One mother traded in an unsatisfying career for the business of giving the gift of sleep.
Polly VandenBerg always knew she wanted to be a mother. Growing up, she would often take her dolls along while she climbed trees and dreamed of becoming an obstetrician.
Although she was preparing for a career in science, after working in a lab at university, she decided that she needed to change her path. After two years of social work, she began working in research grants and communications for nonprofits. About a year ago, Polly decided that enough was enough.
Putting her family first
“I was on a hamster wheel of get up, rush out, take the kids to daycare and I would get myself to work and then I would rush through my work, pick up the kids and make dinner and go to bed,” she said.
“My kids were happy with their daycare but I wasn’t happy with the amount of time I was getting with them. It didn’t feel like enough.”
Polly decided that a radical change was needed for the better of her family. She began taking courses with Bebo Mia, who offers courses in sleep education. She sat down with her husband and took a look at their finances to see if a career change was financially possible.
“We figured out I was working for daycare, a Metro pass, and some coffee.”
A change for the better
Nowadays, Polly is able to spend quality time with her almost three year-old who is ‘thriving’ while running workshops and doing private consultations in her business as an Infant Sleep Educator. She is able to spend her days (and nights!) helping parents and their babies get better sleep without having to leave their babies alone to cry. She teaches the benefits of attachment and gentle parenting and is an advocate for baby wearing and bed sharing.
“We are more willing to look at things like co-sleeping, nursing to sleep, and rocking to sleep, so that your baby is still getting back to sleep and you are not exhausted and sleep deprived,” she said. “The parents are parenting the kids to sleep instead of putting them down and leaving them.”
Polly is not only making a difference in the lives of her clients, but she is seeing a real improvement in the family dynamic as well.
“We have time to play on the playground after school which lets the kids get any built up stress from the day out,” she says. “I am certainly a lot happier. My kids loved daycare but I think they are more relaxed now. We don’t get as many of the exhausted freakouts when they get home.”
The business of running a business
Sleep education courses may have given Polly her training to work with families, but she also needed to learn how to become an entrepreneur. Luckily, she was able to find a great support network called Mamas and Co where she took bootcamp course to learn how to run her business.
She is also able to teach parents the importance of trusting their instincts when it comes to their parenting abilities.
“Sleep deprivation is a form of torture,” she says. “When you are rested and when you are given the tools to say I can do this and my baby doesn’t need to compete, you will get more rest.”
Finding her balance
Despite the fact that she is working at home, Polly says she still struggles to balance it all.
“There is always something undone, often it’s housework and that’s okay,” she says.
“ It always feels like there is something not getting the attention it could. My kids are getting the most attention and that is okay for me.”
Happy to inspire
She recognizes that many parents can identify with her unhappiness and busy schedule with her former career and suggests that if you can find more balance, it is very rewarding.
“I think for parents who have the luxury for stepping out a job they don’t love or If you are not happy you should do it. If you are unhappy that trickles down into your whole family.”
Are you a Mama Makin’ it Work? Let us know how you find balance in your home and you could be featured in our series!
*Opinions expressed are those of the author, and not necessarily those of Parent Life Network or their partners.