Can sleep deprivation be held responsible for family problems? Sleep trainer Erica Lötter sees its effects on parents and children first-hand in her profession.
Erica’s brainchild is a program called Mom’s Lifeline. For many desperate mommies and daddies, it has proven to be just that. Her aim is to ensure a healthy family unit. When a new infant comes into the home, trouble sleeping can very easily disturb the functioning of the entire family. Erica steps in and saves the day.
After seeing a prospective new client for a consultation, she spends two evenings at their house. On the first night she takes the parents through her process step by step. Very early the next morning she departs to give the family room to go about their usual routine. On night two, she steps back and takes the role of observer. She allows the parents to use the tools she has geared them with, only stepping in as needed.
Mom’s Lifeline is a professional consulting service. Erica offers services such as night nursing, au pair training and, of course, sleep training. She does not do much advertising; her work mostly comes from referrals. Parents meet her at workshops and during public speaking events.
Erica first got involved with this profession when she herself was trying to fall pregnant with a second child. Working in the corporate world, her doctor advised her to move into a less stressful job. She began the search and, in the process, also read up on anything and everything to do with babies and pregnancy. She came across the subject of sleep training and found it interesting.
Very soon she found herself running a small, informal project as a sideline. The sideline became her passion and she saw a gap in the market: new parents who had serious need for her services. Even after her daughter’s birth, she ran her business part time.
Erica admits that the success of her business is due to the fact that she enjoys it and invests a lot of time into her brand. As her business grew, she was forced to make the decision between staying in the corporate world, or pursuing her passion. Sadly her mother, her strongest support with her daughter and home, passed away. At this time, she was also helping her husband with the daily operations of his new business. Regardless of the stressors in her life, she chose her passion and started running Mom’s Lifeline on a full-time basis.
A very thankful client pushed her to make her business more formal. She surprised Erica by setting her up with a professional and eye-catching website, a logo and business cards. Being the type of person she is, Erica took this encouragement and ran with it, growing her business to where it is today.
When she started to build her business, Erica’s work took her away from her family over weekends as well. Now, she plans her appointments around her family life. Erica enjoys the freedom to design her own schedule.
I run my own diary during the day.
After years in the corporate world, running from one meeting to another, she had the opportunity to manage her own time, take her daughter to sports and be there for her family and her husband’s company during the day.
Her phone does not stop ringing. She excuses herself every now and then. Her clients, her family and her husband’s business are all very important to her and she gives her full attention to whichever one is demanding it at that time.
Through her work, she has met people from all walks of life, even a few famous parents, she admits smilingly. Her work ethic is strong; she does not disclose names. She is part of a family during their most vulnerable point at home: in the middle of the night, tired and often desperate. Erica has seen marriages suffer and family lives in turmoil, but still they have a successful end. Their gratitude is probably the biggest reward she can receive.
We decided to meet at her home, which is also Mom’s Lifeline’s base and from where she runs her husband’s office. Her work space is busy but organized and it is clear to see that she has brought structure and discipline with her from the corporate world. Tidy rows of files, all neatly marked: proof of her organizational skills. I asked her about the pros and cons of having a home-based office:
You never stop working and my dining room table looks like a boardroom. I do like the idea that everything I need is right here and I don’t have to run to an office if I need something.
Over a cup of coffee, she jokes while looking at the neat groups of files and paperwork on her dining room table. Although work takes up a lot of her time, her family is still what keeps her going. Against a wall, in her dining room she has the following words:
Met tye hardloop ons, met tye loop ons, met tye val ons. Maar hier staan ons weer op. Hier leer ons weer loop. Hier leer ons weer hardloop. Hier gaan lê ons nie. Opgee is nie ’n opsie nie. Ons hou vas aan Hoop, Genade en Liefde.
What advice would she give to someone wanting to follow the same career path?
If you are only in it for the money, don’t do it. You need to have a passion for it. Ask yourself if you will be able to be away from home, sleep in someone else’s house and sacrifice evenings away from your family. Early childhood development training is a must for this business. A nursing background will also help.
A little bird whispered in my ear that there is a book on the topic of sleep on her desktop. She laughed at my statement.
Yes, it is in the process. I missed the publisher’s deadline, but I will still do it.
This busy lady might have a problem sitting down long enough to finish that book. She is juggling two jobs, a busy teenager and her extended family. I leave her with the promise that I will check in on the progress of that manuscript.
At least we know that, regardless of how busy she is, she isn’t losing any sleep.