Who is behind Sleep Tight Tonight?
HI MOMS, DADS, and CAREGIVERS!
I’M CARYN SHENDER!
Hello! I am Caryn Shender, founder and owner of Sleep Tight Tonight and your personal sleep coach. As a certified pediatric sleep consultant, certified safe sleep ambassador, and author of My Scar is Beautiful, I love seeing the transformation and joy when families can sleep again. I'm a Chicago transplant living in Atlanta and a proud wife, and momma to a toddler, cat and dog. I love going on adventures, being spontaneous and playing games, nature walks, the sounds of the beach, singing Moana or watching Cocomelon with my daughter, and making a difference in others’ lives.
My love for kids and helping others began when I was a little girl. All my jobs growing up were always centered around caring for children whether it was babysitting, leading afterschool programs for preschoolers and kindergartners, being a camp counselor, or being a peer mentor for kids with cerebral palsy, and even volunteering to teach elementary school in Tanzania, Africa. I have always loved helping others and doing my part to make a difference. My daughter and my passion to help others combined, inspired me to write a book that serves as a positive and life changing resource for many children with scars. And now, I love supporting families in getting the sleep they need to function and focus on the other important things in life!
So, why did I become a sleep consultant?
It's a long story (see below!) but the TLDR of it is that my daughter was born with CHD and after her surgeries, getting her to sleep through the night was vital for our mental health and I wanted to help other families get sleep too. Plus, I wanted the flexibility to be home with her while she grows up!
Okay so the longer story: My daughter is the light of my life. She wakes up every day with a smile and inspires me to be a better mom and person. She who was born with ALCAPA, a very rare Congenital Heart Defect (CHD) affecting 1:300,000 kids. Essentially ALCAPA can cause heart attacks because the left coronary artery originates from the pulmonary artery instead of the aorta so blood that doesn’t have enough oxygen flows towards the heart instead of the lungs causing the heart muscle to not get enough oxygen.
She is also the inspiration behind my book My Scar is Beautiful. We got her diagnosis back in Sept 2020, after her 2 month pediatrician appointment. She had a fever of 100.2 (an infant fever isn't alarming until 100.4, but I felt there was no difference) so we went to the ER, who sent us to a cardiologist. From there, we were rushed straight to the hospital for emergency open heart surgery. We were discharged after two weeks, but we returned 3 days later because she was still not eating and still in heart failure. At the time, those two weeks at the hospital were the longest of our life, but it turned out that was just the beginning. It seemed like the bad news kept coming. We transferred hospitals and she wound up having two open heart surgeries in two months before she was three months old and was in the hospital from Sept 19 to Dec 1, a total of 73 days. I definitely had PTSD. Physically and emotionally. My body physically was breaking down from the stress.
So, wen we finally got home, I focused my energy and stress in 3 ways: Loving my family with all my being, becoming a pediatric sleep consultant and writing a book.
So #1) I focused my energy on loving my daughter and being grateful for her and the little things. Being home is terrifying because you’re suddenly on your own. All the what if's run through your head. There were many sleepless nights worrying about her heart. When she’d wake during the night, I was paranoid it was pain from her heart. So that worry about why she wasn't sleeping led me to #2 - a new career.
2) I got certified as a pediatric sleep consultant and launched Sleep Tight Tonight. The stress and paranoia of not knowing if she waking overnight because she was being a normal baby or if she was waking because she needed to go back to the hospital because her heart hurt led me to read every book possible so I could teach her to sleep through the night. Let me tell you, when she started sleeping through the night, it was so much better for our physical and mental health! Once she slept better, we were exponentially less stressed. And if I am being honest, I also became a sleep consultant because I didn't want to go back to the corporate world. I love being a working SAHM. After exploring various corporate careers, I always felt the passion in my professional life was missing. I didn’t wake up inspired. And since my daughter was high-risk and it was 2020, so early on in COVID, I refused to put her in daycare. I wanted nothing more than to be home with my daughter to be there with her every moment to watch her grow up.
I knew how the benefits of sleep helped us and wanted to help other parents sort through the clutter and noise of what is out there and to help them teach their children to sleep through the night, too. I am passionate about helping others and being able to sleep again can be life changing!
#3) I wrote a book -My Scar Is Beautiful. I felt strongly about wanting her to grow up proud of her scar and of everything she'd been through. I found some wonderful books about personal CHD stories but none with the message I wanted so I wrote it! My Scar is Beautiful is filled with positive affirmations that reminds the reader of all the reasons to love their scar and encourages them to wear their scar with pride and confidence. If you want a copy of the book, you can get it on Amazon or my website MyScarisBeautifulBook.com.
As a first-time mom, I found my purpose both personally as a mom, and professionally as a certified sleep consultant, and author. It took having my own daughter to find my calling and realize that I could combine my passions of making a difference and helping others, and my love for children!
Get to know Caryn a bit more...
I know the frustration and exhaustion and how sleep deprivation can impact health and put stress on relationships. I feel the pain of the helpless feelings we get when our child Just. Won’t. Stop. Crying. and you feel like you've tried everything yet nothing seems to work. Seeing my client's transformations is nothing short of exhilarating and thrilling, every single time. I absolutely love what I do. Sleep is essential for our health and wellbeing and when my clients are able to sleep, it literally can be life changing.
My lifelong passion for making a difference and my love for travel and children brought me to pursue my dream of volunteering and going on safari in Tanzania, East Africa in fall of 2012. While teaching kids ages 3 to 7, I suggested splitting the classrooms to group by age range (3-5;6-7) rather than being all in one classroom for a better learning environment. This simple change has had a lasting impact on their education, even to this day. Volunteering in Tanzania was one of the greatest pleasures and honors of my life and can’t wait to return someday.
While in Tanzania, I summited Mount Kilimanjaro known as "The Roof of Africa". One of the best pieces of advice I received was, “Walk like the elephants. Keep your head down and just put one foot in front of the other. Focus on your steps and not the mountain and before you know it, you’ll reach your goal.” While the mountain was literal at the time, it’s also solid life and sleep training advice. When we think of sleep training as the mountain, it seems so unachievable at the start. But, when we take one step and one day at a time, stay focused and committed, before you know it, you have reached your the goal (The summit)!
My goal is to funnel my expertise and passions into helping my families be able to have peaceful, easy bedtimes so everyone can Sleep Tight Tonight!
Some Random Facts About Me:
My daughter inspired me to become an author and to write My Scar is Beautiful. (ok, not so random if you read above!)
I ran in the Chicago Half Marathon. See also: how I found out I have Type 1 Diabetes – diagnosed age 27
I'm no stranger to difficult situations and pushing myself outside my comfort zone. In 2011, I spent a weekend in Vegas with 50 other bloggers whom I had never met before; in 2012 I went to Africa, again, not knowing anyone and climbed a mountain with negative zero climbing experience; in 2013 I moved across country without a job and on whim that I needed change and new experiences outside of my hometown; and in 2020, I conquered my fear of childbirth when my daughter was born. (All that to say - I can handle whatever difficult situation you’re facing and will do whatever it takes to help you find success, even if it is outside my comfort zone! I don't give up!)
While volunteering in Tanzania, I successfully climbed and summited Mount Kilimanjaro
I love my family, games, antique cars, old cameras, asking questions, making lists, nature walks, outdoor breweries and wineries, sunshine, and the ocean.
I dream of starting my own charity and traveling the world
Every night the last thing I tell my daughter is, “Sleep Tight, Sleep Late, Sweet Dreams. I love you.” And that’s where my name Sleep Tight Tonight came from!
I love working with parents just like you.
Parents like you, means parents like YOU! I work with all families. I support families of all races and religions and dynamics. I welcome you with open arms including, but not limited to traditional, LGBTQ+ families, single-parent or multiple parent families, adoptive or foster families, grandparents caring for the child, and any other type of family that you may identify as. I do not discriminate. Love is love and sleep deprivation can affect us all.
"I absolutely love what I do! I am committed to helping families go from feeling tired of being tired, overwhelmed, frustrated, and dreading bedtime, to feeling relaxed, empowered, and confident with easy, enjoyable, peaceful nights and naps. There is nothing better than seeing the transformation and joy when families can sleep again!
Everyone deserves to Sleep Tight Tonight."
Wife & mom of an active toddler
Momma of two rescue fur-babies, a cat and dog who both think they are human
Certified Pediatric Sleep Consultant
Certified Safe Sleep Ambassador
Author of My Scar is Beautiful
Wondering if sleep training is for you?
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I love my family. Here's mine; humans, furbabies and all!