An Interview With Big Love Legend Carly Grubb from Little Sparklers
Today we're chatting with Carly Grubb - amaysim customer, Founder and MD of Little Sparklers, and now our Big Love Legend for March.
Like all our Big Love Legends, we want to shine some light on the inspiring work she's doing (especially to new parents in our community), so we've asked her a few questions to get a better understanding of Little Sparklers, the Beyond Sleep Training Project, and how we can all help spread the love.
How did this journey to creating Little Sparklers begin?
It started off with me being a desperately tired, depressed and overwhelmed first-time parent with a baby who was extremely wakeful and just didn’t seem to fit the sleep mold. He resisted all of the mainstream sleep training approaches and that left those who were meant to be supporting me with empty hands. I was left very much on my own to figure my own way out through severe sleep deprivation and depression. Once I’d made it out the other side, I just knew we had to do better by families beyond that well-trodden sleep training path and I set out to connect with others who would like to join me and The Beyond Sleep Training Project peer support group was born. It grew with such pace and the depth of need and also passion for change was so apparent, we registered as a charity, Little Sparklers in 2019 to allow us to formalise, organise and fundraise to try and keep building on the momentum.
Why the name “Little Sparklers”? Is there a personal connection or story to the name?
The original Little Sparkler was that dazzling, bright and ever-so sparkly first baby of mine. There are many negative connotations applied to babies who don’t sleep (think: one of the most common question you get is, ‘Is he a good baby?’ followed swiftly by ‘how does he sleep?’) and I was keen to flip that and so a little sparkler he was.
What are you trying to achieve with Little Sparklers?
We are challenging the dominant paradigms around perinatal mental health and infant sleep. We work to educate parents (and those who support them) on the biological, physiological, psychological and social needs of the whole family and to shift parenting approaches to align the needs of infants and children.
What’s your greatest success so far?
The sense of community that now exists that simply didn’t before and the relief and confidence that has brought to hundreds of thousands of families we have touched in the last 5 years.
What’s been your greatest challenge so far?
This one is hard because there have been so many! The greatest challenge has probably been trying to look after our incredible team of volunteers throughout a global pandemic with very, very limited funds. They are an amazing and resilient bunch but while the waves have hit back-to-back and they’ve navigated what that means for their own families, community and paid work, the need for online support drastically increased and the stress and tension that came through the screens was/ is palpable. It’s exhausting. We’ve had to change tack many, many times, but I can proudly say that these volunteers have achieved massive amounts of top-notch support throughout the whole period. What a bunch of legends!
What role does the podcast play in achieving your mission?
The podcast actually takes us right back to my original intent in setting up The Beyond Sleep Training Project in 2017. I had wanted to write a book that shared the stories of real people doing life without sleep training (or after failing at it like I did). I was tired of all of the ‘just do XYZ’ formulaic approaches to baby sleep. There is no one right way to do it and that’s what I wanted to capture. But with the rapid growth right from day 1, I changed tack to build that safe and supportive space for people to work through their struggles with peers. In 2021, I decided it was time to come back to that original intent, but instead of a book, I’d create a podcast because it is such a flexible and accessible format to create a collection of stories. And so, The Beyond Sleep Training Podcast was launched in May 2021 and has been a raging success! We have just launched into Season 2 and it is just such a wonderful resource! It has been an honour to interview our gorgeous guests who have shared their tales with their heart’s on their sleeves and given such raw and real depth to their experience. It’s more than I could have ever hoped.
What’s the best way for people to help support you?
I guess there are two ways. One, share our name, our resources and our work within your own networks and communities because for families to know there ARE options out there has always been a massive first goal in a landscape that sees social media and real-life supports largely saturated in sleep training advice.
Two, if you are financially in a position, we are always in need of funding! We run on an entirely volunteer basis but that can be massively challenging and we still need to be able to pay the bills and train and support our wonderful people! We are also trying to mix it with the big boys and create professional development resources for health professionals but that doesn’t come cheap, so any support is much appreciated!
Check out this great first resource - https://www.littlesparklers.org/beginning-your-journey-beyond-sleep-training or listen to the podcast here - https://www.littlesparklers.org/Pages/Category/videos-and-podcasts