Ditch the Pacifiers: Four Ways to Live More Intentionally
At my youngest son’s recent 12 month checkup, the pediatrician asked whether I had any questions or concerns. Sheepishly, I told her that I planned to wean him from his pacifier but hadn’t done it yet. She nodded and said, “That’s probably a good idea.”
I smiled weakly as I thought of all the reasons I should wait just a little bit longer, kind of like deciding on Friday that you’ll start your diet on Monday. He’s teething. He has the sniffles. We’re leaving tomorrow for Pennsylvania. A four hour car ride without a pacifier? No, thank you.
When we returned from our trip, I realized that I was just going to keep on making excuses because it was easier for me and for him to keep his beloved giraffe Wubba Nub. I decided to take action, and consulted the oracle Google on the best way to do it.
As I was looking through some articles, I realized I could probably use some of the same advice in my own life. Just like my baby boy, I have some pacifiers that comfort me and help me get through the challenges of stay-at-home mom life. I deeply desire to live an intentional life aligned with my values, but my day-to-day activities don’t always reflect this. It was time to take a look at how to mindfully remove the pacifiers that keep me from living my best life.
Limit pacifiers to specific times and places
One option for weaning kids from pacifiers is to offer them only at nap times and bedtime. Similarly, I realized that my social media and e-mail use during the day should be limited to specific times and places. I sometimes find myself scrolling through Facebook or Instagram while the boys are playing, looking up just in time to see my toddler acting out or my baby about to get into something he’s not supposed to. Being an attentive parent isn’t just one of my values; it’s imperative to keep my kids safe. So I committed myself to checking my phone once before the kids wake up, once while they are napping, and once after their bedtime. In addition, I decided to only check e-mail and social media from my laptop or desktop to limit my time on my phone and help prevent mindless scrolling.
Cut the tip off the pacifier
Sometimes we’re not willing to get rid of our pacifiers all together, but we need to remove the cause for concern. Like most people, I use my smartphone for all sorts of things: playing music for my kiddos via our Bluetooth speaker, listening to podcasts while they nap, or making a phone call (gasp!) But the lure of the Facebook and Instagram apps are too much sometimes, even though I’ve made it more difficult to access them by putting them in a Social Media folder. Since I am committed to only checking social media from my laptop, I deleted the Facebook app from my phone since it’s my biggest time suck by far.
Make the pacifier unappealing
I was surprised to read that one suggestion to wean your child from a pacifier is to dip it in lemon juice or vinegar so they don’t want to suck on it. While I’m sure the look on my son’s face would be mildly amusing, I decided not to go this route. But it made me think: how could I make the pacifiers that soothe me less appealing? One example is Netflix. It’s interesting to me that bingeing has a negative connotation in our society unless it has to do with Netflix. Then it’s socially acceptable. No wonder we find it hard to break this habit!
In the late afternoon, during that brief and precious time when both kids’ naps overlap, I sometimes tell myself that I need a “mental break” and use that as an excuse to watch a show. But what if I made it less appealing by pairing the activity of watching Netflix with working out? It’s not as bad as drinking lemon juice, but it’s not exactly fun. Either way it’s a win-win: I’ll either watch less Netflix or exercise more.
Replace the pacifier with alternative soothing techniques
When I replaced my son’s pacifier with a lovey blanket (the lovey is also a giraffe, surely he can’t tell the difference?) I put him down for his first binky-free nap and held my breath. He’s fussed a bit and hasn’t slept as well for his naps, but overall he’s adjusted to the change better than I expected.
But what about me, an adult set in my habitual patterns? How easily can I replace the pacifiers in my life with healthier options?
There are some days when I count the minutes until my husband comes home (OK, most days) and not only because I can give him a big kiss and hand over the boys. His arrival also signals me to pour a “much deserved” glass of red wine. But instead of reaching for the wine glass the moment he walks through the door, what if I were more mindful about the decision? Am I using it as a coping mechanism, a reward for surviving a hard day, or simply as a beverage to enjoy with my meal? These questions are hard to face when it’s been a long day and it’s easy to justify our “treats,” but I feel better knowing the choice is a mindful one, even if I decide to drink the glass of wine anyway.
It’s always easier to start something difficult tomorrow, and being surrounded by pacifiers that keep us comfortable doesn’t make it any easier. If we truly want to live an intentional life where we make room for what matters most, we have to be mindful about how we are spending our time- both the time we spend with the people we love and the time we spend on our own when no one is looking. We have to really look closely at our behaviors to see whether they are healthy, or just pacifiers to soothe us in the moment. As for me, I’m ditching the pacifiers of mindless social media use, Netflix binges, and emotional eating and drinking. If my one-year old can survive, I’m sure I can, too.
What pacifiers do you need to ditch to live your most intentional life? Leave a comment below!
Hi! I’m Emily. I’m a wife, mother of two boys, simplicity seeker, lover of peanut butter and dancing in my basement. I help people make room for what matters most. Come visit me at Simple by Emmy and receive my free Beginner’s Guide to Minimalism and Simple Living!