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June 7, 2022

Getting Your Child To Sleep; The Magic Of The Growing Bed


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This week’s episode is all about sleep and the challenges of bedtime. We are joined by the wonderful Rebecca Linney, mother, entrepreneur, and author of the childrenś book The Growing Bed.

Through her book’s main character “Andy” and its stunning illustrations by Charlie Lavoy, we learn how growing children can achieve their goals through the magic of sleep.

Together, our conversations span creative bedtime solutions -  to how the whole family can benefit from restorative sleep both physically and emotionally!

Join us on our Facebook group at facebook.com/groups/reallifemomz/ to continue connecting over strategies for sleep, and don't forget to follow Real Life Momz, so you don’t miss an episode.

You can order a personal copy of The Growing Bed at https://www.thegrowingbed.com

Also available on Amazon, https://amzn.to/3aubN7x

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Transcript

Welcome to Real Life Momz I'm your host, Lisa Foster, and Real Life Momz is a podcast that's all about moms having real conversations, sharing resources, and telling their inspiring stories. Our mission is to connect moms by talking about topics that parents deal with every day and to continue these conversations in our Real Life Momz Facebook group, where we would love for you to become part of our community. And this week I'm joined by Rebecca Linney, who is an entrepreneur and a mom, and she authored her first children's book after struggling to find a way to get her young son to sleep in his own bed.

Come join us as she tells us her story and how she developed a creative solution, that she calls the Growing Bed to help her child sleep in his own bed throughout the night.

Hi, Rebecca, I'm so honored to have you here on Real Life Momz.

Thank you very much for having me.

So you are a momprenuer, which is an entrepreneur and a mom, and you are also an author of a children's book, the Growing Bed, which you wrote after struggling with your own child's sleep issues. Is that right?

That is a wonderful way to gloss it all over. Yes. It puts it in a nice little box and makes it look so easy. Doesn't it?

Uh, just like parenting in general. It's super easy. So I thought I would just do that for you.

Thank you.

We all know how important sleep is, mentally, emotionally, and physically sleep is so important. And I think when we have these newborns, we kind of expect that there'll be very little sleep, but like four or five years later, we're expecting that we get that sleep. And that's not always the case. And it sounds like that might not have been the case for you.

It was so not the case for me. And let me start by saying that my son is wonderful at so many things. He never had a hard time getting his hair cut. He never had a hard time getting shots at the doctor. He never had a hard time, um, that kids sometimes struggle with, you know, the one thing he was not interested in doing was sleeping and specifically sleeping in his own room or his own bed through the night. So we just, you know, we lost the lottery on that one.

Uh, sleeping rather was a very large challenge in our home till my son was about four, four and a half years old. That's a long time.

 I want to say you're not alone. Because my kids also had issues and it's funny now they're teens. So I just want to ensure everybody listening out there. They do go sleep in their own bed. Now, granted I go to bed before them. So I am not sure what time that is or how much sleep they're getting, but I know that I'm sleeping now. So if that can make anyone feel better, then you can take that. But I mean, it's a really a big struggle. And I think a lot of parents deal with this and I know myself, you know, having them waking us up in the middle of the night and having this kid's face staring at you because they've walked over to you and they're two feet away from your face. I swear that is a serious thing to even wake up to.

It's terrifying.  And whether he would wake us in the middle of the night with a tap on the shoulder, or if we were so exhausted, we would let him come into our bed and sleep at night and then was there all evening long. So therefore all three of us were sleeping poorly. It was just a myriad of different experiences that weren't allowing anybody to rest well and rest peacefully. It was a very, very long saga. Absolutely.

What were some of his issues with sleep?

Well, and we had tried everything, so it's not like I was just, you know, leaving it up to the wind to kind of settle and figure it all out. We had spent literally thousands, on asleep training and then the lady comes over and she basically takes care of your child from 8:00 PM to maybe 8:00 AM. And she is the one who will let them cry it out or whatever. And she will train them and get them into a habit. But we had tried, sleep training, and then during the first few years of my son's life, my husband was still traveling quite a bit for work. We would try to travel as a family cause we were like, oh, having a child is not going to change our life. We're still going to travel all around and do all the things we've been doing. We're just going to do it with a child in tow, which is completely doable, but not a great environment for creating a good sleep habit and therefore a good sleeper.

So we had tried several things and I think it was a combination of the fact that we knew we were probably only going to have one child. So we probably gave in a bit more than we should have given in. And he was just, you know, so darn cute. We just couldn't put our foot down. So it was, it was a myriad of and I think he had a bit of, what do you call it? FOMO? Like he just didn't want to miss out. So I think he was just afraid of missing out on things, but there are multiple reasons why he  wasn't sleeping.

Yeah. Once again, not alone in that, you know, I did all the things. I didn't have the people training,  but I did the, um, you know, vacuuming. So I couldn't hear my kids crying to sleep.

When I was done vacuuming oh, they must've fallen asleep. You know, one did that really well. One didn't do that at all. And she would still be crying. Um, we did so many crazy things. Like I think my daughter is the harder of the sleepers. Um, my son being the second child, I think we kind of, you know, we were too busy with her to pay attention. I don't know. She had a lot of anxiety about sleep, and it's a huge problem. Um, that to the point, and I'm going to say this on air and I'm not proud okay.

To the point where she was so like nervous to be in her bed. Uh, but we wanted her to be in her own bed. We actually made a room on the landing that we slept on the landing. So she could see us almost like we're not in the same room, but you could see us. And that alone helped her. Now three years later, after that, we still didn't move off the landing. I don't know why, but we are off the landing now. 

We have a similar story. Actually. I should be more embarrassed even, than your story.  We had bought, and we tried everything seriously. Lisa, if someone had told me, to bathe your child in a pool full of jello and they will sleep, I would have said, what color, what flavor ordered off of Amazon? This little, they called it a tripcot. Now it was really like a glorified dog bed that sat a few inches off the ground. And we set it up in our room, in the opposite corner of the master bed.

And I just remember saying to my husband, one day, I think the housekeeper was coming over and I said, she's going to think we're nuts because she knows we don't have a dog. So she's like, who is sleeping in this glorified dog bed in their bedroom? Because at least he was in our room, but not in our bed. And you know, like you said, you will try anything to, to get them.

Kudos because it's true. It's like when they're in your bed, like you said before, nobody gets to sleep.

You know, you're uncomfortable. Your husband's uncomfortable. And they're big by that point, like four or five is there their people. So, I mean, yeah.  I think at one point I'm sure a kid, I wouldn't even get them a cot I think they just slept on the floor. I remember, I feel like I had a kid on the floor at one point. I don't remember why. Now they're teens that don't remember. So that is a good sign, but I think your concept was really cool. Can you explain a little bit more about this concept of the growing bed and kind of how you even came up with it?

Sure. So as parents, we weren't getting the best sleep and, and my son wasn't getting great sleep either, but let's be honest. They sleep better than us. And when they're in our bed or in our room or whatnot, it's us adults who really need the good sleep to be able to function well, the next day my son was about four and he's starting to put together the fact that he's not big enough to do a lot of the things he wants to do. He's got friends that are younger than him, who could go on the water slides at the park. They can go on the monkey bars at school. They're getting out of their baby car seats and they're moving into booster seats.

And he's starting to frustrate him as much as, you know, a three or four year old can get frustrated. And he's not able to figure out why these younger kids are able to do all the things he can't do.

And I'm sure it was in a sleep deprived state one night slash morning, where I said to my son, look, when you come in mommy and daddy's bedroom and you sleep with us. When we come to bed, we're relaxing. And we're recharging. When you go to bed, your supposed to be growing in your bed, you were in the growing bed. So when you come and sleep with mommy and daddy, it's the wrong bed. You need to sleep in your growing bed. That's how you get on the Waterside. That's how you'll get on the monkey bars.

That's how you'll get your big boy booster seat. And it was like a light bulb moment for him. And it was, you know, it was combining his pain point of being a little too small to do the things he wanted to do and our pain point of being exhausted. And it really was just that magic concept that really resonated with him. And from there on out, it wasn't perfect. I'm not going to lie and say it was an immediate 180-degree change, but  it was a very big change in our house.

Really smart, because I feel like you gave him, you know, he's motivated by wanting to do these things. And so you took what he's motivated by and then put it to something like he needed like to be in bed to sleep.  I know it wasn't overnight, but how did you continually implement it? I guess. So you talked to him, you had this initial conversation and then did you like apply it to a bedtime routine? Or how did you implement it?

We did apply it to, to the bedtime routine. Um, we had one of those ruler, like those big rulers, you stick up on the, on a kid's room wall and we would, you know, set how much more he needed to grow for the waterslides or the monkey bars or whatnot. And so it did make a bit of a game out of it. And then he could see tangible results from that, you know, every Monday we would measure them and he would see a dip here and there, you know.

It's amazing what you can get away with with thick socks, you know, but then we would keep applying it in other situations, like when he would go to his grandma's house, then he would make sure he was sleeping in the growing bed at grandma's house. When we went on vacation, we would get a hotel room with two beds. And the first thing we did when we got into the hotel room was he would pick out which of those two beds was the growing bed, because he knew that's what he needed to do to get what he wanted 

What made it a growing bed? Uh, so if, when you read the book, hopefully, well, you've read the book, but ordinary bed into a growing bed is when you get that last little goodnight kiss from mom or dad or grandma or the babysitter, or whoever's there that last little tuck in and the goodnight kiss on your forehead is what creates that special magic app. So any bed can be the growing bed.

I really loved that about your concept was that it could be in a hotel or at grandma's or yeah, somebody else because I think that is a big area that usually messes up bedtime. You know, it's like, you're doing well, you have bedtime down and you go somewhere on a trip and come back and their bedtimes are all messed up. But having that consistency of being able to take the growing bed concept to your trip or home it's really smart too.

You could have a growing sleeping bag if you were a camping family, right. You could turn anything. You could have a growing pull-out couch, as long as you find that little way to, um, quote-unquote, activate it. Anything could be turned into a, uh, growing bed if you will. 

I think what I also love about your story is it reminds me of like a social story. So, because I'm a physical therapist, I'm in the pediatric department, um, we do a lot of social stories for kids to help them understand a certain situation and get a better response. Right. And it almost feels like the book was that, you know, you took something that he really related to, like, he really wants to ride these water slides and be tall enough to do these certain things. Right. But in order to do that, he had to go to bed and stay in his bed all night so that he could become taller.

Right. That's kind of the story. And so I could see a lot of kids reading this book and relating to that, but it also makes me think if they can't relate to that specific situation, parents can also think about just good night stories, that they can also apply to whatever their kids like so that they can create that better respond to.

The book also touches on empathy a little bit as well. At one point, the mommy and daddy, or the mom says, you know, and when you sleep with mommy and daddy, we don't get a good night's sleep. And that makes us tired the next day. And we're not the best mommy and daddy that we can be the next day. And I don't think there's a little kid in the world if you said, well, if you do X, it makes mommy and daddy tired or sad, that would keep doing it cognizant. Right. So, um, I don't push that in the book cause I know it's a bit of a more advanced concept than just sleeping in your own bed, but it does touch on the fact that you know, your actions have an effect on other people in your families.

Yeah. And that's awesome too because I don't think as parents, we tell our kids how we're feeling, you know, I mean, occasionally like mommy's tired, you know, but it's nice. It was really nice that you had that conversation with your child. Like the way, you put it, parents need to recharge. Yeah. I, I totally need to recharge. So it's nice for the kids to actually know that also and, what our needs are. So that was another plug for the book. Speaking about the book. When did you decide to turn this into a book?

So I always teased that I've become an accidental author. I think one of the quotes of last year was just before the book came out officially, my husband was cooking dinner one night and he's like, wow, I'm married to an author. I didn't see that coming. I came up with the idea when my son was probably two-ish, maybe three, he was speaking and everything. And um, and I just, it was just an idea. We threw it around our house. That was it between my husband and me, and my son's grandmother.

And then, you know, in your little mom's circle of friends, you share, all the trials and tribulations and what helped and what didn't help. And I just kept tossing this idea of the growing bed out.

And some of my other friends were using it and they're like, oh, that's a great idea. And then I'd say about a year and a half ago, one of my girlfriends was starting to write a book and a completely different genre, completely different field. It was actually more of a memoir kind of thing. And she was the first person I actually knew personally, who had written a book and it was kind of a case of, well, if she can do it, I can do it, but not in the negative way that that phrase is often used, but more in a way that she's a real person I know, we're colleagues and friends and she's writing a book, so why couldn't I do it?

And so she introduced me to her publisher and, you know, as cheesy as it sounds, the rest is history, but that's kind of how that's kind of how it happened.

And that's awesome. I'm glad that you did this because I do think it's helping other kids, to go to bed. Um, so you said you started it writing the book or the process when he was two. So he was still kind of in this process of not going to bed yet. 

We were still definitely in the trenches. 

How long did it take for him to, to go into his bed or did you just kind of need to use it periodically? 

I would say within probably three months, it became pretty clear to him that sleeping with mommy and daddy was now a treat. It was like a Friday, Saturday kind of thing, which was obviously because we didn't have work the next morning so we could be a bit more lenient. And then he started to see the tangible rewards from him sleeping better through the night in his own bed, which was the monkey bars at school at preschool and getting a booster seat and things like that. So it was a perfect storm of the timing of him really like putting two and two together that if I sleep in my own bed and I sleep through the night, I'll get what I want.

And you know, us just finally getting so tired that we, you know, found a way to put our foot down.

So it sounds like he did grow with the growing bed. He now is on the monkey bars and a different car seat, but has he reached the water slide or not yet?

So on the water slide now, if he wears a life vest, even though he's been swimming since he was six months old. Um, but he still has a little ways to go. 

Now does he know the book is about him?

He does. I remember when I got the first hard copy of the book because the publisher sent me one copy in the beginning, they said, just, we want you to touch it and feel it and look at it and everything. I had my son go through it and read it with me. And I don't think he had known the name of the little boy, but the name of the character in the book is very similar to my son's name. As he read the book and you know, I'm sitting behind him just holding back the tears and he looks at me at the end and he goes, this is about me, isn't it mom?

And I'm like, yeah His school has put the book in their library and it's got a, it's got a barcode and all the good things. And so, um, that will be there forever.

That is so exciting. So do you use the book ever? I know he's getting a little older, but when he was younger and you first had it, do you use the book ever to read to him at bedtime?

I don't pull it out and physically sit with him and read it. By this point he has read it probably 400 times, but as I said, we do literally use the concept of it. Anytime we're on vacation, we just came back from a spring break vacation, walked into the hotel room. And one of the first things we always say is, okay, which one's the growing bed and that's the one he picks and that's as short and sweet as the conversation is at this point, you know, because we it's just been such a part of our family and the concept is so ingrained in all of us that it's just that easy.

I'm so glad that worked for your family. What would you like parents to know that that do struggle?

Well, I think you just said something that made me think of it. And you said I'm so glad that that worked for your family and it worked great for my family.  I am not an expert in sleep? Obviously I spent years not getting it right. Thousands of dollars not getting it right. But I just feel like the beauty of all of us moms raising our kids and our families, the way we do means that someone else can learn from it.

So if you know, a few hundred families across America can use this concept of the growing bed and bring more sleep to their families. That's just another tool in our tool belt. Right. And, and kind of go from there. So this is what worked for my family, I'm sure have some listeners that think it's crazy and that it would never work for their kids, but this is what worked for us. So it could work very well for others as well.

Right. I mean, you never know what's going to work, right, I have two kids and there are totally opposite. Like this book could work for one of them and not for the other. First of all, I want to just put it out there cause I have read it, that it's just a cute story anyway. You know, whether your kid falls asleep with it or not, it's a really sweet story. And like I said, the pictures are really fun, so it's a fun book for bedtime anyway. Uh, but if it does work, that is a bonus plan and definitely worth a try.

And for parents that are interested in this book, where would they be able to get a copy of it?

You can find a copy of the Growing Bed,at at  Barnes and Noble or Amazon, or even walmart.com has it? I would love the chance to be able to personalize it to Tommy or Jane or whomever, or if you go to the growing bed.com, then I can personalize whomever you are ordering the book for.

Oh, that's sweet. That's a nice touch for sure. Is there anything else you want parents to know about?

Uh, I think your podcast, such a great way to hear so many different perspectives on parenting and how to be a good mom and all the things we struggle with, because I think so often that gets glossed over in social media and everything, and everyone seems to make it look so easy when, you know, we're all awake at 2:00 AM. At some point in the night, just wishing our kid would go to bed. You know? So I've been told that even the best sleepers at some point regress and, and struggle with it, whether it's a new sibling coming around or a move or things like that.

So I just appreciate you sharing our story on how we've become more educated and wise in our motherhood journey. And therefore we just share that with other people. It can only help everyone. Right?

Totally. I mean, and that's what this platform is for it's to, you know, we don't have to know everything. And I think as parents, you don't, I mean, we figure it out as we go along or we don't figure it out and someone else figures it out and we go, oh, that's a good idea, right. To have those conversations. And I think as parents, I don't know if you felt like this at all, but my kids were not good sleepers either. And it is hard being in a circle of parents that do have good sleepers. I don't want to say embarrassing.

It's not like I was embarrassed, but it feels like a little bit of a fail, you know? 

Or you start to doubt yourself as you know if you're one of six moms on the playground who can't get their kid to sleep. They're like, well, what am I doing? You know, we never doubt the kid. We always doubt ourselves. Don't we?

We do. Yeah, exactly. Exactly. And I'm going to say, it's usually the kid.

Can't be me. I know how to sleep, I'm really good at sleeping.

Exactly. But it's true. So it doesn't feel great. So I do want to say like those that have kids that don't sleep. Yeah. You're not alone. And, and I think there are so many different ways to do it. I know people do have their kids that co-sleep and people do have their kids that just go to sleep. Some people have their kids listening to music or watching a show, you know, not all of these things are written in these parenting books like that. This is what you should do, but I just think whatever's working for you.

And even if you're struggling through it, you are definitely not the only parent struggling through it and I just want to say, you're doing a good job.

Absolutely. You know, we all love our children and everything else on the outside is just wrapping on the package. You know, at the end of the day, you love your kids, and your kids love you. Whether they are sleeping or not?  Or if they brush their teeth or not? Whether they get an A on their spelling test. All of that is irrelevant.

Thank you for sharing your story and the Growing Bed. You know, it can be really helpful tool for kids that might be struggling for bedtime. And it is an adorable children's book. So I would definitely check it out.

Thank you. Thank you very much.

Thank you for listening to today's episode. Rebecca developed a creative solution that worked really well for her family and dealing with her son's sleeping issues. I'm so thankful that she was willing to share the magic of The Growing Bed with us today. Come join us on our Facebook group, let us know what sleep strategies have worked best for you and your family, or just let us know if you're still struggling with sleep in general, and don't forget to follow Real Life Momz so you don't miss an episode.

 

Rebecca Linney Profile Photo

Rebecca Linney

Author and Mompreneur

Rebecca Linney is a Mompreneur (entrepreneur AND mom!), authoring her first children’s’ book after struggling to find a way to get her young son to sleep in his own bed throughout the night. As a longtime resident of San Diego, CA, Rebecca graduated from CSUSM with a BFA in Communication. Landing speaking roles at San Diego Start Up Week and onsite at USD, Rebecca inspires others struggling and tired parents to appeal to their child’s sense of empathy and desire to grow up. She currently resides in Carlsbad, CA.