I've got a bit of a confession - I am a dummy enabler!
My little people are 3 and 5 years old and this Easter holiday I have finally decided to take the plunge and separate them both from their long term companion and comforter - 'the noo-noo' (the dummy to you guys, and don't ask me how we came to call them that! I've gotten many a dodgy look in the past, believe me!)
Now my eldest has just had one “noo-noo” at night time for a good couple of years now but my youngest has been very used to popping one in her mouth at will, and up until now, I have to say it's worked for us.
Of course, I had every intention of whipping them away sharpish when they were much younger, but to be honest life got in the way as it so often does when you are a parent. We have moved out of our family home and the last thing I wanted to do in the throes of so much change and transition and sadness was to make life harder on them, so I’ve left it a bit longer that I intended.
It's not a sob story but the truth. However, having had a chat with my dentist recently (she was kind but firm in her views!), we both agreed there was no time like the present and so I formulated a master plan.
So here we are. Three days into “dummy cold turkey” and it's been eventful to say the least!
I started out very well. We prepared in advance, did a countdown, talked about it at length and on the first day of our Easter holiday we gave them to the 'Easter bunny' at a friends house and in turn, that very generous bunny left a trail of mini eggs for us to find and we enjoyed some lovely treats. All was well. – How hard can it be?
I was amazed at how well they went down to sleep that first night and my son has been amazing - I honestly think I was holding out on him in fear of ruining his life but he has shown me just how capable and adaptable he is (and not for the first time! Why am I always so surprised!?).
In short, he was very ready and by night three, he was back to asking me to leave the room post snuggles so he could settle himself. We have had our little blips - obvious signs of stress when he woke in that first night, chewing on his duvet, fingers in his mouth, whinging...but I am triumphant!!! He is happy and I am inwardly jumping for joy and high fiving the dentist all at the same time.
Which brings me to “little legs” my youngest, who was clearly lulling me into a false sense of security that first bedtime! Because by the middle of night one I was the one seeking comfort and I honestly think if I hadn't thrown them all out I would have stuck a dummy in my own mouth!
At first I was indignant at her defiance to comply - why on earth was she purple faced and screaming at me??? Everyone has to quit at some point, my son had done it - why not her? Why not now?
Night two with said daughter, picture this - me, tearful, stricken, changing very wet sheets in the early hours, and regretting the loss of our substantial “noo-noo” collection more than both the kids put together. I didn't want to 'cave in' but I couldn't live like this. For all our quirks, we are a happy and settled unit and I felt like I was losing ground fast!
Day three, cup of tea in hand, I sat and assessed the situation........... I felt angry with her.......Or was I just exhausted? Or both!
I sat a while and eventually I realised I needed to adjust my own expectation levels. The person I was really angry with was me! I did this - I had always wanted to do this far earlier and now I felt I wasn't even giving her the same approach that I had given my son. I had whipped all “noo-noo's” away for both day and night, which affected her daytime snooze too and actually on reflection that's an awful lot for an unassuming three year old to cope with. Cold turkey just wasn't for her and though it had clearly worked with one, does that automatically mean the other should follow suit?
I did feel a sense of failure but I also felt relief. Such mixed emotions, I hadn't expected to feel so much. I shook off the guilt and allowed myself to stratercise - I decided to maintain my stance on daytime dummies, that would stop completely. But at 7pm she would get one “noo-noo” in bed, and so until she is comfortable with her new daytime routine, that is how it will stay. Once daytime is sorted, we will try again and succeed with a brand new night time routine too. This time I might need to call on the services of the “Dummy Fairy”
In case you aren't picking up on my tension and excessive stress levels this week I will just say out loud for all to hear that PARENTING IS HARD!!!
I am the only one constantly berating myself, questioning my decisions, second guessing the 'right thing' for both them and us as a family? Words like “Would other mums do it this way?” “Am I letting them down?” are all regular guests in my head!
The truth is I don't know. I only know I love them - more than I thought it possible to love anything. I have their best interests at heart always. So I suppose in the grand scheme of things what's one “noo-noo” between a mother and a 3 year old daughter?
Is it worth all the distress and disruption? Or should it be about balance and appropriate expectations for our little ones?
One thing is for sure, having experienced the difficulties and struggles for myself, I won't be entering the great “noo-noo” debate anytime soon.
I'm not saying don't do it - we can't have them graduating university with a dummy between their teeth. What I am saying is do it your way, change your tactics, mix it up...it's bound to be the best way for you all.
As for me? I'm looking forward to my home being entirely noo-noo/dummy/da-da free in the (not too distant!) future. Wish me luck! ;)