Kahlon Family Services > Uncategorized > Interview with Amber Williams

Interview with Amber Williams

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This week we were lucky enough to score an interview with Amber Williams – certified postpartum doula, baby nurse and sleep training consultant. In other words, this girl knows everything there is to know about babies!
Enjoy!

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(1) Tell us a bit about what you do, and how long you’ve been doing it for.

I help people know what to do with their baby! I have been working with kids, and more specifically, the under 3 years old age, for 7 years. It all started as basic nanny work and slowly has transformed into this career that I love!

(2) At Kahlon Family Services, we are passionate about building strong families in the San Francisco Bay Area and beyond. Your work, specifically with babies, adheres to the same desire – making the family unit work! What are some common areas of concern for San Franciscan families?

Raising a baby is hard. Raising a baby in San Francisco deserves a medal. Most parents don’t have family around here, the hills are not stroller friendly, and it’s expensive! Because of this, families are packing up and shipping out. I want to change that. If I can be that support to a new mom that doesn’t have her own mother around, I’ll do it. If I can teach a family the easiest way to get groceries with a babe in tow, let’s go grocery shopping together and I’ll teach you. I am passionate about teaching families how to blend a child into their life, not feel like the have to recreate this world that revolves around the child and the child only. That’s not real life! Real life is learning to work with others and know that you are part of something bigger. We have to bring about a small culture change and make raising a family in a city the norm!

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(3) Babies don’t come with an instruction manual. Your services provide help to those who need some extra support. What are some common areas of raising a newborn that seem to catch parents off guard?

No matter how many books you read or how much nesting you may do, a baby will come barreling in, take the next 3 months and turn them upside down. There are few things most new parents are always so surprised about including: how little they eat at first (fun fact: at newborn’s stomach is the size of a marble!), that you have to teach them the difference between day and night, and how much movement they actually like. I joke that 90% of my job is just ‘normalizing’ things for new parents. “Yes, that rash is normal” “Yes, he looks healthy” “Yes, you are doing great”.

(4) Obviously adequate sleep is vital for the necessary sanity related to running a family. Why are structure and sleep so heavily intertwined?

Your baby’s first job in life is to learn how to eat. Their second is to learn how to sleep. A solid structure that introduces good eating and sleeping habits will ready your child for solid growth in so many areas later on. Keeping in mind that there is grace and some times we all just have bad days, including babies, overall babies thrive off structure. I am a huge fan of the French model of “this is the frame, the expectations and boundaries you have, and within that frame you have free will”. Not to mention a structure allows for a more productive family unit. Mom and dad then know when they need to be home for naps and when they have an hour or two to get out of the house!

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(5) Some people are reluctant to putting their infant on a schedule, and this is an area of controversy in many parenting circles. How do you foster a healthy attachment cycle within the boundaries of structure? How is flexibility different from inconsistency?

I actually refuse to give out a solid model of my sleep training philosophy because I believe each child and family is different. Of course, there is a basic idea of Eat Play Sleep Repeat, but within that framework you have flexibility. I always spend sometime getting to know and observing my family and babe before implementing goals. I refer to them as goals not rules because, once again, we need to have grace and flexibility. Sometimes baby isn’t going to eat or sleep or be completely content and happy because guess what, they are human! All those things like growth spurts, teething, and sickness are temporary and as long as after a few days you go back to your basics and work in the goals again, you are doing great.

(6) What is the funniest thing that’s ever happened while working with babies?

This isn’t necessarily a baby story, but a good one… A few years ago I was a live in nanny for a family with 2 kids. The baby was 3 months old when I started and he stole my heart right out the gate. His parents went out of town one weekend and sister went to stay at the grandparent’s house so it was just us. He was about 1 ½ by this time and loved going out to dinner to a place that had this huge open field with balls and toys for the kids (this was in rural Wyoming to paint a picture). Well my baby was OBSESSED with sunglasses and lost his in the field. We couldn’t find them to save our lives. He kept crying “MY EYESSSSS, Mamer (“Amber”), my EYESSS”. So I told him “I’m sorry love we’ll have to go to the store tomorrow and buy new eyes.” That got him in the car and in bed. At 6am the next morning I woke up because I could just sense someone looking at me and sure enough, he was standing next to my bed “Eyes, eyes, eyes…” “Wait, how did you get out of your crib?!” “Eyes, eyes, eyes…” And that is not only how I ended up at Kmart waiting for the doors to open, but also how I learned he needed his crib lowered.

(7) What advice would you give to parents struggling to get enough sleep, now that there’s a new baby in the house?

No matter what book you may read, you will read these two things: There will never be ‘enough’ sleep and if your baby is asleep you should be asleep too! And what is the first response new moms have for me? “But I can’t sleep! What if something happens!” To that I say, lie down and rest. Bring baby into bed with you if that makes you feel better. This is not the time to do laundry or dishes, see visitors…nothing! There are only 2 exceptions to the resting rule: You want something to eat or a shower. I say this because it is so important for mom to have all her situational needs met. Most women that are suffering from light postpartum depression just need a shower, a meal, and some sleep. Of course, if at anytime you feel overwhelmed, anxious, or are having troubling thoughts, please reach out to your doctor.

If you have any further questions for Amber, or for us, contact us on info@kahlonfamilyservices.com

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