Leah began climbing out of her crib when she was quite little, around 17mos or so. My other girls did this as well, and a simple explanation of the unacceptability, followed by a spanking for repeat offenders was plenty to get the point home. Hannah, and Bethany contentedly stayed in their cribs after they woke from their naps, or bedtime, until I came and got them. Mary does the same. Ahhh, but not Leah. Noooo. We explained, spanked, spanked, explained, explained, reviewed, spanked, encouraged, bribed, and finally gave up. It was maddening. We bought the Alcatraz cell, and locked her in. It sure did give us peace of mind. And we made a huge deal out of her tent being a special indoor tent that she would get to sleep in every night. She loved it. And I never thought I would be able to move her into a normal bed before she was 16. Miracles do happen.
The idea to attach it to her birthday was inspired by the reality that we do not celebrate birthdays in typical fashion. Or maybe we do, and everyone else is strange? Anyhow, birthdays in our home tend to be small, family-centric affairs with not a lot of pomp, presents or parties. With the number of children we have the smaller ones simply don't need anything, and I don't need more stuff to organize. But we do acknowledge the joy of the day, and try to mark it in some significant manner. We began telling Leah about moving to a big girl bed a week before the actual event, in hopes that it would whet her appetite to own the transition. By the time the day dawned she was pretty excited. Christopher and I put a movie on downstairs, and then doggedly worked upstairs to disassemble her crib, move the toddler bed into her room, and re-outfit it with girlie sheets. When we called the kids to come up everyone couldn't wait to see Leah's new bed! In fact, it was hard to convince the kids to let her have a moment to herself.
So how has she been doing, you ask? Very well, actually. Yes, she has gotten out of her bed, and made a terrible mess of the room. Yes, she has fallen asleep with counterfeit booty in her bed. Yes, we have explained, spanked, spanked, explained, explained, reviewed, spanked, and encouraged, but there has been no giving up! She is so pleased to have her own big girl bed, and really does want to earn our trust. She solemnly promises not to get out of her bed each nap/bedtime. And we know that eventually she really will stay in her bed. In the meantime, it has been a joy to see her set free from her prison cell (and an incredible load off my mind that the new baby will have a place to sleep).