Parent You Should Know: Erin Elkins

The Elkins family | Provided Photo

When her baby wasn’t sleeping, she found a sleep consultant to save the day. Now, she helps other families find their rest.

Erin Elkins, a.k.a. Mama Bear, runs her sleep consulting business from her home in Manassas, Virginia, where she lives with her husband, Matt, and their two children, Ashton (9) and Avery (6).

She shares what she’s found rewarding about both sleep consulting and parenting.

What do you love about your business?

As a former teacher and reading specialist, it’s just in my blood. I want to help people. I wanted to stay home with my oldest, so I started my own business. I love working with all different kinds of families. There’s a very natural flow to the relationship. I love meeting new people and talking to people. It’s always such a positive, fun experience. I like hearing how they’re doing, how it’s going and helping them troubleshoot. I [also] love challenges.

What do you love about being a parent?

I love seeing who my little people are and their personalities showing through. Just, you know, trying to feed who they are and help them nurture those parts of [themselves.} My oldest, he’s always been into artsy-type stuff and looking for things that help him excel in that area. My youngest is kinda off still finding stuff, but he’s really athletic and naturally good at that, so we try to get him involved in lots of sports and activities.

What is something you wish more parents knew?

I wish they knew that it wasn’t one-size-fits-all. Most people I talk to think that automatically their kid is going to be screaming until they fall asleep, or even with potty training, they think it’s just one size. My goal when I work with families is to learn about their family and their child so that I can make it work for them, so they’re as comfortable as they can be with what we’re implementing because they’re more likely to be consistent. So, just to understand that there is a way for everybody to get the same end result (sleep!).

What is something you learned (from sleep consulting) that surprised you?

I would say how incredibly particular some kiddos are with how [consistently] they need things. It’s like, if one small thing is off, whether it’s a routine or a scheduled nap time was too late by 15 minutes or something, it’s crazy how that can impact some children and just how different [children] are. Parents say all the time, “Well, I did it with my first and it worked with them, and then this one it’s not.”

What do you hope your children learn from you?

I hope they learn that family always comes first. We take care of each other through everything. We may bicker and fight, as brothers do, but they are the best of friends. They take care of each other, and that’s really what I want them to [learn]—the value of family and staying close.

What is something your children have taught you?

So much patience. I have good patience—I think it comes from being a teacher. I had to have that patience, but I think the day-in-day-out work we’re doing is where I have to understand why they’re feeling a certain way. They taught me the importance of communication. I’ve always been a good communicator, but with my children—to really listen to them and hear them and try to understand their feelings. Maybe [they] also [taught me] slowing down and not reacting. Slowing down, listening and just trying to work through things together.

Family Favorites

Meal: Tacos

Dessert: Ice cream

Vacation Spot: Hilton Head (We love the beach!)

Local Spot: Two Silos Brewery. They have live music every weekend; they have an ice cream truck; they have a playground. We bring balls and a frisbee because they have a big grassy area. We just kinda enjoy the weather and listen to music. It’s great.

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