About this Episode
Are you tired of the bedtime battles with your kids? Are you at your wits end most nights when your child gets out of bed again and again? On this episode of Brainy Moms, Dr. Amy and Teri interview sleep coach Maisie Ruttan. Maisie shares powerful insights about why bedtime is so hard. She reveals that maybe our timing is wrong, that we are rushing through our routines, and that we aren’t turning screens off earlier enough. She also says we have to stop relying on the evenings for our own self-care time because that makes us resent our kids when they don’t go to bed quickly enough. It’s an episode that makes you re-think what a bedtime routine should really be about.
Maisie is a heart-centered and holistic sleep coach who runs an international practice supporting families to gently and responsively parent, their kids to sleep. She specializes in working with toddlers, preschoolers, and school age kids from a developmental attachment based positive parenting framework.
She’s also a twin mom, so she truly gets how hard it can be. She has a degree in psychology and is a former psychiatric nurse with additional certifications in both sleep and parenting.
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Maisie’s freebie for listeners: Peaceful Bedtime Mini-Series. A 6-part email series, full of bite-sized, videos, and practical tips that help make bedtime easier
LearningRx is a worldwide network of brain training centers offering cognitive, reading, and math remediation and enhancement for all ages. LearningRx has worked with more than 100,000 clients who have learning struggles and disabilities, ADHD, traumatic brain injury, autism, and age-related cognitive decline. Visit www.LearningRx.com or call 1-866-BRAIN-01 to learn more.
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Read the transcript for this episode:
Dr. Amy Moore: Hi, and welcome to this episode of Brainy Moms brought to you today by LearningRx brain training centers. I’m your host, Dr. Amy Moore here with my co-host Teri Miller. I’m coming to you as usual from Colorado Springs, Colorado. And Teri is joining us from Florida today. She’s working while she’s on vacation.
We just love her for that. We’re super excited to bring you a conversation with our guest today. Heart centered and holistic sleep coach Maisie Ruttan. Maisie runs an international practice, supporting families to gently and responsively parent, their kids to sleep. She specializes in working with toddlers, preschoolers, and school age kids from a developmental attachment based positive parenting framework.
She’s also a twin mom, so she truly gets how hard it can be. She has a degree in psychology and is a former psychiatric nurse with additional certifications in both sleep and parenting.
Teri Miller: Welcome Maisie. I’m so glad you’re with us.
Maisie Ruttan: Thank you so much for having me.
Teri Miller: So, this topic is. Really important to lots of parents. It’s something that we all have struggled with or do struggle with our kids, struggle with it. So before we get into sleep issues, I wanna start with you just telling our listeners your background, what brought you to, where you are today as a sleep expert.
Maisie Ruttan: Yeah, it happened. I mean, it was never really planned. I mean, I was working quite happily as a nurse actually. Um, and I worked with a really kind of awesome team doing some quite unique work, um, in the developmental dis disability population. And then I got pregnant with twins and, and when I was pregnant, just like people are. I mean, they mean well, but they say that like the darnest things, right?
Like, oh, I used to want twins until I had a baby and now I have no idea how you’ll do it. Like you’ll never speak again. That’s encouraging. like huge. Right? So everywhere you went, you’re like a walking billboard and I got scared and I’m kind of, um, You know, a high achiever kind of academic type person.
And so like I just read and I read and I read and I read and, you know, as it turned out, my kids slept kind of good. Anyways. I mean, it was hard cuz they’re twins, so they’re both waking up, but had it have been one, it would’ve been okay. Um, and so. So I kind of just used that information to help, like my other twin mom, friends, sleep and other friends sleep.
And somebody said, you should do this for a living. It’s like, no, I’m a nurse. I love it. But then it came to having to go back to work. And I was like, I don’t wanna go back to work. And here we are today. and, uh, it just kind of bred from there and realized how many similarities there were. My previous work and kind of, it happened really organically.
And I, you know, I work very holistically and I bring a lot of that nursing in and a lot of my psychology work in and yeah, I love it. It’s great.
Teri Miller: So that’s so great that it naturally evolved from what your life, what was already happening in your life. That’s beautiful. Yeah.
Maisie Ruttan: Yeah. A little obsession and paranoia turned into a career.
Dr. Amy Moore: The mother of invention is necessity or something like that, right?
Maisie Ruttan: Yeah. Yeah. I guess was the mother. Yeah.
Dr. Amy Moore: Um, so we were super excited to, um, have you on today for a couple of reasons. One, because Teri is so passionate about sleep, um, that we were excited to have a sleep expert. Mm-hmm um, but. Getting kids to sleep at night and that whole bedtime routine is a battle for so many families.
In fact, I would say that it’s rare to not have a difficult time at bedtime. Um, that’s the minority, um, the rest of us, I think, um, certainly battled and battled. So talk to us a little bit about why bedtime is so hard.
Maisie Ruttan: Oh, that’s a great question. You know, and there’s so many different layers to this. I mean, I think the big one is just that with society we’re exhausted. Right? We don’t have this village that kids were raised in, um, you know, However, many hundreds of years ago or decades, depending on your culture. Um, we, you know, we do, we do everything. We work, we do the house, we do the kids, you know, and, and even when you’re you have a, you know, a beautiful co-parent who helps you with this stuff, it’s still a lot of work.
And so by the time, the end of the day comes, you’re exhausted. And you kind of just hope for things to just magically happen. You know, like I think of myself, like just the other night, you know, I’m on the couch and I I’m like, okay, go brush your teeth. And I think I said, You know, go brush your teeth 10 times before I’m like, okay, I actually got my ass up off the couch to like, go make it happen.
Right. You just kind of like hope that your commands will eventually make it work. And it, it just, so you kind of end up having no energy, but then also wanting to like, hit that fast forward button and like rush through things and combined, you know, that pressure. It. It hits up against kids and they’re just like, mm.
You know, there’s, you know, FOMO, you know, fear of missing out and not wanting to go to bed and not wanting to miss that show, or, you know, I’m still, you know, I’m working on this, these blocks or whatever it is, right. Kids, kids don’t wanna be interrupted and, um, and just all adds for that extra stress. And, uh, yeah, it’s.
Yeah, it’s hard. It’s hard. Even for me as a sleep consultant, you know, as we bed, time’s not perfect. It’s impossible to have it perfect. Every time when people are stressed and tired. Yeah.
Dr. Amy Moore: Yeah. So, you had some, an insightful comment that you made that when we rely on the evening for our self-care time, then that puts too much pressure on the whole evening bedtime routine. Talk to us a little bit about that because I was super intrigued by that concept.
Maisie Ruttan: Yeah. Yeah. So, you know, When I talk to most, when somebody comes to me and I work with them and I ask them, you know, you know, what would life be like if your kids were sleeping better, they usually say, oh, well, I would have time for myself.
I could catch up on. And the funny, the next thing is, is I can catch up on things for your, at the, around the house. I’m like, well, that’s not for yourself, but I get that it decreases stress, right. Or they’ll say, you know, I wanna, I wanna reconnect with my partner or, you know, I wanna be able to watch TV or.
Whatever, do something for myself, right? Yeah. And so there’s no time in our, in our days often to do these things. And so we wanna do them when the kids are in bed, but then if the kids are up late or bedtime rushes late, it feels like it’s impeding on your YOU time and you kind of get resentful for that, or you can, and it kind of builds that anger.
And so, you know, I think it’s important to try and do things during the day. Right? So it’s, I mean, it’s never easy to do things with kids, but you know, if you can, rather than doing the laundry, you know, when the kids go to bed, if you can do it when they’re awake, um, I find it easier. So. I teach moms a lot of the times to kind of treat, treat the house like a job, because you can’t treat kids like a job.
Kids are 24 hours. I’m, I’m sorry to say, like we, that’s just the way it is, unless, unless you have help and, and you know, things, that’s a 24 hour job and, but the housework doesn’t have to be so, you know, make it a working day, whether that’s like within the hours of nine to five, you do housework or maybe between the hours when the kids are awake, you do housework, but at some point have an off switch where at least you have that ability to let go. And, um, it, I don’t know, it’s really freeing for moms when they’re able to actually adopt to that. I mean, sure. It sucks. You know, like if you’re really firm and you know, time’s run out and you, haven’t got those dishes done and you wake up in the morning to, uh, you know, a kitchen full of dishes, it, it does add to the pressure of the next day.
Dr. Amy Moore: So the balance can be hard, but I think the general principle as long as you’re a little bit flexible and realistic with it, it really works for a lot of moms, but it takes a total mindset shift.
Maisie Ruttan: Oh, right. That’s I was gonna say, yeah. I mean, because you’re like, that’s, I’m exhausted from, you know, whether I’ve been caring for my kids in the house all day, and I have this mindset that I cannot wait until they go to bed because then I’m gonna be able to have my time.
Dr. Amy Moore: And so that’s a totally a totally different way of thinking about it. Right. That bedtime is part of the day mm-hmm right. And so we have to think of that as, okay. It’s just like lunchtime and nap time and playtime and bedtime. Like it requires the same amount of attention and time from us as the rest of the day does too.
Maisie Ruttan: It does. And it’s actually a bit of an investment even, you know, like if you can treat bedtime, like a time of connection and like lean in and, you know, be there, right. And not in your to-do list or not scroll on your phone. Like a lot of families will, you know, sit with their kids while they’re falling asleep or whatever, but you know, they’re on their phone or they’re listening to a podcast or something.
Right. But if you’re, if you lean in and you make that a connecting time, It’s usually quicker and it’s usually less stressful. So when you leave the bedroom, you’re not like raging and you’re not doing those, you know, all those curtain calls and, and callbacks where you finally get them to bed and you think you’re in the clear and then they come out or they call you, right.
Like all of those things tend to happen. And when you, like, when you boil it down to the behavior that is kind of underneath. Underneath that or the, the, not the behavior, but their, the reasoning underneath it is usually that there’s some sort of unfinished business from the day that they, they need to, they feel they’re, you know, need to be connecting with you more or they need to talk something out or something.
And so it just, again, it adds. Adds to that frustration. And if you think of it like an investment, I think, um, and, and also like an obligation, like it’s important part of the day. Um, you’re not gonna, you know, skip lunch. Uh, maybe sometimes you do depending on your day, but like generally speaking, you don’t skip your meals.
Right. It’s just a regular part of your day and it kind of contributes to the overall wellbeing in the house. Yeah.
Teri Miller: And I think that for what you’re talking about, it’s that connecting time. It’s that bonding time. Mm-hmm um, I grew up when I was growing up and it was bedtime. There was no, you know, there was no like sweet connection or lullaby or prayers or cuddling or anything.
It was just like, it’s time for bed, go to bed. And then if anything, it was there. It felt like every night there was this animosity because it was either. You don’t go to sleep until that homework is done, or, you know, your room is mess or, um, get the light off, stop reading. You know, there was always just kind of this, this animosity, whether it was go to sleep or don’t go to sleep, but there was never that, like, this is the habit, this is the standard.
This is the connection. So that bedtime is sweet and I think we can help our children learn. That bedtime is sweet. And at the time of connection, then as adults, there’s not anxiety and confusion like that, it’s gonna carry over into their lives. Just like it did for me. It took me years to understand why is bedtime hard for me?
This point of chaos. I have so much I still need to do. Oh, but I have to go to sleep. We can help our kids avoid that point of chaos that we are feeling as adults. Yeah, starting young that and think about how much problems within insomnia we have in society nowadays. Right. And, you know, fall, the trouble falling asleep is one piece.
But then the, the whole fact that as a society, we don’t prioritize sleep, even though it’s like literally connected with. Every single health and wellbeing outcome, there is like it other, like we know we are supposed to eat healthy and exercise, but like people write off sleep all the time. You know, people brag about I can function just fine off in five hours of sleep, you know?
And we culture this into our kids, right? Yeah, yeah. Yeah. I have to say research is shifting. Oh, talk about that, Amy.
Dr. Amy Moore: Yeah, well, no, I was gonna, uh, confess to advice that I used to give to people. And so, um, I was a college instructor and many of my students, you know, already had children. And so they were like, I don’t, I just don’t know how to balance this, you know, with my family life.
And I said, so when you have a family and you have a job and you’re going to school, there’s only one other place where you can give something. And that’s sleep. So maybe you go to bed two hours later, or you get up two hours earlier than you normally do and do your schoolwork. That was the advice that I gave my students.
And I look back on that and think, what was I doing? My goodness as a cognitive psychologist, I know the importance of sleep for memory and learning. So I don’t know what the heck I was thinking, telling these poor college students that. That’s my confession.
Teri Miller: But, but Amy, we’ve learned more. So it’s like, it’s one of those things.Like we didn’t know what we didn’t know. you know, that the research is, is changing and is out there is out for us to access so much more readily. Now I think 20 years ago, 50 years ago, for sure. 50 years ago, it was, if you are successful, you are, you are working late. You are up early. I mean, I feel like that was.
What was promoted four to five hours of sleep, highly successful people don’t waste their time sleeping. And that has shifted. Research has shown us now highly successful people are well rested. They have sharp brains because their brains have healed and grown and their memories have gelled through the night.
And that’s important every single day. And so we know more. Now than we used to. And hopefully parents you’re hearing this, not just from this little podcast, but you’re hearing this in media sleep is vitally important for your emotional wellbeing, for your functionality and your job for your relational connections for your memory and sleep is an investment in your future because it is highly correlated with age related.
Research shows that when we are sleep deprived, there’s a much higher chance that we’re gonna have dementia later in life. Scary stuff.
Dr. Amy Moore: That is scary stuff. All right. So let’s get back to bedtime with kids. Yes. Um, yeah. What, so what do you think is going wrong? Like what is the biggest issue?
Maisie Ruttan: So many, I mean, stress is stress is a huge one. We talked about that and, and that, you know, if you’re stressed and your body’s dysregulated, it’s really hard to help your kid calm down and to sleep. So, like, I hear a lot, you know, like they, they just never seem tired. They won’t wind down. They flip flop, they, you know, jump on the bed, they do anything but sleep and, and, you know, it’s kind of twofold, like, or tenfold, just always a gazillion things, but like, we’re pretty sedentary really.
Like I haven’t met a kid that really probably gets enough exercise according to what we like should be doing. Um, and you know, screens and all that kind of stuff. Right? Like that’s a whole issue, but you know, if you have, um, haven’t burned enough energy in your day, you’re gonna have a hard time winding down.
If the vibes around you are stressful, you’re gonna have a hard time winding down, but then, you know, bringing it back to what we were talking about about, you know, sleep, being so important. You know, we shrug off our sleep as adults, but most parents are very concerned about the number of hours that their kids sleep and real and know this connection and want the best for their kids.
Um, which is good. Right. They’re prioritizing this, but they almost take it a step too far. And I see this a lot where the expectation is for kids to sleep, um, more than they’re kind of biologically capable of. And so they’re, they’re, you know, they’re really aiming for like 12 hours overnight kind of thing.
Cuz that’s what a lot of the, you know, the, the sleep books say, but the reality is, is that’s not what most kids actually end up sleeping if given the opportunity naturally on their own, they’ll wake up sleeping less than that. And so then you’re also fighting that, that they’re just not tired, um, or, you know, putting them to bed at the wrong time.
And, um, yeah, I mean, it’s so so many different things. I can’t, I can’t nail it down to one, but that’s what I see the most is not enough movement and exercise, too much stress in the home. And like parents having a hard time knowing how to calm their kids and just the wrong bed times for wrong, the wrong timing.
Dr. Amy Moore: Can you talk a little bit more about that timing? Like, like how do we know that it’s the wrong timing that we’re trying to impose upon our kids?
Maisie Ruttan: Well, that’s the thing well, if your kid’s not falling asleep, you know, relatively quick, um, then it’s, it’s a good chance that potentially the time is wrong. Um, but you know, when we’re really overtired kids sometimes get a little bit wild and crazy, and there’s a big obsession actually in the sleep world about or paranoia again, about having kids that are overtired.
And so again, then, parents bring bedtime earlier and, and sometimes it backfires and it’s too early. And so ultimately, you know, if, if they’re melting down lots and, and, uh, not able to cope with like transitions and, you know, if that those meltdowns kind of get more towards the end of the day, you can kind of guess that maybe they’re retired.
They’re spacing out a little bit. Um, if they’re kind of, you know, flopping or lazy or cuddly, you know, these are all signs that they might be kind of getting a little bit tired. A lot of kids get clumsy as they get tired. Um, yeah, it’s, it’s one of those things it’s so individual, you know, and a lot of kids have like no sleep signs at all, but, um, yeah, I just it’s it’s yeah.
Teri Miller: What, tell us about what makes for a good bedtime routine. Like what could you suggest yeah. To help us as parents understand, you know, if we’re watching for those signs and then what is a good bedtime routine?
Maisie Ruttan: Well, you know, there’s the standard, you like making sure that they’ve had their teeth brushed and that they go pee and stuff, but, you know, I don’t really consider that even part of the bedtime routine.
Those are like tasks. Those are hygiene tasks that we kind of just have to do. Right. But in terms of a bedtime routine, I think of that as being the activities that are. That you do in the bedroom, you know, once you’ve done all your hygiene stuff, you get in the bedtime bedroom, what are you doing? And so, to be honest, it doesn’t really matter.
There’s no right or wrong here. There’s a lot of research for, um, stories and a lot of research for lullabies as both being really great for sleep. So if you can include those great, especially cuz reading has other benefits too. But it’s not so much the routine. Um, despite what you read about consistency, consistency, same things in same order, this kind of stuff is helpful, but it’s the vibe that you want.
You want that connecting vibe. You want it to be warm to, for them to feel like you have all the time in the world, even if you’re itching to get outta the room, right? Like for them to feel special for them to feel loved and, uh, That’s the important piece. We want them to go to bed feeling at rest, right.
And not seeking something else from us, not feeling like they’re in trouble or that we’re mad at them cuz they’re taking too long to fall asleep and you know, that’s, that’s the part of the bedtime routine that we want. Um, yeah.
Dr. Amy Moore: So let’s talk about some specific questions that we get, right. That are pretty common. Do you recommend laying down with your child to help them fall asleep?
Maisie Ruttan: Yeah. Yeah, sure. Absolutely. I mean, in my opinion, there are no bad habits when it comes to sleep it’s whatever helps to get your family the most sleep. The easiest is usually what we fall into and, you know, for a lot of families, if they just commit to that and that’s the routine and I lay with my child to fall asleep every night.
Um, often it’s the quick quickest and the easiest and it avoids all those one more glass of waters. I have to pee again, one more story, coming outta the room a million times. You know, it just eliminates so much of that stress. Um, as long as you can kind of commit to it and, and enjoy it, otherwise you lay there kind of just feeling resentful and
the other thing is, is that sometimes you fall asleep yourself. And so that creates another thing as well, but yeah, absolutely. I think it’s a wonderful thing.
Dr. Amy Moore: So what about the child who says. Just one more book. One more book, please. Mommy. One more book. after you’ve read six .
Maisie Ruttan: Oh, no. I mean, I think this is a judgment call. If, if it is, if it’s becoming a problem then yeah. Some boundaries around that are a great idea. Um, I like to use books as kind of a way to, um, help kids wind down a little bit and help extend that time. If they’re maybe not quite ready to fall asleep. They don’t quite seem sleepy enough. And as that connection piece, so I’ll usually suggest, say two books.
And rather than adding extra books, if you think they’re gonna need it, grab a longer book or, or something like that. And so the, the nice thing about when you have a concrete number of books that you do every single night is they’re less likely to push on that boundary. Cuz they know that the boundaries there, we always do two books.
So we always do three books and I usually that, you know, they pick one and you pick one and that you end with a book about bedtime, because then you have that natural ending, cuz almost every single book about bedtime ends in like, I love you goodnight or something like this. And it’s kind of like a, okay, I love you. Goodnight. Close the book, story’s over, time for bed. Right. It’s just really like very concrete. Um, but uh, Have there been times where I’ve read extra stories? Sure. I mean, if you’re done stories and your kid’s not really settled, it’s hard. If you have a real boundary pusher, then I would, I would go for longer stories than as an option rather than giving more.
Dr. Amy Moore: Okay. That makes sense. So what happens when you have four kids in four different bedrooms? Do you read all of the same room and then disperse them, or do you set four separate bed times so that you go sequentially? What would your advice be for, for people who have multiple children that need bedtime assistance?
Maisie Ruttan: My advice is to take a deep breath because there’s, there’s no win in this one. It’s just hard. It’s hard. Hopefully the older ones can have a little bit of quiet time and they’re okay with that. Um, while the, while the other ones get to sleep, but, um, see dog barking but, um, the other thing is, is that, you know, um, other kids.
Sometimes the younger kids need to be up later. It depends if they nap. And so the first thing is that timing piece and trying to find out when is everybody else’s bedtime and then you can decide, do you do bedtime together or do you stay for it? Because the, the timing is the most important part, cuz you wanna make sure that they’re actually tired.
And um, if, if you can swing it where you’re reading stories together. Great. Um, if not, it’s not the end of the world. Um, either way it’s, it’s just a challenging one to navigate for sure.
Teri Miller: What about the getting up out of bed over and over? I would love for this is a big one that, that parents struggle with. You know, they’re up again?
Five minutes later up again. What are some ideas and they’re hiding around the corner just right. waiting for you to find them .
Maisie Ruttan: Yeah. Yeah. Well, we talked a bit about that earlier and about if you can commit to staying with them though, they fall asleep that eliminates that really quickly. Um, you know, you hear advice about, um, you know, dragging them back to bed.
Um, not saying anything it’s like “silent retreat” kind of thing I think they call it, um, and putting them back to bed a million times. Absolutely exhausting. And from a behavioral point of view, this works, but I feel like it doesn’t really get to like why they’re getting out of bed in the first place. And so, you know, taking a prevention kind of mode and, and, um, I like to suggest kind of an evening wind down.
So before the bedtime routine, but like sometime after dinner, Having a period of like some one on one time with them where you, um, do some connective play or maybe a little bit of roughhousing or something, and just make sure that you like fill up their love cup, um, can really help cuz usually they’re coming out for some unfinished business that they, and it’s usually some sort of connection seeking behavior, um, that can often really help.
Um, and then again, working on, on timing and the boundary piece and all that other fun very hard stuff.
Teri Miller: Yeah, we, we do have done this thing for years. I’ve got nine kids. So have had, like you said, that insanity of having several kids, all, you know, stair stepped and they’re all wanting that book and cuddle all time and, oh my goodness.
Yeah, we did different things through the, through the years, like at different times, reading with them all together. And then we take turns with their individual lullabies and you know, little back scratching, you know, that kind of thing. But with getting up out of bed, one thing that was helpful as a standard, as a habit, there are always one offs, you know, there are always special circumstances (kid is sick or whatever, and they’re always, you know, you have to be flexible and have grace) but we would say, you know, oh gosh, I see it’s it’s, you know, looking at your watch. It’s 10 minutes after you were supposed to be going to sleep. So tomorrow we’ll need to go to bed 10 minutes earlier. And then, you know, if they’re up again.
Oh, wow. Now it’s 30 minutes after you were supposed to be going to sleep. So tomorrow we’ll have to make sure and go to bed 30 minutes earlier, cuz it’s so important to get good sleep. You gotta be healthy so you can grow strong and you know, whatever. And man does that work? It only has to be done very few times and there’s no anger.
It’s just, here’s the consequence. It is a pain in the rear to enforce it the next day. That’s a hassle. But it only has to be done a few times with each kid and they pretty much learn I’m serious. So, I don’t know. What do you, what do you think about that?
Maisie Ruttan: I, that idea is it, you know, like I think that could probably work for some older kids.
It’s, it’s hard because they need to have that, you know, that, that consequences like the next day. Right. And so for some kids, it’s a little far away, depending on the age and where they’re at in their, in their thinking ability. Um, the, the concern I’d have with that, where you could run into problems. If it doesn’t work quickly is that by putting them to bed a little bit earlier and a little bit earlier each day, you’re gonna run to that point where they’re probably not tired to come to bedtime and then they’re sitting in their room and they’re wide awake. And what do you do while you have flip flop? You get bored.
You go check to see what mom’s doing and. So, um, it, it could backfire, um, and kind of develop a little bit of almost, um, insomnia where they can’t fall asleep. Right. Um, but you know, like anything, these are individual things that you kind of weigh with each family, depending on how well the kid is, depending on what, how else everything else is going.
And, you know, always doing that first step of like optimizing the bedtime routine, optimizing the timing and that kind of stuff first. And then I get into the strategies. And so sometimes you fix things before even needing to do something like that. Yeah.
Dr. Amy Moore: That’s good. Good points. Mm-hmm yeah. Yeah. So what are your thoughts on like the Ferber method? Letting them cry it out? I mean, I can’t tell you how many times I sat in the hallway crying myself trying to do that method. I’m what I’m hearing from you is that that connection with our children is so much more important than trying to force them into going to sleep against their will.
Maisie Ruttan: Mm. Yeah. Yeah, it really is. Um, you know, I’m not a fan of the Ferber method. I don’t use it myself. Um, uh, and it’s, it’s hard because it is a, it is, you know, one of the more researched, um, sleep strategies. But I feel like there’s a disconnect between some of the behavioral sleep, uh, sleep training approaches, like the Ferber method, like cry it out and like, developmental neuroscience and psychology and a lot of the other areas of research and they’re kind of going like this and not realizing that they don’t mesh.
Um, and so, you know, it I think that there’s other better ways that work just as well. And I think the, the, the, the harm with the Ferber approach is, is similar to what Teri was saying about bringing, um, making bedtime a little bit earlier each way each week is, or each night is that they can work, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that your child’s sleeping.
It just means they’re, they’re not getting outta the room and they’re not crying. And if we want them to be sleeping because of that whole, um, you know, helps growth and development and we need sleep peace. We want them to sleep. It’s not about just keeping them in the rooms quiet. Um, and so there’s, there’s more to the story.
And, and that’s the piece that’s missing with the Ferber approach that a lot of people don’t realize is when you really break it down, you know, mostly it’s used with babies as well. It, it really doesn’t work well, the kids cuz they just get up. Um, and they just get the room. Whereas with babies they’re kind of stuck in a crib, right.
Um, is that they don’t actually really get much sleep, even like much extra sleep. Um, they just are quiet and so it helps parents sleep.
Dr. Amy Moore: Yeah. so I wanna shift and talk a little bit about screens. Can you talk about screens in the evenings and what’s your advice?
Maisie Ruttan: Yeah, you’ve given me all these hard questions. No, these are, these are the ones parents are worrying about. Yeah. These are the only ones worried about, and I, you know, with screens, I talk about the ideal and an ideal world. You know, your, your kids would be limited. Their screen time would be limited and the screens would be turned off an hour or two before bedtime and, and all screens, you know, like tablets, phones, teas, all of the whole nine yards.
Right. Um, that’s your ideal world? I also recognize there’s reality. People are juggling all their kids, trying to get dinner, cleaned up, all that kind of stuff. And so, um, you know, do the best that you can sometimes, you know, um, doing something like an audio book is, you know, a little bit of a nice compromise for, for kids that need that distraction that really, you know, just kind of get into trouble on their own kind of thing.
And you’re trying to put another kid to bed, but the thing with screens is, is that there’s kind of. Uh, like three ways that they kind of mess us up with bedtime. And the first is that that blue light that’s admitted from screens. It delays the release of melatonin and that’s our sleepy hormone. And so while you may fall asleep, cause I hear this all the time.
Well, my kids seem to fall asleep. Just fine. Screens are fine. And that may be the case. They may be able to fall asleep okay because we have something called sleep pressure. That’s from being so tired from being awake during the day, pushes us into sleep. But without that melatonin, you’re not getting the same quality of sleep overnight. So that, that restorative process is not quite as good. Um, and it can contribute to like waking up earlier and some night wakings as well, if you don’t have enough, uh, melatonin in your body. So there’s that. Um, but you know, it also, the TV’s really stimulating. And so when we wanna be calming our bodies and calming our brains, the brain is quite active with TV.
Even though you feel like you’re in a vegetative state, your brain’s not. And so it can be hard to shift into like a quieter state of calm before falling asleep. So that’s the second reason. Um, and the third reason that I, I’m not a fan of screens before bedtime is because when your kids are relaxed on the outside and watching TV or playing a game or something, you’re usually doing something else yourself. You’re sidetracked. And even if you’re sitting there watching, beside them, you’re not watching them, you’re not seeing their cues and you miss their tired cues if there even is any, because they’re distracted. And so when you turn that TV off, you know, it’s quite likely that you’ve missed the tired window and, and, you know, they should have been in bed a while a while ago. And then you get into those meltdowns, not just because of the transition of moving away from screens, because that’s a huge, um, issue for a lot of kids as well. But also because they’re tired and you’ve missed bedtime when the window was right for bedtime. So that’s my thoughts on screens. Um, but I also realized that it’s, it’s, it’s tricky. It’s tricky.
Dr. Amy Moore: Yeah, no, that’s the most comprehensive list of reasons to consider not having screens at bedtime that I’ve heard in a really long time. Okay. And so thank you for being so concise, um, in those recommendations.
And I love the recommendation to consider an audio book. My husband actually listens to audiobooks to fall asleep at night and, um, I was intrigued by. Yeah. Like I wonder, I look over and his eyes are closed and the recording is still going and I’m like, is he listening with his eyes closed or sleeping?
Anyway, that’s beside the point. That’s a great idea. Yeah.
Maisie Ruttan: Yeah. Well, it helped, I just did an Instagram reel on, on screens a couple days ago, so it’s all fresh in my mind.
Teri Miller: Oh, good. Oh, great. Well put, can we put a link to that in our show notes?
Maisie Ruttan: Sure. Yeah. Yeah, that would be great.
Dr. Amy Moore: Um, so we need to take a break, uh, let Teri read a word from our sponsor LearningRx and when we come back, um, we wanna hear about how you work with parents specifically in your coaching program.
Maisie Ruttan: Sure. Yeah.
Teri Miller: (reading sponsor ad)
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So an intervention that only targets attention might miss the opportunity to work on those other skills we need to think and learn. LearningRx can help you identify which skills may be keeping your child from performing their best. In fact, they’ve worked with more than 100,000 children and adults learning to think and perform better.
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Dr. Amy Moore: And we’re back talking with sleep coach Maisie Rutan, and, um, you have a coaching program where you work one on one with parents and you have some other, other programs as well, right? Talk to us about that and how our listeners could, uh, work with you if they were interested.
Maisie Ruttan: Yeah. Yeah. I have a coaching program that, where I work one on one, just like you said, and that can range from like, Hey, Maisie. I have a few questions. Can, you know, we, we meet for a quick chat to, you know, a more ongoing coaching relationship where we dive into, um, sleep and not just sleep, but, but parenting as well.
Cause it all kind of blends together, um, over, you know, a month or two months or three months, depending on the complexity of issues at hand and what, and what your goals are as well, because sometimes. Uh, you know, how do I help my, the bedtime routine not be a battle and sometimes it’s, how do I stop co-sleeping or how do I stop feeding overnight?
And, and there’s so many different things, right? Um, but then the other thing that I, I have started as well, I’m actually just running my first group through is I, uh, I have a program that I’m running called Hello, Bedtime. And it’s kind of a, a hybrid between group coaching and a course where there’s a blend of information. And also, um, you know, the opportunity to meet with a small group. There’s eight, there’s, eight moms in it. And, um, where they’re kind of all going through the steps together. And we, we hop on Zoom calls just like this. And, and, you know, we talk about where they get stuck or to share their wins.
And it’s just, it’s really amazing. And I’m really excited, um, to be starting this because, you know, a lot of families can’t access, you know, somebody like myself, you know, there’s that affordability piece. And, you know, it’s, I wanna be able to share this stuff with, with so many more people than, and so it just allows me to work with other people.
And I think that, um, that community piece is really big of knowing that, you know, you’re not alone. I think that’s, you know, that’s the, the one thing, um, I interviewed a lot of. Um, in creating this program, finding out what they wanted and almost every single one said that they felt alone. Like they were the only ones everybody else gets their kids to bed just fine.
I was like, no, actually this is a really common problem. And like, you take that stress like, oh, I’m not a bad parent out of it. Cuz you know, anybody listening to this is clearly, you know, trying to be, to do, to do better and as a great parent. Um, but you take that stress out of it and just makes everything so much better.
Teri Miller: Oh, that’s so good. Absolutely. Tell us about, tell us about, um, piggybacking on that to give our listeners a little freebie. You’ve got a freebie called the Peaceful Bedtime Mini-Series. Tell us about that.
Maisie Ruttan: I do. Yes. Um, thanks for the reminder. Um, yeah. Um, it’s, it’s essentially, I email you a tip. A day, um, for, I think six days, gosh, it’s been a while since I looked at it.
Um, and it goes through things like finding the right timing. A lot of the stuff that we talked about today, um, finding the right timing, making sure you’re calm. And there’s like in each video, there’s a little bit of a, a read through lesson and, and a little bit of a video in each email and yeah, it’s all, it’s all free.
And it’s a nice little snapshot of, of all the things that you wanna look at when kind of trying to take that fight outta bed.
Dr. Amy Moore: What a fantastic resource. So how can our listeners find you?
Maisie Ruttan: Uh, I’m in most of the places I’m on, uh, Facebook, Instagram got a website. Um, I have a Facebook group as well, uh, Gentle and Responsive Mamas Seeking Sleep Insanity. And, uh, yeah, you can post questions in there anytime. It’s that’s the nice thing about social media, right. Is so accessible.
Dr. Amy Moore: Absolutely. Is there anything that you would like to leave our listeners with that you haven’t gotten to say today?
Maisie Ruttan: Oh, yeah. I don’t know. I think it’s just follow your gut whenever possible. Tune out the noise of society. There’s so many dos and doubts out there and opinions around sleep. A lot of them, a lot of opinions. Oh my God. If something’s working for your family, there’s no need to change it. Just go with your gut and if it doesn’t, something’s not working again. Go with your gut. Um, that’s that’s my first that’s my best advice.
Dr. Amy Moore: Okay. So, um, this has been a great conversation, um, and I know it’s because Terri’s so passionate about it. I know she was excited to be able to talk to you and meet with you too. So we just wanna thank you Maisie for taking the time today to give us some tips, um, on sleep and sharing, uh, the resources that you have for parents out there.
Um, if you would like more information about Maisie’s work, her website is MaisieRuttan.com. And you can find her on Facebook @Maisie RuttanSleep and on Instagram at Maisie.Ruttan. And we’ll put all of her links and handles in the show notes, including how to access her free, peaceful, bedtime mini series, and the link to sign up for coaching.
So thank you so much for listening. If you like our show, we would love it. If you would leave us a five-star rating and review on Apple Podcasts. If you would rather watch us, we are on YouTube and you can find us on every social media channel @thebrainymoms. So look until next time we know that you’re busy moms and we’re busy moms, so we’re out.
Teri Miller: See ya.