I moved to San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, without a clear plan of what I would do next.
I loved working as a pediatric nurse practitioner back in Brooklyn, but I was beyond burned out by the administrative burdens of a healthcare provider. It’s estimated that in the United States today, each hour of patient care requires two hours of documentation. Paperwork was taking me away from the work I loved and turning me into a paperwork-completing robot who had no energy left for her own family at the end of the day.
I missed focusing on children and their families. I hated spending so much time staring at a computer screen.
So I took a massive leap of faith and moved myself and my two children to San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, in August, 2018, with the vague idea that there had to be a better way to live. I wanted to volunteer at the local midwifery clinic, but beyond that, I actually can’t remember what I thought I would do with my time. I was so used to being so busy that I couldn't imagine what my new life would be like.
When we first arrived, there were no summer camps open and it was too soon for school to open, so I busied myself with the children. But a few weeks later, school started. I dropped the girls at the school van stop and then trudged towards home… but veered off for a walk instead. I was scared to go home because I had no idea what to do with myself. It had been many years since I had had unstructured free time without an end date.
A few weeks later, I stumbled upon a Facebook group for expats working abroad, and found a job posting to become a health advisor for a parenting website. I quickly completed an interview and accepted an offer. It sounded like a great job, but in actuality, they had almost no work available.
I noticed that the company also employed child sleep consultants, and started to investigate that as a job opportunity. I found a child sleep certification program, the Family Sleep Institute, that stood out from the others. Unlike other programs, it was based in evidence-based science and didn’t profess one method of sleep training to be better than the others.
I balked a bit at the price tag but eventually took the plunge, applied, got interviewed and accepted into FSI’s program. Lucky thing, too, because the job eventually ended -- the company found the service wasn’t profitable for them. But I found the sleep training program to be so much more rewarding than the job had been -- it combined my interests in NICU nursing, lactation consultant training, pediatric health and parent coaching. It felt like the perfect fit.
I graduated from the program in June of 2019 and after a summer of visiting family back in the United States, officially launched my business as a solo female entrepreneur in September of 2019.
I faced a steep learning curve, since I had only ever been a full time employee in a huge hospital system, and knew nothing about running my own business… but I come from a family of entrepreneurs, and quickly found I loved learning this new set of skills. Sure, I made plenty of mistakes, but they were my mistakes, and I could fix them quickly, instead of submitting requests to committees and waiting years for an answer. And I love working with families more than ever, without the burden of unnecessary paperwork.
This winter, I surpassed more than 100 families served, and now I have worked with more than 130 families. Most of my new clients come from personal referrals. I especially love it when former clients come back a year later to book a check-in call -- it’s so satisfying to hear how great sleep habits endure.
Here’s my tiny favor to ask: if you haven’t yet submitted a Google review, please, will you consider taking a moment right now to do? It doesn’t need to be great literature or even well-written! Just a note to say how old your child was when we worked together and how your child’s sleep has changed as a result of our work together.
And if you are a Park Slope Parents member, please post a review as well.
If you belong to another parenting group, I would be so grateful if you shared there as well. Your community groups trust what you parents have to say!
Thank you in advance for your support! It means the world to me.
Abby Wolfson is a pediatric nurse practitioner, certified child sleep consultant and former NICU nurse. She divides her time between Brooklyn, NY and San Miguel de Allende, Mexico.