Everyone talks about how you'll never sleep when you have a baby, but no one was talking about the sleep struggles that happened when the kids get bigger...
...enter Jessica Berk, certified child sleep consultant for kids out of a crib!
After Jessica's daughter moved up to a "big kid bed" she felt like she had a newborn all over again! She knew she couldn't survive, so she decided to get certified as a child sleep coach through the Family Sleep Institute and spent the last 7 years perfecting a foolproof framework, the REST method, to turn toddlers into awesome little independent sleepers. She's successfully helped thousands of parents with even the most strong-willed kids get them to bed happily before 8pm and sleeping soundly for 10 to 12 hours through the night with no wakeups, in their own beds.
In this episode, I asked Jessica all the questions that come up for my clients. Why are they getting out of bed so often? What does sleep begets sleep even mean? How do you recommend paying off sleep debt when they're overtired?
// MENTIONED IN THE EPISODE //
Bedtime Stories: Mrs. Honeybee
Toothbrush Stories: Mrs. Honeybee (Apple podcasts or Spotify)
Book: Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child
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Jessica Berk 0:00
Sleep begets sleep is this concept that in order to get good sleep, you have to be well rested. So, and you've probably seen this, if you ever had a kid who was a good sleeper, and then all of a sudden, things started going downhill, it starts a cycle of bad like when you all of a sudden your kid is, you know, maybe used to go to sleep at 730. Now you can't get them down until nine or 930, all of a sudden, then they start waking up in the middle of the night. And they start waking up at five in the morning. So it starts a bad cycle. Because what happens is, when you aren't well rested enough, you become what we call overtired, which are these kids that have these kind of spikes in cortisol when you don't get to bed on time. And then they have more trouble falling asleep and staying asleep kind of what we were saying you're stuck in that light sleep, you don't get into that deep sleep. So you really need to have a foundation of good sleep in order to get good sleep.
Danielle Bettmann 0:59
Ever feel like you suck at this job? Motherhood I mean? Have too much anxiety. Not enough patience. Too much yelling, not enough play. There's no manual, no village, no guarantees. The stakes are high. We want so badly to get it right. But this is survival mode. We're just trying to make it to bedtime. So if you're full of mom guilt, your temper scares you. You feel like you're screwing everything up. And you're afraid to admit any of those things out loud. This podcast is for you. This is Failing Motherhood. I'm Danielle Bettmann. And each week we'll chat with a mom ready to be real. Sharing her insecurities, her fears, your failures and her wins. We do not have it all figured out. That's not the goal. The goal is to remind you, you are the mom your kids need. They need what you have. You are good enough. And you're not alone. I hope you pop in here buds somehow sneak away and get ready to hear some hope from the trenches. You belong here, friend. We're so glad you're here.
Hey, it's Danielle. I'm sure your kids are sleeping through the night every night, you make the loveliest of childhood memories every night at bedtime. And you're always thriving with a full eight hours every night as well. That may be the case at your house. But for those of us struggling with the nightly fight as well as the summer slide, Jessica Berk, the sleep coach for kids who are out of the crib, ages two and a half to eight ish is here to share all the sleep wisdom for us. When her three year old moved to a big girl bed and started giving her a hard time at bedtime...waking her up at all hours of the night. She felt like she had a newborn again. She and her husband were miserable and decided that she could not survive like this. Everyone talks about how you'll never sleep when you have a baby. But no one was talking about the sleep struggles that happened when the kids get bigger. So she learned everything she could about toddler development and behavior. I got certified as a child sleep coach through the Family Sleep Institute. She spent the last seven years perfecting a foolproof framework, the REST method to turn toddlers into awesome little independent sleepers. And she successfully helped 1000s of parents with even the most strong-willed kids get them to bed happily before 8pm and sleeping soundly 10 to 12 hours through the night with no wakeups. In this episode, I asked Jessica all the questions that come up for my clients. Why are they getting out of bed so often? What does sleep begets sleep even mean? How do you recommend paying off sleep debt when they're overtired? She shares the favorite myths and misconceptions around sleep that she loves to debunk, as well as the four steps of her REST method necessary for a solid sleep routine long term. And most importantly, we chat about her recommended steps to get sleep back on track for the new school year. Now, as with a parenting coach, you need to connect with an expert that is aligned with your family's goals. So if you are not interested right now are not ready for your child to sleep all night in their bed, her approach might not be for you. And that's entirely okay. You know what's best for your family. However, I hope you still stick around to glean the gems that you need to hear and point you in the direction you want to be in to create healthy, well rested kids and grownups down the road. One of the things Jessica and I talked about offline is that if you're having power struggles at bedtime, you're likely having power struggles throughout the day as well. And while you do need to have an approach for bedtime, I am here to help you with all of the other ones because you do not get to show up as an entirely different person with a new reputation, so that your child listens to you throughout the bedtime routine when you're usually the most burnt out anyway. And then the rest of the day is a haphazard mess. If you know you have more than just bedtime to approach for your patience and for your child's behavior, then definitely reach out to me. And if you just need to get a few more tips to help your child sleep in their bed all night long, reach out to Jessica. I have all the ways that you can connect with her in the show notes. So let's dive in to my interview with Jessica.
Welcome to Failing Motherhood. My name is Danielle Bettmann. And on today's episode, I'm joined by Jessica Berk. Jessica, thank you so much for coming.
Jessica Berk 5:55
Yes. Thank you so much for having me, Danielle, I appreciate it. Of course.
Danielle Bettmann 5:59
So you are the sleep coach for kids that are out of the crib. And I have not come across a sleep coach that is specific for that niche. And I'm like, I have to have you on the podcast.
Jessica Berk 6:11
Yes, I know. There's a lot of sleep coaches for babies and you know, younger age kids. But if you have had a kid who's moved out of the crib and is sleeping in, you know, a big kid bed, you know that it can get crazy. So that is what I am here for those older kids.
Danielle Bettmann 6:28
And sleep is a whole world. I don't think I've had a sleep coach on the podcast yet, but I am constantly referring my one on one and group coaching clients to sleep consultants because it's an entire world of its own. I do not even pretend to be an expert in all the recommendations of how to get that transition back in line and end the bad habits are all the things that sleep entails. So I'm just so glad you're here at this season so that we can get our lives all situated again. Yeah, before we start school.
Jessica Berk 7:01
Yeah, absolutely. summer's over. It's time to get everyone back in line get everyone's sleeping well, and
Danielle Bettmann 7:07
And I'm sure no one else has been like my house where we're staying up much later and kind of sleeping in and making things up as we went.
Jessica Berk 7:14
No one else is doing that Danielle, no one's doing that.
Danielle Bettmann 7:16
It's just me. So before we dive into all the insight you have to share for today, go ahead and just introduce yourself to my listeners with who you are and who's in your family.
Jessica Berk 7:28
Yeah, so I'm Jessica Berk. I'm the founder of Awesome Little Sleepers. And like you mentioned, I'm the sleep coach for bigger kids. So once kids are out of the crib age, like around two and a half all the way up to 8-10 years old. I help parents get their kids to happily fall asleep before eight o'clock at night, and stay sleeping 10 to 12 hours through the night no wake ups all by themselves. So that is the results that I deliver for my families. I started this business. Gosh, it's been about seven years now. And one of the reasons is because I had started having kids and I was working full time and the nine to five schedule was just tough. I wanted more time at home. So now fast forward, I've got two little kids, two girls 9 and 11. They're not so little anymore. They're growing up way too fast. So yeah, it's my husband Ryan and my two girls and then our little dog Libby.
Danielle Bettmann 8:24
Ah, see, my two girls are not far off from yours. Mine are eight, nine.
Jessica Berk 8:29
Okay. Yours are very close together this it's a good age, though that early elementary age. I mean, all ages, I think just have their own pros and cons. They really do. It's never better or worse. It's just always different.
Danielle Bettmann 8:41
Yes, there's totally new aspects of their personality that you're uncovering and new things you get to do with them and new challenges as well. That you Oh, yeah, equally unprepared for as you were for the last ones
Jessica Berk 8:52
totally, at all times.
Danielle Bettmann 8:56
So, first, I have to qualify, have you ever felt like you were failing motherhood?
Jessica Berk 9:02
Um, every day. There's a situation every day where that? You know, I could say that about myself. Yeah, I mean, I don't know. There's lots of examples. But I say that the biggest thing that comes to mind is really like the reason why I started this business, which has to do with sleep. Because when I started having my kids, it's like, you know, when you have a newborn baby, like you're expected to not sleep, and everybody talks about the fact that you're not going to sleep and so I was not functioning like I didn't realize how important sleep was until I wasn't sleeping anymore. And then I'm like, I can't do this. Like, this isn't gonna work for me. I'm not patient. I'm not kind of nice to my husband, like, I can't live on no sleep. So I figured out how to get you know, my kids sleeping when they were little and then I thought we were smooth sailing until my daughter moved out of her crib. And you know, she'd been sleeping great in her crib for years and then all of a sudden, you She was like in this open bed and had all this, you know, freedom and all this FOMO as toddlers have like what's going on in the house, like, I don't want to be sitting in this room by myself. So she, you know, didn't want me to leave, she was running out of the room, I had to, like, lay in her bed. So she fell asleep. And then she was waking me up in the middle of the night. And I'm like, what is happening? Like, where did this come from? What am I supposed to do? So I definitely felt like I was failing motherhood for real at that point, because I started to see her behavior change her mood change. And I knew it must have to do with the fact that she wasn't sleeping, but I didn't really know what to do to fix it. And then I was not happy. Because I'm back to not sleeping, I felt like I had a newborn again, right, being woken up all the time. And then I'm not seeing my husband, because I'm having to sit in my daughter's room all night long. And I'm trying to run a business. And those evening hours are like precious. And so anyway, I felt like I was failing motherhood, failing myself, failing my marriage, like it really stuck there for a while. So that is once I figured out how to get through that. And I was certified as a sleep coach. And I learned everything I could about, like toddler behavior. That's kind of how I knew that these toddler and preschool moms like needed help. Like there was no one out there talking about all the problems I was seeing. And I wasn't expecting it. I was very surprised, because my kid had always been a good sleeper. So that whole situation of me feeling like I was failing then is really what prompted me to focus only on these age of kids and these really specific problems that these strong willed kids can throw at us. Yeah.
Danielle Bettmann 11:41
And I think because it's not as talked about, then you feel really alone, or you feel like it is just your kid and you're doomed to this is just the way that they are. They're not a good sleeper, there's nothing you can do about it. It's just kind of you accept the inevitable demise of being in the room for, you know, four hours every night, and it just is what it is.
Jessica Berk 12:06
Yeah, you know, once you try a couple things, or your friend recommends you do something you try, it doesn't work, then you kind of end up defaulting to just what you were saying, which is kind of like blaming your kids personality thinking maybe it's just them. Or maybe they don't actually need as much sleep as the doctors and the Internet tells you they need and maybe your kids different somehow and but you know, when we do that we make ourselves feel more helpless, right? When we start to believe that then we're like, well, there's nothing we can do. You know, it's my kid. But most cases, that's not the case. There's plenty that we can do.
Danielle Bettmann 12:40
And especially with strong-willed kids, they are like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, depending on whether they got nine hours asleep, or 11 hours asleep, like it's a big deal for behavior.
Jessica Berk 12:52
Oh, absolutely. And that's like the best part about getting them to sleep is like people say like, oh my gosh, like, their teachers are talking about how they're listening so much better behavior so much better, like things are easier at home. That's definitely the biggest benefit.
Danielle Bettmann 13:09
It's a direct correlation. They're a different kid. Yep. When they're well rested. Oh, yeah. And you're nicer. You're more kind?
Jessica Berk 13:17
Yeah. Oh, for sure. That is definitely true. Well, in the funny part is like, once I help families get their kids sleeping, it'll be like the moms will be like, well, now how do I stop waking up all the time? Because you're so trained to be sleeping with one ear open? Because you know, your kids about to run down the hall? Two or three times a night? Yes. Yeah.
Danielle Bettmann 13:37
Yeah. So is the next thing getting certified in like grownups? (probably) as like a follow up to your course. Yeah. No, but that's a real thing. Because there was a year well, I think it was also the first year the pandemic. So to be fair, stress is also a fair component here. But it felt like my body was on that high alert, where I couldn't start to get to sleep, or just felt like I would constantly get kind of woken up and like this light sleep. Yeah, you know, for a long time, because it just felt like I was just waiting. I was just waiting to get woken up.
Jessica Berk 14:13
Yep, for sure. And that all has to do with your cortisol levels, which are related to your stress, right, which is that's also a big thing with kids sleep too, but it causes you to not go into as deep of asleep. So it's exactly what you're saying. You're more prone to being like woken up if you're just kind of hovering in that late stage of sleep. Because you have too much cortisol, you can't drop into that deep sleep, which helps you you know, sleep through the night.
Danielle Bettmann 14:35
Yes, yes. So you're not alone, if that's you listener. And so if you want to just like rope us all into the camp of you're not alone. What are like a myriad of ways that parents come to you feeling like they're failing in the category of sleep?
Jessica Berk 14:51
Oh, gosh. Well, I mean, there's so many things and you know, I have to say like, you know, I work with so many families and I have over the last seven years, and everybody kind of feels like their situation is unique. And I have to say, though, every child certainly is unique. Every family is unique, every family's dynamic is unique. But really the struggles that people are having, they're not that different in the way that they're solved are not all that different. There may be some tweaks and customizations here and there. But generally, it's the same issues are kind of underlying everybody's sleep problems. But I'd say the major problems that people come to me trying to solve are, first of all, that kids are stalling so bad at bedtime, that they won't even stay in the room, and they won't even stay put, or they won't stay put without a parent sitting in there or laying in there, or rubbing their back, or letting the kid twirl the mom's hair or whatever it is. And it could take hours for the kid to fall asleep. And then you know, the parents trying to like army crawl out of the room. And then a couple hours later, kids waking up again. And then parents, you know, either have to go back in the room and do the same thing, sit there or lay there and then try to sneak out. Or they just end up sleeping in their kids or mo night. Or it's the kids demanding to go into the parents bed and like, the parents can't do anything, but let them in their bed in order to get them to go back to sleep. So those are two things. It's the struggling with bedtime, it's the overnight wake ups. And then it's also waking up super early in the morning. That's a huge thing, too. Kids are waking up at five in the morning. 530 in the morning, you know, way too early to start today. Those are kind of the main reasons why people are looking for help. And those are all totally and completely solvable issues, no matter how strong-willed your kid is.
Danielle Bettmann 16:43
Mm hmm. That's just hope giving right away to know, right, but it's other families that are like ours.
Jessica Berk 16:49
Yeah. Oh, my gosh, yes, there are so many people dealing with this. But again, nobody really talking about how real the struggle is. And that it doesn't have to be like that. If you don't like I always tell parents as to it's like, if you don't want your kid to come into your bed and sleep with you in the middle of the night, you do not have to let that happen. Like that does not have to be how it is if that's not what you want. It doesn't have to be like that. So parents have more control than they realize ever these situations.
Danielle Bettmann 17:23
Yeah, you know, we just get so desperate. They're just so tired, that we don't have the energy.
Jessica Berk 17:29
Yes, of course. And all of the situations that people find themselves in are all for the right reasons, right? It's because we know our kids need to sleep, we know we need to sleep. So we're just going to do whatever we can at two o'clock in the morning, to get everybody to go to sleep. So it's totally understandable. But you know, once you're ready to make a change, then it is possible,
Danielle Bettmann 17:50
right? And you decide when you're ready for that. Like I said, for the screen time series, you know, if reducing screen time is one of your goals, right now that you have the energy to tackle, then, you know, here's my suggestions. But same for sleep, but when you have a newborn, or you have other things going on, or you know, like there's somebody's in the hospital, that's not the time to take on, you know, a new habit.
Jessica Berk 18:17
Yes, absolutely. Because yeah, you're exactly right. It's all obviously behaviors or habits. And in order to change habits and create new habits, it takes a little bit of time, and it takes consistency. So if you don't feel like you have the energy to commit to it, then yes, start once you're ready, for sure.
Danielle Bettmann 18:34
So I have to pick your brain a little bit. What are some of the myths that you see parents believing? Or like, you know, the memes that get passed around? Or the things where you're just like, Oh, if you only knew like that it's not normal for your child to wake up at 5am? You know, like, what are some of those myths?
Jessica Berk 18:55
Yeah, I don't I mean, I think it's just the whole concept that it just makes me so angry. And but like the whole concept that like, as moms, we're not meant to sleep, like we just have to sacrifice ourselves for anything that our, you know, child wants or needs at any hour of the day. And that is our job as parent like, I don't know, I can't buy into that, because I don't feel that way. That hasn't been my experience. I can't be at my kid's beck and call all night long. That's not healthy for my child. And it certainly doesn't feel healthy for me. So I think just the whole concept that as moms were meant to be like these tired, exhausted, like hot messes all the time. I mean, it doesn't have to be like that. Like I think that whole thing just kind of rubs me the wrong way because I think seeing all that kind of verbiage out there really makes us feel like oh yeah, we're all in the same boat together are exhausted. I mean, yeah, we are but like we don't have to be like that's the other side of the coin.
Danielle Bettmann 19:59
Hey! if you're new here, I'm Danielle. My company, Wholeheartedly, offers one on one and group coaching programs to help families with strong-willed kids aged one to seven, prevent tantrums, eliminate power struggles, extend their patience and get on the same page. It's kind of like finances, you can read lots of info about what a Roth IRA is and how the stock market works. But if you really want to get serious about paying down debt or growing your wealth, you go see a financial advisor who can give you very specific recommendations based on all the unique facets of your situation. I'm your financial advisor for parenting. And I've designed the way we work together to give you nothing less than a complete transformation. While we work together, I'm able to help you figure out why your child is losing their mind and why you are losing your mind and guide you to master effective long term solutions through three main focuses. Number one, my cultivating cooperation guide, teaching you the tools of positive discipline. Number two, managing your mind by working through my triggers workbook. And number three, establishing your family's foundation by writing your family business plan. My coaching is comprehensive, practical, individualized and full of VIP support. So if you struggle to manage your child's big emotions, if you and your partner's arguments seem to center around parenting, especially if one of you is too kind, and one is too firm. If you struggle to stay calm and be the parent that you want to be, it's possible to stop feeling like a deer in headlights when a tantrum hits, effortlessly move through simple directions and care routines without an argument and go to bed replaying the way you handle the hardest moments and feel proud. If you have a deep desire to be the best parent you can be, and your family is your greatest investment. Find me on Instagram, send me a message that says SANITY. And I'll ask you a few questions to see if we'd be a good fit to work together. I can't wait to meet you! Back to the show.
So do you get parents that are worried about like attachment? And making sure that they're parenting through the night and that their child knows that they can come to them? How do you address kind of like the other side of that coin?
Jessica Berk 22:28
Yeah, yeah, absolutely. I mean, I definitely think that parents that want to work with me the right fit, I'm not the right person. For everybody there, there is no one right parenting coach or sleep coach for every single family. So what I help families do is get their kids comfortable sleeping independently. So the kids have their own room, their own bed, their own sleep space. And the parents goal is that they want them to be able to stay in their room, the kids to stay in their room and sleep all through the night. So certainly, if you are in a co sleeping family that just wants to get some more sleep, that's not something I'm gonna be able to help you with. Because again, my goal in my process is to help you get your child sleeping independently in their own room. But certainly when it comes to attachment, I mean, my whole program is built on respecting your children, and really understanding where they are developmentally, once our kids are 2,3,4, or five years old, like they understand the rules of your house, they understand, you know what's going on, they understand which parent is more strict, which parent is more lenient. So it's all about putting the right processes in place, respecting your child learning how to explain to them the changes that you're going to make, and why what to expect role playing, it's all about meeting the child where they are. So it's a very, it should be a very respectful, you know, process that you're going through with your child. And the other thing I will say is, as a parent embarking on this process, you have to know in your heart, that you're doing this for your child, for your child's benefit. Because if you, you know, let's say you've been, you know, your child's been sleeping in your bed for the last year, and the only reason why you really want to move them to their room is because you feel like you're not getting enough sleep, that you're going to feel like you're doing this for selfish reasons. And you're not going to be successful, you have to understand how important good quality consistent sleep is for your child in order to stay consistent and commit to the process.
Danielle Bettmann 24:37
Oh, I'm so glad you mentioned that. Because that underlying motivator is going to come across so much in your vibe and in your you know, confidence of kind of saying the things and the consistency that you find. And yeah, if your goal lines up with your program as a parent, then it's the right fit and it might not be if That's not your goal right now. And that's totally fine. (Absolutely. Yes.) And is there any other kind of misconceptions, or myths that you'd like to kind of like speak to and break down? Because I'm so glad that you advocate for like, parents mental health, because that is a huge thing that is downplayed, and so critical, because everything in the parent child relationship flows from you feeling like you have sanity.
Jessica Berk 25:26
So being the best version of yourself that you can be, yeah, anything you can do to help yourself is going to help your kids that justice. Yes, yeah. So the only a couple things that are coming up are like the idea that maybe your child does doesn't need as much sleep as other people's kids. And I think it's only about like, 2% of the population, just in general has different sleep needs than kind of the general prescribed amount of sleep, which for kids aged, you know, two to eight is between 10 and 12 hours of consistent sleep, meaning they're not waking up, you're not seeing them or hearing from them at all, for 10 to 12 hours, overnight. So that's depending on obviously their age, if they're napping and other factors. But yeah, that's typically not the case. So I think people kind of default to Oh, my kid probably doesn't need as much sleep. Hmm, I would challenge that I would challenge that maybe there's some behavioral things going on, that are really preventing that much sleep from happening. Yes. And the other thing I was gonna say to back to your point about the moms sanity being so important, and something that I hear from people all the time is just about how it affects the marriage. Because if your child isn't sleeping, and you really feel like it's World War Three at your house from like, eight to 10 o'clock at night, which is so common, then you've got not only your child, you know, doing all types of different behaviors that you're trying to figure out, but then you've also got a co parent, and maybe you guys are disagreeing on the response, then you have y'all arguing, you're arguing with the kid, you know, it's becomes this whole, like, pyramid triangle of disaster. And so when you actually have a plan that both parents can be on the same page with, it takes out that, you know, that level of conflict. And then also, ultimately, once your kid is, you know, you're done with your kid and they're asleep by eight o'clock, you've got all this like glorious time with your spouse back. Yeah, people have told me like, it's better than marriage counseling. I believe it at a time together, how are you going to have a relationship and you never see two ships passing in the night,
Danielle Bettmann 27:40
right? Oh, that is so common. And something I'm absolutely passionate about, as well, because that's why I work with both partners, as parent coach, because you need to be hearing the same thing at the same time, having a third party being able to help give insight into something that feels just way too close to your face. And being able to take away the pressure of like one parent being the expert, the other one being criticized and just having this like unequal dynamic that definitely affects your efficiency and communication with your child as well. That's a huge problem every night, I'm sure a lot of homes.
Jessica Berk 28:19
Oh, yeah. Yeah, absolutely. And also that third party just, you know, just gives different perspective because like you just said, it's so close to your face, you know, you're so in it. You almost like you can't step back and see what's really happening. See what the underlying things are. Because it's just too close to you. That's just human nature. It's just the way it is. Oh, totally.
Danielle Bettmann 28:39
Yeah, exactly. And so what does it mean to you when you say ...because I saw you just posted this on Instagram, "sleep begets sleep".
Jessica Berk 28:48
Oh, yeah. Okay, so sleep begets sleep. This was I think in the book, Healthy sleep habits. Happy child, the wise sleep book, which I feel like so many parents have read. It's like kind of one of the OG like baby sleep books. And it sleep begets sleep is this concept that in order to get good sleep, you have to be well rested. So and you've probably seen this, if you ever had a kid who was a good sleeper, and then all of a sudden things started going downhill, it starts a cycle of bad like when you all of a sudden your kid is you know, maybe used to go to sleep at 730. Now you can't get them down until nine or 930. All of a sudden, then they start waking up in the middle of the night. And they start waking up at five in the morning. So it starts a bad cycle. Because what happens is, when you aren't well rested enough, you become what we call overtired, which are these kids that have these kind of spikes in cortisol when you don't get to bed on time, and then they have more trouble falling asleep and staying asleep kind of what we were saying you're stuck in that light sleep. You don't get into that deep sleep. So you really need to have a foundation of good sleep in order to get good sleep. And so when one piece kind of like comes apart from the puzzle. It all kind of crumbles. So you kind of rebuild it again, so that you can get your kids back to having a foundation of sleep in order for them to be well rested. Yes. So like it goes to this people Oh, wait, you know, I see tons of families whose kids are like two years old, and they're like, oh, all of a sudden they won't sleep at night. So we're going to drop the nap. That's usually a big no, no, because then you're taking away some daytime sleep in hopes that that's going to fix the night's sleep. But really, they probably need that sleep because again, sleep begets sleep.
Danielle Bettmann 30:34
And that might be true if you still have like a five year old napping, where, you know, the reason they're not falling asleep at the end of the day is because they are well rested enough that they could go without it. But not at that earlier age. Yeah,
Jessica Berk 30:47
I like to encourage napping until I mean, I like to encourage napping forever. I mean, as long as kids need it, they should be able to have a nap. Sometimes it may need to be a little bit shorter. But definitely I like to encourage it until kids are at least four. And then if they're showing any signs, then you know, maybe it's maybe time to drop it. But I think most kids dropped the nap between three and a half and four and a half years old, just kind of what I found.
Danielle Bettmann 31:09
So do you feel like they owe a sleep debt? If they're overtired? Are you familiar with that term?
Jessica Berk 31:17
Yeah, that's kind of like a tank of gas or something. It's like you have to have a full tank in order to go to operate at the right level of efficiency. And then certainly what happens that's kind of sleep debt is kind of in the same concept of being overtired. It's basically like your body needs 11 hours of sleep, but you've consistently only been getting nine hours of sleep for the last week, because all of a sudden you're on this like sleep strike, and you won't go to bed on time, then yeah, every day, you're accumulating this sleep debt. So yeah, so definitely, that is something that happens with these kind of overtired kids.
Danielle Bettmann 31:52
Yeah. And if you are on a vacation, if you have like grandparents, watching the kids, if there's like anything that's like off in your routine, then you're going to have that hangover, or that like, you know, withdrawal period where you have to go back to reestablishing those habits. So is there something that you typically recommend for kind of getting back online? Even if it's just a little short term blip?
Jessica Berk 32:15
Yeah, yeah, for sure. I mean, I say the best thing to do, you know, if you're planning for travel, or if grandparents are coming, or whatever, make sure your kids have good sleep habits to start with. And then you know, when you go to the travel, or the grandparents, things get off track, that's normal. I mean, that's life, like every single night is not gonna be perfect. But just know that your kids might need an earlier bedtime, or they might need a longer nap, or they might need a nap if they had stopped napping. But things were really crazy. And they were up till 1130, or whatever, they might need an app the next day. And it's okay to kind of add those things in and make those fluctuations and it's better to be aware of what your kids sleep needs are so that you can make those adjustments. But certainly an earlier bedtime when you've had a long weekend or been on a trip is very important.
Danielle Bettmann 33:02
Which leads us right into kind of a season that we were going to drill into as well. But this back to school, whether you have a kindergartner, whether you have a three year old starting Monday, Wednesday, Friday, preschool, whatever that looks like, usually, August September is what I consider to be Mom New Year, where we kind of,
Jessica Berk 33:22
We get our time back?
Danielle Bettmann 33:24
Like, okay, we kind of let everything slide and now we're getting back on track. And we're establishing some new routines. And I'm figuring out kind of like what the next steps are for our family and then signing up for stuff and whatever that looks like. So firstly, if the summer has been a little bit of a free for all, where we're staying up to watch fireworks and you know, hang out because it's so light so late. What do we do in this season to get back on track?
Jessica Berk 33:50
Yes, everything you're describing is what I call the summer slide. And we're all guilty of it. Right? And I feel like that's really it's three things. So it's where you let your kids stay up later than normal because it is light outside because they may not have anywhere to go the next morning and your reason to like get up early. Because you have stuff you want to do you want to go you know do a neighborhood cookout or you know you have more freedom and so you want your kids to be able to stay up later. So late bedtimes also more screen time than we might normally allow during the school year for sure. I'm guilty of that. Maybe I'm just talking to myself, but that is that together. It's definitely something that's happening over here. And also too much sugar. You know, I think it's like every day there's like oh, it's celebrate the whatever you know, I just think every day is like there's like a dessert event
Danielle Bettmann 34:38
ice cream... popsicles... licorice... Oh, yeah.
Jessica Berk 34:41
Yeah, ice cream truck... we're at the pool.... Yeah, everything just seems like there's just so much sugar. So definitely kind of getting over that summer slide is important to prepare for. So you know the right bedtime for kids. This age that we're talking about is really anywhere between 6:30 and 7:45pm. So and what age are we talking about, like two and a half to really like six years old. Okay? Okay. And it's a big range, because obviously, that's a big age range, right. So it depends on the age of your kid, it depends on if they are still napping. But really, for all of these kids, our goal is to have them asleep by eight o'clock. So all of these kids this age need to be asleep by eight o'clock. So that is our goal. So it may mean that you need some blackout shades, because it's still going to be light until the fall really hit. So a few more months. So blackout shades will be your best friend, whether you get the official shades, or there's film that you can buy that just goes on your window, that's like a much less expensive option. I mean, heck, you can even tape black trash bags onto your windows with painters tape for a couple months. I mean, it's not an interior design tip, but it's, you know, it works. And then even with, you know, if it's really sunny, or depending on your kids room is you can use Velcro strips and kind of like close down the shade. So it does the sun isn't coming through around the edges and stuff. So really, making a dark room is important. That is, you know, spending time outside during the day in the sun, and then being in a dark environment for sleep is really going to be a good cue for, you know, melatonin production and for your kids sleep. So those are important. Limiting screen time before bed, I definitely think, you know, removing that blue light from your kids, at least an hour before bed is probably a good just sleep hygiene thing to get everybody back on track. And limiting the sugar also would be a good idea. And this is a great time, you know, depending on the age of your kids to encourage some reading time, you know, even if it's before you, like officially start your bedtime routine, just letting your child have some quiet time in their room to look through a book or practice reading, if they're actually have like reading age, I think that that's a great time just to kind of start to allow their body some time to just have some downtime, you know, not be just like going going going all the way up until bedtime. And I think you should start this like two weeks before school, just to kind of, you know, ingrain, these new kind of good habits.
Danielle Bettmann 37:10
Because it takes time, it does,
Jessica Berk 37:11
it does take time for kids to get used to it. And so you can even kind of like, depending on what bedtime you're doing now you can kind of like decrease it, you know, as you're going you don't have to jump right to a 715 Bedtime all at once. If your kids go to bed at nine, you know, maybe you go to 830 maybe go to eight, you kind of you know, baby step backwards a little bit.
Danielle Bettmann 37:31
Right? And for the four year olds that are it was so insistent at bedtime, that they're coming out of the room constantly and just like do not have closure on the day. What are the usual reasons for that?
Jessica Berk 37:50
Well, the reasons for it are I mean, you know, who knows, it's like, this is the age, right? Around two, two and a half is when our kids really start asserting their independence, right, they realize that they're their own little people, they affect other people. It's not just other people affect them, like they are actually, you know, players in the family as well. And that's good. We want them to know that and understand that that's all age appropriate. So it's just, you know, it's just them coming out wanting to hang out more and really wanting to see what they can get away with, right. That's just what kids do. That's why they're always pushing the boundaries is, if you've got a four year old who's like a really, really strong-willed kid, it's not just at bedtime, where you're going to be seeing these types of behaviors, it's going to be all day long. And so it's really about like that's expected from them. It's expected from them to not always follow the rules. So it's really about learning what you the parent, how you should respond to that in order to get them to understand that the rules are the rules are, it's time to put your shoes on when mommy says or no, we really are leaving the park. I know you want to stay at the park, but it's time to go. So it's really learning how to wrangle those behaviors as a parent. And it's the same thing with bedtime.
Danielle Bettmann 39:04
I'm so glad you say that because that's 100% true even though sleep is not a part of parenting coaching at all. When they realize how to handle the moment at the park and how to handle the moment with the shoes, then that just translates into how do I handle that moment of them coming out of their room. And then just being able to understand what's going on in their brain and be able to communicate more effectively rather than a very inconsistent reaction. One night to the next. Is everything.
Jessica Berk 39:37
Yes. Oh my gosh, it is all about the consistent reaction. Oh my gosh, yes. You're so right. There are some I think with kids, you know, this three, four. I mean, I don't know all young kids. I shouldn't even say an age. A lot of times there's one part of the bedtime routine that seems to be the sticking point. I feel like it's either putting on PJs or brushing too. teeth, or taking a bath, where it's like one of those things is what causes the meltdown that like, allows the whole night to get thrown off track. And so one thing I always tell parents to do is like, first of all, if there's one thing that's really throwing you off, and it's like every night, it's like, you're dreading saying, you know, brush your teeth, because you know that that's when everything's going to go down. Can you move that just to a different part of the day, like, instead of doing it in the exact order, and then getting the meltdown at the exact time that you always see the meltdown? Can you just brush teeth after dinner? Like before you go upstairs to do the bath, or whatever it is? Or could you put on PJs, like at a different point in time, just switching up the timing, switching things around, we get so stuck in our routine, I do love a good consistent routine. I'm not saying that that's a very important piece of it. But if something's off in that routine, then let's just throw the pieces up like confetti and reorganize them a little bit and see if we can get something in a better flow. And then even changing that stuff up. Like if your kid really refuses to brush their teeth or really hates that time of the evening. What can you do to make it different? What if you brush your teeth in a different room? What if you brushed your teeth by flashlight with the lights off? Like do you think you could brush your teeth with your eyes closed? Can you brush your teeth, you know faster than this timer? Anything to kind of make it silly? Change it up? So it's not just you, you know, standing over them going brush your teeth? No, we have to brush your teeth. The dentist said brush your teeth every day, you know, just to break out of that pattern.
Danielle Bettmann 41:34
Yes, find a way to make it fun. Yeah, there's a toothbrush stories is like a two minute podcast that we'll put on sometimes by Mrs. honeybee. And then they just listen to like this little story for two minutes. And why not? Oh,
Jessica Berk 41:48
I love that. I'd never heard of that. Yeah, perfect. Yeah,
Danielle Bettmann 41:51
I'll send you the link. It's really fun. We subscribe to like the whole library that Mrs. Honeybee creates. So we're big fans
Jessica Berk 41:57
I've never heard of Mrs. Honeybee. Okay, yes. And I want to hear here, I'm gonna write it down.
Danielle Bettmann 42:03
But that was actually one thing that I worked out with a client a few weeks ago was like, you know, getting into showers and baths can be such a hot button issue with some kids. And what I just realized with mine is like, no, let's just get home from school and take the shower. Yeah, then. Because then we're not overtired. And we're not creating this big huge battle when I know that the time is ticking. And I just want to clock out because my patience is now fried. It's just no the bath happened at four. And now we're already in our pajamas for the night.
Jessica Berk 42:38
Oh, I love that. I mean, my kids, putting them in the bath was like shooting them with a lightning bolt. I mean, it gave them energy. And I was always like, why are people bathing? They're like, I think some kids it really winds them up. It doesn't calm them down some kids, it calms them down for sure. So it depends totally on the kid. But yeah, I mean, for mine, it was not something that we could be doing at like 6:45. Like, there was no way.
Danielle Bettmann 43:03
Yep, same. And I've never been a parent that's done it every night. That's not our family.
Jessica Berk 43:08
No, we're an every other night family except, well. And now my kids can like shower, which is so much nicer because you're gonna say Go take a shower. But the only exception would be like, yes, sunscreen are really, really sweaty days. But certainly I'm an every other day, kind of mom. Yeah.
Danielle Bettmann 43:24
And that's where the individualization of every family comes in, like, you know, you do the routine that works for your kids and your family. And so it takes a little bit of trial and error sometimes to figure that out, or a little bit of like questioning, how could it look different? Or what if we flipped the order? Or we seem to have still so much energy? When we're getting into the room? What can we do on the front end of the bedtime routine to maybe like get some sillies out do like a one minute dance party or something that you know is kind of bonding, and then kicks everything off with a piggyback ride, right? Like, there's so much problem solving, that can go into things looking different and going differently.
Jessica Berk 44:03
Yeah, and I love to I teach like an exercise where you actually, like, have a little chat with your kid and figure out what they want to do as part of the bedtime routine instead of you kind of, we all do the same things, but just giving them some ownership over it, even if it's just putting stuff in order that can help them feel like they're in charge, which you know, let's go back to the whole, they want to control everything and always be the boss. It allows for that in a healthy way that's actually constructive and get you all both towards the goal of getting through the bedtime routine.
Danielle Bettmann 44:35
Yes. And that was what I saw in your method that really knew that I like aligned with kind of your philosophy because I could tell how respectful you were of them being an active participant in creating that cooperation as a team. And like that's one thing that I really recommend with the families I work with is like, whenever there's a pattern of behavior, you just need to sit down together. and figure it out. Like, here's the problem. How do we solve this? What ideas do you have? Here's the ideas I have, let's come up with a plan. Let's try it for a week. And even just that blatant level of like, offering them that dignity can be such a game changer in things feeling like a power struggle to feeling like we are on the same team. And we're just carrying out the thing that we agreed to on the first place.
Jessica Berk 45:24
Yes, yes. The idea of being on a team. And then you know, the idea to have like, you being able to be proud of your kid like you being able to verbalize like, Great job, like good job, like going through the routine or good job, getting your teeth brushed quick. And you offering your praise is really helpful, too. Because what happens in these evening situations is yeah, it's the parent, like yelling, or nagging, and then the kid you know, it's just ends up this back and forth power struggle. And so yeah, if you're on the same team, and then you can be the kind of praising your kid as they go, it's just like, it's such a positive experience for everybody.
Danielle Bettmann 45:58
Mm hmm. So tell us more about your REST method. And kind of like the main resource that you offer to listeners to kind of connect with you.
Jessica Berk 46:07
Yeah, yeah. So my methodology is called the REST method. And it's what I teach inside of my toddler sleep course, the name of my toddler sleep course is Sleep Tight Without a Fight. Because that is what it feels like. Feels like the ultimate fight that like, on repeat, like, Oh, my God, make it stop. So yeah, so my REST method. So it's an acronym. So R E, S, T. And I like to say it's like the four pieces of awesome sleep. And you need to know what they are, and then how to optimize them and how to fix the problems for each of those little pieces. So the letter R stands for the right sleep schedule. And we've kind of touched on this a few times in this talk today. But you know, it's having the right bedtime, it's knowing when your kid should be napping, you know how long they should nap for when it's time to drop the nap, all that kind of stuff. So the right schedule is really, really important. Because if you're getting them to bed at the wrong times, or if they're not getting enough sleep, they get into this overtired state, they get these cortisol spikes, and then the whole thing becomes a disaster, right? Because sleep begets sleep. And so the foundation of that is really the right sleep schedule.
Danielle Bettmann 47:18
Which to add on to that my daughter is that one that like almost like a clockwork, if she stays awake, like five minutes past eight o'clock, I can see the second wind hit. Uh huh. I can just feel it. And then it's like, we may as well stay up and watch a movie, because it's going to be another two hours until she's back out.
Jessica Berk 47:39
It's going to be 60 to 90 minutes before. Yeah, if you spend the whole time trying to fight it out, it's not going to work because she's gotten that jolt of energy, for sure. Yeah, yeah. So that's an important piece. The second piece is excellent bedtime routine. And so back to what we're talking about before, like, in order to get your kid to bed on time, you got to get them through, you know, the brushing teeth, that pajamas, do certain things. And then you want to have some cozy, you know, enjoyable time with them to read books, or sing songs or talk about your days, or do prayers or whatever you want to do to have that time together. But you know, for most families, like you know, before you have kids, you imagine like this cozy time you're cutting up in the chair reading books, and it's not always like that in reality, right? It's like our kid begging for more books or read that page again, or you start reading it, they're like, I don't want this book, I want this book or, you know, it becomes chaos. So. So I teach a process to like, we were saying, work with your kid to like, get bedtime to actually be fun and cozy like you want it to be. So it's a good jumping off point for sleep. It's restful, and it's easy. And everyone's you know, your kids proud of themselves, and you're getting through the things. And it's important that your bedtime routine has a starting point, and an ending point. So that it doesn't go on forever and ever, ever, ever, ever. So that's letter E, the letter S is solo sleep strategy. And that's all about allowing your child to learn how to fall asleep without any help from you or anybody else. Because that's the healthiest way for us to all sleep is to fall asleep totally alone in our room. And that's the way that kids sleep through the night. Because if you have to be in the room with them while they fall asleep, guess what, they're gonna start waking up because you're missing. So I always give the analogy it's like if you fall asleep in your bed, and then you know, we move it through are different stages of sleep. And our light sleep is when we roll around, pull the covers up. But we're not like awake. But if you were asleep and then all of a sudden you realized that your pillow was missing. You aren't just going to roll over and fall back to sleep. You got to wake up and be like, Oh my God, my pillow fell on the floor. Like that's so weird. Like when did that happen? Then you're awake and then you gotta go back to sleep. So that's what it's like. That's the analogy for parents who are sitting In the room with their kids are laying in the bed with their kids. It's like, Are you the pillow? Have you made yourself a necessary component of your kid falling asleep, so that when you leave when you try to sneak out, eventually when they move into a later stage of sleep, they're going to like realize that you're missing. And then they have to come find you. Because they have to recreate those same conditions in order to get back to sleep. So solo sleep strategy is about allowing your kids to learn how to fall asleep on their own. And inside of my sleep course, I actually teach two totally different strategies, because there is no one size fits all. Because every family is different, every kid is different. It allows the course you know, it's made for people with all different parenting styles. So that's why I teach kind of two different methods. And I teach you kind of how to pick which one is going to work best for you. So yeah, so there's it's step by step, it's mapped out to take 14 days, sometimes it takes less than that. But it's mapped out to take 14 days. And it's like literally night by night by night instructions of exactly what you need to do. And then what you need to do if XY and Z happened, like it's got all the what ifs in there, and then how to kind of manage and handle everything that your kid can and will likely throw at you or the
Danielle Bettmann 51:18
expected adversity hmm.
Jessica Berk 51:21
And then the letter T stands for tease a reward. Because I do like to use small rewards to kind of jumpstart new good behaviors. It's not a required piece. Certainly your praise can be enough. But I like to be really clear, a lot of people will say things to their kid, like, if you don't wake mommy up tonight, then you know, let's have donuts in the morning. Well, if your kids woken you up twice a night for the last six months, like that's not going to work. They don't know how to do anything different than what they're doing. So you have to learn how to use rewards the right way for like very small baby steps. So that's what I teach in the course.
Danielle Bettmann 51:58
Gotcha. Yeah. Because if they genuinely don't have the skill set to be able to do what you're asking them to do, it doesn't matter what threat what bribe What reward is at play. It just won't work.
Jessica Berk 52:11
Right? They don't know how to do it. And then they wake up and they're like, Can I have my donut? And then you're like, Nope, you didn't do it. And then they're like, oh, and then they feel like they failed or do something wrong, or it didn't make you happy? And then it's like...
Danielle Bettmann 52:22
or you're just mean for no reason.
Jessica Berk 52:25
Right it's like, they're like, Well, I don't know how to do that. Like we all I always wake you up. It's just, it's what we do, right? That's my routine. I wake you up three times a night and you walk me back to my room and pull my covers up and wonder why the hell this is happening. That's our routine. Isn't it fun? Doing it love it. You're doing it every night, you must like it as much as me.
Danielle Bettmann 52:45
Right, right. So how do they find out more about the REST method and how to do it themselves?
Jessica Berk 52:53
Yeah, so I offer my toddler sleep masterclass. So it's totally free, and teaches you more about the REST method. And it really helps kind of reveal to families, how they have gotten into the sleep situations that they're in, and like where a lot of these struggles come from. And so I know that you'll put a link in the show notes here too. But you can go to my website, awesome little sleepers.com. And there's like a bar right at the very top, and you can click there. And all you have to do is reserve your spot to join the next free class. And if for some reason you can't make it, if you sign up, you will get emailed a link to watch the replay. Perfect.
Danielle Bettmann 53:29
Okay, I would definitely add that into the show notes as well as you know, your Instagram and your website and all the ways to connect with you so that they have asleep resource in their pocket.
Jessica Berk 53:39
Yes, yeah. And please follow me on Instagram too. That's the best place. It's just awesome little sleepers is my handle
Danielle Bettmann 53:45
Perfect. Okay, though, I feel like we already packed in so much wisdom about like sleep, the perspective we need to have as parents on sleep. And I hope that they found something that was something they needed to hear based on where their kiddos at or what they need to do to get back into good habits. So I'll ask you the question I asked every guest that comes on as we wrap up. How are you, the mom that your kids need?
Jessica Berk 54:09
Well, the answer is simple is because I'm their mom, like, we are all the moms that our kids need. We are the moms that our kids need. And, you know, you bring to motherhood, all of your, you know, all of your preconceived notions, all of your baggage, all of your issues, all of your hopes and dreams. And, you know, I think it's important that I think it's important for me and my kids, and I'm always very, like, honest with them, and obviously, like in an age appropriate way, but, you know, like, we're moving shortly and it's tough for my kids because they've got friends and they're leaving and, you know, it's okay for me to be sad about that, too. I'm not here to be like just the cheerleader parade. 24/7. Like, we can cry and we can say this is tough. This is tough for mommy to you know, I have to leave my friend and so it's you know, I think being really open with your kids has been very helpful to me because they see that we're all real people. We We all have struggles, we all have issues. And you know what, we all come out the other side?
Danielle Bettmann 55:04
Yeah, those ups and downs of you being a real person are so valuable for them to learn from.
Jessica Berk 55:11
Yeah. And to be able to say, I'm sorry, you know, to that's the other thing, because no one is a perfect parent. And I certainly, you know, yell or say things that I don't mean, and then I have to, you know, be the bigger person and say, like, okay, you know, I didn't mean to say that, like, I overreacted to that. I'm having a really tough day. And I think I just kind of snapped at you. And that was not fair. Like, yeah, I shouldn't have to tell you things four times, but I also shouldn't have yelled or you know, whatever it is, I think, parenthood man, all the struggles, it's just makes you a better person just made me a better person.
Danielle Bettmann 55:44
Yes. It's a brutal process.
Jessica Berk 55:48
It is, it's a hard way to learn. Yeah, we do a lot of learning a lot of learning and self reflecting
Danielle Bettmann 55:54
it. Yes, we are growing up right next to them right alongside.
Jessica Berk 55:59
Danielle Bettmann 56:01
So good! Thank you so much for sharing all of that and just being so real and relatable and being willing to say that it's hard and you're not alone, and you're not a bad parent, you might just need a little insight so that you can get back on track to where you thought you would be at this stage of parenting.
Jessica Berk 56:21
Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. Well, thank you so much for having me. It was such a pleasure. Of course.
Danielle Bettmann 56:27
Thank you. Thank you so much for tuning in to this episode of Failing Motherhood. Your kids are so lucky to have you. If you loved this episode, take a screenshot right now and share it in your Instagram stories and tag me. If you're loving the podcast, be sure that you've subscribed and leave a review so we can help more moms know they are not alone if they feel like they're failing motherhood on a daily basis. And if you're ready to transform your relationship with your strong willed child, and invest in the support you need to make it happen. Schedule your free consultation using the link in the show notes. I can't wait to meet you. Thanks for coming on this journey with me. I believe in you, and I'm cheering you on.
Confidently parent your strong-willed child without caving in or dimming their spark so you can finally break free of power struggles, guilt + self-doubt!