Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Sleep bribery and the Target trip

Yes, we are still bribing the girls to sleep independently (which basically means without Mommy or Daddy.) The girls are doing really well. Allie and Anna stay in their beds all night almost 100% of the time. On average, Em comes running into our bedroom once a night. I always pick her up, hug her, remind her that she is doing a great job and place her back in her bed. And she usually stays. As soon as she sees light outside though, she's back.

The bribery portion of the formula is where we are having some issues. Rich and I don't want to have spoiled kids but, in a way, I don't mind spoiling them a little bit. These are my only babies. And I like sleeping in my own bed. So is there a fine line between rewarding and spoiling or a bold line?

The weekly prize a few weeks ago consisted of sunglasses and cases. The girls had picked them out of a TCP flyer and I had a coupon. I thought it was a win-win situation because they kind of did need bigger size sunglasses. Unfortunately, I think that not being able to play or do much of anything outside right now kind of ruined the whole thing. And then Em started up with, "But I want a toy."

You look fabulous, dahling!




Last weekend (not this past weekend but the weekend before) I had picked up some Beauty and the Beast stuff (some of it on sale!) because Em would not stop talking about the items that she needed to complete her Belle set. Allie and Anna are definitely more laid back about the whole prize thing. Em thinks about what she wants and then asks about it constantly.



These are the nice pictures. There was fighting.


I think part of the issue is that they have been stuck inside for a very long, very cold winter. Their birthday is in a month (more presents!) and at that point, it should be warm enough to play outside. I am hoping that they will start to forget about sleep prizes at that point.

And I fully admit to poor parenting by not setting strong rules from the get-go regarding prizes. By allowing them to pick out a prize at Target that first week, they had it set in their minds that this was how prizes were going to be determined. And I'm really enjoying sleeping in my own bed so I may have been a bit too lax with the rules.

Okay, so let's get to the Target trip. Now, I'll preface this by stating that the girls (especially Emily) have been waking up way too early in the morning. Rich and I started pushing the bedtime routine earlier starting Saturday night. Because of Saturday. Em fell asleep about two minutes into our drive to Target.

We decided to use two regular shopping carts in the store in case we split up. Our first stop was the $1 area, where I spotted Easter gloves. The girls all said that they wanted a pair and in the craze of everyone grabbing, I didn't realize that there were different sizes. Oooops.

Rich pointed out that the girls had their prize. Em's response was, "Then I want to pick out two things." Allie joined in.

You have to walk by the check out lines to get to the main part of the store and as we did so, we spotted a couple waiting in line with two infants in a double stroller. As we walked behind them, I heard the woman in front of them in line loudly exclaim, "Oh, so you had the egg that split!" Rich and I gave each other a smile. Been there, done that.

It is impossible for us to go anywhere without people looking at us. For the first part of the trip, Allie was sitting in one of the shopping carts. Strangers would spot her wearing her adorable cowgirl hat and then see the other girls and smile. I heard a few mutters of "how cute." Just a reminder that Em was wearing the princess dress over Christmas pajamas.

Em kept asking to pick out a princess toy. Over and over. And over. And I was going to let them all pick out a toy. I'm too soft and I was going to spoil them. I fully admit to that. The prize for that week had been a tin of Minnie Mouse colored pencils. And while the girls enjoyed writing and drawing with them, I was reminded over and over that it wasn't a toy.

In the middle of the shopping excursion, Em announced that her tummy hurt and she had to go potty. Pee, not poo. I asked her if she could hold it and she said yes. She's been doing this I have to go potty thing when she really doesn't need to go. We were almost done shopping when she announced that she REALLY had to go potty. I pulled the princess dress off of her, threw it in the shopping cart and brought her to the bathroom. And just as I suspected (as I was breaking my back to hold her over the toilet because she's so small she could easily fall in the toilet) she did not have to go.

After leaving the bathroom, we met Rich, Allie and Anna on their way to the check-out line. At that moment, Em realized that she wasn't going to be able to pick out a princess toy. And she started crying. Not temper tantrum crying. Just crying like she was hurt. Or crying like she had lost something.

So now we are in the check-out line with identical triplets so people are staring and I'm holding a crying kid, who is wearing Christmas pajamas with fuzzy pink boots. People are staring. Some poeple tried not to stare. They tried. The cashier even asked Rich if Em was okay. I felt bad. I could tell that she was overtired. I felt really bad. Luckily, Allie and Anna got over it. Em did not.

She cried for a long time over not being able to pick out a toy. And I felt bad.

Being a parent is tough.

And no one is allowed to wear pajamas to the store again.

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Tracy said...

I feel like you've just described a shopping trip in our world... someone is always unhappy about something and I'm usually feeling bad about it.

Girls look adorable!!!

Hope's Mama said...

I'm tired from just reading that, let alone living it!
I have said it so many times, and I'll say it again, but you really are doing an amazing job.

Jessica said...

I feel guilty because after reading all I can think about are birthday pictures!!

Cindy said...

First, I love little girls in big sunglasses. Especially when they are upside down. We call them "bug eyes".

As for prizes for staying in bed, it feels better and is truer if you call it "positive reinforcement". That really is what it is - incentive to the child for acting in the way you want them to act, teaching them good sleep habits. Do you work for free? No, you work for a salary and benefits and perks. So does your child. We are doing this right now with my 6 y/o. We hit a serious bump in our lives and she is not staying in her bed, having a horrific time going to sleep. So we started offering a prize (from the Target $1 bins) for every 2 days that she goes to sleep without coming down and stays in her bed (or returns to bed without an ugly fuss when she comes to our room in the night). 2 days, right now is difficult for her. After 1 or 2 times, we'll up it to 4 days, a week, etc. until good sleep habits become part of her life again. Doing the same with potty training my twins. It works and it isn't bribery. Don't feel bad about it.

Finally, I always smile at parents in stores a) with kids in wacky clothes - those are really good parents, b) with kids having a meltdown of some sort because I've been there and I know I really appreciate a comforting smile from strangers when my kid is melting down. Helps me feel less frustrated, embarrassed and crazed.

Christi said...

I don't have kids but whenever I see preschoolers in crazy outfits at the store I think "hey, go you, girlie. You got to pick out your own clothes today." I don't think poorly on the mom for not having picture perfect dressed kids.

A Shot a Day said...

Your girls are adorable! Have you tried one of those OK to Wake alarm clocks to tell the girls when it's ok for them to get up from bed in the morning?

Colleen said...

I agree, parenting is hard. Especially when you're doing it in front of an audience.

Chantel said...

We do stickers to get a prize for not screaming for me at bedtime... it has worked okay but it needs to be a "PRIZE" it can't be a treat or going somewhere special. It needs to be an actual thing.

Claudia is spoiled. I have bought her toys. I have a closet where I have stuff, stuff I have bought on clearance (because she needs another Dora dancing doll...but it was 75% off!) that I haven't even given her yet. She has beenr eally good in stores where she sees stuff without asking for it yet or pitching fits, but I don't think she gets she can ask for things yet. I am sure it is coming. And I am sure I will struggle with saying no. I am the person who paid an extreme amount for two dolls on ebay (Dora's siblings, they dont make them anymore) just because I knew she would like them. She had never seen them before, never asked for them... but I knew she would LOVE them.

It is one of the ways we express our love. I know, too, I can't buy Curtis things so maybe, just maybe, Cole and Claudia reap the benefit of that. (Cole not as much, but i know once he gets "into" something I will)

Lisa said...

We got a lot of those stares and comments at Lowe's this weekend. I sympathize.

Angela said...

You poor thing! :-( Good thing kids are resilient, though. Em will get over it. I really think you're probably right about the better weather making them forget about prizes and such, especially with their birthday coming up! I'll be praying for you as you wind down the winter. Luckily, it appears Spring has hit NC in full force, so hopefully the rest of the country will follow suit quickly!


P.S. LOVE the sunglasses! I want some from the first pic! ;-)