In this blog series we hear from our course experts on how they’re making parental leave less complicated.

By Staff (November 30, 2022)

Heather Sande parenting and sleep coach
Parenting and sleep expert, Heather Sande with her two daughters.

From childcare transitions and how to get a good night’s sleep to navigating separation anxiety and everything in between, Heather Sande is our go-to parenting and sleep expert at My Parental Leave.

Tell us about your expertise and how you came to contribute to My Parental Leave.

I am a parenting and sleep coach working with families with children aged zero to six. As a baby-led sleep and well-being specialist, I help parents navigate sleep challenges from the three-month sleep regression to how to keep toddlers in their beds. In parenting, I use a connection-based approach to make sense of common challenges like meltdowns, aggression, defiance and anxiety and I support parents to build strong relationships with their children. My Parental Leave founder, Allison Venditti has always been one of my biggest supporters and I was thrilled when she invited me to contribute to this amazing project.

Tell us about your family. How do you enjoy spending time together?

I live in Guelph, ON with my husband and two girls who are six and four. My dream days are spent at the Rockwood Conservation Area beach. I love getting there early when it’s still quiet. We bring a huge bag of snacks and rotate between swimming, playing in the sand and eating.

What is the most common topic that comes up with your clients?

Whether it’s sleep or behaviour, I find most mothers are looking for reassurance that they are doing things right and that their kids are okay. Modern parenting is very noisy. We are flooded with expectations and information, making it almost impossible to hear our own intuition. I spend a lot of time helping mothers feel more connected to their inner knowing so they are more empowered going forward.

What is the last thing your kids did that made you laugh?

My kids invented a game called “pillow in your face mania” where the parents throw pillows at them while they jump into a pile of couch cushions. It’s hilarious. It’s the perfect after school activity and I highly recommend trying it with your own kids.

How has motherhood shaped your career?

Becoming a mother creates incredible constraints on your time and like most, I felt a huge desire to find meaning in my work. I returned to my corporate job after each maternity leave and I felt really torn and overwhelmed at times. Motherhood definitely inspired me to become an entrepreneur. It was through working with Allison as a career coach that I found my path to becoming a parenting coach. It’s really brought together all my skills and passions in a way that also fits my schedule.

What advice would you give your younger self on maternity leave and returning to work?

Speak up to your employer about what you need during this important transition. After my first mat leave, I let my employer lead the process thinking they were more experienced in these things but in retrospect, I was the one going through the transition and my input mattered.

When I returned to work after my first leave, I jumped into a new role with full days of meetings and training. I remember an executive commenting that it was ‘good to just jump right in.’ Well, I knew better the second time and I worked with my manager to set up a gradual return to work schedule that worked better for me and my family.

Would you like to feel more supported during your parental leave? Register for our My Parental Leave course where our other course experts share valuable information, planning calendars and FAQs to help you feel prepared for your maternity leave and return to work.