Latest News Holiday Bonus Episode: Laura Mayer on her sleep set up and why she's giving proceeds from the sale of her book to Little Sparklers Listen/ Watch links: Enjoying the show and you'd like even more? Become a Patron! SUMMARY- Join Carly as she interviews Laura Mayer, author of 'Owen's Own Bed' on how sleep looked in her house when her first was born, how they transitioned him into his own bed, and how that lead her to write 'Owen's Own Bed'. Hear Laura explain why she's giving the profits from the December sales of her book to Little Sparklers. Buy Owen's Own Bed When you purchase a copy of Laura's book from the 1st to the 14th December, all proceeds will come to Little Sparklers! Full Episode Transcript: Carly: The Beyond Sleep Training Podcast- a podcast dedicated to sharing real tales of how people have managed sleep in their family outside of sleep training culture because sleep looks different with a baby in the house and because every family is different there is no one-size-fits-all approach to take. I’d like to acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land on which this podcast is being recorded, the Kalkadoon people, I pay my respects to the elders of this nation and the many other nations our guests reside in from the past, present and emerging. We honour Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and the unique cultural and spiritual relationships to the land, water and seas as well as their rich contributions to society including the birthing and nurturing of children. Carly:Welcome back to the Beyond Sleep Training podcast. I’m your host Carly Grubb, and with me today I have Laura Meyer. Welcome to the show, Laura. Laura:Thank you so much for having me. Carly:And I have Laura on the show today because she has offered to do a very important fundraiser for Little Sparklers, our organisation that runs the Beyond Sleep Training Project an the Beyond Sleep Training podcast, and it all stems from Laura’s own personal experience as coming from a bed sharing, co-sleeping experience with her babe and wanting to transition him to his own bed, but in a very gentle and nurturing way. And so Laura couldn’t find anything on the market at the time and so she decided to create the resource herself. Now, Laura has gone on to actually write that book and have it beautifully illustrated, and she’s kindly offered to make part of those proceeds a part of a fundraiser for us. So, Laura’s come on the show today to not only share a bit of her story about moving beyond sleep training, but also about this very important fundraiser we’ve got running for you at the moment. So, welcome to the show Laura. And I’d love to hear more about who is in your little family. Find Laura at The Gentle Parenting Way Laura:It’s me and my husband, Kevin, and we have two little boys. My oldest son is Noah and my younger son is Liam. Carly:Lovely. And so your book is called Owen’s Own Bed. Is the name Owen a particular name of significance for you? Or how did you come to that name? Laura:I think because it’s similar to Noah in that it’s just a short four letter name. If you notice my second son also has a four letter name. So, it comes in handy when they… Carly:Is it a bit of a pattern…? Laura:Yeah, when they learn how to write it’s also simple. Carly:Definitely keeps it nice and simple. Now, to give our listeners a bit of context to the book, can we hear what… what was going on for you when you decided to write this book? Laura:I was pregnant at the time with Liam and I was co-sleeping, bed sharing with Noah, and we had done that since he was born. And I had thought first, I had a vision that when Liam was born that I would continue to nurse, I would tandem nurse. That didn’t come to fruit. And I thought also I’d have both children in the bed with me and there were some lovely resources on the topic, but as I read it and I sat with it I thought, you know, I don’t think this is going to work for me. So, I thought, I think it’s time to transition Noah to his own room and bed, and I knew I wanted to do it gently because that just was the way that we always did things. It’s why we kept him in the room with us. And I had looked for a resource and there wasn’t. There was plenty on weaning, because we started with night weaning him, and that was really the first step in that, in the whole transitioning him process. So, I wrote a book, and I just typed it up on my computer and I found any picture I could find really on the internet that I thought would go well with pages, and I literally printed it out and rearranged the pages in the right order and stapled it and read it to him. And I also got him… I wanted him to be excited too, and so I asked him what kind of bed he wanted, and he said he wanted a fire truck bed, so I got him a fire truck… second-hand, because he’s only going to be sleeping in it a couple of years. So, you know, the toddler size bed. And so I told him I got him this bed and… and really what happens in the story, it’s simplified – it’s the kid version, of course, of what happened. But… So, I read it to him and that was part of our… our process in transitioning him. And I also wanted to make sure… the other part of that equation is I wanted to make sure that it was plenty [5:00] of time before the new baby came. And I can’t remember if it was a friend who suggested that to me. I’m part of a mums’ group near… locally, where I live in Virginia, outside of Washington DC. And… and so, I think it was one of the mums in there, one of the more seasoned mums whose children are older said, you know, you should probably do this plenty of time before the new baby comes or, you know, your older son is going to possibly have a negative association with, you know, being kicked out of the bedroom that he has slept in for, you know, almost three years of his very short life, which is an entire life. So… Learn more about safer sleep Carly:Yeah. And being replaced by a new person. Even worse. Laura:Exactly. Exactly. So, I think, you know, the baby was due in April, mid-April I think. And we ended up doing the transition in January of that same year. So, we had a nice cushion of about three to four months. And it took… it took about a month to fully transition him, and we… we were prepared like, to just to take it. I mean going gentle sometimes means just going very, very, very slowly. And so, you know, we were all in and we did it. Carly:I love that. And so… so, it started out as a bit of a do it yourself book just for your little fellow. And so, how did he receive it? Like, what was he like when you’d be reading the story to him? Laura:He liked it. I also purposely made the character look like him. A little toe head boy, and be interested in similar things that he’s in. the boy got a race car bed, so I changed some of the details. And so he liked it. He was… he was very engaged. He likes books, and that’s another reason why I decided to make a book as part of the process. And like I said, we had also been reading, you know, books on nursing. You know, weaning. So, he… that was also part of… of that routine too. Carly:It’s so in… like, books are really powerful with our little people, because they kind of open up those conversations and also possibilities for our little ones, because they’re just, they have that real ability to let our little people connect with ideas and people for experiences they might not yet have had, just like this. Like, he’d never had this experience before. You’d also not had this experience before at the time either. But by having this… it’s almost like a little bit of guidepost. Like it’s not like an instruction manual, and you wouldn’t… I know when you wrote it you wouldn’t have had a clue if this was how it was actually going to pan out for Noah. But it gave you a version of how things might work out and give yourselves a little bit of a common path, I guess. Was that how you felt about the resource as well? Laura:Yeah. I think that Noah relates well to stories, and in general my background is actually education and English Literature, and one of the best ways that people learn is through stories, whether you’re a child or an adult, and some of the, you know, greatest teachers throughout the history of civilisation, they taught in stories. Right? And before things were written down. And many of those stories have become, you know, what people consider sacred texts too. So, it’s just, it’s a universal language, stories. And… and also to make sure that he was frequently exposed I would take other books we were reading that weren’t directly about moving into, you know, your own room and your own bed but were still on his level – like, I think one book was about Elmo. I think it was just Elmo’s bedtime routine, and I would say, ‘See.’ You know, ‘Elmo sleeps in his own bed in his own room. Did you see that?’ And he would go. ‘Oh.’ And I could just see the gears turning, and so I would… I would highlight that in other books too just as another way to reinforce that this is normal, this is good, this is what other little kids do. You know, without… without pressure of course, but just, you know, exposing him, you know, for positive reinforcement. Carly:And just opening up those options for his little mind, because who would have imagined those possibilities when you’ve always been in a room with mum and dad. So, tell us. Like, when you actually, you were sharing the book with him, how did the process end up playing out for you guys? Laura:Well, I guess that it was a slow process and it was also a little challenging because I was pregnant at the time. So, would you like me to go through the process that we did? Carly:Yes. Yeah, I mean, like I’m sure people [10:00] listening – because that’s the thing, isn’t it? It’s kind of like the resource fits in the context of how it actually played out. And it might play out completely different in somebody else’s home, but it can be helpful just to hear how it was for you guys. Laura:Yeah. Well, it actually happened like it did in the book for Owen. When we first got the bed and we showed it to Noah he was so excited and he was like, ‘I’m going to sleep in the bed.’ And we were like, ‘Okay.’ And that night, first night he did. He went right in the bed and we did our normal bedtime routine. He slept in the bed. And I was like… at first I was like, wait a second. I was like, is this… I had this whole plan in my head and I was like, so he’s just that’s it? He’s just… I’m done? Carly:Way too easy. Laura:This would be too easy, right? And so the next night I was like, ‘Okay, it’s time to get in your bed.’ And he was like, ‘No.’ Carly:Been there. Done that. Laura:And I was like, okay, I get it now. I was waiting for the other shoe to drop. So, we have an air mattress. It’s just, it’s a twin, and so… but I mean he was pretty adamant. He… he has, you know, he’s the type of kid that he’s like, you know, it’s he has gusto. And so he wouldn’t even get in the bed. So, we started – both of us, I’m pregnant and I’m sleeping on an air mattress. Like a twin air mattress with him. Carly:I can imagine the amount… imagine the amount of noise getting back out of there. It’s always such a delicate process. Laura:Yes. It was noisy and I would wake up so sore, you know. Carly:I bet. Laura:Because of the, you know, the extra weight and the cramped space and… so, we did that I think for like a week, and then I told my husband, I was like, ‘It’s your turn to sleep on the air mattress with our tiger.’ Carly:Tag. You’re it, buddy. You’re it. Laura:I’m pregnant. So, I think then he slept and… So, I think it was like my husband did a week of that and then we asked him, we said it’s time for you to try to sleep in your bed. Would you sleep in your bed now? Or try? And he said okay. But again, I think my husband had to do it. There was something about… and I think that’s also around the same time that we switched where it used to be… I think it was both of us, and we kept the same bedtime routine throughout this whole process so there was, you know, consistency. Everything from time to the order we did things. And the only think that changed was the sleeping surface and who was sleeping on what sleeping surface. Carly:Yeah. Laura:So, I think that’s about the time where my husband decided to completely take over the bedtime routine because with me he was just, he wanted me and so… and I had weaned him but I mean that was weeks before. So, yeah, so my husband took over. Carly:It can just be different. Laura:Yeah. Carly:It can definitely be different. I found that with welcoming a new baby each time, like my guys, like the adjustment to having dad become their bedtime person, it takes a little bit of time but it usually ends up being a great thing. Or it was for our family anyway. And then once it was established we could kind of switch out more easily. But it just wasn’t… like, we couldn’t really do that when they were just getting used to things. It was more down the track. Laura:Yeah. What also… that was also looking back, I don’t’ think we intentionally did it that way, but it… it was helpful because once the new baby came… I spent all my time with new baby because when a baby’s born the baby does nothing but eat and sleep, eat and sleep, eat and sleep. And so I literally 24/7 lived in a chair with the baby, you know, for the first like six weeks, seven weeks. And so, you know, my husband was basically in charge of our toddler. So, and we were… we were also very, very blessed that he had paternity leave. And more than what is average in the United States. And the United States in the only industrialised country in the world that does not have a national maternity… paternity leave law. So… Carly:I know. It’s disgraceful. Laura:Yeah. Carly:I’m so… I’m so glad you were able to get support, because that’s something that just… Laura:Yeah. Carly:It’s just completely inaccessible to so many families. Laura:Yeah. Carly:And it really makes this time so incredibly hard. Unnecessarily hard too, because pretty much every other country in the world has managed to figure out how to factor in a leave system to support new families, and I don’t know how the US hasn’t caught up on that yet. Laura:Yeah. And so I always like to acknowledge that, you know, that’s a blessing that we had because the majority of people don’t have that blessing. So, my husband took over and… and then he slept on the air mattress alone. My son was in his bed, and I think that went on for two weeks. And then we have our [15:00] guestroom is right across the hall from my son’s room, and so we both slept – my husband and I slept on that… in that bed right across the hall, and we kept the doors open, and that went on for another two weeks. And there were several times when he would cry and my husband and I would just take turns jumping up in the middle of the night every time he cried. And we made sure… and I can’t remember who also emphasised that with us and said, you know, if he cries you need to come right away to reassure him that you’re still there for him even though he’s alone. And that just really resonated with me, so that’s what we did. So, every time he cried one of us jumped right up. And of course we were literally just right across the hall. You know, four feet away. And… and we would just, you know, help him back to sleep. So, it was another two weeks I think, and then… and then the last was we went back to our own bedroom and we kept all the doors open again. So, now we’re just… we were just kind of like around the corner. It still wasn’t far, of course, but we were just around the corner and again any time he cried we would jump up and go to him. And to this day, you know, he doesn’t nap. He stopped taking naps when he was about two and a half. So, for our son – and every child’s different – but for… but for our son, you know, he goes to bed and he sleeps for 11 to 12 hours straight. And to this day, like after we went through that transition period, like I mean yeah, he’ll have a nightmare occasionally, and when he does, you know, we do the same thing. We come to him right away. We, you know, help soothe him, help him go back to sleep. But it’s pretty rare that he wakes up in the middle of the night. It’s pretty rare, you know, that he… he cries and says he needs us. And so I like to think that that’s, you know, a sign that, you know, in doing things gently he feels secure in his own sleep space. You know. But I mean every child is different. So, but that’s…. that’s the way our child I think handled it. Carly:It sounds like it’s been handled beautifully by you guys too, and being able to be… continuing to be responsive to him. Because that’s the thing, isn’t it? Just because they’re that bit older doesn’t mean that they sometimes don’t still need us at night time. I know from our family’s experience we did the transition with our two older guys at various stages, but for ours they were definitely still migratory during the night, and so we always had like a little kindy bed set up in our room so that they could still wander on in if they needed us in the night. But that was more actually for my… my own personal preference in that I’d done so many years of getting up and tending to night time needs that I took the easy option out, and if they needed to be closer they could just pop on it, but I knew that they had a space to do that and our whole family could be comfortable with it. And it’s only been more recently that they tend to spend all night in their own beds most of the time, so that’s been something new and different for us as well. But yeah, I think that just sounds like you can… you can… you can tell when… when they’re comfortable in their own space, and he certainly sounds like the process was done exactly at his pace, and that’s a really beautiful example for people to hear. Especially for a lot of our listeners, they’re right back there in the trenches of the early days wondering if they put their baby in their bed if they’re every going to be able to get them out. And the answer is yes. Yes, one day they will be out of your bed, and to know that you can find gentle options at each of the junctures and transitions in their lives, it’s a… it’s a really powerful thing. So, I’m so glad that we have your resource on offer. Do you mind sharing with the listeners too, because you’ve kindly decided to run a fundraiser for Little Sparklers, can you explain to everybody what’s going on there? What… what can they do to help with the fundraiser? Laura:Well, for during the entire length of the fundraiser I’m donating 100% of my proceeds to Little Sparklers. So, all you need to do to contribute is buy the book. Carly:Buy the book, and maybe buy two because I… I know that when I’m doing my order I’m actually getting… Well, actually I’m going to order three because I’m already going to – I’m getting one for my family library, but I’m also getting one for my children’s school library, and also one for our town library, because this is the kind of resources that I do think we can… we should have on offer for our communities. So, yeah. I already have plans for three of those, and what an absolutely amazing thing to do for us. Little Sparklers is always looking for ways that we can raise the funds we need to keep doing the work we do, and so it’s a real honour and we are so grateful that you are able to offer this to us. And I’m [20:00] really hoping our community can get behind it, and also get this book out there in the world to make sure that people know that there are gentle ways that you can manage this transition into their own big bed. Now, I’m just looking at the time, but I feel like I haven’t actually got to ask you – and it’s one of the key questions I always ask people – how did you actually think you were going to handle sleep before you had your first baby? Because you said you co-slept from the very beginning. Did you already have a bit of a clue or did stuff change once he arrived? Buy Owen's Own Bed Laura:You know, honestly I don’t remember. I think that I had… we got a little like sidecar crib, just the ones that you can… you can buy that are supposed to have the side that already goes down. But those little cribs, they’re only good I think, at least the ones in the United States, till I think about three months or six months or something like that. And… and also the arm… the side didn’t go down all the way. And so if baby was crying in the middle of the night, you know, I’d sort of like pick up the baby, you know, it just wasn’t a smooth transition. And so we got rid of that very quickly and, you know, honestly I think it was just kind of instinct that I was like, the baby belongs with me. You know, of course I learned what we needed to do, how we needed to set up the bed to make it a safe environment for the baby. But I think… I honestly think it was just my gut. I don’t remember reading anything. I think it was just this is where the baby belongs, and… and I’m happy with that. Carly:I love that. Did you have any models around you, like older parents who had like led you to this? Or do you think it was very much just instinctual that you wanted to have him with you? Laura:I think it was just instinctual because I honestly, I mean I remember asking my friends about it when we decided how to make a safe set up, and so we took a full size baby crib and took down, you know, one side, and then I had to do some, you know, handiwork to make it flush with our mattress. So, I remember asking my dad who’s really handy and then also a friend of mine whose three… three boys were past, you know, the infant/toddler stage and… and she had done a set up like that. So, but that’s… that’s all the advice I had asked for really. Carly:That’s amazing. You did so well to just find your way there and not have any of the other noise that we so often hear from people. So, I love that. It sounds like there’s just been a gentle flow right through your mothering experience and that really comes across in the beautiful book that you’ve put together. Now, we’re coming up to our 30 minutes for the episode and I’m just wondering, I’ve got two things I would like to get from you. First of all, do you have a tip for our listeners? What’s something you would have liked to hear when you were deep in the trenches with a baby? Laura:Ooh. Well, my son, we had so… so many challenges, and I had no idea what I was doing. And I think one of the reasons why my… my heart I feel is so strongly connected to this community is because so many times I was told this is normal, these storms will pass, you know. So, I think it’s… it’s… I just want to emphasise that… that, you know, wake ups are normal. Your baby will, you know, you’re not creating a rod for your back or a crutch for your baby and it’s… and it’s also that it’s hard. And again I even feel blessed because, you know, I’m blessed to be a stay at home mummy and I know, you know, other families work and I, you know, I’m… it’s another layer I think of the challenge of you have a… a working mum and/or dad, you know, to deal with the sleep on top of that. So, there’s that. And there was something else, and I don’t quite remember. But… I think this is the way that it’s, you know, meant to be. But really in a way that works best for your family. So, you know, with the… the actual sidecar crib that was attached to our bed, that worked for our family. Maybe having a separate sleep surface in the bedroom is better for your family. So, I think the most important thing is to try to be as developmentally appropriate as possible no matter, and part of that is just, is being gentle and respecting that process as much as you can and… and finding support and, you know, that’s what the Beyond Sleep Training Project Facebook group really is, is education. But, you know, the biggest component is… [25:00] is the support, because we need it. We need it. It’s… it’s… its so hard, even at the same time that it’s… it’s so beautiful. Carly:It 100% is, and there’s just nothing quite like knowing that you’re not alone when you’re going through a really tough time and having… having… being able to draw on the strength of other people and their experiences can be all that you need sometimes. Like, you know, you might need other support on top of that, but in… in many occasions just having that little bit of a boost along can be what you really needed to get through that… that tough patch in your life. So, thank you. That’s really wise words. And I wanted to finish the episode too because while Owen’s own bed is the book that we’re using for the fundraiser this time around, you’re also busy writing other titles. This is going to become a series. Can you share with our listeners what are the other books you’re writing in the series? Laura:So, the series is called The Gentle Parenting Way, and really I envision other books that help parents and children through different topics, normal topics of growing up. So, Owen’s Own Bed is very much a niche book because it’s about co-sleeping, but my next title is The Lion Inside, which teaches young children about emotional regulation, and so again in a gentle, developmentally appropriate way. And then another title after that will be entitled Let Me Be Little, which is a child’s plea to really just be mindful of these… these young years. And there’s… there’s… I feel like there’s such a stigma of, you know, the terrible twos and threenager are common phrases that are used. And yes they’re hard, but I think if we use that mindset it just kind of sets us up for the expectation that it’s always going to be hard and it’s only hard, and so that book in particular I feel like it’s about being mindful – the parents being mindful that, you know, there are some beautiful things about this age too that I think we need to step back and pay attention to and… and enjoy as well. Carly:I love that, because there’s a lot of power in offering voice from our little people. Because sometimes I think, you know, when you’re in the… the thick of things it can be challenging to think of things from their perspective, putting yourself in their shoes. And so for people really, really living it right now it can help, be helpful to have someone else bring that context or perspective back to you, because if you’re lost in it at that time it can be really hard to do on your own. So, that’s another beautiful thing that books can offer for us too. It can help just consider things from a different point of view that we may not have been able to get to on our own. So, that sounds like an amazing resource as well and we’ll be keen to keep an eye out for those. So, in our show notes how can people participate in the fundraiser today? What do they need to do? Laura:You can go directly to Amazon to purchase the book, or you can go to my website, which is gentleparentingway.com. And it’s right there on the title page. So, you don’t have to go digging for it. So, either way will take you to Amazon to purchase the book. Carly:Beautiful. Beautiful. And we’ll be putting all those links into the show notes and also on our Little Sparklers website we’ll do up a news story as well to make sure that it’s easy to click through for anyone wanting to join in the campaign. And I really can’t thank you enough, Laura. So, thank you for coming on to share the story today, but also for the fundraising that you’re doing for us. It’s very much appreciated by the whole Little Sparklers team. Laura:Well, thank you. The honour’s all mine. I feel like it’s, you know, really in some ways the least I can do to give back and say thank you. Carly:No worries. Well, thank you. Thank you again, and we look forward to keeping everybody up to date with how the fundraiser’s going on the Facebook page, in the group and also on the website and we’ll be able to let you all know what we actually get to. So, let’s get behind Laura and Owen’s Own Bed and get that book into as many houses as possible before the campaign’s over. Thank you Laura. Laura:Thank you. Carly: I really hope you enjoyed the podcast today the information we discussed was just that information only it is not specific advice if you take any action following something you've heard from our show today it is important to make sure you get professional advice about your unique situation before you proceed whether that advice is legal, financial, accounting, medical or any other advice. Please reach out to me if you do have any questions or if there's a topic you'd really like us to be covering and if you know somebody who'd really benefit from listening to our podcast please be sure to pass our name along also check out our free peer support group the beyond sleep training project and our wonderful website www.littlesparklers.org. 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