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

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.


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.


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.


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!


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14 Toys that will keep your kids entertained inside *and* outside

They transition seamlessly for indoor play.

With Labor day weekend in the rearview and back-to-school in full swing, most parents are fresh out of boxes to check on their "Fun Concierge" hit list. It's also the point of diminishing returns on investing in summer-only toys. So with that in mind, we've rounded up some of our favorite toys that are not only built to last but will easily make the transition from outdoor to indoor play. Even better, they're Montessori-friendly and largely open-ended so your kids can get a ton of use out of them.

From sunny backyard afternoons to rainy mornings stuck inside, these toys are sure to keep little ones engaged and entertained.

Meadow ring toss game

Plan Toys meadow ring toss game

Besides offering a fantastic opportunity to hone focus, coordination, determination and taking turns, lawn games are just plain fun. Set them up close together for the littles and spread them out when Mom and Dad get in on the action. With their low profile and rope rings, they're great for indoors as well.


Balance board

Plan Toys balance board

Balance boards are a fabulous way to get the wiggles out. This one comes with a rope attachment, making it suitable for even the youngest wigglers. From practicing their balance and building core strength to working on skills that translate to skateboarding and snowboarding, it's a year-round physical activity that's easy to bring inside and use between Zoom classes, too!


Detective set

Plan Toys detective setDetective Set

This set has everything your little detective needs to solve whatever mystery they might encounter: an eye glasses, walkie-talkie, camera, a red lens, a periscope and a bag. Neighborhood watch? Watch out.


Wooden doll stroller

Janod wooden doll strollerWooden Doll Stroller

Take their charges on a stroll around the block with this classic doll stroller. With the same versatility they're used to in their own ride, this heirloom quality carriage allows their doll or stuffy to face them or face the world.


Sand play set

Plan Toys sand set

Whether you're hitting the beach or the backyard sandbox, this adorable wooden sand set is ready for action. Each scoop has an embossed pattern that's perfect for sand stamping. They're also totally suitable for water play in the wild or the bathtub.


Water play set

Plan Toys water play set

Filled with sand or water, this tabletop sized activity set keeps little ones busy, quiet and happy. (A mama's ideal trifecta 😉). It's big enough to satisfy their play needs but not so big it's going to flood your floors if you bring the fun inside on a rainy day.


Mini golf set

Plan Toys mini golf set

Fore! This mini golf set is lawn and living room ready. Set up a backyard competition or incorporate into homeschooling brain breaks that shift focus and build concentration.


Vintage scooter balance bike

Janod retro scooter balance bike

Pedals are so 2010. Balance bikes are the way to go for learning to ride a bike while skipping the training wheels stage altogether. This impossibly cool retro scooter-style is built to cruise the neighborhood or open indoor space as they're learning.


Wooden rocking pegasus

plan toys wooden rocking pegasus

Your little will be ready to take flight on this fun pegasus. It gently rocks back and forth, but doesn't skimp on safety—its winged saddle, footrests and backrest ensure kids won't fall off whether they're rocking inside or outside.


Croquet set

Plan Toys croquet set

The cutest croquet set we've ever seen! With adorable animal face wooden balls and a canvas bag for easy clean up, it's also crafted to stick around awhile. Round after round, it's great for teaching kiddos math and problem-solving skills as well.


Wooden digital camera

fathers factory wooden digital camera

Kids get the chance to assemble the camera on their own then can adventure anywhere to capture the best moments. With two detachable magnetic lenses, four built-in filters and video recorder, your little photographer can tap into their creativity from summertime to the holidays.


Wooden bulldozer toy

plan toys wooden bulldozer toy

Whether they're digging up sand in the backyad or picking up toys inside, kids can get as creative as they want picking up and moving things around. Even better? Its wooden structure means it's not an eye sore to look at wherever your digger drops it.


Pull-along hippo

janod toys pull along hippo toy

There's just something so fun about a classic pull-along toy and we love that they seamlessly transition between indoor and outdoor play. Crafted from solid cherry and beechwood, it's tough enough to endure outdoor spaces your toddler takes it on.


Baby forest fox ride-on

janod toys baby fox ride on

Toddlers will love zooming around on this fox ride-on, and it's a great transition toy into traditional balance bikes. If you take it for a driveway adventure, simply use a damp cloth to wipe down the wheels before bringing back inside.


We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.


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.


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.

Work + Money

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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