March is the month where we celebrate many things including Mother's Day and International Women's Day so I thought it appropriate to feature some inspiring mums and we'll be showcasing them throughout March - hope you enjoy the "March of Inspiring Mums" series!
Today we share the story of Valerie Birch, a lady I first came across when we were both living in Asia...she has since relocated to various corners of the Earth and is now based in Omaha, USA - her zest for life, positive outlook and love of travel is truly inspiring and she's a firm believer that "we have one life to live and a life with children does not mean you have to be perpetually exhausted".
Valerie is a mum of 2 young children (aged 5 and 2) as well as being a paediatric sleep consultant and owner of Amazing Little Sleeper, which "provides sleep solutions for children so the entire family is rested and living an amazing life".
As it's Daylight Savings this weekend, it seemed a perfect time to share Valerie's story - she has also written a super-helpful article filled with tips on how to transition your children through the time changes as we lose an hour.
1. Tell me a little about yourself and how you got into the job you’re now doing?
Becoming a sleep consultant was never a job I dreamed about, yet it is my dream job! I stumbled into this profession nearly 6 years ago when my first child was born. She was around 5 months of age and I would rock her for 2 hours at bedtime for her to fall asleep. Then the moment I laid her in her crib, she woke back up and we started over. I was exhausted! Not to mention, with my Bachelors Degree in Health Promotions and my Masters in Education, I knew sleep was a vital piece to her health, growth and development - and my sanity! Deep down I believed sleep shouldn’t be that hard!
Like many, I went to the internet and embarked on some research. I found some immediate tips, but more importantly I learned about the Family Sleep Institute. After diving deeper, I took a leap of faith and embarked on the 125+ hour training through the Family Sleep Institute and became a certified sleep consultant. In 2013, I began Amazing Little Sleeper to help other families improve sleep for their little ones, and ultimately the entire family.
My profession encompasses all my passions; health, education and children. I absolutely love working with families to improve their children’s sleep, as ultimately sleep improves for the entire family. My favourite part is when we end our two weeks together - parents are besides themselves in happiness. Little did they believe that their child could be sleeping 11-12 hours at night and taking predictable, long naps. You see the joy, excitement and relief in parents - and that is exactly what I want for those families! When we are receiving appropriate sleep, we feel at the top of our game! - and why would anyone want to settle for anything less than that? We have one life to live and a life with children does not mean you have to be perpetually exhausted.
Tell me one interesting fact about you?
As passionate about sleep as I am, it may surprise some that traveling is just as important to myself and my family. I often get the hesitant question regarding sleep and travel - as if some believe I don’t think you should travel or sleep will be disrupted. NO WAY! Always travel!! My husband and I have lived abroad three separate times - once alone and the other times with our children. Traveling is the best form of education. Nothing teaches you more about yourself, life, compassion, understanding and love than exploring the world and accumulating experiences. We are always up for the next adventure!
And it’s a bonus because well rested children are much more flexible and easy going travelers! You can have the best of both worlds!!
Please can you share 3 tips for managing the juggle of motherhood, life and business?
I don’t believe there is a perfect balance of motherhood, life and business as there is always one aspect that requires more attention at one time. Then the next day, next week, or next month that balance shifts to a different area. I think of the three as harmonising; each are evolving and changing! Some days you may focus more on your family - and that is wonderful! The next week it may be your business - perfect! Know there is not a perfect balance between the three, just harmony between motherhood, life and business as they are continually shifting and changing.
My personal philosophy is to “focus on you”. In this day and age, it’s so easy to get caught up in comparison and what you “should” be doing to be the perfect wife, mum, friend, business owner etc. It’s too much and it causes unnecessary negative feelings. I try to limit my exposure to social media and the internet and focus on myself and my family. Is my family doing what is right for us? Are we happy? Are we progressing? At the end of the day, nothing matters about anyone else - so this is why I continually focus inward on my personal journey, my family and my life. Stop the comparison game.
The most important part of the juggle of motherhood, life and business is to keep yourself full. You can’t give from an empty cup. It often feels like there aren’t enough hours in the day to get it all done, let alone do something for you - but if you continually skip out on doing something for you, then every other area will suffer. Take care of yourself. When you’re feeling energized and happy, your family will feel the same, your business will progress forward, your marriage will be happier, and life just seems greener. It won’t surprise many - I strive for 8 hours of sleep each night. Of course, if I stayed up later I could accomplish more - but I also know if I skip on my sleep I’m more impatient the next day with my children, my energy and focus suffer and it impacts my mood. It’s not selfish, it’s vital that you do something each day - even if it’s a 10 minute deep breathing meditation - to take care of yourself.
What's the best piece of advice you could give a new mum?
It’s okay to not read everything on the internet. It’s okay to not listen to your best friend, your mum friend, your mum! Trust your gut and follow your heart. You are doing WONDERFULLY as a new mum! As Carrie Green once said “don’t compare your chapter one to someone else chapter twenty”. No one has it all figured out, we’re all learning as we go, doing the best we can! Do the same and live YOUR life!
Colour can make a real difference to our mood - what’s your favourite colour? And how does it make you feel when you wear it?
Purple! I feel happy and calm.
What’s your favourite activity to do with your family?
My favorite activity to do with my children is to be active outside. Whether that is playing in the mud, doing a scavenger hunt, having a picnic or just hanging in the backyard, we are all so happy when we are outside. Letting children explore their curiosities and engage in open-ended play is powerful - especially when outside.
What do you like to do for some me-time?
Life is all about balance, and my me-time activities are just that! My favourite me-time activity is exercise, mainly a walk outside and it’s a bonus if it can be around a body of water. My other favourite me-time activity is baking. Something ooey-gooey and sweet always lifts my soul.
Thanks so much Valerie for sharing an insight into your life - you are truly inspirational - not only juggling all aspects of your life in a positive way but helping others find that balance through sleep.
And don't forget to check out Valerie's tips on handling the clocks changing with her article on Daylight Savings
If you've enjoyed this interview, make sure you check out our other "March of Inspiring Mums" series here