Should-Free Living by Heather Strang – Sleeping Baby

Heather Strang, and co-author Brooke Emery, wrote the upcoming book Stop Shoulding On Yourself! A Woman’s Guide From Obligation to Inspiration. The book encourages women to live from an authentic and should-free space.

So, grab a cup of tea and read on…who knows, you just might find some great ideas for your own life!

Dear Heather,

I feel like I should let my 10.5 month old sleep on his own by “crying it out” even though it goes against every grain in my body! And, I honestly don’t think it’s the right method for my boy. YET, because society tells me my child “should” be sleeping through the night, that he “should” not want me to help him go back to sleep, and that he “should” be sleeping for 12 hours at a time, I feel like I should” be less responsive. What kind of crap is that?

I think what I SHOULD do is listen to my child and my gut and ignore the rest. 🙂


Dear T.R.,

First of all, congrats on being such an amazing mom who is so tuned in to your baby boy! Secondly, as you well know, the “should’s” around parenting are some of the worst. Everywhere you turn, there’s a plethora of information telling you how you should parent, even though your child is totally unique and may not be anything like what the experts assume. And so, you’ve reached a point that many mother’s face — do I honor what feels right for me, or do I just do what everyone else tells me I should do? Ah, the should’s in full force!

The bottom line is, if your gut and instinct are saying you need to soothe your baby, then that’s what you need to do. Weigh the benefits — what do you and the baby gain if you let him be? Or if you go to soothe him? If the only thing gained by letting him cry is honoring what the experts say — is that worth it to you? Or is it more important to do what you feel is best? Again, these are questions only you can answer.

To make sure I wasn’t completely off base, I consulted with my co-author, Brooke Emery and she recommended I speak to Jessica Shapely, a sleep consultant for new moms. Her advice?

“Don’t change your behavior because you think you should. There are lots of ways to get your child to go to sleep. We’re so influenced by others, especially when we’re sleep deprived and have a crying baby. If you don’t feel comfortable with the cry it out method, there’s no need to do it,” said Shapely.

Shapely works with moms to nurture and empower them to develop a plan that makes sense for their baby. And it goes beyond reading a bunch of books. Shapely works with mothers to explore the causes and reasons why their baby may be crying constantly, including examining the family’s sleep situation and histories. Ultimately, though, it’s up to moms to check in with what they feel makes the most sense for their baby.

“It’s important for mom’s to go within themselves to explore what plan they want to create to bring the greatest ease for themselves and their baby.”

So, it looks like we’re all on the right track! Moms, follow your gut and don’t hesitate to reach out to get the support and help you need to parent in a way that is perfect for you and your child. Go moms!

To contact Jessica Shapely directly, you can email her at:, or visit her web site

Happy Should-Free Parenting,

Have a question about this topic or any other? Next month we’ll focus on the should’s surrounding your SPIRITUALITY. Send your questions to: