Introduce Yourself. My name is Erin Elkins. I am an official SAHM, but work from home as a certified baby and toddler sleep consultant. Prior to staying home I was an elementary school teacher (grades 3 and 4) and a reading coach. I love helping and teaching others, so it just made sense that when I decided to stay home that I find something part time that allowed me to raise my boys and also do something for myself.. I love being with friends and family, reading, trying new things, seeing new places and helping families get more sleep. I also am originally from NY, but grew up mostly in Vermont before moving down here to find a teaching job. I absolutely love all that VA has to offer and the weather is much better.
Tell me about your family. I am a mom to two amazing boys, Ashton (age 4) and Avery (age 1). Ashton is my old-soul 4 year old who loves wrestling and playing baseball and the color pink. Avery is my goofball and loves playing, laughing and playing jokes. I love being with them and we are always out and about in NOVA experiencing new things and meeting new people. I have been married to my husband, Matt for 6 years now and we met while both starting teaching at the same school in Manassas City. We love trying new things together together and being with friends and family.
How long have you lived or worked in NoVa? What area do you live/work? I taught in Manassas City from 2009-2016. After that I decided to stay at home with my son and become a sleep consultant. We live in Manassas by Splashdown Waterpark and love our family-friendly area.
What is your business? Mama Bear Sleep Consulting is a baby and toddler sleep consulting business that I run over the phone and/or email with clients from all over the country. I love being able to help people improve their child’s sleep because, let’s face it, everyone is a better person with good rest. I do this by discussing with the parents their unique situations, schedules, routines, parenting style and child. All of these factors play a very important role in how I decide to work with them on improving the issue. I work with parents of newborns on setting up healthy sleep habits up to older toddlers who may have napping issues, early wakings or middle of the night wakings. Whatever the issue is, I listen to what is happening and always give my honest advice right from the start. There are some potential clients that I have spoken with that I refer them to their pediatrician first to eliminate any issues I may be thinking about before we begin our work together. I don’t want to waste the family’s time, energy or money if I suspect something else may be happening. In the future I will be looking to add in-home services to my business as well.
Tell me the story of how you got started. I got started in this when my first son was born, right from the start he was a terrible sleeper. As first time parents we didn’t know what we were doing and were exhausted. This is normal, but it’s not normal when he was 6 months old and waking every 1-2 hours at night. In one of my sleepless nights scrolling the internet I found this person called a sleep consultant. We spoke with her and hired her almost immediately to find out how to get him to sleep better. We found out it was the little things for us that were going to make big changes. It wasn’t anything major, but wow, within 2 nights we had a sleeper! It was great and we always said it was the best money we ever spent. Fast forward to when I decided to stay home and wanted to continue doing something from home that would continue to help people, I thought back to the person that made us humans again and our son a much happier child-our sleep consultant! So many parents I find don’t even know we exist! So, in promoting myself I am really trying to let people know that they have a resource. If not me, fine, but there is not reason to suffer exhaustion past the newborn phase. So, I decided to get certified through the consultant that helped us and from there I started Mama Bear Sleep Consulting. Since then I have had almost 70 clients across the country with children from newborn to 4 years old get their sleep back. It is so rewarding to help, see these beautiful children and ultimately become friends with these wonderful parents. It takes a village and that is what I am trying to build. We should not be expected to be in this alone and if I can help another family even a little, I am so happy to do so.
What’s your favorite thing about this area? My favorite thing about NOVA is the amount of family oriented things that are always happening. My family and I are very active and like to experience and do new things and in this area there is an abundance going on in any given season.
What’s something you struggle with being in this area? The traffic! It makes me so frustrated.
Do you feel supported as a female entrepreneur? Um, I sometimes feel supported. Especially in people trying to promote and get the word out about local businesses and moms helping moms (like this). But sometimes it feels as though everyone is so against anyone promoting themselves which is hard. I have the view that I want to promote anyone local. If it doesn’t apply to me, then I skip past it or ignore it.
What is the biggest obstacle you face as a working mother? Finding the balance for it all. I stay at home with my 2 boys and finding the balance between spending time with them, errands, time as a family and work is very difficult. It is especially difficult when staying at home because there are no set hours to do so, so I am always trying to find pockets of time to get it all in.
What advice would you give to someone just starting as a business owner? Try to find new and different avenues to access people. My original business plan was much different from how I get clients now and new opportunities are always presenting themselves. So, stay open and excited to take a different path than the one that was planned. For me, that is the fun of it all!
What do you do when you’re not working or being a mom? I love doing yoga and body pump, experiencing new areas and things to do, designing my house, reading, and being with friends and family.
Favorite local restaurant? Moko Mandy’s is my absolute favorite! I also love Tomo Sushi in Centreville. It’s very authentic.
What do you do as a family on the weekends? We are a very close family and love being together on the weekends. We love seasonal things such as swimming, hiking, biking, farmers markets and just being outside in the warmer months, and going to museums in the city, fall events, etc. in the cooler months. Anything local is right up our alley. Since we are Manassas, Old Town always has great family friendly activities and events happening.
What would you say are some of your strongest beliefs about being a mom? Let your kids be kids and be themselves. I have two boys, so it is very important to me that they experience everything, learn about different things so they are open minded that everyone is so different but being different is special. I also am very passionate in raising good, kind, and generous boys so that they grow to be wonderful, caring men, dads and husbands. I believe in being their mom, not their friend. I am someone I want them to come home to and share whatever is happening, but there are rules and expectations in our family.
Tell me about someone who has influenced your decision to start your own business? My husband has always supported me in whatever avenue I took. I was a teacher and reading specialist prior to becoming a Sleep Consultant and when I told him I wanted to stay home to be a mom full time, he supported me and encouraged it. When I decided to take this route, he said I should and really encouraged me in doing what makes me happy. Next, onto Potty Training Consultant.
What might (someone) be surprised to know about you? I am a Type 1 diabetic since age 4.
Anything else you would like to share with the reader? I am passionate about what I do-no matter what I do. I am a fixer and will do what it takes for my clients to get them results. I never give up and stay positive through the process. I want people to know they have a resource out there and they don’t just need to suffer from sleep deprivation. We are all better parents when we are rested and the kids are happier and healthier when they are rested. Yes, I am promoting myself when I discuss sleep, but really it is to help others which I love to do.