features a mesh overlay to release heat while your child plays.

4. Have a touch-football game.

Tip for parents with very little kids: It doesn't have to last as long as a real football game. 😂 In fact, staging our own mini-games is one of our favorite ways to get everyone up and moving in between quarters during Sunday football, and I promise we all sleep better that night.

To wear: From impromptu games of tag to running through our favorite trails, these kids' Nike Air Zoom Speed running shoes are made to cover ground all season long.

5. Create an indoor obstacle course.

Pretending the floor is lava was just the beginning. See how elaborate your personal course can get, from jumping on the couch to rolling under the coffee table to hopping down the hallway on one foot.

To wear: These ready-for-any-activity Dri-FIT Tempo Shorts are perfect for crawling, hopping and racing—and cuddling up when it's time to rest.

This article was sponsored by Nike. Thank you for supporting the brands that supporting Motherly and mamas.

Our Partners

This post is brought to you by Staples. While this was a sponsored opportunity, all content and opinions expressed here are my own.

One of the biggest changes in my household once my daughter started homeschooling was that, suddenly, everything and everyone in our home had to start pulling double duty. While I was used to wearing a lot of hats (mom, wife and WFH employee, to name a few), suddenly our dining room was also pulling shifts as a classroom. My laptop was also a virtual teacher. Our living room hutch was also a school supply closet.

If I didn't want my home to be overrun with an abundance of clutter, I had to find products that could multitask. Here are 10 products that are saving this WFH + homeschooling mama right now.

Stylish storage cabinet

Whether I need a place to keep the printer or just want to keep crayons and colored pencils organized, this pretty cabinet provides a mixture of exposed and hidden storage without clashing with my living room decor.

White board calendar + bulletin board

With so much on our plates these days, I need a visual reminder of our daily schedule or I'll forget everything. This dry erase version makes it easy to keep track of Zoom meetings and virtual classes—and I also love using the corkboard to display my daughter's latest work from art class.

Natural Recycled 3-Ring Binder

From tracking our curriculum progress to organizing my family's paperwork, I can never have enough binders. Even better, this neutral version is pretty enough that I can display them on the bookshelf.

Bamboo storage drawers

The instant you start homeschooling, it can feel like you're suddenly drowning in papers, craft supplies and more. Fortunately, these simple bamboo drawers can be tucked into the cabinet or even displayed on top (seriously, they're that cute!) to keep what we need organized and close at hand.

Laminated world map

I love this dry-erase map for our geography lessons, but the real secret? It also makes a cute piece of wall decor for my work space.

Rolling 7-drawer cabinet

When you're doing it all from home, you sometimes have to roll with the punches—I strongly recommend getting an organizational system that rolls with you. On days when both my husband and I are working from home and I need to move my daughter's classes to another room, this 7-drawer cabinet makes it easy to bring the classroom with us.

Letterboard

From our first day of school photo to displaying favorite quotes to keep myself motivated, this 12"x18" letterboard is my favorite thing to display in our home.

Expandable tablet stand

Word to the wise: Get a pretty tablet stand you won't mind seeing out every day. (Because between virtual playdates, my daughter's screen time and my own personal use, this thing never gets put away.)

Neutral pocket chart

Between organizing my daughter's chore chart, displaying our weekly sight words and providing a fits-anywhere place to keep supplies on hand, this handy little pocket chart is a must-have for homeschooling families.

Totable fabric bins

My ultimate hack for getting my family to clean up after themselves? These fabric bins. I can use them to organize my desk, store my oldest's books and even keep a bin of toys on hand for the baby to play with while we do school. And when playtime is over, it's easy for everyone to simply put everything back in the bin and pop it in the cabinet.

Looking for study solutions for older children? Hop over to Grown & Flown for their top picks for Back to School.

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100 unusual + surprising baby name ideas

From Adelia to Ziggy.

Our list of 100 baby names that should be on everyone's list this year includes more choices than in the past of names that are obscure and surprising. That's because there are so many more unusual baby names coming into widespread use and baby namers have become a lot more adventurous.

Expectant parents do not need to be told to move beyond Jennifer and Jason. Their thinking about names has evolved to the point that the most useful thing we can do is offer a large menu of intriguing choices.

Here are our picks for the 100 best surprising + unusual baby names now.


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