For many new parents, it’s the “holy grail”: getting their new baby to sleep through the night and take long naps during the day! We chat with the founder of Kristin Graham Sleep Consulting about the struggles she faced, and how they prompted her to help those in the same boat – plus details of a special offer!
KRISTIN GRAHAM’s path from Canada to Hong Kong – and, ultimately, to being a sleep consultant – can be traced back to finishing her degree in education. She discovered, at the time, that there simply weren’t any jobs for new teachers in her home city of Ottawa.“I had to choose either to try to get work as a substitute teacher, continue my part-time job and live in my parent’s basement … or pack my bags and get a job internationally!”
Kristin picked the latter, which is how she found herself moving to Beijing at the age of just 23. After a few years working at an international school there, she was keen for a change. “I’d visited Hong Kong regularly, and I knew I loved the city. So, about seven years ago I made the move. I started working at international schools here right up until I had my baby.”
It was this last momentous event that brought about a big change, not only in Kristin’s life, but in her career.
Arlo’s sleep struggles
“Around this time last year, I gave birth to a beautiful, healthy baby boy named Arlo. Arlo was – and still is! – a complete delight. He’s happy and sociable and just an all-around good time. Except for his sleep.”
By five months, Kristin was really struggling. Arlo would only sleep 30 minutes at a time during the day (“And I mean 30 minutes – not 35, not 27, but 30; I could set a clock to him!”.) And he was still waking up a few times a night. “Daytimes were the biggest struggle for me, and actually quite anxiety-inducing. That’s when we decided, upon the recommendation of a friend, to work with a sleep consultant.”
The result was comprehensively life-changing. Kristin was amazed to see the results, and welcomed being supported throughout the whole process. So when the opportunity arose to get her Sleep Consultant Certification, she jumped at it.
Today, she helps parents who are facing exactly the kind of issues that cropped up with Arlo.
From client to consultant
So, how does the service work? “Everything starts with a free 15-minute sleep evaluation. This is a great way for us to get to know each other and make sure that we’re a good fit for one another. If all is good, you then fill out a detailed questionnaire so I can find out what’s going on and what the specific challenges are.”
After reviewing this questionnaire, Kristin creates a personally tailored Sleep Plan that fits your child and family. “We go over the plan in a 60-to-90-minute consultation, which can be done in person, over the phone or via Zoom. This is also where we can change and tweak things to make it an even better fit for your family’s needs.”
Depending on the baby’s age, Kristin then supports the parents through follow-up calls for two to three weeks while they’re following the plan, and then an additional week of email support.
She also offers additional packages that include in-home support on your first night, extra support through WhatsApp, packages for twins and siblings, and more.
The kind of service you might need will of course depend on your own particular set of circumstances – no parenting journey is alike! “The special thing about working with a Sleep Consultant is that we don’t take a one-size-fits-all approach,” says Kristin.
“While I do believe that a lot of the foundations of teaching a child to become an independent sleeper are similar – for example, having an established bedtime and naptime routine, and putting the child down while awake – every family is so different in their needs and wants. It’s my job to find a solution that everyone is comfortable with.”
When this solution does get unearthed, it obviously comes as a great relief to parents – and it’s enormously satisfying for Kristin, too, especially the final follow-up call with those who have turned the corner.
“Typically, at the start, these are parents who haven’t had a good night’s sleep in months – sometimes years! They’re stressed and exhausted. Hearing that their child is sleeping through the night and taking long naps during the day, and that everyone is happy and well rested, is very rewarding.”
When she’s not helping families enjoy a more restful start to parenthood, Kristin can be found beating the HK heat by being pool side – “Arlo is a complete water baby!” – or spending time with family.
“My husband grew up in Hong Kong and we’re lucky to have his parents and brothers in the city, especially with not being able to see my family in Canada for almost two years. (Thanks, COVID!) Like any mum, it’s important to carve out time for myself, so I also try to fit in as much exercise as I can, and I spend time with my friends as well.”
In all of this, she’s keenly aware of the importance of her own sleep, too – not just Arlo’s.
“Everyone, no matter how old you are, has a sleep routine. You might need a glass of water by your bed, have a favourite side to sleep on, a white noise machine – you name it. When our sleep routines are disrupted for any reason (think of a first night in a hotel), our bodies and brains get a little out of whack. The biggest advice would be to practice good sleep hygiene. Science still advocates that even as adults we need seven to eight hours of quality, uninterrupted sleep.
So, stay away from caffeine too close to bedtime (or, if you’re me, any time after 12pm!). Try and get your room as dark as possible. And turn your devices off at least an hour before bed. Even the smallest amount of artificial light can disrupt our melatonin levels. Find a bedtime routine that works for you and try to stick with it.”
Mention this article in your first Sleep Evaluation Call with Kristin and receive 20 percent off your package.
Find out more and download a free copy of Kristin’s “Getting Started” guide at kgsleepconsulting.com.
Like this? See more helpful tips in our Mums & Babies section.
This article first appeared in the Summer issue of Expat Living magazine. Subscribe now so you never miss an issue.