Meet Alison McAdam

Tell us about yourself and your business.

I am a mother of two girls (3 and 5 years old), a wife for 8 years, a daughter, a friend, a proud small business owner (Cheeky Sleeper) and a Certified Paediatric Sleep Consultant.

As a sleep consultant, I work with families as they navigate the sometimes bumpy road of teaching their children to love sleep. I focus on family-centred sleep solutions and provide education, coaching, support and even friendship. Parents are often exhausted and frustrated with their children’s sleep habits but after working with me find their children are happier and finally well rested.

How did you get started?

Our family plan was to have our second child, and then I would return to my role as an HR Generalist. However, the economy in Calgary was just starting its downturn and the company I had worked for the eight months before having my second daughter laid me off a week before she was born. After a very bumpy maternity leave (I had two major surgeries, and my husband worked away from home 90% of the time) looking for a job was a challenge. More importantly, I lost my drive and love for HR and the corporate life. I needed something that was exciting, rewarding and would light a fire in my soul.

Even though I had watched an interview with a sleep consultant while on maternity leave and thought it sounded interesting, I had left it at that. It wasn’t until a close friend sent me sleep consultant training information that a light went off, and I knew this is what I wanted to pursue. That’s when this whole adventure started. I graduated from the Family Sleep Institute, as a Certified Paediatric Sleep Consultant the following year and I am now the owner of my own small business, the Cheeky Sleeper. I get to spend my days with my girls and help families find better sleep. My heart is full, and I love every minute of it.

What have you simplified in your life to make room for your passion?

I try to live by the one-touch rule which means I try to only touch something once or twice. For example:

  • I get the mail and quickly sort it (recycling, file or leave it for my husband).
  • I will read an email and make a decision of where it belongs (delete, file or try to respond as soon as possible).
  • I sort out my to-do list according to the task (work, home, family trip, back to school).

What is the single best piece of advice you have ever received?

Just start! If I hadn’t started, I wouldn’t have gotten here.

What keeps you motivated?

My clients motivate me. Watching a mom and dad become a better team, and seeing the rewards of their hard work keeps me motivated daily. I just got an email last week from a mom who is so happy from the support they had that she thanked me for the third time.

What struggles do you face balancing motherhood and running your own business? How do you deal with them?

Finding a balance between everything: parenting, being a wife, friend, volunteering (I am a co-director of my youngest’s preschool) and finding time to sleep is a challenge but this is what helps.

I make sleep a priority and this makes the house run smoother and makes me a better parent and business owner. I have a short but predictable bedtime routine along with a set bedtime and wake up time. I try to read before bed, and leave my electronics in the charging station and use a sleep mask to help keep it dark for those summer mornings. Oh and my girls sleep from 7 – 7:30 p.m. until 6:30 – 7 a.m.

Getting a dishwasher (ours was broken for 10 months) which seems silly but has given me an extra one hour of work time in the evenings.

What book changed your life? How?

Most of my reading is sleep books. My favourite is Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child by Marc Weissbluth but as a mom trying to balance my time, I listen to a lot of podcasts. Some of my favourites include:

  • Your Parenting Mojo – Respectful, Research-based Ideas with Jen Lumanlan
  • Oprah’s Super Soul Conversations
  • Happy Mum Happy Baby with Giovanna Fletcher
  • How I Built This with Guy Raz

What advice would you give someone that is just starting out?

I feel like I am just starting out most days but I know from experience that if you follow your passion, finding balance will come. Take care of yourself by making time to sleep will also help you be more productive.

What resource has made the biggest difference in your life?

Along with my dishwasher, my planner and phone have allowed me to be a busy mom on the go with my girls and keep up with my work.

What quote or words do you live by?

I am a strong believer that things will work out, as they should. For example, I moved to Calgary at 36 weeks and six days pregnant, and it has been the best decision I could have ever made.

Where can we find you online?

My website is www.cheekysleeper.com, and you can find me on Facebook and Instagram.

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