Natalie Fay is a Certified Sleep Consultant through Center for Pediatric Sleep Management and the founder of Sound Sleepers by Natalie Fay. Natalie works full time as a household manager and nanny where she enjoys partnering with parents to support their children and the entire household in unique ways. Adding sleep consulting has allowed Natalie to expand her reach and promote wellness for young children and parents alike.
-How Natalie juggles growing her business while working full time
-How she feels about being in this field without children of her own
-The mindset necessary in order to start your own business
-Natalie’s five year plan to transition towards offering an entirely new type of support for her clients
Join our Facebook group to learn more about becoming a Certified Sleep Consultant
Natalie Fay is a certified sleep consultant through the Center for Pediatric Sleep Management and the founder of Sound Sleepers by Natalie Fay, Natalie works full time as a household manager and nanny where she enjoys partnering with parents to support their children and the entire household in unique ways. Adding sleep consulting has allowed Natalie to expand her reach and promote wellness for young children and parents alike. Natalie, welcome to the podcast. I’m so excited to chat with you today.
Natalie Fay: Thanks for having me. I’m excited to be here.
Jayne Havens: So before we get started, give us a little background. Tell us about you. What are you up to professionally and tell us why you ultimately decided to get certified to work as a sleep consultant.
Natalie Fay: Sure. So I am currently working as a career nanny. I live in Madison, Wisconsin. So it’s a big college town and I actually work for two surgeons who are also professors so they have a super busy life. And back in 2020, which was actually right as the pandemic was getting started is when I was hired for them. I was kind of making a career change myself. I was in a graduate program. It wasn’t feeling right. So I came back to nannying because I kind of had done that in college. And I loved it. I just didn’t know that you could do it for a career. So that was perfect timing. So these guys had never had much experience with kids. So they really needed someone to step in, and be someone to look to for all things, baby, really. So I was really fulfilled in that role. I always wanted something more because I don’t want to be a nanny forever. So someone recommended your program to me. I think it was a student. Yes, it was Anna, it definitely was. And I was like wow, I didn’t know you could do this professionally. I had been working with families for like years just kind of off the cuff helping their kids sleep. I didn’t know I could make it into a business. And I literally felt like the universe was aligning. It felt right.
Jayne Havens: Yes, I love that. I was so excited that we found each other because you had such a great experience with littles and you were definitely craving a way to expand your reach. And, you know, I was excited to be able to give you that opportunity to do so.
Natalie Fay: Yes, it was perfect.
Jayne Havens: So you enrolled in the course in August of 2020. And you were finished a few months later I think by October. How did you juggle working full time while moving through the curriculum? And then I guess my next follow-up question is now that you’re up and running, how do you juggle supporting families while also nannying full time?
Natalie Fay: Yes, so I do work 50 hours a week, which is a lot but what I love about nannying is that it kind of varies, but you can be flexible. So the little guy that I was the baby was three months old, three or four months old, which actually made him like the perfect practicum subject for all the material I was reading. So that was really cool. I was really able to put the info I was learning into practice. So while he would be napping, if I had extra time, I tried to just sneak in a little bit. And then I would commit to myself every night, I would set my timer for an hour, and I would just sit down and work for an hour and get done as much as I could. And honestly instead of like reading over it for the whole evening and probably not getting that much done, if I just gave an hour I got more done than I would have. Anyway, so that worked out for me.
Jayne Havens: Yes, that’s perfect. We talk a lot in the community about the Power Hour and yes, it sounds like you were putting that to use without even realizing that you were doing that. But you know, everybody has an hour in their day somewhere where they’re, you know, busy scrolling the internet or, you know, scrolling Facebook or watching Instagram reels or whatever you do. When you’re just sort of mindlessly passing the time, and if you can be really intentional with just an hour of your day, I mean, you got done that you were finished the course in, I think two or three months. So it really didn’t take you so long. And then what about once, once you were certified? What did it look like to get your business off the ground while also nannying? How did you juggle supporting your family that you were working with, but also like that grind that there is, you know, just in the beginning of getting anything started, right, like you have to hustle a little bit to get off the ground? And what did that look like for you?
Natalie Fay: Well, I will say, as I mentioned earlier, I had been in graduate school, and that’s also a hustle. But the difference there was like, I deep down didn’t really want to be doing that. And with this, it was like, this is what I think I’ve been looking for professionally. So I had that drive as I had, I wanted to be doing it, it excited me. So in that respect, it kind of inspired me to find a way to make it work. I luckily knew a few people, my friends, a graphic designer, and I realized my time constraints, but I knew what skill sets I had and didn’t have. So I delegated. So I knew that I wouldn’t be able to create my own website in the time or in quality of what I would want. So I hired my friend to do it for me. And it really helped me, I still was making progress. And I was supporting a friend. But I wasn’t overloading my own plate. And that’s kind of what I did for a lot of the tasks. And then just the other things that I did for the business-like writing copy or kind of going making my packages with the I want them to be I did the same thing where I would set a timer. And just work when I felt that motivation. And when I felt the energy to do so. And I wasn’t being hard on myself and giving myself hard deadlines. I just was following my like energy. If that sounds good, that sounds real?
Jayne Havens: I think that that’s exactly right. And I think that you make a good point that when it’s something that you’re really excited about doing and something that truly lights you up and you know gives you life, it doesn’t feel like work. I always say that because people will ask me all the time. Like how much time do you have to put in? I always think that’s a funny question. Like, how much time do you have to put in? I don’t know, I want to put in all my extra time because I love doing what I’m doing. So I never looked at it as like, how much time do I have to spend on something? It’s like, Where can I find more free time to work on something that really lights me up and gets me excited about everything I’m doing? Does it sound like maybe you felt the same way?
Natalie Fay: I definitely did. That’s what it was for me. And it had been something I had been searching for professionally for a while ever since I went to grad school. I was really searching because I’m someone who does want a career. And when I want to be a mom someday and I don’t I want to also have a career. So it just felt right. And yes, that’s exactly what happened to me.
Jayne Havens: So you just said something that I wasn’t planning to talk to you about. But I think I should ask you this question because I’m sure others are listening and are wondering. You’re not a parent yourself. And a lot of people do ask me that. Like, do I have to be a parent to do this work? Or will parents trust me if I don’t have children of my own? How would you answer that? I mean, I know you’re doing it so it must work out. But did you have to get over that mindset?
Natalie Fay: I did. And I think I even might have asked you that on our first discovery call way back when I was learning about CPSM.
Jayne Havens: I actually remember what I said to you. Now, it’s jogging my memory. My daughter was in a preschool class, her preschool teacher was like the Mary Poppins, of preschool teachers. And I always felt like she was a better parent than I was. And she wasn’t even a parent. Like she had no kids and no personal experience with raising children. But she was so patient and understanding and had such a global understanding of how toddlers and preschoolers operated. And I was always just so impressed by her. And I think I told you that story, because, you know, she was caring for my daughter all day long and didn’t have kids of her own and if she could do it, that was good enough for me, you know?
Natalie Fay: Yes, that was my own imposter syndrome getting in my way in my head and the way you answered it with that story, just so like it was like you didn’t even skip a beat, you’re like, No, absolutely not. That’s not even a concern. And I think how I view it, too, is like, I have been a nanny now, for almost 10 years, because I did it while I was in college. Also, I also studied education and child development and child psychology in college, and a lot of parents don’t have that background, which is fine. And what I always say is, and actually just wrote a post about this is like, you’re an expert on your baby, because every baby is different. I’m not going to come in and, you know, tell someone things about their baby that they don’t feel is right. But on the other side of that, I’m an expert now in pediatric sleep from taking your course, as well as child behavior and behavioral health. And I’ve worked with so many kids in person. So I feel like really, this consulting work is much like a marriage of those two things. And sometimes I think it’s even a positive, that I don’t have kids because I have a different perspective, and maybe that’s what the parents are looking for. And that’s a little special sauce that they get in hiring me. Just to have that third perspective.
Jayne Havens: I actually think that that’s spot on, In my process of training others to do this work, one thing that I noticed that some very green sleep consultants are doing is bringing their own experience into their sleep plans. They will say, well, my child did this… and, I actually think that that’s really not usually very productive. Because, you know, this isn’t about our children. This isn’t about our experiences, this is about our client’s experiences. And, what we went through as parents are just anecdotal, in my opinion, you know, it’s just, it’s just one tiny little speck on a huge graph of data, right? So I think that I think that you’re spot on, maybe the fact that you don’t have children of your own, and your experience is just like seeing kids at all sorts of developmental ages and stages, and being raised by all different types of families is actually maybe more valuable than the limited experience that a parent has in their own home.
Natalie Fay: Well, thank you. I know everyone struggles with impostor syndrome. And I’ve just felt like your brain will come up with any sort of thing to kind of get in your way. And I would just say, like, I’ve been able to push past that and actually use it as an asset.
Jayne Havens: I love that. That’s really amazing. So speaking of imposter syndrome, let’s sort of take that a step further. I constantly get inquiries, specifically from career nannies that would love to add sleep consulting to their list of credentials, but many of them sort of can’t get out of their own heads to do anything other than to like, do what they know, support families in-home on an hourly basis. Did you struggle with that mindset as well? Or were you sort of just excited and pumped and you just went with it?
Natalie Fay: So I like just what my goals are, I guess, it just depends, I think on what your goals are. So for me, I see in the next like five years, I know this is a question we can get to but I think like I see myself transitioning out of nannying and using all my experience I’ve had from all those years and moving into a full-time business. But right now, I don’t want to do that. I’m perfectly happy working as a nanny. But I, at the same time love having this extra piece where I can kind of use my brain in a different way. So I’m just making that work for me in a way that works with my life. So I guess I didn’t really struggle with that because that is my ultimate goal is to kind of move into a full-time business owner in the next three to five years. But I guess, you know, if someone was struggling with that, I would just say like, just know that you have a wealth of experience working with all these different families. It’s something that not very many people can do, especially switching from family to family. It takes a lot of emotional intelligence and skill. And a lot of those same skills you can use as a sleep consultant and business owner. So just know that you have that huge asset in your arsenal.
Jayne Havens: Seriously such wise words for real for real. So how many families are you supporting at a time? Whether it’s monthly or what does that look like for you? What’s your caseload if you don’t mind me asking?
Natalie Fay: Of course. As I have said, I work 50 hours a week as a nanny. I’ve had to just keep my clients at three a month. Most of my clients use my two-week package, which is the most in-depth similar to yours. I provide coaching and more long term support. And I love that the most, but it takes a lot of energy, and I want to make sure I’m giving everything I have to them. And if I find that if I have more than that, it’s hard for me, I just kind of get a little burned out.
Jayne Havens: Yes. Okay. And if you’re sort of maxed out for the month, what are you doing? Are you asking families to hold off for a couple of weeks? Are you referring that business out?
Natalie Fay: So right now I create a little waiting list. And if someone really seems to need someone immediately, I luckily have a lot of colleagues and friends that I’ve made in this group that I have group chats with, and I am able to refer out to them, I guess. But for the most part, people are ok. I always say, let’s make sure that we start this when we’re both on a good, you know, page, are you ready to jump in with this? Or do you want some time to prepare? And usually, they’re like, oh, okay, like, next month is a better month for us. So let’s pick, you know, XYZ date, and it seems to work out so far.
Jayne Havens: Okay, that’s awesome. That’s really great that you’ve, first of all, that you’ve identified the sort of a comfortable amount of work that you’re able to take on, and still support your clients at the highest level, support the family that you’re caring for at the highest level, and still working towards your long term goals. I think it’s hard for a lot of people to properly manage all of that. So you know, if you’re, if you’re really doing that, I think that that’s something to be super proud of. Thank you. When it comes to entrepreneurship, I always go back to the importance of identifying your why, you know, why did you want to get started on this journey back in 2020. And I’m wondering if you’re why from when you got started is still the same? Why does that motivate you? Today, two years later.
Natalie Fay: Yes, I think what it is, for me is, this is kind of something that I’ve been able to peel back layers and like my career journey and find out what I really want to do, and for me, it’s working with children and families. But at the same time, I’m someone who has a huge value and importance on my own relationships in my life. So in other jobs I’ve had, I’ve worked in sales, I’ve worked, I was in school to become a school psychologist, I’ve had all these different roles. And one thing that I always found limiting was being so tied to a nine to five or to like being able to have, you know, 10 vacation days for a year. And I’m someone who really, I have a lot of important people in my life. And I plan to, like I said, have a family someday. So being able to kind of like move away from the old tapes, I guess I had a business coach use that term with me, and I loved it. Like we have this, these tapes in our head where it’s like, that’s what works are supposed to look like. And I really don’t think that’s true. Like, I’m most inspired when I can kind of make my own schedule. It’s extremely fulfilling to see your own business grow when you’re working for yourself. So my why I guess is to be able to build a business to a point that I could go and visit a friend for a week, but still work the whole time and like and be completely fulfilled and not have to calculate in my head like, Oh, who am I going to see this year? Because I only have 10 days of vacation, you know?
Jayne Havens: So yes, I think the freedom and the flexibility is huge. And that’s something that I think a lot of us talk about in this general abstract sense. You know, I talk about it a lot when it comes to entrepreneurship, right, because that’s what everybody says they want but until you can actually the way that you just articulated it was so spot-on, you know, it’s like, right now you have your 10 vacation days, and you can go visit maybe like one friend or two friends over the course of the year and like, those are your days. And if you can build your business to the point where you can be, you know, self-sufficient and successful no matter where you are in the country or in the world. Like that is true. Freedom, which is amazing.
Natalie Fay: Yes, that’s it keeps me energized, and like you know, I do, and like you said before you enjoy doing the work too. So like if I’m going to go on a vacation, I won’t mind like you know, taking a call in the afternoon while other people are out on a walk. You know, it just works with what’s important to me.
Jayne Havens: Yes, would you define this new-ish role of yours being a sleep consultant, would you define it as Being a bit of a passion project, or? Or is it the income, the extra income that sort of keeps you going? Or maybe it’s both.
Natalie Fay: I think it’s both. It’s passion, a passion project in that, like, I really enjoy, and I don’t ever get sick of trying, you know, building it and seeing what I could, what it could be. And actually, the extra income is great. I’m not doing it for that. But of course, you know, that is great. And eventually, I want to turn that into, you know, more than double or more of what I make currently. So it’s, all of it is energizing to me, and that’s the most important piece and what I had been looking for in a career.
Jayne Havens: So yes, I love that. So, Center for Pediatric Sleep Management is specifically teaching the virtual model of this business. And I know that that’s largely what you are practicing right now. But some within our community are offering in-home support, and I know that you’re planning to offer that, that come this summer. Do you have any idea specifically of what that will look like? And, are you nervous about it or just totally excited?
Natalie Fay: I’m a little bit of both. So I have a lot of people who have asked me that, like clients where I’m on discovery calls are like so like, could you come over? So what I plan on doing is offering in home support. I actually was talking to another sleep consultant who goes on long-distance calls. So she will fly to Manhattan and have someone pay her several thousand dollars to go and stay with them for several days and just get in there and get their kids sleeping. So I would maybe go on a long business trip to do that. I would like that at this point in my life. I just want to offer that because I think a lot of people, like myself, are visual hands-on learners. So that although I am supporting them, and I’m there coaching people along, I think there is value in someone actually coming in. And like looking at your child’s room and making sure it’s safe and just being there with you, as your child’s crying, and they can see how you’re reacting to it and like and not reacting to it and just have someone there to support I think is really important and something that I would love to offer.
Jayne Havens: Yes, I’m excited to hear what that looks like for you, I think that you would be a perfect fit for it. So I really can’t wait to see you get that going. I know we touched a little bit on your goals and like where you would like to see your business, you know, a few years from now, I guess my follow-up question to that is like, how do you plan to make that happen? Like if you’re working? If you’re working 50 hours a week, and you really can only take three-ish families at a time before you start to feel burned out? How do you have a plan for how to shift away from your hourly, full-time job to more of like consulting-based income?
Natalie Fay: Yes. So the family I work for right now just happens to be a really great situation, they have two kids who are like 15 months apart from their babies right now, the oldest is about to turn two. And the oldest goes to a little half-day early learning center. So in the fall, the youngest will be able to go as well. So just for like a couple of days, and I actually have full control over the schedule. So I can choose one morning they go. So I’m going to just kind of try to take some time to have a good morning for myself where I have clients and I actually have a little office set for myself in their house. So it’s just really perfect. And as the kids get older, they’ll go to school more and my role will be less involved with the care and more involved with kind of household management and just kind of be more of a supporting role for the family. And so they are fully aware of this like we have a very open relationship here. And they know that this is my goal, and they want this to work for me and for them. And I think that’s a really important piece for a consultant or for a nanny or any role you’re in is to make sure that you’re you and your employer or your client have that relationship where you are both benefiting so that’s my goal.
Jayne Havens: Yes. Sounds like you are with the right family.
Natalie Fay: I really am. It’s perfect.
Jayne Havens: Yes. So before we wrap up, share with everybody how they can find you if they want to follow you on social media or reach out with questions, whatever. Share whatever you’d like to share.
Natalie Fay: Sure. So I am on social media, Instagram, and Facebook. It’s at Sound Sleepers by Natalie Fay, you can DM me there, or message me on Facebook. I also have an email address that’s in my bio on Instagram. So I respond to all pretty equally frequently. So yes, go ahead and reach out.
Jayne Havens: Perfect. Thank you so much, Natalie, I really appreciate you being willing to come on and share your story. And frankly, I was just saying this before we started recording Natalie and I haven’t been on a zoom like face-to-face in two years. It was nice to see your face and chat with you and catch up and I can’t wait for this to air. So thank you again.
Natalie Fay: Thank you!