Monday, May 4, 2015

Breaking the Paci Addiction

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Last week we ditched the paci. We said goodbye, braced ourselves for meltdowns and long nights, and tried not to look back. Matt has hated the paci for months and has been wanting to get rid of it, but I kept telling him that Ellie wasn't ready yet. Now I realize that I wasn't ready for it. It was a small thing that kept her a "baby" still, when she was really upset it always soothed her, and if I'm completely honest it worked really well as a mute button when needed. I did want to ditch it well before our second baby arrived and Matt said this was the week.

We had last week off work and Ellie's molars were coming in, so if she was going to be fussy anyways, why not ditch the pacis now? I had pinned all kinds of different tips from Pinterest, talked to my cousins and friends about it, and we decided to just go cold turkey. Here's how it all went down...

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Day 1: Tuesday morning we let her have her paci throughout the morning (she usually gets rid of it on her own around breakfast for the day) and we headed to the zoo. We had an extra one in the backpack, but she was fussy once we got to the zoo so we just went for it right then and there and told her we didn't have it anymore. It was epic. She screamed and screamed and we did our best to calm her down. We ate snacks, distracted her, relaxed in the shade, but decided to just head home.

This was the worst day, mostly because her molars were really bothering her and once we were home we ate some popsicles, turned on the bubble machine, and stayed outside. She napped on the way home without her paci in the car and I was terrified about how the night would go. We were outside in the sun for a few hours, ran some errands, ate dinner, and then relaxed into a movie (she's obsessed with the Despicable Me's right now), once bedtime hit she was so exhausted. We went upstairs, put her in her crib and she just rolled over without a fight and slept through the night. It was a success!

Day 2: She woke up at her typical time and was looking for her paci on the ground, thinking she had tossed it out during the night (the usual). When I told her we didn't have it anymore she cried and asked for it for 10 minutes and then was over it. She didn't mention it again. We kept her busy and outdoors, blueberry picking, exploring downtown, and eating lunch. She took her nap a bit later than normal, but went to sleep fine. She asked for it at bedtime and cried for her paci "Mine! Mine! Mine!", but we let her cry it out a whole 10 minutes then she gave up the fight and passed out. She did wake up around 4am and we brought her to bed with us where she slept great.

Day 3: We were on a roll at this point! She napped great, asked for her "mine" at naptime, looked for it and when we told it they were all gone she gave a quick pout face and was over it. The rest of the day was a breeze, she didn't ask for her paci at all, no meltdowns, and slept perfectly.

Day 4: Another great day. I couldn't believe it was going so well. She napped great, had tons of fun during the day playing with her cousins, we took them to a jump house, she napped liked a champ, went swimming, and passed out again like a light when it was bedtime.

Day 5: She found a paci. We were dead. I saw her with it and my heart sank. She was playing in the formal living room  and found one somewhere (they're always lost no matter how many we had found or bought, those dang little suckers!), and came running up the stairs with the biggest grin to show Matt and I. Her whole body language and expressions were like "look mom/dad, I found one! They're not all gone!!". We told her then that she was too old and couldn't have one anymore and to put it in the trash can. She didn't, but after a few minutes she put it away on her own and we threw it out. There was no fuss over it and she didn't ask for it again. She napped and slept great that day too. I was so afraid that finding that paci would put us back at square one and am so thankful she gave it up without a fight or bribery.

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We totally kicked the paci all because of my husband. I never would have done it even though I knew we had to ditch it. I wasn't ready for it, I was scared it would be a traumatic experience, and I didn't think Ellie was ready either. I truly believe in knowing your children and when they're ready to do things. However, this was a huge lesson to me on that balance of knowing your children are ready for something and when to give them the push to be ready. As a parent, you want to teach your children, lead by example, and push them to reach their full potential. You want to give them the tools they need to reach their goals, to over come obstacles, and not to give up.

That may sound a bit deep just for breaking a toddler of their paci, but it really made me realize so much. I'm so happy that my husband stood his ground and said we're doing it. I was never going to be brave enough until it was too late and an even harder of a habit to break. Ellie did so good and really surprised me with how resilient children are.

If you're thinking about doing the same, here is the little advice I have to share:

-Start taking the paci away from them at first at certain times. Use it only for when they sleep, long car rides, etc.

-Then when you're ready to kick it totally, my advice would be to go cold turkey and keep them distracted. Every day we had activities planned, kept her busy, and she was having too much fun to worry about her paci and too tuckered out to put up much fight at night. It wasn't as big of a change to go without a paci since she typically didn't have it all day long, but to 100% honest, when we were home and she wanted it, I gave it her to her plenty of times.

-Once you take it away, you gotta stick to it. You can't give in to the screaming or crying. Do your best to soothe them another way and get them distracted.

-If you think it would help, maybe find another item that they could soothe themselves with. Eleanor already sleeps with 300+ dolls at night to cuddle, so that wasn't an option for us, but maybe if she didn't we would have gone that route.

What did you do to kick your child's bad habit? What are your tips to other mommies?
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