Name: Johanna Snyder
Location: New York
Occupation: Owner of Sleep Soundly Consulting. I am a Child Sleep Consultant providing services to families all across the country to meet each family’s needs and goals through in-person, virtual, or phone consultations.
Children: Ben (11) Alex (8)
What inspired you to start your business? My son! He is an awesome sleeper now, but when he was a baby, he was not! I think I read every sleep article online and every sleep book I could find. With the help of our pediatrician and lots of reading, we finally got things on track with a good sleep schedule and he learned to self soothe. Once we figure things out, I was a bit strict (my sister might even say VERY strict) about timing of sleep and environment of sleep for my kids. But it worked and sleep is really important to us. I started giving sleep advice to many friends with new babies or toddlers. My son had a sleep regression around 2years old and we worked with a sleep consultant. It was life changing! I learned things that I still use with my kids today. I was teaching full time until we moved out of NYC about 4 years ago. Being a sleep consultant had always been at the back of my mind and I finally had the courage to make a career change, become certified, and start my business about 3 years ago.
What are some of your top tips for parents? Stay consistent, positive, and patient. Children do best (feel safe, relaxed and comfortable) when they know what to expect, so having a very consistent routine and handling bedtime, waking, etc in a consistent way is really helpful. Children also read our energy, so the more positive we can stay about sleep, the better. No child is a “bad” sleeper, but some children just need more support than others. The patience part is tricky. It is frustrating when your child is not sleeping well. It impacts the whole family and no one gets quality sleep. Lack of sleep usually means less patience. But do your best to take a deep breathe or even walk away from the situation for a minute and then come back when you are ready.
What brings you joy as a parent? Seeing my kids happy. I know that sounds cliché, but it is true. They are happy when they get to play outside, play sports, and just be kids. Right now, it is the little things we are focused on. Camp and sports bring them so much happiness and my children were lucky enough to go to camp this summer and play sports this fall. Their smiles brings me joy.
What are some of your challenges as a parent? There are A LOT of challenges right now! The boys go to school for 2.5 hours each morning. I am grateful that they are there, as I know it might end any day. It is challenging to help them stay motivated and engaged in learning through this pandemic. They are out of school more than they are in school. I was a teacher for over 10 years before I become a sleep consultant, but my kids do NOT want me to teach them. I know I said that parents should try to stay positive, but this is something that I am working hard to do. As a teacher, I had so much patience for my students. As a parent, I work hard to stay patient with my own children! It is a challenge.
What is the best advice you received or lessons learned as a parent? Laugh, a lot. Give specific positive attention and praise to good behavior. It is important for children to hear that they are doing well. Try not to sweat the small stuff. Sometimes they just need you to listen and not give advice.
How do you practice self care? Exercising not only makes me feel better mentally, but it also allows me to be by myself for 30-60 minutes. This is valuable alone time and I look forward to it every day! I also love to read and watch shows- anything from “Emily in Paris” to “Shtisel” to “Tehran” and even “Grey’s Anatomy”! Baking is therapeutic for me, but I can’t do that every day!
How do you make time for your relationship with your partner? These days, it is much harder to find time to be alone. We used to go out for dinner one weekend night, but that is much more difficult during this pandemic. I am a sleep consultant, so remember, my kids go to bed early. This allows my husband and I time to watch a show together at night. He won’t watch “Grey’s” with me, but we are currently watching “Tehran” and “Ted Lasso” on Apple TV. We also try to take a walk together once a week, even if it is just around the block. It gives us time to talk about anything and everything.
Are your parenting styles different from your partner's? How do you manage parenting with your partner? I think we probably balance each other out. I have a bit more patience and a little more laidback and he is more scheduled. But we are both firm believers in structure. Our kids might say we are strict (it is the teacher in me!) but we allow plenty of time to bend the rules.
How do you spend quality time with your children? Both of my children love to play and watch sports. I grew up playing and watching sports, so it is a passion that I love to share with them. I coach my older son’s soccer team, which I love (and I think he does too!). He is also into baking right now, which is also something I love to do. He prefers if I let him do everything by himself, so I just hang out with him until it is time for the oven! My younger son is happiest when I throw a football to him in our basement. This way he can catch it and dive/fall onto bean bags to react falling on the field but “staying in bounds!” He also will play Monopoly for hours, so we are often found playing one of the many Monopoly games we own. Both of my boys are avid readers and enjoy being read to. We just finished reading the Mr. Lemoncello Library series. They are great books! I am currently reading Camp Rolling Hills to my older son and a Matt Christopher book about baseball with my younger son.
What parenting tools work for you and your family? Recently, we felt we needed parenting help, so we turned to the experts. We started working with a psychologist, to support my child and our parenting. It was incredibly beneficial for all of us. We learned so many tools and strategies to incorporate into our parenting. We are trying our best to use calming strategies, taking deep breathes, taking time before reacting, praising positive behavior and giving little attention to negative behavior (unless it is a non-negotiable such as being physical or lying). I have learned that sometimes I need to give myself space from a difficult parenting situation and then return after the break to make a better choice.
Favorite parenting books or resources? If I am not reading for pleasure, I am usually reading parenting articles or sleep books (“Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child” by Marc Weissblush has been one of my favorites and go to sleep books, both as a mom and a sleep consultant.) I just finished “No Drama Discipline” by Tina Payne Bryson. It’s excellent.
What do you wish for your children? I wish that they are healthy and happy. I wish for them to be kind, loving and empathetic, and I wish for them to take care of others in this world. I want them to understand that they can make a difference when they help others. I want them to grow up understanding that working hard and doing your best are important, but that does not always mean you are the top finisher or the winner, and that is okay. When they play sports I say, “have fun, play hard and be a good sport.” I think this message can apply to life beyond sports!