Meet Sarah Hodgkins...
the woman who rocks The Family Cradle
I came to this work probably for the same reason you came to my website: being a new parent is tough! You, however, appear to be a bit wiser than I was... I didn’t reach out for help soon enough. I lived for years as an overworked, overwhelmed parent and my life was completely out of balance.
This is the story of how I became a Postpartum Doula, Infant Massage and Lactation Educator, and Sleep Consultant. As for so many of us, my career path has taken twists & turns, some unexpected, all of them meant to be. I'm so thankful to be supporting local families in this way, bringing together all these years of learning into The Family Cradle.
my doula story:
I have two sons, one I gave birth to and one I adopted; one who is neurotypical, one who is neurodivergent. And while my story may be different from yours, chaos is chaos.
Here’s how my story unfolded:
It was 1993, and I was working with families in the National Health Service in Merseyside, England. I worked as a Nursery Nurse, supporting families with infant health and development.
A few years later, I wanted to put my dual citizenship to good use, so I moved to Northern California. There, I worked with Child Protective Services as a Parent Educator for over 10 years.
I spent my days working with families as they journeyed towards reunification with their children; I developed a unique supervised visitation program and created core classes to empower parents towards success. I invented ways to get important information to parents and make it relatable; the best days were when I would see the ‘aha’ moment - when they understood an important component of parenting. I knew I was making a difference...
In 2008 we moved to Florida to be closer to my family. It was there that we adopted my son, Max. I was blessed to stay home for the first few months with Max; however, I needed to contribute to the household income.
I joined corporate America; instead of working with families and children, I found myself in the world of business operations. I now had a 5-month-old, a 9-year-old newly diagnosed with Tourette’s Syndrome, a husband working out-of-state, and a full-time job!
I found myself burning the candle at both ends - being a game-changer in the business world by day... and an overtired, exhausted mum by night. It was a constant internal tug of war.
...what my bosses wanted was more important than what my children needed.
... that I should be better as a parent because of my extensive experience with families.
And worse, I wasn’t feeling excitement for this work, like I had when I worked with families and children.
I was living in a state of ‘just keep going’ - day in and day out - for fear of falling apart.
I was determined to find the work life balance I heard people speak of. It actually took years, but one day, in a moment of pause, I realized the universe would never give me more than I could handle.
This perspective gave me the drive to be present in all the moments with my children. I told them “I love you whether it’s the great, the good, the bad, or the ugly times we are in.” This mantra in our household was even quoted by my son in his high school graduation speech!
Then, in March 2020, I got COVID. Now I had to put myself first.
Spending five weeks away from my sons, at the mercy of a virus no one knew much about, while I watched the world go into chaos, left me bargaining for all the things I would do differently on the other side of being sick. After I got through the worst of it, I developed a care plan to deal with the lingering symptoms.
Part of my self-care was doing yoga faithfully. At the end of each practice, the instructor would have us say to ourselves “I am happy” over and over again. But I wasn’t. I had lost my ‘career happy’ a long time ago; and now I realized how much that had affected my ‘self happy’. Realizing I wasn’t happy reminded me of what I had learnt through that chaos when my children were young:
happiness isn’t something you find, it’s not something which just appears, it is something you create.
I had to rebuild my way back to health and happiness.
I started by granting myself rest and proper nourishment, listening to my body.
Then I shifted my diet and ate food that was wholesome to encourage my body to heal.
I took care of how I felt on the outside: I wanted to feel strong, I wanted to connect with people who filled my bucket with smiles and laughter.
I painted my toenails and braided my hair. I’d go on a walk simply because it felt good.
Then I turned to my home and family. I realized the routine and rhythm I’d once found was out of sync. I made a new commitment to work smarter, not harder, at home so I could enjoy all the moments I had with my children - even when I was exhausted and depleted - just as I’d done when they were younger.
And then, December 2020, I lost my job. I spent two days in shock, until it became clear the universe had simply decided to nudge me in a direction I’d been being pulled towards for a long time. I was at a fork in the road. Either go back to corporate America, or do the work I loved to my core.
I chose you - families! I’ve taken what I’ve learned in my work with hundreds of families, corporate business, and as a struggling parent and created The 3 Ns – Nap, Nourish, and Nurture.
I want to show parents that it is okay to ask for help. That we need to sleep and eat well. Our own basic needs are essential.
And sometimes... you just need to BREATHE!
“In all phases of life, we must stop and make sure we are finding our ‘happy’. Resting, nourishing and nurturing ourselves. With this foundation, the other pieces fall into place.”
The trick is to find how to do that in your own way, and -as new parents- to balance your needs with a baby that is depending on you 100% for their survival. When I help families create a daily rhythm, a routine in their life, and the community to hold them, they are able to exhale and find joy in themselves and their family.