There are not enough superlatives in the world to do justice to the work Hannah Love has done with our family. Hannah has totally transformed our lives in a way I never thought could happen. We have a 5 year old little boy, Rafferty, and a 2 year old daughter, Livia. Years (literally) of sleep deprivation and behavioural issues with our daughter lead to us contacting Hannah and I only wish we had done it sooner.
Rafferty started school in September and had settled brilliantly so I wanted to ensure his afternoons were fun filled yet calm but what he came home to each day were attacks from his sister who had started to scratch and hit him at any opportunity. He was very patient with her (thank goodness) as our efforts to discipline her were having no effect at all. Additionally, Livia refused to get dressed or put on her coat and refused to allow anyone to change her nappy. When you have hours to play or distract, this is easier to deal with but when you have a second child, a school run and work to get to on time, it becomes incredibly stressful. Livia would scream and cry as she fought not to be dressed which only added to the tension and was really distressing for everyone. Hannah taught us the 1,2,3 rule and how to implement the ‘time out’ step effectively (which is not easy putting into practice the right way despite having seen it on TV or read about it in a book) in addition to providing Livia with ‘limited’ choices both leading to the result I wanted – allowing her to choose her shoes or her coat for example. I also had to practice my mummy voice and stop asking questions; changing, ‘Shall we put our coats on?’ which was met with a cross face and a ‘NO!’ to ‘Livia, mummy is going to put your coat on now. Please come here.’ The improvements were noticeable each day until one day Livia put her own coat and shoes on when I wasn’t even in the room. She was so proud and so happy – and so was I. Sticking to the rules meant there was no confusion for Livia, she now knows what is expected of her and enjoys participating choosing her own outfit or shoes.
As the struggles getting Livia to nap or go to bed at night became increasingly difficult, we fell into almost every trap – doing everything we knew was wrong – but we felt helpless to change the situation. At nearly 2 years old, we were still giving Livia a bottle of milk in an effort to get her to go to sleep which lead to us giving her more milk throughout the night to try to get her to go back to sleep. We would make a flask of hot water and measure the milk powder every night so that we didn’t have to go downstairs to make the bottle. One bottle in the night lead to two and this eventually lead to us bringing her into our bed out of desperation but even this wouldn’t work. It was absolute torture, as she would still wake up up to 6 times a night. Her wakings might begin at 9pm so we were tense every evening not knowing if we were going to be able to make/eat dinner or sit for half an hour in peace. I began to dread going to bed at night as I knew such a lack of sleep lay ahead.
I have never been able to shut the door and leave my children to cry at bedtime and Hannah’s approach was perfect for us. The first thing was to get rid of the bottles and cut off the tops so there would be no going back. (I actually found this therapeutic in itself!) Livia asked for her bottle a few times but we shopped together for a special beaker which she initially refused but now loves drinking milk from – in the morning at breakfast only. Hannah gave us an entirely new schedule to work to putting Livia down for a nap at a certain time and even changing our bath time routine so that both children were ready for bed at the same time. The first time I put Livia down for her nap without a bottle and without allowing her to fall asleep in my arms is one I will never forget. There is no way I could have done it without Hannah. Livia began to have a tantrum like nothing I have ever seen before. She was screaming and sobbing, trying to climb out of the cot and asking me to cuddle her. It was heartbreaking but as soon as I spoke to Hannah throughout my panic and the commotion, I knew I could do it. Hannah gave me every strength and the confidence to continue telling me exactly what to do minute by minute and I stayed in Livia’s room (without being her ‘audience’) until she came through the tears and screams and eventually fell asleep. It took 57 minutes. That night we followed the same procedure and it took only 4 minutes. Then followed a period of holding hands through the cot and a few hours sleeping on her floor which turned into hovering in her doorway and walking in and out of the room to check on her and after only 2 weeks, it worked and Livia began to settle herself for naps and sleeps and started to sleep through the night. I was amazed. I am still amazed. Now when we put both children to bed, we come downstairs and have actually started to relax with the comfort of knowing there will be no wakings and we will enjoy uninterrupted sleep.
As Livia no longer has countless bottles of milk, her appetite for food has obviously increased and she happily sits at the table, which is something else, we were struggling with. Rather than insisting she stay at the table and eat more, when she tells us she has finished, she is allowed to leave the table. I am also no longer a ‘made to order’ chef but present Livia with a platter of options on the same plate, which she loves. It is also a really easy way to get a variety of fruit and vegetables eaten at one mealtime. This new process means we have no problems putting her in her high chair to begin with and family mealtimes are really enjoyable again.
There are countless other issues Hannah helped us with throughout our time working together to the point that I was fearful of our 6 weeks ending as the results we achieved have been life changing. Livia also seems more content and less tired, she no longer attacks her brother and they have even started to play together wonderfully. She still has her moments but the skills Hannah gave us mean we know how to deal with any issues in an effective way. Hannah is utterly amazing at what she does and it is thanks to her that we feel human again and have two very happy, well behaved (most of the time), well-fed and sleep satisfied children.