We debated taking them away at Christmas, maybe leaving them for Santa to "pick up" when he delivered their new toys. Ultimately, we decided against that, not wanting them to have memories of Santa "taking" their pacis. It was sometime around Christmas, though, that we started talking up the idea that once they turned three in a few months, they would have to give up their pacis.
On that last post, my friend Laura Beth reminded me what I'd read about her experiences helping her daughter give up the paci. I liked their approach--talking about it for months ahead of time so it comes as no surprise, and getting a gift in return. Because we have waited so long to fight this battle, I felt that talking it through with A & M would help them grasp the concept that we weren't taking the pacifier away just because we wanted to, but because they were growing up.
We picked Addison & Mackenzie's third birthday, April 2, as THE day. We talked it up for months, casually mentioning every so often that once they turned three, they would be big girls and no longer need the pacis. Addison particularly latched onto the "big girl" idea, and would often tell us that when she was "free" (three!), she would be a big girl and not need a paci anymore.
In the weeks preceding their birthday, I noticed Mackenzie getting especially demanding for her paci. She has not had one in the car in more than a year, but she started asking for the old one in the cupholder. I let her have it, figuring she was getting in her last little bit of time with her beloved paci. Addison may have actually backed off on her devotion to her paci in the last few weeks before her birthday, so maybe the talking thing helped her.
I decided that the night before their birthday would be the night we left the pacis out for the "Paci Fairy" (ridiculous, I know). It was the evening of their birthday party, and I knew my girls would be exhausted.
The exhaustion may very well have worked against me, because both girls WAILED when we told them it was time to leave the pacis on the coffee table. I expected most of it, but it was heartbreaking. We rocked and sang and read, and still they wailed on. Mackenzie was particularly inconsolable, and I was actually afraid she was going to make herself sick. I wanted to cry myself! Finally, in a moment of desperation, I bargained with the girls that they could have their pacis to fall asleep, but that I would sneak in before morning and leave the pacis for the paci fairy. I emphasized over and over that when they woke the next morning, there would be no pacifier.
In retrospect, I probably should have waited until the night of their actual birthday to institute this life change (sorry again, girls!). To be quite honest, the morning of their birthday SUCKED for all of us. We had planned to go to the Nashville Zoo, and at one point, I thought we weren't going to make it. (Although I was determined I was NOT going to stay home all day with whining, crying children!) Even the present from the paci fairy had little to no effect on their attitudes. Addison very seriously told us she wanted a gun for her birthday (???), so the paci fairy delivered two pretty cool Nerf guns:
Eventually, after much sobbing from the girls and many declarations on my part that I was sorry, but the pacis would NOT be coming back, we were able to take off for the zoo.
The day itself went pretty well, with only Mackenzie's angry grunts at me when she was overtired on the way home (Jeremy remarked that he was pretty sure she was cursing at me, she just doesn't know the right words yet!). And surprisingly, most days since then have been pretty much okay. Sometimes they are just whiny and won't really say why, but I'm sure it's partly due to the pacis. Occasionally Mackenzie will say she wants a paci, but we just gently remind her that they are all gone.
The part of this whole ditching-the-paci thing that worried Jeremy and me the most was bedtime. The girls have always been great sleepers, and sleep is not something we take for granted in our house. To be quite honest, we were a little bit petrified to mess with the formula. To my astonishment, bedtime has not been nearly the drama-fest I imagined. If M is going to whine about her paci, it is pretty much either after nap or first thing in the morning. It has hardly been mentioned at bedtime at all! AND there have been no more nighttime wakings than usual. Sometimes it takes a little longer to get the girls settled for bed, which I largely attribute to the vast increase in talking and singing we have seen since ditching the pacis, but I can deal with that. (Just to be clear, my kids talked plenty before--the pacis certainly never deterred them--but without them to work around, they are absolutely unstoppable. They talk and sing from morning until night. It's pretty great!)
Overall, I guess I would say we had a fairly good experience getting rid of the pacifiers. It certainly could have been worse. Would it have been easier a year ago? Maybe in some ways...but then again, I got LOTS of extra peace and quiet by keeping them, so I won't say that was a mistake. : )
I am just glad to be over this hurdle. My girls are potty trained, eat and drink everything we do, can put on their own shoes, and have no pacis. Does this mean they really ARE big girls now?? Waaahhhh! It happens so quickly in the grand scheme of things, doesn't it?
Oh, wait, they still sleep in cribs...that means they're not all grown up yet! The beds will be our next big step, but I wanted to get fully adjusted from the paci ordeal before we even considered a bed change. (We plan to just take off the front of the crib and use it as a toddler/daybed for the foreseeable future.)
Have you switched to toddler beds (or big-kid beds) yet? How did that go? Prepare me!