A new interview in the Mommin' It Business Series is here! Featuring mom owned businesses that support pregnant and new moms.
Today I’m speaking with Denise Gassner, owner of There's a Monster in My Closet. Denise is a child sleep specialist and educator, that helps new or soon-to-be mamas understand sleep and how it develops over the first 5 years of life.
She is a scientist first and a sleep professional second, allowing her to disentangle the most trusted, most evidence-based information when it comes to developing sleep. This lets Denise focus on the most important aspects of each family’s values and environment and tailor a more proactive approach to sleep behaviour.
Tell us about your business? And how do you help expecting or new moms?
I offer a wide variety of resources and services that help new or soon to be mamas understand sleep and how it develops over the first 5 years of life. I focus on building trusted resources for moms (both free and paid) and offering education packages to help moms understand sleep developments (think of it like the wonder weeks of sleep). This lets moms know what to expect and also how to cope in a way that is both empowering and informed.
I have one-on-one consulting packages targeted to parents ranging from expecting to having children up to 5 years of age. I also offer a series of educational workshops to provide the most foundational information regarding childhood sleep development. I have quick reference downloads, an active blog, and a website full of the most up-to-date Pediatric sleep science. And, I have a series of lovable sleepy time plush pals that represent the 5 stages of sleep development and come with my comprehensive eBook - Healthy Sleep, Healthy Start - to help new moms get off on the right foot.
What makes you unique as a mom & business owner?
I am a scientist, an entrepreneur, and a mama of two. I have a PhD in Biology and Anthropology, teach at the University of British Columbia, and have been studying and teaching on various aspect of behaviour for nearly two decades. Upon becoming a mom myself, I became privy to the discombobulating world that is baby sleep. Like many others, I sifted through all the “how tos” to get myself and my family a few more zzzzzs, but I wanted more. I wanted to know “why”. I wanted to truly understand sleep and how such a natural state can feel anything but natural in the early years. It has been my mission to help families understand sleep from its core - how it functions, how it develops, and how we can help our children and ourselves to get the healthiest most restorative sleep possible, without rigid or prescriptive methods.
What's the hardest part of running your business and being a mom?
Time. Always time. I’m an educator, a mom of two and an entrepreneur. I wear all the hats in both my business and my household. I have big dreams that I feel like I’m just scraping away at half the time without major traction because there are not enough hours in the day. I’m also a workaholic so balance can be a challenge - I want to be my best self no matter what hat I’m wearing.
What is one "messy" thing about being a mom/biz owner that you would never share in public?
Sometimes I feel like a major poser because my kids are not perfect and their sleep I’m not perfect. And I’m super awkward and uncomfortable when it comes to posing Instagram images/videos (though maybe I’d share that because I feel like I’m definitely not alone on that front).
What's your favorite thing about being a mom/biz owner?
The two are so intertwined and I looooove learning. My background is in primatology and I see my kids as my little primates that I love to try and deconstruct - Their behaviour, their development, their thoughts and feelings and ways of viewing the world. It’s fascinating and it energizes me. I can’t help but look at them as a scientist and I adore finding creative ways to communicate everything I see to other mamas.
What advice and words of encouragement would you give to expecting or new moms?
Sleep is not something that your baby can do well or poorly. It’s a behaviour like all other behaviours that takes time to learn, practice to hone, and patience as it develops. Don’t let anyone tell you there’s a “right” or a “wrong” to it, but if you’re struggling to find your sleep groove you do not just have to grin and bear it
How has motherhood changed you?
Motherhood hit me like a ton of bricks. I have always excelled at academics and work life. When I was on maternity leave, I felt like I lost my sense of self. I didn’t know how to be “good” at being a mom. Now I realize that I’m the best mom that I know how to be, and that may not look like how anyone else does it, but I have happy, healthy, loving children that are going to take this world by storm. And that’s something I can be proud of.
What is one toy, item, product, book, resource, podcast that you would recommend to a new or expecting mom?
My Sleep Monster plushies! Eco-friendly, fair trade, sleepy time pals for the littles with access to jam packed, evidence informed sleep info for parents - a “what to expect” and “how to cope” gift to ease the transition and improve mental, physical, and emotional wellbeing.
About Denise Gassner
Denise Gassner has been researching aspects of behaviour for nearly two decades. She turned her attention to sleep after having her own little humans and becoming fascinated by how unnatural sleep can feel in those early years. Denise is driven to help make sleep less of a mystery for new parents and empower them to make informed decisions that adhere to their unique parenting styles. When not spilling about all things sleep, you can find her heading undergraduate classrooms at the University of British Columbia or hanging out with her husband, two kids, and their pup in beautiful Squamish BC.
Find Denise Gassner here: