Catherine Wright Smith married an Australian and moved to Australia in 2011 with their two young daughters, Grace and Evie. There she wrote The Sparkly Sleepy-Time Wand when her eldest daughter was just three and she was in the midst of sleep deprivation. The book is published today. Catherine returns to the UK when she can and has worked in marketing for Allianz and for children’s charities including Barnados and The Children’s Society. She talk to Workingmums.co.uk about what prompted her to write the book and about how she has coped with sleep deprivation.
Workingmums.co.uk: What prompted you to write the book?
Catherine Wright Smith: I wrote the book when I was in the midst of sleep deprivation. I’d just had a baby and my three-year-old daughter Grace kept waking up in the night and calling out to me. I was desperate to find something to help her to re-settle herself, so that’s when the story of The Sparkly Sleepy-Time Wand came into my head!
In the book the fairies give one of the characters a magic wand to help her go back to sleep at night. If she wakes up she can hold the wand and be reassured that the fairies are looking after her. The amazing thing is it worked for my daughter so I’m hoping it works for other mums too. I’ve included a fairy wand in a secret compartment at the back of every book.
WM: What other measures had you tried on your own children before you hit on this idea?
CWS: I would try to wait and see if my daughter would resettle herself first, but in the end I found the easiest way to get her back to sleep was to lie next to her. Probably the worst thing to do, but at that point in time I’d do anything to get some sleep!
WM: Were you working at the time and if so, how did you manage with the sleep deprivation?
CWS: Fortunately, I wasn’t working at the time because I was on maternity leave and we’d just relocated to my husband’s home country of Australia. Even so I didn’t cope with sleep deprivation very well at all!
WM: How do you think sleep deprivation affects you as a parent?
CWS: It makes every day seem a struggle, especially if you don’t have family close by to help. It’s just so easy to snap at the littlest of things, which is such a shame because it’s a time when you want to be enjoying every precious little moment.
WM: How do you think it affects women going back to work after having a baby?
CWS: When I went back to work after my first daughter was born, my tiredness did make it difficult to concentrate for long periods of time. However, I did also appreciate the benefits of having a ‘break’ from mummy duties like enjoying a quiet coffee and wandering childfree around the shops at lunchtime!
WM: How did you go about getting the book published?
CWS: I self-published the book so that I had could have complete control over what the book would look like. I was very lucky to find a wonderful illustrator, editor, designer and printer just by searching on the internet and I managed the whole process from my home in Australia.
For the actress Lucy Benjamin to agree to record the audio CD for me was just amazing. She has really brought the story alive! And I knew I wanted to give some money to a children’s charity for every book sold so it was only fitting to choose Rosie’s Rainbow Fund, of which Lucy is a patron.
WM: Were you working at the time you did this and if so, how did you manage?
CWS: Yes, I was working three days a week, managing the marketing and accounts for my husband’s construction company, so I’d wait until my daughters had gone to bed before I started work on my book. I’d often work late into the night, but I didn’t mind because I loved every minute!
WM: Are you still working?
CWS: Yes, I’m still working. My daughters are now 6 and 4 so they are at school
WM: Do you have any plans for a book for boys or do you have any plans for other books in the future?
CWS: Yes, I’d love to do a boys’ version in the future, although some of my friends have told me that their sons have enjoyed The Sparkly Sleepy-Time Wand just as much as their daughters!
*The Sparkly Sleep-Time Wand costs £9.99 with wand and CD. Details can be found here.