Sleep coaching is a fast-growing industry, and for good reason. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, about 65% of mothers with kids under age 6 are working. For expectant mothers, less than 20% have access to paid family leave through private employers once they have their baby.
As for unpaid leave, federal law requires that companies provide 12 weeks of unpaid maternity leave (and guarantee your job when you return), but there are many exceptions to the rule. If your company employs less than 50 people, you aren’t guaranteed leave. If you’ve been working for the company for less than one year, same thing–no guaranteed leave for you.
We know that the heaviest burden for caring for children still falls on mothers, but with so many mothers working and only limited time off for getting used to a new baby, we’re seeing a lot of worn out mothers and families.
If you want to be a sleep consultant, there has never been a better time. People desperately need to know how to get their babies sleeping through the night.
Being a sleep consultant can be a fantastic job. You can work from home. You will have flexible hours that allow you to be there for your own family at the most important times. You’ll have the opportunity to meet wonderful new people trying to do right by their children, and, best of all, you’ll be making a big difference in people’s lives.
If families are trying to conduct life as usual while dealing with a sleepless baby, they can be in a dangerous place of stress, anxiety, and even depression. You can bring light and hope into that dark place and help them discover a productive path forward. You can be the difference between mental, emotional, and physical exhaustion and freeing, empowering solutions. You can make life normal and good again when it seemed like it could never be that way.
Of course, you don’t become a sleep consultant overnight. There’s plenty of work and training that go into it, and before you throw yourself into this intensive pursuit, you need to know that you’re going to be able to make a go of it. If you’re wondering if you have what it takes, here are five attributes that we see in our most successful sleep coaches.
1. Empathy. Have you been in the trenches? Up every hour or two with a fussy baby wondering how you’ll be able to function at work the next day? Wanting to enjoy your baby but feeling so exhausted you’re barely surviving them? The very best consultants have heart for their clients because they’ve been there themselves.
When you know how it feels, you withhold judgment, embrace families in distress, and are passionate about giving them the tools they need to regain their quality of life.
2. Growth mindset. The art of sleep consulting is a limitless frontier. You’ll start with a sleep consultant certification where you’ll learn proven strategies for helping children establish healthy sleep patterns. Armed with this knowledge, you’ll begin practicing your craft in families with all different types of sleep challenges.
The best sleep consultants never stop learning. They are open to insights from ongoing sleep research and help from mentors and peers. They seek assistance with those tough cases and aren’t afraid to modify their usual strategies to accommodate families’ unique needs. Which brings us to our next quality…
3. Flexibility. If one method worked for every child, the world would not need sleep consultants. But the reality is that most parents have tried multiple so-called “magic bullet” sleep methods on the way to discovering you. These rigid methods may have failed these families because each family and child has unique tendencies, habits, needs, etc.
That’s where you come in. The best consultants aren’t married to one specific sleep technique. They can quickly size up the needs of a child and their family and combine the best of different methods to craft an effective sleep solution. And if those “best of everything” plans fall short, a good sleep consultant isn’t afraid to go back to the drawing board and adjust until they find a combination that works.
Babies are nuanced, ever-changing beings. Successful sleep consultants are willing to accommodate this.
4. Business acumen. When you hang out your shingle as a sleep consultant, you are also becoming a small business owner, and businesses don’t run themselves.
You don’t need to be a seasoned entrepreneur; we’ve had plenty of sleep coaches succeed even with no prior business experience. But you do need to be willing to learn and prioritize the business side of sleep coaching.
This includes everything from setting fees to incorporating client management software. It also involves scaling your business by cultivating professional referrals (from pediatricians, lactation consultants, etc.), establishing a presence on social media, creating and optimizing a website, and more.
If you’re not able or willing to accept the responsibility for growing a small business at this time, sleep coaching may not be a sustainable option for you.
5. Communication skills. It’s a rare family that knows exactly what they want from sleep training. What they do know is that they’re burnt out, exhausted, and desperate for something to make it all better. As you approach this family in need, you’ll need to use the power of words to set expectations and make sure everyone is on the same page.
What do they hope to accomplish with sleep training? What are the biggest obstacles they are facing in pursuit of healthy sleep habits? How long do they expect it to take to get results? What do they understand your role to be (vs. their role)? Are both parents coming in with the same expectations?
Sleep coaching may require boldness at times and sensitive handling of delicate situations at others. Most great sleep coaches don’t start as perfect communicators, but they do show a penchant for good communication and are willing to work to fine tune their abilities.
If you’re interested in learning more about pursuing a career as a sleep coach, I’m currently looking for a handful of entrepreneurial-minded trainees to be part of my Certified Sleep Sense Consultant program. You can click here to learn more.
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