Sleep—it’s the holy grail for most new parents. Dulcie Madden’s company, Rest Devices, aims to help families get more rest. Their latest innovation is a sleep-coaching app called Nod, which sends parents customized sleep tips based on their baby’s patterns. Dulcie shared some sleep tips, plus a much-needed piece of advice for moms who’re too hard on themselves.
Congratulations on the success of your company, Rest Devices! Tell us a little about Nod, the smart sleep coaching platform.
Thank you! Nod is an app that delivers customized, daily sleep coaching recommendations to parents, based on their baby’s development and sleep patterns. It’s an AI system that uses the world’s best pediatric sleep expertise, the biggest infant sleep database available, and a lot of MIT-developed software to deliver specific, personalized recommendations on how parents can change their child’s sleep.
Do you have any tips for parents struggling with sleep issues with their babies or toddlers?
Every baby and family is different, so there is no one “magic bullet” solution! But the biggest thing we notice helps with sleep issues is to develop a routine that works for your family, and then be consistent about it. Also, try to avoid feeding your baby to sleep. You don’t want to create habits that the baby then requires to fall back asleep if they wake in the middle of the night. If you feed them to sleep every time, it’s only natural that they’ll want to be fed to sleep at 2:30 a.m., even though you probably don’t want to be up then.
If you could hand off one chore to someone else each day, what would it be?
I totally would avoid unloading the dishwasher for the rest of my life if I could. I just can’t get excited about putting glasses away!
What is your favorite thing to do to relax and unwind?
I love coming home and cooking to unwind. A couple of years ago I found that I needed a complete break when I got home—something that was a little active (chopping! stirring! snacking!) and that also made me feel good, and cooking solved that. It’s 30-45 minutes that allows me to clear my head, process the day and then focus on being home, and I get to feel good about feeding my family (but let’s be real, after a ridiculous day, sometimes it’s just slightly dressed up mac and cheese with some chopped veggies on the side).
What is your best parenting hack?
I didn’t really take a maternity leave, but I brought my first-born, Sammy, to the office with me for the first three months, which worked pretty well. When they’re still really little, they’re pretty quiet and stationary, and it was awesome to have him with me all the time and still get to tackle work with my team. I know this wouldn’t work for everyone, but I believe thinking outside the box can be good.
What is the best white lie that you’ve told your child?
Sammy loves giving an infinite amount of dog treats to our dog every day—so he is routinely told that there are no more treats.
If you could describe motherhood/fatherhood in one word, what would it be?
All-encompassing. Motherhood is just all of it, all the time. I can’t think of another experience that is so consuming and enriching and challenging and harrowing and hilarious and rewarding.
What’s one moment in your motherhood journey that has made you proud?
For Halloween this past year, I thought Sammy might be a little freaked out or nervous, with all the costumes, tons of people on the streets, and weird new cultural rituals like being handed candy by random people! But he stepped out our door and just charged up the sidewalk to go explore and meet people and figure it out.
What is one piece of advice you want to pass along to your children?
I want our kids understand that there is no substitute for hard work and kindness. I want our children to be happy and healthy and to do whatever it is that they love, but I also want them to know that working hard and being kind on a daily basis is what brings achievement, accomplishment, progress and change.
What is one piece of advice you would pass along to other moms?
Take it easy on yourself! I generally feel like I’m getting a D- in every area of my life, every day, but realistically, I’m probably getting at LEAST a B-! We’re constantly being absurdly hard on ourselves for no reason other than we believe we can always do better. And we can—just maybe not in this moment, or today. The world is hard enough on moms as it is, and we don’t need to chip away at ourselves too. So, channel good old Stuart Smalley from SNL, and remember that you ARE good enough, smart enough and strong enough!
How do you tackle the work/life balance?
It’s definitely not a balance— it’s more of a smashed up smorgasbord with a thread of barely-controlled chaos running through it every day. But, I put my family and company first, and that’s like 98.9% of my mental and physical bandwidth.
What was the last book you read?
I’m currently reading All the Light We Cannot See which I’m taking wayyyy slow because I love it and don’t want to plough through it and be finished!
Favorite Beauty Product: I usually use nice soaps like the Pré de Provence brand. And NARS Orgasm blush makes me look like less of a zombie everyday, so that’s pretty clutch.
Favorite Form of Exercise: Aspirationally, it’s ballet. Realistically, it’s walking. Which makes me feel like I’m 62, but…yeah.
What is on your DVR? “Brooklyn 99.”
Favorite App: The NYT Cooking app, which is awesome for recipes, and Google Photos for storage and compiling memories.
Favorite Kids Store: We work across from the Curious George store in Harvard Square, and I love it—they have awesome toys, books, and activities.