Episode 27: How to Balance Work and Home Life with Tara Williams, Founder of Dreamland Baby
Brief summary of show:
This week on the podcast, I sit down with Tara Williams, the founder and CEO of Dreamland Baby.
In 2018, Tara desperately tried to find a product to help her six-month-old son extend his one-hour sleep window. Her solution? A doctor-approved, evenly weighted wearable sleep sack.
After a successful Kickstarter and an appearance on Shark Tank, Tara’s weighted sleep solutions are now helping babies (and their families) worldwide to get the sleep they need!
Listen in as we talk about:
Does balancing motherhood and work really exist?
Tips to create boundaries around your time so you can be present with your family
How to create a morning routine that sets you up for success
Tara’s journey onto Shark Tank
Her advice for better sleep
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Connect with Tara
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[00:01:28] How the idea from Dreamland Baby came to life
[00:05:34] Tara's best tips for balancing work and family
[00:12:36] Tara's Shark Tank story
[00:15:29] Tips for better sleep
Full transcript of episode:
[00:00:00] Natalie: I'm Natalie Tysdal, a journalist who decided enough is enough. I left a career that looked glamorous to do what I was scared of doing, going out on my own. I'm a married working mom of three on this podcast. We're going to talk about issues that really matter. Why am I not sleeping? What's up with that diet everyone's talking about.
[00:00:19] Are my kids falling behind? How do I leave that job and start over? Welcome to the Natalie pistol podcast. I'm so glad you're here.
[00:00:30] I recently pulled my podcast listeners and asked what you want to hear more about. And by far, this was the topic you asked for balancing work and family. And I hear you. I also deal with this as a working mom of three, but there's. And there is certainly help. I promise it gets better. And the more we talk about it and we come up with strategies, well, that's when it gets better.
[00:00:52] My guest today knows the struggle as a mom and as a business owner. In fact, she founded her company after trouble getting her newborn to sleep. You might recognize Tara Williams from her appearance on shark tank or from her business. Dreamland, baby. I want to encourage you right now. Jump on my Instagram page.
[00:01:09] So much going on there. It's @ntysdal also join my newsletter, which you will find on my website, natalietysdal.com. Here's my interview with Tara Williams.
[00:01:19] Tara joining me now. And Tara, I love your story. I love how you started your company, but I want to fill people in on how you did that. And when you did.
[00:01:28] Tara: Yeah, absolutely. Thank you so much for having me. So I came up with the idea for Treemont BB and the summer of 2018, my baby. So I have four kids um, two girls and two boys.
[00:01:40] My baby was six months old, waking up every hour and a half. So like a newborn and we'd bought everything. We had tried everything one night, my husband and I were just watching TV on the couch. I had a heavy throw blanket, laid it on top of him. And we noticed he immediately calmed down and I thought, oh my gosh, he needs a way to make it.
[00:01:57] Like, it was just a light bulb. So I remember I was so excited. I literally raced to my computer and I got on Google and I typed it in and only loose blankets for infants came up and I was like, wait, that's not right. Babies. Can't use loose blankets until they're two. And he was six months. So I'm like, there's gotta be something on Amazon.
[00:02:15] So then I went on to Amazon, same thing, and they had these like little nest things almost. I think they're popular in Asia where they're basically in a cocoon again, definitely not what we consider American academy of pediatrics safe. So. My mother-in-law is a master seamstress. And I called her and I very clearly had the idea in my mind.
[00:02:34] It was essentially a sleep sack with a weighted blanket, laid over it, but sewn into it. So the baby could wear the garment without any possibility of it riding on, on baby's face or suffocation or anything along those lines. So I did some research on percent of body weight, and she ordered all the materials.
[00:02:51] About two weeks later, we got her prototype and my son slept for 12 hours. Wow. It was truly like an incredible sleep transformation. We thought it was a fluke or like there's no way. The next day he took about a three hour nap. He'd only been sleeping in like 30 minute intervals. At that point he had colic, like he was just constantly over tired and crying literally all day.
[00:03:14] Um, So he got a great nap and then that night he slept through the night and we're like, oh my gosh, this is, this is for real. So. Right away. I started telling people just more that like I was sleeping and everyone said how, like what, you know, cause they had heard me for six months complaining about this devil child.
[00:03:30] And I told him about the sleep sack idea and you know, I got a couple of responses. So one was. That product has to already exist. Like how does that not exist? This is 2018 weighted blankets at this point. We're really big deal for adults. Yeah. Adults, kids, and even dogs. So there's thunder vest for dogs.
[00:03:48] Huge markets for these. A lot of people use it. And that was the first thing. And then the second thing I had people saying, can your mother-in-law make one for me or my sister or my friend. And then the third was people saying that would have helped me and my baby. I stacked heavy blankets on them. I did unsafe practices.
[00:04:06] You know, coastline, but we didn't want to all these ways to add that extra, like external tactile feel for baby. And so it was just such an overwhelming. Everybody thought it was a great idea. And that's when I realized, you know, we could make more of these and we could help. Like I was in a really bad spot for six months and I knew what it was like to be in a great spot because my first three kids slept reasonably well.
[00:04:30] And I loved motherhood for their three, zero to six. And with Luke, I truly hated it. And so I knew the joy, I knew kind of the, the other side of not sleeping. And I just thought like we could help so many moms that I know are in the same spot. This is something we just have to get out into the world. So that's how the.
[00:04:49] Natalie: So what a great story. And I want to talk to you more about that because you were on shark tank and I know that was a big part of your story too, but I want to get into this, this balance issue. And I always like to say as a mom of three, and I worked wacky hours for many, many years, and now I'm just trying to fit my work into hours and that's a whole nother issue.
[00:05:10] Hours of the day I don't have anymore because I'm working at the kids' school and volunteering and everything else. How do you advise people as a working mom, a business owner of a nice big business. Now, a four let's talk about this notion of balance. I don't think it exists. I don't think there is balance.
[00:05:26] I think we learn to manage being a mom and a professional, but let's get into your tips for that. I know you've got.
[00:05:34] Tara: I would definitely agree with that. You're always going to have the mom guilt. I have friends who don't work and they felt guilty. They're not contributing or using their talents. I have friends that do work and they're guilty that they're not with their kids as much so they can get them in something we carry.
[00:05:49] But I would say for me, my best hack has been compartmentalizing and whatever been doing it a hundred percent. So when I am working, my kids do not come into my house. And I do work from home. They know they're not allowed in here, which sounds really harsh, but if not, they be coming in and out all day long, as soon as they come home from school.
[00:06:11] But then when I do shut off work, I don't have my phone with me. I'm not looking at emails I have for myself and my entire team and no working weekend policy. So Saturday through Sunday night, I don't want to see an email from anyone. I'm not looking at my email. And I really want everybody to take that time to spend with their families because we do myself, my entire team, I would say pretty much everybody works about 12 hours a day.
[00:06:35] It's a pace that we probably can't all keep long-term, but for now just getting started. It's pretty necessary as we grow and add more people, but I asked a lot of them during the week and the trade-off is like, when you're off, you're off and nobody's going to expect you, unless it's a crisis, the website is down, you know, somebody is going to text our e-commerce guy.
[00:06:56] But outside of that, like there should be no reason. So it really compartmentalize thing. And then setting kind of those guidelines. Monday through Thursday, I work until seven every night. And then since I'm home, I just roll out of my office and I we'll do like the bedtime routine with my kids.
[00:07:11] We spend about an hour and a half together at night with my husband, my family. And then on Fridays, I always ended up fine. And then we do like a family activity Friday night, and then all weekend I'm completely off. So I feel like it's, I'm able to really get all my work done and then also be with the kids, but totally separate
[00:07:28] Natalie: and not, I feel guilty about that.
[00:07:30] I mean, I I'm guilty. Letting work bleed into the weekends. Cause the list never stops. Right? I mean, like you have these lists and you're like, well, maybe I can just get a few of these things, any end up working all day, Saturday, and you're not getting that family time. So how did you determine that that was how you were going to manage this with the new business?
[00:07:48] Tara: So for the first two years of a bit of the business, I did not draw a salary at all. I didn't pay myself. And so what we had come up with in our family is that my husband's income. For salary would go toward the household. So the mortgage, the water bill, the trash, I mean just basic stuff. And then I would really pay for any extra things.
[00:08:10] So child's care, kids, sports, vacations, dinners out, things like that, the more luxuries in life. And so, because I wasn't making money, if you will, I still was watching. I, my job was to watch the kids cause they're, they're really, you know, when we looked at our finances. Well, we either pay the mortgage or pay a nanny.
[00:08:30] Like there's, there's no money. If you're not bringing in money, we need you to watch the kids. So that was really tough because there was, I was waking up at five in the morning and I was working from five to eight and then from eight to eight 30, I'd get them ready and I dropped them off at school.
[00:08:44] And then I'd pick them up at two 30. that was a really, really hectic year for us. And I did feel like a lot of times because we didn't have any, any after school. Like sometimes I'd be trying to get work in and they'd be calling me and they were, this is two years ago. So they were all, you know, two years younger than they are now.
[00:09:00] My baby was home with me all days. I had to work while he's sleeping. And that, that just felt crazy. So then I did work on Saturdays and Sundays when my husband was home, because that would be a time I could work or I'd work at night when he was home. So I basically spent no time with him, but what I realized was working seven days a week, it never gave me a rest.
[00:09:20] And I just was constantly felt like I was on this hamster wheel. So then I decided I hired a couple people, so it took a lot off my plate. And at that point I was like, I am going. To be off on the weekends. Like I'm going to dedicate all weekends to my kids and my husband and just family stuff. And so it wasn't really, until I could hire people that I could make that decision, but I did recognize, like I was burnt out, like.
[00:09:44] Feel it like, you know, Monday would come and I was just like dread getting out of bed now Monday comes and I'm like, I'm refreshed. I had all weekend off. Like I can't wait to hit the ground running and, you know, get this gun.
[00:09:55] Natalie: I love that. So compartmentalize that's great. Great tips. However, I heard you say about a couple of other things for people thinking of a side job or starting a new job, and that is that you do have to sacrifice, but it can't be for sure.
[00:10:09] Tara: Yes. Yes. I think there has to be an end point because like, there was no way I could keep up that pace. And even now I'm like 12 hours a day is a lot, like, I don't know that I, or my team can keep up this pace either. And I look at this, like, this is probably for one more year and then we'll be in a spot financially where we can hire more people so everybody can work with.
[00:10:29] Normal, you know, nine to five versus seven to seven with no.
[00:10:33] Natalie: So have an end date, have the goal and know if you're sacrificing or 12 hours a day, whatever it is that that can't be forever. You have to set the goals,
[00:10:42] Tara: thinking of taking a vacation too. And if you are starting a business and you don't have extra money you know, it doesn't have to be a vacation to Hawaii.
[00:10:51] It can be just a day at the beach or if you live, you know, a hike or like, whatever it is, but just setting aside saying like, okay, on Wednesday, September 30th, like I'm going to take this day off or like, I'm going to take that Friday off and make it a long weekend where you get that extra kind of recharge out of your, you know, a lot of times, even when we are home in the.
[00:11:12] We're still working around the house, we're doing laundry and like, we're doing stuff like that. But for me, vacations are really where, and again, it doesn't have to be lavish. It can be anything, it doesn't even have to be in a hotel, but that's where I'm out of my working zone of my home office and my house.
[00:11:29] So I think that's been really helpful. And then the other thing is having a morning routine. That for me is so important. I wake up every day at six 30, I have this like green shot I take in the morning and then I drink a tea that has like a little energy thing in it, my colleges. So it's just my ritual of my morning.
[00:11:46] And I listened to. So we're, we're members of the church of Jesus Christ of latter day Saint. And since I'll always listen to a conference talk every morning, which is usually just something spiritual and really uplifting while I'm brushing my teeth and taking a quick shower and, you know, making my morning tea.
[00:12:02] And so I just kind of have this nobody's awake. It's like my time before my day gets rolling. And then I have my first call every day at seven, but it gives me. I mean, I take like literally five minutes shower in the morning. And so I have about 20 minutes where I'm just kind of like methodically moving through my day and I'm like setting myself up for success for the day.
[00:12:20] I have my calendar. Yeah. Kind of like looking, okay. Kids have this today. So the morning routines
[00:12:26] Natalie: are so good and some things are really hard to establish, but having that routine every day sets you up for success.
[00:12:33] Tara: That's good. Yeah. Okay.
[00:12:36] Natalie: So let's, I want to hear the shark tank story. I know people love the stories.
[00:12:39] I know yours is a great one and your business is growing, but how did that help line.
[00:12:45] Tara: Oh, my gosh, it made all the difference in the world. I remember before event had of like final prototype, I had created a business plan and under my investor section, I had put a couple of the sharks and I was like, I'm not sure who it's going to be about.
[00:13:00] It'll be somebody. And I remember my husband. This is a very scary business plan. Please don't actually present this to anybody because you can't put that they're going to be your investor. This was before I'd even reached out to, I just knew I was going to be on the show and. So there's an application and it's literally one paragraph and you just apply and it's after I applied, I was like, oh, I'm not going to get picked.
[00:13:22] It's like two sentences. It almost says nothing about you. There's nothing to say. And so I did that, but then I was shocked cause I got a call from the executive producers. And at first I almost thought this was some kind of joke, but we talked through and they're like, we love the product. Like you have a crazy story.
[00:13:41] At the end of the day, it is a TV show. So if you have a personal story attached to it is better, obviously. But it is a real investment opportunity. So they want good products. They're not just going to put on junky me-too products. We have a patent pending on our product for utility patents. So it's, it's like an invention.
[00:13:58] So he just, he loved everything. And then we got matched up with a. Assistant producer. And you do about two months of work before you actually fly to LA and then we're on like the ABC lot, truly. Like I was, I was a movie star for one day, like for one day of my life, for sure. And they did the hair and the makeup and there's the buffet of the food.
[00:14:19] And, you know, you talk with the sharks and it was surreal for sure. And yeah, and then we went on and. Would they don't show is I was in there for about an hour and a half, even though they only show a 10 minute clip. And it was, it was so much fun. They were all so nice. We had just barely launched in September and I went on three weeks later, so they didn't have anything to really beat me up on numbers wise.
[00:14:43] So it was, it was very positive and uplifting and we had a great time. Lori invested she's my dream shark. So that was an incredible moment. But yeah, I mean, it was, it was magic, like truly a dream come true.
[00:14:55] Natalie: And how's the company doing now? Like I did a episode on sleep for adults and it was one of my it's still is one of the most listened to episodes of my podcast is podcast.
[00:15:06] Number three, if anybody wants to go listen to it because after years for me of getting up in the middle of the night, I realized my health was deteriorating and I have to think the same. First of all, for a parent, who's not sleeping because they have a baby that's not sleeping and for babies to like, they need to sleep.
[00:15:23] So how's the business doing? And what, what sleep advice do you have for people who are.
[00:15:29] Tara: Yeah. I mean, it's definitely a biological need. If we think about it, it's, you know, sleeping and eating. Those are really the two things that make us live. Right. And it's crazy how much women, I think, oftentimes we want to fall on the cross and say, oh, I'll be up all night with my baby.
[00:15:44] And I won't ask for help from my husband. And you know, this will go on for a year. I mean, we have women reaching out saying. You know, you saved my life. I've been up, you know, three times in the night for the last 18 months. And I'm like, oh my gosh, that's such a long time. But sleep is possible for babies.
[00:16:00] And like you said, it is something they need. I mean, my son for those first six months was. Colicky and crying. And he was developing definitely normally, but everything was a struggle for him. And he was just always upset. And then when he started sleeping, it was like he was a whole new kid smiley, eating better, like gaining weight better.
[00:16:21] He was at one point at. Four to 10% of, weight. And that shot up after he was sleeping. Cause everything just for him was going better. Same thing. I mean, it is a biological need versus. There was a study that just came out and I'm trying to think of which magazine. It was like a major publication, but it talked about, it was a study at UCLA and it looked at women who got it was, and I'm going to totally butcher this, but it was something like didn't get sleep for those first year.
[00:16:50] How. Aged biologically seven
[00:16:54] Tara: older. No. And I'm like, oh, I have four kids. I'm I'm like 80 now. So yes, it's definitely really impactful on sleep. Our biggest tip, what I would say for the mom who's listening and they're like, I'm here. I'm not sleeping. I I'm in the same spot. It would be. To put your baby to bed in their crib alone.
[00:17:16] Like I have talked with hundreds of sleep consultants and that's always the number one because oftentimes we nurse to sleep. We rock to sleep bottle-feed to sleep, hugged, to sleep, whatever that is. And then we put baby in the crib and we kind of do that ninja roll away. And then when baby wakes up in the middle of the night, they are looking for that same stimulation to go back to sleep.
[00:17:39] So then when you wake up at 2:00 AM and you say they will only go back to bed, if they are fed. Well, that is how they learned to fall asleep in the first place. So if we can get baby awake in their crib, sleeping, and then use something like dreamland baby, where it's a sleep association. So when my son was six months old, we started using it.
[00:18:00] And I would say within a week or two, when he saw that sleep during the day, actually he would start crying because he knew it was time for a nap. Like our babies are smart. And so they have a sleep association and they will know, okay, okay. The sleep sack is on. The windows are down. The room is dark. The crib is bare.
[00:18:18] Maybe I hear the sound machine I'm laying down in my crib is time for me to learn, to go to sleep. So. If you have a baby, that's not a super tough sleeper, you know, just a regular sleep sack is fine. If you have a baby who wants to be held or rocked to sleep and needs a little bit of extra stimulation, I would definitely say ours.
[00:18:35] Of course, I'm super, super helpful for that type of baby. Every baby can benefit from it, but we see those dramatic sleep stories when it's babies, like my son who wants that they want to be held to sleep, which is a lot of babies. Right. And so, you know, getting the sleep sack on and getting them in the crib and just shutting the door and, you know, cry it out or not, some people are more sensitive to.
[00:18:59] Let him cry for a minute, but if you do, if you don't want to let them cry at all, and you do want to go back in looking over the crib and padding and soothing baby without again, picking them up. So they know once I'm in it is time for me to be able to sleep all my
[00:19:14] Natalie: and self-soothing, as you said, they know how to put themselves to sleep without relying on you.
[00:19:20] And I also just heard you say what you talked about in your successful day, which was a routine and having that routine. Turn the lights down or close the window or rock for a minute and read a book, but then self suit, like just routines are so important. And I know they're hard. Like I'm a mom and I sometimes want to break from my routine.
[00:19:39] I go, Nope. I need the routine in the morning at night. It's so
[00:19:43] Tara: important. That's absolutely right. And if you're really, truly going all in with sleep training and you take it a step further, then you start really getting routine. Like it is 10 o'clock. I am home. My baby's in there. But for me, I mean, for kids, my third and fourth definitely were just sleeping as they could, you know, on the way to carpool on the way to sports.
[00:20:04] So it's not always realistic that you can have it exactly like that. But even if you can try to do it at night there's so many like sleep tip hacks. We have um, on our Instagram once a month, we do like a sleep consultant takeover and everybody can ask their questions and then we have the sleep consultant come on and answer.
[00:20:23] And we have like a bunch of tiles that saved and our blog too. We have a ton of sleep stuff. If somebody is looking for like a sleep resource, we can, you know, all that. Fantastic.
[00:20:32] Natalie: That was something I was going to ask you too, is where people could get more information. So I have a couple of questions. I like to ask all of my guests, the first one, just learning from you.
[00:20:40] It sounds like you've got routines figured out with so many kids and owning a business. What's your favorite tool for productive?
[00:20:46] Tara: Okay. When we first talk, I was thinking slack, cause that is what my team uses, but I just discovered the Cozi app. It's C O Z I and I have our nanny, my husband and my self on it because I have three kids who are all in multiple sports every week and girl Scouts and school, and there's half day schools.
[00:21:07] So like every week the schedule is changing and then we can also drop in like what we want. She gonna make dinner. Am I going to make. Who's making it, what are we buying? What do we need? There's like grocery, it's an amazing asset. Or is it a
[00:21:19] Natalie: task app? Like managing tasks?