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Jenny Luckett of January Moon

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Patience is a virtue that we moms tend to indiscriminately extend to one another, in life as well as in business. Thankfully, Jenny Luckett–lifelong creative, glowing wife and mother, tireless go-getter, and founder of January Moon–proved to possess such patience.

When Jenny and I were originally scheduled to chat on a Thursday morning a few weeks back, we had a mix-up in time zones (Tennessee vs. New York) and had to push our call back an hour. Normally, I would be anxious about such a miscommunication, fearing that this error would reflect poorly on me. But when Jenny and I finally connected, we had a good laugh over it.

To say a mother’s life is incredibly busy would be to state the obvious. Juggling career, children, the responsibilities of home, and the pursuit of one’s own enjoyment leave little margin for error. Yet all too often a mother’s inability to be “perfect” (being late to a meeting, having to take a personal day, needing flexibility in her schedule) is viewed as a lack of professionalism. That is the kind of misconception that Jenny and other female entrepreneurs are helping to discredit by successfully navigating family and career.

Jenny was motivated to start January Moon during her first born’s teething journey. Having worked in the jewelry industry for years, she was disappointed in the lack of options for wearable pieces that could double as entertainment for baby. She knew that she could fill the niche. Named for the month in which her son was born and inspired by the sleepless nights of early motherhood, January Moon was launched in 2017 to great reception. Jenny took care in designing, safety-testing and planning for the launch of her business, and she had the opportunity to collaborate with many talented, dedicated and professional mamas along the way.

“I work with so many creatives who are also moms,” said Jenny of her extended January Moon family of photographers and branding specialists. “We all meet our deadlines and enjoy our families.”

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Although Jenny embodies the supermom grit that many of us strive to achieve, she doesn’t pretend to do it all on her own. She speaks affectionately of her supportive husband, Mike, whom she credits as being an encouraging partner in life and a collaborative partner in their shared creativity. They constantly bounce ideas off of each other, help one another carry the immense responsibility of balancing children and careers, and bring their unique, professional skill-sets to aid each other in work.

“Mike is an incredibly skilled craftsman. He can always turn my messy sketches into beautiful displays, craft booths and signage. I am just as proud of the displays that he makes as I am of the jewelry.”

To recap: Jenny has two beautiful children, a loving husband with whom she can share not only life but a creative passion, and a career that challenges, engages and fulfills her.

But before you mistakenly conclude that Jenny’s story is somehow inauthentic or unattainable for “real” mothers, consider that her business demands constant over-scheduling, intense deadlines and frequent late nights. Lack of sleep and virtually no time for regular, prioritized “me-time” can be trying for anyone, let alone a person who focuses so much on what she could be doing better or differently. To combat this she employs her own unique brand of self-care grounded in self-acceptance. Instead of beating herself up over beating herself up, she is choosing to focus on all that she loves about life. Although being a mother and business owner means that she will always come second, Jenny couldn’t be happier with the life she has created for herself.

So what is Jenny’s advice for finding balance when life stretches you thin?

“Take walks. Always take walks. When the baby doesn’t sleep, when the toddler has boundless energy, when you hit a creative wall, when you haven’t had a good conversation with your husband. The walk is essential to my life and Mike and I make the strongest connections when we’re walking outdoors with the family.”

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Read more about Jenny Luckett and discover her beautiful line of teething jewelry and accessories here: www.JanuaryMoon.com

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Photo credits in order of appearance:

Amy Miller

Brooke Dainty

Amy Miller

Amy Hobbs

Amy Hobbs

Amy Hobbs

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My Deep, Dark Secret: I Sleep Trained

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As I sat in the rocking chair this afternoon nursing Leo pre-nap, thumbing through momstagrams as I do, I came across a flagrant debate between two opposing viewpoints: to sleep train or not to sleep train.

Angry parents were openly criticizing the blog Your Zen Mama for posting an article by Beatrix James describing her personal choice to sleep train.  These upset individuals insist that sleep training is not exemplary of “gentle parenting” and that “scientific research proves” that sleep training is detrimental to a child’s development.

Well, guess what folks? My deep, dark secret: I sleep trained. It worked really well for our family. And I am pretty angry with the parents who make me–and other parents who decided sleep training is right for them–feel like that truth should remain in the shadows.

Firstly, let’s get a bit of context for the term “sleep training.” In simple terms, it is teaching your babe how to fall asleep on their own, in peace and security. As it was described to me by our pediatrician, everyone (you, your partner, your baby…) wakes up either partially or fully, multiple times a night. As adults we have learned that waking up in the quiet darkness is nothing to be afraid of. We can roll over and go back to sleep. But a new baby has yet to be given that reassurance. While the “cry-it-out” method has infamously become associated with sleep training, there are numerous techniques to chose from: verbal reassurance, pick-up-put-down (PUPD), a strong and consistent bedtime routine, graduated extinction, etc.

People, you are not leaving your child to scream in terror in his crib for hours, or even multiple minutes. And if you are (now here I go judging…) shame on you.

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I, too, was resistant for so long to the idea of sleep training. I couldn’t detach from the idea that anything other than tending to my baby’s every nocturnal whim, regardless of our doctor’s reassurance that he was gaining weight well and thus wasn’t waking out of hunger, was cold and damaging. Every night before bed I would embark on a crazy routine that was one step away from wearing our underwear inside-out and drawing a circle of salt around our bed. I was convinced that dimming the lights just so and speaking in languid tones would help–this time I swear it–the baby to sleep more than a couple of hours. How my husband had the patience to jump through my nocturnal hoops, i’ll never know. Beyond regulating the height at which he could keep his bedside lamp (on the floor was preferred) I went as far as to insist that he hold the baby in certain ways before bed…and so on and so forth…

The reality is that a soul-aching exhaustion and the feeling that I was trapped in a terrifying cycle of helplessness was making me unwell.

We fed more. We gave warms baths and massages. We used dock-a-tots and zen sacks and whale sounds and mood lighting and lullabies and rhythmic movement. We also co-slept for many months. Even in our bed, nestled warmly between his two adoring parents, Leo woke up every 1 to 2 hours crying.

So before anyone berates me for not trying hard enough, not giving motherhood my all, or being withholding of love and nurturing for my son, consider that I TRIED EVERYTHING.

The regime that ended up working best for our family was a combination of PUPD, verbal reassurance and graduated extinction. It was important to me that we did not let Leo cry for long periods of time, and while the no-tear methods may take longer to implement, they do work. Also–and this is KEY–I stopped nursing (or bottle feeding) Leo until he was asleep. Instead, we did our bath (if it was bath night…because  let’s be honest…he doesn’t get a bath every night) got in pjs, did our feeding routine (which in our case was a bf/bottle combo) and then read a story. If Leo fell asleep during the feeding I would WAKE HIM BACK UP before reading the story. Crazy, huh? Crazy enough to work. It is imperative that your baby be laid in the crib awake so that he understands that it is bedtime and time for him to put in those long nighttime hours.

And thus our sleep training efforts did just as they were meant to….they taught our son how to fall asleep and stay asleep.

Sometimes we have a bad night, especially after returning from a vacation–or other unavoidable (and important) life events–when sleep routines get jostled. Inevitably after a trip we have to start back at square one to reteach Leo to settle into sleep on his own. The first night can be really tough and I hear the confusion, frustration and, sometimes, fear in his voice. On those bad nights we nurse and snuggle more, just so there is no doubt in his mind that he is safe and loved. But the point is that you can hear the difference in your baby’s cries. There is a distinct difference in a cry of panic and a cry of protest. When your baby cries in panic go to him. When he is fussing and grumpy because it’s bedtime, but he’d prefer that all the wonder and exploration of daytime not be over, let him communicate his displeasure. He’ll be happily dreaming in no time.

What I found most surprising about our sleep training journey was how peaceful our nights became in such a short time. Even with all of our above mentioned “gentle parenting” practices, Leo was swinging in and out of distress every. single. night. He would fall asleep only to wake (at most) a few hours later in a panic. I would get him back to sleep for a short spurt before he would wake again, just as panicked. After we implemented our sleep training regimen, Leo’s rare night wakings are punctuated by a couple of chirps before he falls back to sleep. Most often, when he is placed in his crib and the lights are turned off, he falls asleep on his own without even a peep. If ever he wakes and cries out in fear or hunger, I go to him. And with this newly adopted routine I can sense a greater ease for him overall. And of course, I finally feel at ease, too.

With all of the parenting noise out there–studies declaring that you should breastfeed until your baby is 2 years old vs. those saying 6 months is perfect; message-boards commending stay-at-home parents vs. warning non-working parents against losing their sense-of-self–what happened to gathering all the information you can and then using your gut.

How about instead of relying on facts and figures so much, we honor ourselves and trust in our instincts to be good parents? Let’s believe in the deep connection we have to our children, and intuit that while we may not know what is best for them, we can most assuredly feel it.

I’ll trust in your parenting if you’ll trust in mine.

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