It’s not every day your volunteer-run organisation clocks over a milestone like reaching 150, 000 members globally!

That’s what we have just done! Little Sparklers, through our free online peer support group, The Beyond Sleep Training Project, have just reached this enormous milestone.

At this moment in time, I really think it’s important to pause and reflect.

We didn’t get here by fluke.

Sure, it was never even in my wildest dreams that I imagined this is where we’d be when I first launched the group back in January 2017. All I had hoped for was to attract a small group of like-minded people to help me create a resource (originally a book) for families who couldn’t find their place in a society that believed sleep training was the only way to manage sleep with a baby in the house.

I felt so horrendously isolated with my first baby when despite huge amounts of dedication and effort, I simply could not train him to sleep. Back then, being a sleep training failure saw you out on your own. Even if you were struggling desperately as I was as a first-time mum with severe sleep deprivation with a hefty side of post-natal depression.

Hear/ read my story in detail

I found my way through that time but it was like wading through mud. I felt lonely and secretive, with few I felt I could open up to about what was really going on because most people insisted that I simply HAD to sleep train him again. They couldn’t imagine what else I could do. And this wasn’t just well-meaning friends and family, this was also the professionals I was reaching out to for support for my mental health and my family’s well-being.

When I came out the other side, I felt determined that if I could make any difference at all, it would be to reduce the loneliness of this kind of experience for anyone else.

I still thought this would be quite a small group of people I would be appealing to.

But what quickly became apparent was that while yes, there was definitely others like me feeling acutely alone and lost with extremely wakeful babies, there was also an enormous undercurrent of people who had been covertly nurturing their babies to sleep without sleep training, who also flocked to our space. Some were supremely confident in their way of mothering/ parenting, while for many others, the fact that they fed to sleep or co-slept was a like a guilty, dirty little secret that you’d only whisper in careful company or buffer with words like, ‘I hate it but …’ as though it would be impossible to actually enjoy, relish or savour those moment of closeness.

It’s like we’d formed this underground counter-culture of parenting.

And it felt GREAT to be in a safe space where you wouldn’t get shot down in flames for confessing you slept with your baby, or held them for every nap or (insert gasp) you fed them to sleep!

And so we grew.

100% organically through word of mouth.

We haven’t always got it right, and we have had to change the way we administer the group many, many times and with numerous hat-in-hand apologies to be made to our community. But we kept at it because we could see the impact we were having on people’s lives.

Life changing, course-altering, soul-affirming impact.

And it’s hard! Can I tell you?!? So hard.

The impact of 2020/21 on the global community has been immeasurable. The online needs grew exponentially in tandem with anger, confusion, frustration and anxiety. It’s been intensely trying at times for everyone in our space.

In amongst this time, we were also in full swing of trying to start-up our newly registered charity, Little Sparklers! We received our DGR1 with our registration in July 2019. We were buoyant on launch and confident that if we could get ourselves branded and a new flashy website up and some fabulous expert-backed content up, we’d be on our way with exciting community fundraising plans and of course, diving into applying for grants and funding. And then 2020 happened.

And our plans went out the window and we adapted and evolved and survived and learned.

And grew.

Oh yes, how we have grown.

And now, off the back of an equally if not even more challenging 2021, we look to 2022 primed to take off.

We are ready now, in a way that we thought we were in 2019, but no, we still had much to learn.

And so, as we reach this remarkable milestone, I look back with enormous amounts of pride and admiration for the sheer grit, determination and passion of each every one of our volunteers who have got us here. Because that’s how we got here. That and the generosity of personal donors as we are yet to crack the funding side of the organisation.

And after this moment of pausing and reflecting, I now sit here a ball of excited energy for what’s to come next.

Because the universe is on our side. We’ve got momentum, we’ve got impact, we offer services that were desperately lacking in society before.

We won’t be going away.
It’s time to spark change, families deserve better support because the way we raise our children matters, to growing brains and connected, resilient families.

Carly Grubb

Founder and Managing Director of Little Sparklers

Home of The Beyond Sleep Training Project and Podcast

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Banner Image: Sarah Conlan Lifestyle Photography