Ciarra Morgan is a Doula as well as a Certified Sleep Consultant with the Center for Pediatric Sleep Management Sleep Consultant Certification Course. On this episode we discussed why adding Certified Sleep Consultant to your resume positions you to scale your business beyond the hours you have in a day. We discussed supporting families virtually, sleep training toddlers and preschoolers, and what goals she has set for 2022… Hint hint… it involves working LESS!
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Jayne Havens: Hello everyone, I’m here on the podcast today with Ciarra Morgan, a certified sleep consultant through the Center for Pediatric Sleep Management. She felt that sleep training was really overwhelming for both of her own children, and she would have greatly benefited from this type of support. After becoming a birth and postpartum doula and childbirth educator, she decided to jump into the world of sleep consulting, she saw a need, and it seemed such a natural fit to add this certification to her resume. So I am so glad she did. And she’s such a valuable member of our CPSM community. Ciara, thank you so much for being with us here today. So it was never my intention to train postpartum, doulas, and newborn care specialists to be sleep consultants. When I launched the Center for Pediatric Sleep Management a few years ago, I thought that I would be training stay-at-home moms or perhaps women that were working either part-time or full time, but in search of a bit of a passion project or a side hustle. And here we are. Most of the women that enroll in the program are postpartum doulas or newborn care specialists. What’s going on with that? Why are the postpartum doulas? What do you think it is?
Ciarra Morgan: I think, honestly just the easiest thing to add to your list of services that continues. You don’t have to find new clients. You already have the clients, you have another service that you can offer them. So it’s a really easy transition.
Jayne Havens: Yes, I agree with that. I also know that I’m talking to postpartum doulas all the time, I see so many ways that they can integrate this type of work into their business and they’re not even thinking of are just so many benefits. I was talking to somebody the other day, and she was trying to understand, if I’m a postpartum doula and a sleep consultant, how do I charge as opposed Partum doula? And then how do I charge as a sleep consultant? And I said to her, Well, if you’re a sleep consultant, just raise your rates, like you’re more valuable now. Right? So there are just so many ways that I think you all can integrate this type of work into the kind of work that you’re already doing. So I’ve looked back before we had this call, and you enrolled in the program in September of 2020. What did your business look like then? Were you busy with postpartum clients who are still trying to ramp up at that time?
Ciarra Morgan: My business was completely different than it is now. It was just little me I didn’t have any other doulas on my team. I was just a hypnobirthing childbirth educator and a doula birth that was doing a little bit of postpartum work. So my business was in the baby stages. I started my company in April of 2019. So it was still just after that first year, a year and a half.
Jayne Havens: Ok, and then you decided to become a certified sleep consultant? And what did that look like? How did that shift the way that you operate your business now? Or is it sort of the same? It’s just busier, and you’re also doing postpartum work? What does that look like for you?
Ciarra Morgan: I wanted to get certified because I knew that I have birth doula clients, for example, who were saying things Oh, my two-year-old is not sleeping through the night, you know, just at their prenatal meeting with me or something, complaining that their two year old not sleeping through the night and how they’re kind of dreading having a newborn because they just don’t want to have their two year old also waking them up at night. Why didn’t have the wheelhouse to be able to help them with that I could refer out. But I also knew that I wanted to be able to not take so many births, but still, be able to make extra money. And so this was a really easy thing to add to my list of services, where I didn’t have to go marketing extra really, I already had a bunch of clients kind of in my hands, I just instead of referring out was going to be able to take care of myself and my son was really not a great sleeper, and either my daughter wasn’t either. So I have an almost 12-year-old and a four-year-old son. And so at the time, He was almost three. And I was just struggling so much with him. And I was considering getting a sleep consultant or I’m just going to become one I’ll help everybody else. And the bonus here is that I’ll get to help on my own.
Jayne Havens: Yes, I remember that actually. Now that you’re sort of jogging my memory, I remember that you said you wanted to get sleep into a good place in your own home before you had the confidence to help others and that definitely happened for you. You sort of put the practices into place in your own home and got sleep to a better place and then started working with families professionally.
Ciarra Morgan: Totally. And what’s really funny is, you know, whatever my age, my kid is right now, is the age that I really don’t love to work with as much because it’s like it’s too close to home. It’s harder for me to work with kids around the age of my kid because when you’re so close to it. I’m not great at it on my own. So my kid is sleeping much better now. But we still have our own struggles. And that’s also the beauty of being able to help other people in this work and saying, Hey, I’ve done it, too, and I’m currently doing it too. We’re all going to have hiccups along the way, but it can be done.
Jayne Havens: Yes, totally. And I think you said you’re doing, or at least you were, I’m not sure if you still are doing birth and postpartum work. Is that right?
Ciarra Morgan: Yes. So I have done some overnight postpartum work, it’s really hard on my family for me to need to sleep then the next day. And it’s also hard with birth work to do postpartum work at the same time, especially if you’re going to be on call for multiple people a month. So I’m actually kind of shifting to some more, instead of overnight postpartum work doing some daytime postpartum work. So I have lined up, somebody who’s due in the next week or so I’m going to just go twice a week, for four hours during the day and help her, and then I have twins coming up at the end of April that I’m going to go help three days a week, and while my kids are in school. So it’s really nice because it doesn’t matter if I’m there overnight, or during the day actually might be more beneficial because I can help them during the day when they’re not so tired. And the moms not so tired and the dad to be able to get that sleep shaping in learn those techniques from early on and set a really good foundation. And then they can transfer that over into the night. I’m really excited about doing that with the daytime clients.
Jayne Havens: Yes, that sounds great. One thing I hear a lot from prospective students that are postpartum professionals or that are just like birth workers or postpartum professionals in general, Who work in that space, is that they have a hard time doing both birth and postpartum work at the same time. Because, If you’re on call for a birth, and you have a postpartum client, and the parent goes into labor, you can’t just pick up and leave in the middle of the night from your postpartum job, right? So that’s really tricky. So I think when people get into this line of work, they’re not necessarily thinking through the logistics of what that looks like to do birth and postpartum work at the same time. And my finding is that a lot of these professionals end up choosing either birth or postpartum. And then can add sleep support in with either one of those because it’s generally virtual. Would you agree with that?
Ciarra Morgan: Absolutely. Because I was really struggling with needing to make more money. But I didn’t want and couldn’t add more births, because I don’t have the childcare to be able to just up and go that meat is a month. And then I also didn’t want to add so much postpartum that when started this company, I keep having to go back to the basics. I started because I wanted to supplement my income to be able to spend more time with my kids and that was it. And then it blew up into something that I didn’t even think was possible and wasn’t even on my radar. So now I’m trying to scale back and kind of go ok, why did I start this work and I’m able to do and I don’t have to do those eight hours overnight shifts to be able to make the money, I can do four hours a day shifts a couple of days a week instead of many, do a couple of births instead of four. And do virtual sleep consulting, which allows me on those months that I want to take off from doula work because I don’t want to have like for July we have a family reunion coming up. Every other year, my husband’s family members all go to California. And I’m taking off July and take five weeks off to have a day off and when you have 37 to 42-week windows for Berta. So I can have sleep consulting clients that month, I can still make money from California, in the mountains. Sitting on the lake with my family. So it is so cool to be able to have something that allows me to have some balance in my life, and not just have to constantly be spread so thin.
Jayne Havens: Yes, I love that. It makes me so happy to hear you say that because that does go right back to your original why which I think is so important and to get into our work for a very specific reason. And then a lot of the time we really grow has happened to me and my business. The reason why I decided to start my own business is that I wanted to use my brain again, in a capacity that felt different than just raising my kids. I wanted to work my brain muscle, and have something that was mine. And I was a little bored as a stay-at-home mom. So I wanted to knock out the boredom. And I wanted to have something that was mine. And so I go back to that all the time. Because as I’m growing more, I still want to be that stay-at-home mom, I never wanted to stop being a stay-at-home mom, I still wanted to be around for my kids. I still wanted to be able to do all the things. So I have to sort of keeping it in check just like you because the original goal was not to be so busy that you don’t have time for your family. Right?
Ciarra Morgan: Yes, that’s really hard. And it’s funny too because my daughter and she’s almost 12, So in my son will do this too, but she gets really frustrated when you’re on your phone again. And yes, I do have to be on my phone a little bit more than a parent who has a nine-to-five job because I don’t get to put it down at five o’clock. But I’ve found ways and do an announcement now. I pick up my phone, but I do a disclaimer. I’m a mama having trouble with her kid sleeping tonight, I just have to answer this text. It’s received better from her because she wants the kid to sleep. And then she’s learning our kids are listening, And she’s listening to what it’s like to help somebody with their sleep. And she asked questions about birth and my almost 12-year-old, it’s a big joke in our house when they do sex education in school, she’s going be saying, No, you’re saying it wrong. I’m just going to come up and tell it. Our kids are always listed. So it helps them be understanding and also seems like she already started her own little business because she has a little baking business, because she sees both of her parents own small businesses. And so it’s so good for kids to see us have something of our own, but also be able to be more present.
Jayne Havens: Yes, I think that’s exactly right. As far as your virtual clients are concerned, how much virtual work are you doing? How many clients do you have? A week, a month? What does that look like for you?
Ciarra Morgan: It looks different now than it has been. So I have not been taking much sleep work. I have only been doing it every once in a while. We’re just going to be real honest here. I haven’t told you this yet. I kind of hated it. When I started. Really, I kind of hated supporting these people because it was making my stomach turn like my own anxiety was flaring up. And then I was having impostor syndrome, and how am I supposed to help these people, like my own kid just made me sit outside his door for 15 minutes. I was feeling that imposter syndrome. And then I started seeing people have success. And that was really exciting. And I started liking it more. And then I started realizing the freedom that I could have. And so I started interacting more in the local mom Facebook groups and reminding myself to tell my families about what I have families that already work with me about my work. And so it started to have people referring out to me, I had other doulas reaching out to me saying, Hey, I heard you do sleep consulting, I have a client that is really struggling, can you help them and doing those little 15-minute free discovery calls. And so this month, I think in January, I’ve had three, and I have another one that’s about to start with me for a trade, her husband just lost her job. And she really needs help. But they can’t afford it and only owns a small business. So we’re doing a small business trade, which is fun. So this month had three and that’s my goal is to be doing more virtual work, and less in-person work until my son’s in kindergarten, we have the rest of this year, and then next year as his last year pre-Kindergarden. My goal is that until he goes into kindergarten, I’m going to cut back on doing the homework and do more childbirth classes, which are all virtual now, for the most part, unless it’s private, and then do sleep consulting and that allows me to have more flexibility. I could change my mind next month if I want to.
Jayne Havens: So are you you’re feeling a little less anxious. I appreciate your honesty and actually identify with that. When I first started, my stomach would turn for my clients. I was so anxious with them and felt so deep in my soul. Every time they were stressed so do I and really carried that weight. It was something I was used to because I used to cater weddings and Bar and Bat Mitzvahs, like big and really important celebrations, the stress and the pressure to have those events go perfectly. So I was used to the pressure. But I really identify with what you’re talking about. And I appreciate your honesty. It’s very real that we feel this. But now that you’ve had success, have you sort of lightened up a little bit? Are you feeling more confident and enjoying it?
Ciarra Morgan: Yes, my last three clients have been the hugest changes in their lives like teens I just had a family, and who didn’t. They were struggling so much with their baby. She was waking up all night long. And you know holding her during the day never putting her down for naps. Mom now didn’t get to spend any time with her 18-month-old because she was constantly dealing with the baby and had to have a come to Jesus moment with her and our discovery call. It was like how fair is it to your 18-month-old that you’re just catering to your five-month-old? That’s not fair to him. Don’t you want someone on one time with him? She’s said, you’re right. I know I do. And I didn’t and wasn’t trying to be mean, but she needed that push to do something about it because she knows she would say well, I know she’s capable of sleeping because sometimes, she cries in the night and I’m just too tired to go in and then wake up five hours later and she slept. Yes. So she knew she was capable. She knew she had to get out of her own way. And she’s now sleeping through the night still explicitly Riblet. Breastfeeding didn’t have to lose that. And she had told her birth doula, We wanted to have a big family and I told my husband, we can’t have any more kids, and done that’s what she said before that doula recommended sleep consulting. And then she texts her doula the other day and said, we can have another kid and this changed our lives, and she’s going to continue to and going to continue to grow her family.
Jayne Havens: So it’s amazing. I mean, that was life-changing. That’s really amazing. And probably what? a couple of weeks literally transformed the way this family functions.
Ciarra Morgan: Her baby was sleeping through the night on my mind. Like she just wanted space and then it was about a weekend when the mom finally felt rested enough to breathe. And she even texted me one day, I just had one on one time with my son. How fun was that? Did I miss that? I didn’t know how much I missed that it was too tired to miss.
Jayne Havens: That is so great. I love that. I think. Let’s shift gears. I want to talk to you about toddler preschooler big kids sleep. I know that this is what you were dealing with in your home. I guess my question to you is, do you enjoy supporting parents of kids that are a little older? I know you said that it feels hard when you work with a family that has a child that’s the exact same age as yours. But you know, as a postpartum doula, I think before you started sleep consulting, you were really only supporting parents with newborns with infants. And now you’re being faced with toddler sleep struggles and preschoolers. Are you enjoying that? Are you taking that type of work? Or do you still prefer to just work with infants?
Ciarra Morgan: Right now infants are what’s coming to me. So it’s organically been that way. I have worked with some toddlers, and we’ve seen good success. But I do relate to them almost a little bit too much. Because I am in that same phase of life a little bit. But it also is helpful because I get how stubborn some kids can be. And full disclosure. I still sit outside of my son’s room at night. I don’t stay in there. We give hugs and kisses we walkout. Yes, buddy. I love you. Make sure you’re I’m there for my son, and we stay for about 10 minutes. He’s always asleep by then. And at one point, my husband’s said, can we get a sleep consultant? so we can start sitting outside of this room. But I said this works for us. If it wasn’t working, then yes, we need to phase out of this. But I actually kind of love the time sitting outside of his room for 10 minutes and just scrolling my phone mindlessly before I have to get to the next task of getting my total, almost telling myself, that I’m ready for the next day and all of that. I find peace at that moment. So for us, if it’s not broken, don’t fix it. And if I needed to change that I could and I know that I have the skills to do it. So I have enjoyed working with families, I find it more rewarding when they’re successful. Because I got past my own issues, and I was able to help them through that. And I wouldn’t say that I’ve ever had a family that hasn’t been successful at the end of two weeks, there might be a couple more tweaks they need to make.
Jayne Havens: That’s fabulous. That’s absolutely awesome. And regarding your own kid, I totally agree with you, if it’s not broken, no need to fix it. I think, people sometimes think of sleep training as being so black and white. And there’s a right way to do things and a wrong way to do things. And that is just not the case. I think the whole point of working on this is to make it more manageable for you as the parent and for the child as well so that everybody feels more comfortable and competent with regard to their sleep. And if this is how your child feels comfortable, and this is how you feel comfortable and good for you. I’m all good with that.
Ciarra Morgan: Yes, I think that might have been the biggest personal growth takeaway from my training with you was not during the training process. But right on those first ones that you’re doing, right after you get certified, your first clients, and I am such a type-A person. I’m very black and white organized, if it doesn’t fit into the box, I don’t know how to handle it. And so that was my biggest kind of thing. I had to get over with sleep consulting. And when I would read the other posts people would make in our group and I would read your answers. We go look at the sleep chart, go start over and I do that. And that helped me in life in general, not just in the sleep consulting. So I really appreciated that it’s you really, you really help people get out of their own heads?
Jayne Havens: Yes. And apply some real-life common sense. Sometimes when I see a lot with my students, and even graduates who have completed the program, they’re looking for the answer, and I must have missed this in the course somewhere, so what’s the answer? Give me the answer, what do you think the answer is, You’re good at this. You have, your brain work in this way you understand. And sometimes it’s just applying real-life knowledge to tricky circumstances. In the case of your child, sitting out in the hallway is solving the problem. Nobody’s, not getting the sleep that they need. And nobody’s anxious, and nobody’s bothered by it. So it’s working. That’s great. And if it wasn’t working, and if it wasn’t working, then you’d sit down, and you’d have a family meeting, and you’d figure out how to what changes to make, all come to an agreement, and you’d make the changes.
Ciarra Morgan: That’s the biggest thing I think, is with toddlers, it’s so much communication. And it’s usually that parents aren’t talking to their toddlers enough, and I would get the same, talking to them when they’re not tired. And the whole thing about is getting out of your own head and asking, Well, what do you think the answer is? That’s what I do now. And I actually prepare people for that on our launch call, sometimes even in the discovery call, like for the first week, I’m going to answer your questions around the one week mark, if you ask me a question, don’t be offended if my first question is, What do you think? Because I want at the end of the two weeks for you to feel really confident not having me in your pocket anymore. And so that’s kind of what we do for the first week, I’ll answer all your questions, or I asked 1000 questions to be able to answer your question. And then around week one, we start phasing out of that, and we’re going to switch it up. Now it’s your turn.
Jayne Havens: I do the same thing. I think it’s really important for us to set our clients up for success long term and I get asked on almost every single discovery call, what happens if I need you after two weeks? Yes, I have a plan in place for that. But my goal is, if I’m doing my job properly, you don’t need me again.
Ciarra Morgan: In three months or six, me? Right. Do you follow the directions?
Jayne Havens: Exactly, So if they do their part, and I do mine, they shouldn’t need to come back to me in a couple of weeks or a couple of months. But my goal is to work myself out of the job.
Ciarra Morgan: I feel like those are the outliers. I feel like those are not the norm. People don’t usually meet us past two weeks, usually, something else is going on.
Jayne Havens: If that’s the case, let’s shift gears a little bit. You know me, I’m all about business building and entrepreneurship. And that’s really what I want this podcast to be about. So tell us what that looks like for you. How are you finding clients? I know that you touched on it a little bit, but, how are you growing your business? I heard you say connecting and Facebook groups talking to other doulas. What does that look like?
Ciarra Morgan: Well, sometimes it’s just I’m scrolling my Facebook newsfeed. I would love to be able to not be on social media, but I have to because that’s my work. So I do, if I’m just scrolling through Facebook and I see in my newsfeed the word sleep. I just look at that post and comment on it with a pediatric sleep consultant here and then I see with my Doula work I see a birth doula here. And I answer a question or say, and feel free to reach out to me and private message me. So that’s one of them. And part of us kind of association called the Central Texas Doula Association. We have little biography on there. It says our alternate training. And that’s one of mine. And it says on there that I’m a sleep consultant. People in that group know that I am and they send people my way. Actually, there is another one of our CPSM graduates that’s in there as well. And so she’s getting some work from that. It looks like this morning, I had a networking little phone call with one of the local chiropractors and she was asking me, I thought she works with prenatal people. So I thought she was going to be asking me about birth classes and birth doula. And she was interested in sleep consulting. She would really love to be able to share this information and grilled me out on what services I offer. So that was great, it’s mutually beneficial for us to send people back and forth to each other. And not just one. I mean, she’s in a certain area of town, there’s a whole other area of town and north, south east-west, that I can make these connections in that I have clients and all those areas. So then they can send clients to me, and likewise. Talking to neighbors and hearing them mention and just trying to sell everybody something, and giving free advice here and there. I do always got to give the caveat of I can’t fix it. And just one little answer, because a lot of times it’s multifaceted. But here’s a really easy fix, that might help a lot. I think that’s basically how Facebook groups, and other birth professionals.
Jayne Havens: Yes, I agree. I always love to ask this question, because I do think that everybody comes at business building a little bit differently. But I think you and I are very aligned in how we do things. I’m the same way. I’m constantly just sharing about what I do for those who are interested in hearing about it and making valuable connections where we can refer business back and forth both ways. When you find a connection that works, not just with a referral coming one way, but going both ways. Those are the best kinds of connections because you’re cheering for each other and rooting each other on. I always say the more people that know about the work that we’re doing. Those are all people that can refer us to business or share our name with friends or friends of friends or friends of friends of friends, right? Yes. So do you have any big goals for this year and beyond? Have you thought about it? Do you set goals?
Ciarra Morgan: Well, it’s kind of funny because it wouldn’t be a normal goal, right? You’re usually trying to grow. And my first year it was just me. Then I added a lot of postpartum doulas and birth doulas. And I felt like although that served me last year, I was very busy not only with my own birth clients but backing up my other doulas, birth and postpartum if somebody’s sick, guess who has to go? It’s me. So even though I scaled back on my own birth, very busy last year. And so I’m not the kind of person who likes, oh, I have a word for this year. I don’t have that creative mind. But this year, I want to focus, because I felt that I’ve lost my focus. because it was so fun to grow. And what I’m trying to do this year, it’s actually pulled back a little bit, refocus on my family. And my son is such a fun age, this boy is so much fun, and I just want to enjoy him. And then my daughter, she’s almost 12. So I’m actually scaling back a little bit, I’m taking fewer births. For myself, I’m going to focus more on virtual work so that I can be home more. So that looks like childbirth classes and sleep consulting. And I actually made more money last year than could ever have ever dreamed of, which still is probably a lot less than most people. I made more than I ever had last year, I was able to pay out to contractors as much as I paid myself. So I paid myself a certain amount. And I got to pay out that much, which is huge. That was life-changing for some of the people on the team. But I kind of looked at one of my friends and made more than I’ve ever made last year. And I know I’m not going to make that much again this year, but I’m ok with that.
Jayne Havens: That’s ok.
Ciarra Morgan: Goal? And now I’m gonna scale back.
Jayne Havens: Good for you. That’s great. And I think that’s really important. I’m going through that in my own brain right now, my business has grown rapidly. And I know that I’m not going to be able to continue to double or triple my income every single year, At a certain point, it’s going to be what it is. And, and I think that in those moments where we sort of start to level off or even decide to pull back, we have to remember why we got into this. It’s not just about making bigger numbers every year. It’s about why we got into this work, which is to use our brains, spend more time with family have something that we’re proud of all of those things are true, regardless of how much money we make, right?
Ciarra Morgan: Yes, and you were saying earlier about networking, and it’s so nice to find people where you’re cheering each other on. And I actually had a friend post on Facebook the other day and it said, you can’t compete with me. And replied, I want you to win too. And I feel like that’s me and I don’t need to be the biggest or the best. I want everyone to be successful and people on a team and that means that sometimes I’ve got to scale back a little bit to allow that room for growth for other people and room to focus on my family for myself.