How To Night Wean Without Tears
Does Helping My Clients Eat In Accordance With Their Goals Make Me A Participant In Diet Culture? (And Therefore A Bad Feminist?)
I shared a blog post about my eating and about helping my clients feel feelings without eating them. I said that I had recently been falling into frozen cookie dough as a way to avoid negative emotions, and how, as I allowed myself to feel my negative emotions, my frozen cookie dough habit went away.
My friend Andrea commented that she doesn’t do this bc she is not a participant in diet culture – she gave it up for Lent.
I flushed with shame when I read this. Am I complicit in diet culture and therefor a bad feminist?
I have given this a lot of thought ever since. Does helping my clients achieve their eating, fitness, and weight loss goals make me complicit in diet culture and thus a bad feminist?
Here’s why that’s a NO.
Would you like to eat more intentionally, more in tune with your long term goals? Are you ready to feel good about yourself again, starting on day one of our work together? Awesome. I promise you it's possible.
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New AAP Guidelines on Roomsharing
The American Academy of Pediatrics updated their safe sleep guidelines in July, stating they now recommend that parents share a room – but not a bed – with their infants for at least the first 6 months of life. Previously, the recommendation had been for 12 months.
While the AAP doesn’t state their reason for the change, I suspect it’s because the risk of SIDS drops radically after the first four months, and 90% of deaths occur in the first 6 months of life.
In other words, the risk of SIDS is much, much lower (90% lower) in the second six months of life.
Researchers don’t really know why sharing a room with a parent reduces the risk of SIDS, but hypothesize that perhaps the sounds of other humans in the room prevents the newborn from sleeping too deeply.
It is not known, unfortunately, known if room sharing with siblings provides the same protective benefit.
As a sleep coach, I was very happy to read of the updated recommendations because I almost always recommend not room sharing during sleep training.
Often times, this looks like having one or both parents sleep in the living room, since most of my clients are NYC-based and don’t have guest rooms.
Other times, if the baby is breastfed, we will have the non-breastfeeding parent (if there are two parents) sleep in the bedroom with the baby while the other parent sleeps in the living room. That’s because the smell of breastmilk very close by can make it harder for a baby to sleep through the night. Most of the time, this easily helps the baby sleep a lot more and cry a lot less.
A third option, if there is a sibling in a separate bedroom and the parents are planning to have the children share a room, is to move the baby into the sibling’s bedroom and move the sibling – temporarily – into the parents’ bedroom, into a floor bed. That way the baby can learn to sleep in the bedroom where they will eventually be sleeping every night with a sibling.
This, of course, requires a sibling that is willing to give up their bed for a few nights. But most children like the idea of having “a little nest” (it helps to describe it appealingly!) on the floor of a parent’s bedroom. And young children don’t feel the hard floor the way we adults too, so it shouldnt’ be too uncomfortable. I don't recommend having the older child sleep in the parent's bed, even temporarily, because that can be a hard habit to break!
Once the baby has met the parents’ sleep goals – and the goals should always be set by a parent, not by a sleep coach – the baby can resume roomsharing with either the adults or children in the family.
The AAP still strenuously advises never sharing a bed (or worse, a couch) with an infant.
If you are ready to get some solid sleep again, let's set up a complimentary sleep consultation and get your family sleeping blissfully in two weeks or less, guaranteed.
I’m going through a really painful experience right now.
I have been slowly learning through coaching that the fastest way through the pain is to lean in and really feel it.
This is not how I have lived most of my life.
Most of my life, I dedicated a lot of energy to not feeling pain. I would read or watch movies or call friends or especially, eat. Anything to avoid the terrible feeling that I thought might actually kill me.
But you know, the pain just oozed into other areas of my life instead.
So I decided to just take this past three-day weekend to just lean in and feel the pain.
The best way I know how to do this is -- through a lot of study -- is to just feel it in the body. To put your hands on your chest and breathe deeply and say, “I am sad, this is sadness, it makes so much sense that I am feeling this.”
It’s important to not get bogged down in the story but to try to just feel the negative emotion in the body. To become "the watcher." To truly focus on the visible sensation of the emotion.
For me, my sadness feels heavy and dark like rain clouds. My shoulders are weighed down so heavily, as if I’m carrying a yoke with heavy buckets hanging down. If feels like trudging through deep mud. It's so exhausting.
I can't make it hurry up but I can just allow it and even welcome it. Trying to rush it doesn't work because pain is savvy and knows when I have an agenda to feel better, and it resists.
So now I just say, “okay, it looks like this is the time I am supposed to feel like sh*t.”
Of course, I can’t do this all day long, every day. But a quiet holiday weekend is a good time to do this. I am actually pretty proud of myself for making time for it. This is not my busy New Yorker way of living, but Mexico is slowly seeping into me.
So I let myself feel HORRIBLE on Friday.
I lay in bed most of the day and just leaned into the sadness. It felt terrible.
I let the kids have some extra screen time, which didn’t feel great, either, but necessary. I forgave myself in advance for that.
I practiced the thought “this is the time when I’m going to feel bad.”
I reminded myself that I’m okay. I’m safe. This feeling won’t hurt me.
And only super recently have I learned: this feeling won’t last forever.
It sounds so stupidly obvious but it wasn’t for me: every time I felt bad, I was sure it would last forever. That was why it was so terrifying to feel bad! What if I never felt it again? Surely allowing pain would allow it to take over forever?
The funny thing was, after just one day of feeling s*itty, I actually felt a lot better! It was crazy. Without even trying.
The next two days were actually reasonably happy.
But now, two more days later, I am feeling sh*tty again.
Here we go, ‘round the Mulberry bush.
So I’m not trying to make myself feel better.
I am forcing myself to work, because I feel better when I work. I also got up early and worked out, because that also makes me feel better -- endorphins are magical. And I tried to be extra kind and patient with my children even when I was anxious, because likewise, it makes me feel better about myself.
But I am reminding myself that this is temporary. By allowing and even allowing the sadness, it will pass through me as quickly as it can. I can’t rush it, but at least I am not slowing it down.
If you’d like help learning how to experience your sh*tty emotions so you can move through them and be released to happier emotions again, set up a complimentary life coaching call and experience the transformation.
I promise it's a lot easier than it sounds!
And if you are dreading sleep training because of how sh*tty you fear your child and you will feel, schedule a free consultation for that, too. The process of feeling sh*tty is exactly the same, I promise.
"Thanks again, Abby. It is remarkable how much has changed in two weeks--we started convinced we were traumatizing our child, and while it's not always easy to continue to hear the crying (which has significantly changed and decreased--he slept all night until 5:30am last nite!), we feel like Mickey has become comfortable in his routine, feels safe in his space, and his crying is more about discomfort or just displeasure--not fear or deep sadness!
He is babbling and crawling, and good sleep is a part of his healthy development. So thank you. We know that the anxiety and tense interactions with parents can be a lot to hold, and we really appreciate your gentle approach and accessibility during times that felt completely overwhelming to each of us."
Abby Wolfson is a pediatric nurse practitioner, certified child sleep consultant and certified life coach for parents. She divides her time between Brooklyn, NY and San Miguel de Allende, Mexico.