WARNING!!!! PARENTING BLOG POST... I'm not sure why I feel oblidged to do that, sometimes as a parent you find yourself coming across as utterly boring to those that don't have children. As soon as you open your mouth and begin spouting about your little angels you can, almost instantly, watch a glaze appear over their pupils as a small wash of panic envelops them. It's clear they are trying to decide which route to take do they a) smile and nod so not to appear rude, while actually thinking about what to buy at the supermarket, b) run away as fast as they can or c) just say they are not interested and walk off. I am convinced I have lost touch with old friends as they see me as nothing more than a milk machine these days. To those that feel that way I'm sorry to say once you have children every ounce of your time revolves around them in some way or another, you can't help but talk about them sometimes.
I remember those pre children days with a rosy glow, similar to summer holidays in my childhood. I was young and carefree (of course I thought I had worries; mortgages, work, but they pale into oblivion compared to the stress of keeping small people alive) and full of opinions. I was, beyond doubt, one of the worst types of non-parent as I had an opinion for every form of parenting, without the experience, or in fact, a shred of knowledge about child rearing. I had watched my parents, somewhat successfully, raise 4 children and I felt that gave me all the knowledge I needed.
My favourite opinions consisted of-
- I shall not breastfeed for more than a month, my body is mine! (Ha! Wishful thinking and complete balls- my first daughter breastfed until two and my second is one and very much heading in the same direction!)
- CO SLEEP!?!? Do people do that!? No way, my husband and I will need our own space! (Cue very 'high need' babies - an expression I absolutely hate but more of that another day- and I have ended up with one or the other child in my bed most nights, and despite all my objections I actually love it)
- Dummies, my baby will NEVER have a dummy, they are so ugly. Ok so I stuck to this one, but primarily because my babies didn't want dummies. Trust me when they both had colic I spent hours begging them to take one just to stop the screaming.
- Finally- bribery. I shall never bribe my child.
So, where do I begin? My CO SLEEPING, EXCLUSIVELY BREASTFED, DUMMY REFUSING eldest child has been bribed. I admit I held off a while. I was sure I would be such an amazing parent that she would never need bribing. She would be a complete angel without me having to ask. Yeah- right. The first bribe I had major success was the no more 'booby' bribe. I was told by many people that she would eventually grow out of breastfeeding, and so I waited and waited and... Well... Waited. She was in our bed every night and I would often find her latched on when I had been in a deep sleep and not even noticed. She loved it and I don't know if she would ever have dropped it herself. I, however, had become uncomfortable. I didn't enjoy her shouting 'I want booby' at the top of her lungs in the supermarket, or pulling my top down in public whenever she fancied it. I therefore told her one evening that they 'were broken' that mummy was getting old so all the milk dried up. She told me that this made her sad. So I said, if you are a good grown up girl about this you can have that pink scooter you wanted. So three hours later she was asleep, without breastfeeding, and the rest, they say, is history.
Following the success of this first bribe my husband and I decided to try it again with a bigger issue. While I love co sleeping with my babies, my eldest was four and my second had just been born and we had a bed full of wriggly, small, individuals. Needless to say we were getting no sleep, so we began pushing our first born into staying in her own bed. I am not an advocate for strict nannying techniques, not that I am an advocate for bribery, but one day it just happened. Flicking through a glossy magazine she saw a picture of 'the most amazing bed ever'. You have probably seen them doing the rounds on Facebook, beautiful hand carved princess beds, with stairs and slides and turrets. She wanted one so badly we decided to take the bait.
'If you start sleeping all night in your own be you may have one of those'
Famous last words.
We knew she really had to stick to it, and we needed to get her used to it so that when the time came to having a princess bed she didn't automatically reverse to bed sharing with us. So we set up a reward chart and began the process of a solid year of sleeping in her own bed. Every successful night earnt a sticker on the chart. We were not mean about it- if she felt scared or needed a cuddle she was very welcome to join us. If she returned to her bed after she still received her sticker, if she didn't no worries she had another go the next night.
365 stickers seemed a lot, but somehow it came around pretty quickly. the realisation began to dawn when we looked into costs- £1600 for the one she had seen! Expensive taste. So we started looking at an Ikea hack- adapting a bunk bed to look like one. I married an architect how hard can it be?
Well that's where the Karma kicks in. We haven't even STARTED the adaptation yet. We were given a cabin bed by a friend who no longer required it, so we are almost ready to go. But we realised her little bedroom was never going to fit a princess castle bed.
So this is how we spent our weekend- furniture rearranging... So our little princess moved into the master bedroom, the smaller princess into her own room (and out of ours!) and my husband and I somehow drew the short straw and are in the tiny (once was) study room. What a nightmare room rearranging was! Youngest was cutting teeth and so clung to my leg constantly, and when she wasn't she was falling over things which resulted in a split lip. Oldest daughter turned on the spoilt princess act, obviously practicing for her new role in her castle. Husband turned into bear with a sore head when he realised it wasn't a two hour job as first thought and I can't count the amount of times I stubbed my toe! It is safe to say karma was biting us back after pulling the bribery card. God knows what will happen when we actually turn it into a princess bed! After the weekend from hell, which saw us losing our beautiful master bed and down grading to a room with a view of the bins, I am never ever bribing my children again...
... Until next time?