Kelly Murray is a certified Pediatric and Adult Sleep Consultant based in Chicago and lives with her husband, two children under 6, and fur baby. She and her team, The Sleep Squad, specialize in helping families worldwide obtain the restful sleep they so desperately need through wholistic, mindful, and customized sleep programs and support. You can learn more about Kelly and her business by visiting her website or IG.
Tell me a bit about yourself before you became a mother, and how did you change after becoming a mother?
Before becoming a mother, I was a Medical Device Sales Representative working in the women's and children's space. The last company I worked at before having my children was Medela, the best pump company. I was their NICU Representative, and that is when I fell in love with supporting the mother/baby dyad. Although I always wanted to own my own business, I thought that I would NEVER leave Medical Device Sales as I loved my job.
Of course, that all changed once I had children and could not keep up with the long hours and yearned to spend more time with my children. After children, I found myself in desperate need of a change on the work front. I wanted to continue my passion for helping moms and babies but wanted a more flexible job, which was the main driver to starting Kelly Murray Sleep.
What does your absolute dream version of motherhood look like?
In a perfect world, I would love to achieve the perfect balance between career and motherhood. However, I have learned that complete balance is not obtainable 100% of the time. Some weeks I operate more in CEO mode, and other weeks I am more in mommy mode. But as long as I feel like I have a pretty good balance overall, I have met my #motherhoodgoals.
What societal or cultural messages about motherhood frustrate you and how would you like to see them changed?
We need to stop telling moms that crying during sleep training will harm their babies neurologically or impact their attachment with their babies. Before sleep training my son and becoming a Sleep Consultant, I read this somewhere and believed it to be true.
I didn't sleep train my first for this reason, and luckily, she was just a great sleeper. Sleep training wasn't necessary. However, not all babies are naturally great sleepers.
My son, unfortunately, was a horrible sleeper. He would wake up about 5 times per night for a little drink of milk. We were both exhausted and didn't want him to cry, so I brought him into bed with me, which is very dangerous. Even with co-sleeping, we were both still waking up multiple times a night and were majorly sleep deprived.
Luckily, my pediatrician educated me that the studies used to dissuade moms from sleep training were conducted in orphanages or dealt with extreme abuse or neglect. He explained that studies show that the typical amount of crying experienced during sleep training is safe and doesn't lead to attachment issues. And that I didn't have let my son CIO, that there are gentler sleep training methods. Also, sleep deprivation negatively impacts our and our children's mental, physical, and emotional well-being.
I am not saying that all babies need to be sleep trained and that sleep training is right for all families. It is just that it saddens me that scare tactics are used to prevent moms from making a parenting decision that could better their family's quality of life, health, and safety.
What do you do well? What’s really works for you? Do you have a secret? Your mom super power?
My superpower is sleep! If my family isn't getting enough sleep, we become grouchy and emotional. This week my son went to bed late a few times, and it negatively impacted his behavior. He was acting more aggressively and had a short fuse. As soon as he caught on sleep, his behavior improved dramatically.
How do you take care of yourself? How do you deal with mom guilt?
The best form of self-care for me is having firm boundaries. When I am saying yes to too many things and running myself ragged, I become burned out, and it prevents me from being the best version of myself. It isn't fair to my family, clients or myself.
Mom guilt is never-ending, especially if you have a second job in addition to being a mother. I try to focus on the quality of time I spend with my kids versus the quantity so that we all feel better connected.
What’s a topic related to motherhood, or life after becoming a mother, that you wish we talked about more?
I wish that we talk more about the fact that mothers deserve happiness. There is so much focus on making our families happy and not enough on how we can make ourselves happy. If mama is happy, everyone is happy!