Friday, May 29, 2015

Sisters Sharing a Room

Once we found out that I was pregnant, we had to make the decision of what to do with the bedroom situation.  Do we lose the guest bedroom and put a child in there, or do we bunk the girls in Addy's room and give the baby Emma's room?  We gave it a lot of thought and decided that we preferred to keep the guest bedroom as is and bunk the girls.  That way all three girls could share the Jack and Jill bathroom and it could remain the only kids bathroom.  By keeping the 4th bedroom/bathroom for guests, it will also be a lot less cleaning for me ;)  One less bathroom to have to scrub all of the time.

Now, that being said, we knew that bunking the big girls together would be no easy feat.  They are notoriously TERRIBLE at falling asleep in the same room.  They are both literally up for HOURS talking, laughing, and playing every time they are put in a situation where they share a room.  Mike and I spend those last hours of the day (when we are already exhausted), frustrated, yelling at them, and trying to get them to go to sleep.  Misery I tell you.  Absolute misery.  We've gone on vacation where the girls have had to share a room for a week, and everyone thought after a day or two they'd get used to it/be exhausted and fall asleep quickly.  Negative.  It was an entire week of them being up for 2-3 hours after we put them to bed.

So yeah, we knew our new arrangement would not be a walk in the park.  But we admittedly did not expect it to be as hard or as frustrating as it was.

We started back in January, with having them occasionally sleep together in Addy's bed.  It was a big fat flop.  They loved it, but it was always between 10-11PM before they finally fell asleep... when they are used to being asleep by 8PM!

Finally conked out

But we wanted to stick with the room sharing plan, so we decided to order them all new furniture, including bunk beds, which they would share.  We thought that maybe the difficulty was coming from them trying to share a bed, and that when they were in bunk beds and couldn't see each other, it would go more smoothly.  Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha.

The furniture has arrived!  I texted Mike this picture and told him to have fun ;)

Mike and a few of his friends put together the massive bunk bed and got all of the furniture set up while the girls and I observed.... often from the closet in order to stay out of the way ;)

Hey, there could be worse closets to hang out in.  At least this one has a makeup station and an IPAd for entertainment ;)

Here we all are on the closet floor :)

Mike and Jay bringing up all of the furniture... with Addy directing from behind ;)

Emmy's excited...

... and always so thankful.  She is really the sweetest thing :)

Fun on the furniture boxes!

Let's get this party started...

It took an entire weekend, and Mike said that it was the most labor intensive thing that he's ever done, but the new furniture was up and ready the second weekend in April. 

Finished product:

We love it and, most importantly, the girls LOVE it!

Here's a little video... and yes, I know I'm a little OCD, but the girls were literally full of dirt from playing outside all day and I didn't want them getting their new bedding all nasty ;)

And so it began...

On night one I sat in there on the edge of Emma's bed, not looking at them or interacting with them, but just making sure that they were quiet and stayed in their respective beds.  We were worried about Emmy climbing up to Addy's bed and falling.  So we just wanted to set the precedent right away that you must stay in bed at night.  So there I sat, for about an hour and half, until they fell asleep.  And I did it the next night too, but that time they fell asleep in a little less than an hour.  I had high hopes.  But I didn't feel like spending my nights sitting in their room until they fell asleep, so I stopped doing that.  We just tried to tell them the rules, leave, and hope for the best.  

Well it was miserable.  They went back to taking hours to fall asleep, with Addy hanging over the top bunk, Emma swinging from the rails of the top bunk, and everyone thinking it was a playtime free for all.  We tried reasoning with them.  We tried taking things away from them (like their precious babies and blankets).  We tried yelling at them.  I tried sitting in their room with them again, but that just led to me being exhausted and even more frustrated.  We tried staggering bedtimes, but Emma takes so long to fall asleep, that even bringing Addy in there 45 minutes later, Emma would still be awake and the nighttime shenanigans would resume.  

We had our first bunk bed injury after only one night.

The injury.  Emma decided to take a running leap into Addy's pillow and slammed her face into the corner of the headboard.  Ouch!!!
(A month and a half later, Emma still has a scar there. Hoping it fades with time.)

Anyway, nothing was working.  Night after night, Mike and I would spend our time watching them in the monitor and taking turns going upstairs to try to deal with their antics.  Our evenings of relaxing on the couch were over.  And we were over it.  After over a month of dealing with this (yup, that's right, this went on for over a month!  Every. Single. Night.), we were ready to throw in the towel.  Addy's behavior was significantly worse, from lack of sleep no doubt, and we seemed to be making no progress whatsoever.  The girls were still awake until between 10-11 every night.  Something had to change.

Mike made the statement several times that the whole situation was ridiculous.  We have a fourth bedroom.  Why on earth are we putting ourselves through this when we have the option of everyone having their own rooms?  Because I am stubborn.  I refused to give up after we ordered all of that new furniture and combined all of their things.  I was not going back, and I was not going to admit defeat.  We WOULD make this work.

So I goggled the heck out of the issue.  I read blog after blog about preschoolers sharing bedrooms and tactics to make it work.  The most common theme for children of these ages was staggered bedtimes.  But people would say, "I put my older child to bed 15 minutes after my younger one, and then she'd be asleep and we'd be fine."  Well, yes that's all well and good if your children fall asleep quickly.  But when we'd keep Addy up for 45 additional minutes and then Emma was STILL awake when Addy went to bed?  Then what?  The whole point is trying to get them BOTH to get adequate sleep.  Kind of defeats the purpose if we end up having to keep Addy awake for more than an hour after her usual bedtime.  And let's be real... Mike and I are ready for ALL children to be in bed come "bedtime".  We like our evening routine with just us after the kids are in bed.  Time to unwind from the invariably hectic day behind us.

So I kept googling and another thing that I found had worked for others was using a reward system for the older child if she was quiet and went right to sleep.  It was 100% a last ditch effort, but I tried it.  I threw together "Addy's Nighttime Quiet Chart", admittedly fulling expecting it to fail miserably.  The idea was that she would get a sticker of her choosing for every night that she went into her room quietly and did not say a word to Emma.  So we talked the whole thing way up to Addy.  And we had rewards in place.  If she got three stickers in a row we would take her to Bamboo for frozen yogurt.  If she got seven stickers in a row, we would buy her that precious "Pup Pad" that she so desperately wanted.  Again, we were expecting this whole thing to flop.

But it worked!!!!  I almost have to pinch myself to believe it, but it really worked!  We started our new routine about 2 weeks ago and Addy has gotten her sticker EVERY SINGLE NIGHT!!

So here's what we do:

We put Emma to bed about 30 minutes before Addy and, like I said, she is often still awake when Addy goes in to bed.  We shoot to have Emma in bed between 7:30-8 and then Addy goes to bed between 8-8:30.  Addy gets to spend those extra 30 minutes watching the IPad.  So that is an additional reward.  We told her that if she isn't quiet, she won't get that IPad time anymore.

On the first night Emma was in fact asleep when Addy went in there, so it made the transition a bit easier, and Addy tiptoed right up to her bed and went to sleep.  And in the morning I made a BIG deal about praising her and letting her choose a sticker.  I wanted to keep her excited and proud of herself.

The second night was the true test because Emma was still awake.  But we have the talk with Addy every night before she goes in there: "No talking, no whispering, no singing, and no rattling your baby" (Her dang baby has a rattle in it that I just want to rip out most nights).  So we give her the talk and then send her in.  That second night Emma tried hard to talk to Addy.  But Addy made us so proud and she did not say a word!  She just laid there!  I'll tell you, this girl LOVES Bamboo, and she also wanted that Pup Pad in a bad way!  So the reward system was the way to go for her.  And truly, just like we told her, when she didn't respond to Emma, Emma gave up in a few minutes and went to sleep.  That's what we kept saying to Addy.  Ignore Emma and she'll go to sleep.

So night after night Addy would creep in after 30 minutes or so (and after the pep talk from me about what was expected of her in order to receive her stickers and ultimately, her rewards).  Emma would sit up and try to talk to Addy, but she tried for less and less time every night, and now, dare I say, I think they are both FINALLY getting used to it!!!!!

(Side note: they sleep in separate rooms for nap time and always have.  Addy sleeps in the guest room and Emma in her bottom bunk.  There'd be no way they would nap otherwise.)

Anyway, Addy got her Bamboo after three days and her Pup Pad after seven days.  Now we are working on two weeks worth of stickers and she hasn't missed a day.  We were worried about the rewards initially.  Are we now stuck with buying her frozen yogurt every three days and a new toy every week?  But honestly, we were willing to take that risk in order to save our sanity.  But guess what?  She got her initial rewards and still loves putting a sticker on her chart every morning, but she hasn't asked what else she will be getting for those stickers.  I'm trying hard to make the stickers themselves seem super exciting ;)  And our plan if she would've asked was just to keep extending the amount of stickers she needed in order to get a prize.

But I really and truly think we've turned a corner.  For the past few nights when Addy goes into the room Emma will often sit up and look at her, and then lay right back down and neither of them say a word.  And then, blissfully, they both go to sleep.  I think Emma realized that Addy doesn't respond, so she stopped trying to interact with her at night.  That, my friends, was the whole idea.  And it's working.  Can I just say that one more time?  IT'S WORKING!!

Here are some pics of them from last night:

Aren't children precious when they sleep?  Ahhhhhh, I love it :)  And Mike and I have regained our evenings sans kiddos.  It's wonderful, truly wonderful.  Every night we still make at least one comment about how amazed and relieved we are that this whole sharing a room thing is finally working.  

Now, all of that being said.... we are leaving for a week long beach vacation in the morning.  The girls will be sharing a room.  Last year it was disaster.  But we are hoping for a different result this year.  We're going to bring our video monitor and do the exact same routine that we do at home.  I will even bring the chart.  Keep your fingers crossed for us that this trip doesn't set us back to square one.....

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Mother's Day 2015

I had such a fun Mother's Day this year, and I'm so glad that in addition to spending time with my little family,  I got to spend the day relaxing with my own mom :)

Woke up to a card from Mike and these cute "Mom" mugs from the girls :)

Mike gave me his card first and I was a little bit confused about the inscription....

Until I read what the girls wrote in my Mother's Day book....

Ha ha, at least I'm good for something, huh?  I love that book that Mike got last year, where instead of cards from the girls every year, they can write and draw me something in this book and I will forever have everything all in one place.  Perfect :)

I told the girls that all I wanted for Mother's Day was one nice photo of me and them.  They made sure to make it nice and difficult to obtain, but we managed a decent one ;)

We went to El Sol for brunch with mom, Tina, and Jay.  Of course, afterwards....more photos :)

We got home and did our usual driveway sitting with some popsicles to cool off.

And more selfies!  I took advantage of the one day where Mike couldn't get annoyed at my incessant need for pictures ;)

Emmy had her own little toy phone here and said, "Mommy, let's take a smiley!  Cheese!"

 My sweet girls:

They love their baby sister so much already!  They are always hugging my "baby belly" and talking to the baby.  Addy says, "I am going to be your best big sister ever and I can't wait to meet you."  She says things like this multiple times a day.  And Emma is a little sweetheart too.  Yesterday she came up to me with one of her little toy fans and fanned my belly because "the baby is hot".  They are so doting already :)

Candid shot of the whole family... Daisy included :)

And when I checked the mail, these little beauties were waiting for me!  What a perfect day for their arrival!  Now I can rest easy knowing that we have outfits for when the sisters all meet for the first time ;)

During nap time Mom and I sat out on our deck and chatted the afternoon away :)

When the girls woke up we went out to a pizza place for dinner and then did some evening fishing:

Of course, the one fish that was caught all evening was when my mom took the girls for a walk.  So they never even saw it.

Sister selfie :)

And sisterly awkward prom pose ;)

Love these little family shots that Tina got :)

We had such a beautiful Mother's Day.  The weather was perfect, the day was relaxed but fun, and I got to spend time with my favorite people.  Life is good :)