February 20, 2009 10:08 PM by Lisa Stauber
ABC is sending Supernanny to New York this week, as she helps the Sachs family with their two tantrum throwing boys. Fanci Sachs works too much and gives the boys everything they want, even though they live in a tiny city apartment. Ryan, age 5, responds by demanding more stuff. Can Supernanny cut the clutter and knock out the fits?
Ryan and Jonathon are full of attitude and make sure everyone knows when they’re unhappy. Greg Sachs, the dad, gives in so that the kids will stop screaming. “Ryan has a big personality,” Fanci says. They have a sitter during the week, but the parents can’t handle him on the weekend. Ryan attacks his parents screaming and crying, and Jonathon, age 3, loves to hit when he’s mad. Mom goes toy shopping 3 times a week, and Dad undermines her when she says no. The kids are spoiled, through and through.
Fanci finds the toy mess overwhelming, and Supernanny can’t believe how much stuff the boys have. Not surprisingly, bedtime is a battle. “I haven’t slept in four years, and I’m exhausted!” Fanci says.
Mom needs to leave to do errands, and Ryan doesn’t like that idea. He launches into a screaming, crying fit. Greg tries to convince Ryan to come play, but Fanci hugs him, explains where she’s going, hugs some more, and feeds his fit. She finally leaves, and Jo takes a look around the apartment. “They have chosen to cram that space with clutter,” Jo says. She thinks it’s hard to effectively parent when there are ten toys in every square inch. She spies some strollers, and Fanci tells her that they own seven strollers for the two children.
Supernanny has a private conversation with Mom about Ryan’s separation issues. Later, it’s time for a snack and Ryan demands waffles. Mom offers a sandwich, fruit, cheese, yogurt and Fanci tells him no over and over. Finally he starts throwing a fit and Mom gives him a hug even while he’s screaming. She offers him ice cream, macaroni and cheese, and more food while Ryan snatches the waffles back and drags them to his room. Mom placates him by promising that he’ll get waffles every day and will fix him a special snack.
Bedtime arrives, and the kids actually grab the walls to keep from being taken to their bedroom. “These kids are terrified to be away from their parents,” Jo says. 45 minutes later, the boys won’t go to sleep so Fanci lets them have a snack. An hour after bedtime, Greg and Fanci are in the kids beds waiting for them to fall asleep. Jo has a night camera set up in the bedroom, and she sees that the parents are up and down all night long with the kids.
Supernanny addresses the clutter problem first. “There is so much stuff in your apartment!” Jo says. Mom says that she doesn’t have time to clear out the old toys. Supernanny moves on to the kids. “He has learned he gets what he wants,” she says, explaining why he freaks out about everything. “He needs two parents that will commit,” Jo says, but thinks he can be cured of his brattiness. “You’re kids don’t need or want these toys. What they want is quality time with two parents.”
Jo has no patience for the kids bedtime. “The pair of you are absolutely knackered,” she says. She says that sleeping with the children in the children’s beds has got to stop.
Supernanny jumps right in with clearing the clutter so she has room to work. There are four strollers in the living room, and Jo gives them 1 minute to decide which two to get rid of. Fanci gets on a roll and starts tossing everything – but the children’s things. Jo decides it’s time for some fresh air. They head off to Times Square. Jo is testing the parents, though, and she’s not going to allow Fanci and Greg to buy any toys. “As we started to walk towards the toy store, I could see the meltdown coming,” Greg says. Sure enough, Ryan starts crying and screaming. Greg tries to bribe Ryan with a pretzel, but Supernanny won’t let him. Fanci and Greg hold their ground and drag Ryan home. “I need you to be strong enough to say not today,” Jo tells Fanci, but Ryan won’t listen. Supernanny gets down on his level and firmly tells him no and gives him a time out warning. Ryan immediately stops crying and walks home. Greg is amazed that firmness worked!
Jo tells the boys they have to get rid of the toys and tells them to organize their toys and pick out toys to give to other boys and girls. Ryan and Jonathon happily jump right in. “Unbelievable,” Greg says. Supernanny gives them a new area rug for the room, since the floor isn’t covered with toys.
Next, Jo coaches Fanci on how to leave without all the drama. Mom confidently says she’s leaving, and goes. The boys accept it and keep playing.
Jo has set up a nannycam in the bedrooms to document the boys’ bedtime badness. First, she teaches Greg and Fanci how to use the sleeptime separation technique. They’ll stay in the room nearby, but won’t interact or feed into their kids’ disobedience. Jo is on hand in the living room to coach them through the first step.
Jonathon falls asleep right away, but Ryan is screaming and crying. He won’t stay in bed, and Fanci struggles not to respond as she puts him back in bed. She also hopes he won’t wake his brother, who shares a room with him. “I wanna hold your hand,” Ryan cries, begging for attention. An hour and a half later, the boys are asleep but Jo’s pretty sure that they’ll be up in a few hours to get some more attention from their sleepy parents.
Ryan shows up at midnight, and Greg doesn’t remember not to talk. Jo’s still there to help out. At a quarter of one in morning, Jonathon starts screaming for Mom and Jo tells her not to in the room. Fanci makes it through, and Jo leaves early in the morning. She tells the parents firmly to keep the bedtime routine up. “Question is, will they have the willpower to do it?”
A few days later, Jo returns to see how Greg and Fanci did while she was away. As soon as Jo left during bedtime, Ryan started crying again. The parents persist, and by 2:30 am every one’s asleep. The boys are getting the hang of putting their toys away, and Fanci’s getting better at giving firm, clear choices and following through. Jonathon starts crying for a lollipop, and Fanci gives him a timeout. Dad tries to get the boys to clean up, but they don’t listen to him. He nags and barks orders over and over again. “Oh my word, where were the earplugs?” Jo says. She tells him not to over explain or give so many instructions at once.
Greg gave in while Supernanny was away and went back to the old bedtime habits. She’s going to work with the Sachs some more and even attempt a trip to the toy store, without buying anything!
Jo takes the family window shopping. She explains to Fanci and Greg how to handle the “I wants” from the boys. “I got nervous,” Greg says. The trip went well, and Fanci thinks it’s because they are more confident and the kids know that their parents mean what they say.
Next, Jo takes the family to donate the extra toys to the Salvation Army so the boys can see how donating to charity works. Fanci and Greg have learned not to try to fill up their relationship with things that are bought, but rather to enjoy each other and spend time together. “What a child constantly needs is their parent’s time and attention,” Jo says.
Photos courtesy ABC.