The ultimate family road trip playlist

Guys, summer is finally here. And although Rona might not be going anywhere anytime soon, it’s time for us to move around a bit and get out there and explore. Safely, physically distanced, of course.

Grab your map and sunglasses, or rather your Waze, Cheddar Bunnies, apple slices, water bottle, sunscreen, lovey, paci, books, mask, and a whole lotta patience, and let’s do this.

In our family we torture our kids by making them sit in the car without any screens whatsoever. Can you imagine those poor tender youthlings with nothing to do but stare out the window?

I know. It’s modern day torture.

But gosh darnit the car is our time to sing together, listen together, learn and explore, and I’m not about to give that up.

So this week I’m solving for one part of your car ride equation. Behold the ultimate family road trip playlist.

It’s got Kindie, grown up, mine, and anything that I think feels like the top down and the wind in our hair.

Before you go ahead and listen, or maybe even while you listen, here is a quick recap of what you’ll find.

 

1.Movin’ Right Along from The Muppet Movie

When I was about 6 my parents took us on a road trip. I think we listened to the Muppet Movie Soundtrack 1,257 times. This song was our fave. There was no way I was about to do a road trip playlist without it.

 

2. Through the Woods by the Okee Dokee Brothers

These guys are the explorers of the Kindie (kid indie) scene. They explore nature like I explore family dynamics. Each of their albums takes you to a different nature landscape. And they’ve got a great vibe too. You might recognize Justin Lansing’s voice from my song More of a Baby.

 

3. Lovely Day by Bill Withers.

Something about Bill Withers has always touched me to the core. His effortless voice, no frills singing, and good vibe yet profound songs.

 

4. Unhurried Journey by Elena Moon Park 

Elena was once a part of Dan Zane’s kids band before she went off to do her own thing. It’s a good thing she did because her music is beautiful. This is from her new album and Elizabeth Mitchell joins her on this title track.

 

5. It’s My Mother and My Father and My Sister and My Dog by Barry Louis Polisar

You probably know Barry from the song All I Want is You on the Juno Soundtrack. But besides writing a kick ass movie title track he is also a kindie pioneer and this song is pretty entertaining.

 

6. Coniferous Trees by Molly Ledford and Billy Kelly

I’ve told y’all about this album before. I love it. It’s all about trees and its done so tastefully with humor, educational details, and beautiful melodies and production by Dean Jones. I particularly love this one. It’s like we are in the studio with them as they sing it.

 

7. You’ve Got a Friend in Me by Micheal Buble

Obviously this is a Randy Newman song and we all know and love it from Toy Story. But I felt compelled to add this version. Michael Buble is just so ridiculously perfect in his vocals. As much as I try to hate him, I really do love him. He always sounds easy going and upbeat and his singing makes me smile.

 

8. Rosie Darling by Joanie Leeds

If you make it all the way to the end without a bathroom accident, trantrum, fight with partner, or wrong turn I want to hear about it. I’ll send you a Vered shirt. Seriously. But if you do you’ll make it to this lovely song by my friend Joanie Leeds. This is from her new album produced by friend Lucy Kalantari.

So let’s do this. Let’s pile into the car, even if just to head from one side of town to the other, and play some tunes that will inspire, tickle, move, and groove.

 

HAPPY SUMMER!!

  

What are your favorite road trip tunes? Please share them below.

  

Do you know someone in need of a good road trip playlist? Share this with them and they will be forever grateful. And tell them to sign up for future Tune Ins too.

Yes! Please send me the Tuesday Tune-In!

What parenting a baby teaches us about joining the anti-racism movement

Dear Tunester,

 

I’ve been going back and forth all week on whether to write this post, and, if so, how to do it. There are so many voices we need to be listening to right now. I keep asking myself, “Who am I to add one more? And what if I say something wrong?” 

 

And then I realized, that’s part of the WORK ahead of us; to bumble through this, learn what we need to correct, and be willing to have the conversations to get us there. So I want to put it out there right away: If there is anything in this post that is offensive to anyone, please do write back. Tell me where I went off course. I want to learn.

 

I’ve been hearing a term these days that I resonate with: The Imperfect Ally. To me, it means having our intentions in the right place, wanting to work toward social justice and anti-racism, but also being completely aware that we don’t know exactly how to do that. 

 

It may take time to learn, but we are in this for the long haul. Many have reminded us, “It’s a marathon, not a sprint.”

 

It is going to take a while for us to unlearn ways that feel normal; the mistreatment of people of color (whether unintentional or not) ingrained in our system, the exercising of white privilege daily. And beyond the cerebral understanding, the major shift will have to be cellular, in our bodies. We hold generations of presumptions. Shedding those habits will be painful and will take time.

 

There are plenty of actions to be taken now. I know you’ve probably got a list of them . But this post is about the action in the inaction.

 

Do you all remember the exercise we did in class called Passively Present? We challenged ourselves to be fully present with the experience of our baby. We got down to their level, laid in their position, and let them lead the play. From the outside it didn’t look like we were doing much. But what we were doing actually demanded a lot of effort—we were pushing ourselves to stay fully PRESENT with our baby’s experience. We put our own to do lists, desires, and distractions aside, and we followed our baby’s exploration.

 

There is a step that needs to happen in order to do this anti-racism thing right that cannot be rushed.

 

The other night I was in bed with my husband and we played out the cliche man/woman dynamic. I told him about something that was troubling me and he immediately went into offering solutions. My body tensed, I wanted to turn away and shut down. I didn’t want ideas for action. I needed him to acknowledge my sadness. I wanted to express my dark feelings and know that he saw my pain.

 

We are in a moment in our history when we need to fully absorb the Black voices around us and acknowledge the experience they’ve had in our country for generations. We need to be Passively Present to their experience. It demands our active listening and it takes effort to do so.

 

And you know what might creep up while we try to do that? Our good friend GUILT. And that may cloud our ability to listen.

 

For the White readers here, and that means most (I’m hoping  to change that,) you might be feeling like me. I’m coming to terms, not just with opening my eyes to reality, but more than that, to realizing that I DID see what was happening before but that it was comfortable for me not to change things. In fact, I’ve come to see almost every choice I make as one of privilege. 

 

But guilt is not a productive feeling. It makes us act impulsively. We want to demonstrate, to ourselves or to others, that we are good

 

But guys, as I said earlier, we’re in this for the long haul. There is no need to burn out, fueled on guilt. Our intention, collectively, is not just to change things for our neighbor, although that is a great start, but for our kids’ generation and their kids’ generation.

 

Guilt shifts the conversation away from the victim. So how do we break out of it? We go back to being passively present. We absorb the words and the emotions of black speakers, writers and leaders. And we allow for our own response, in our bodies, to happen without covering them over with shoulds and shouldn’ts (aka guilt.)

 

Many of you have been saying in class that you are feeling distressed about what is going on in the streets. You want to join the effort, but you are busy taking care of a baby.

 

That’s ok. You won’t be in this survival phase forever with your baby. You will once again have the mind space and physical space to head out into a protest or to join local activist groups if you choose. But for now, there’s also work to be done from home. 

 

I’ve never been an early adopter. I know this about myself. It is going to take me some time to figure out exactly how I can create change with my own hands. At the moment, I have my eye on putting my efforts into the elections this year. 

 

Meanwhile, I’ve got work to do. I need to feel the sadness of my Black neighbors, the anger that the young Black leaders I watch on IG are expressing. I need to cry, shake, meditate, take deep breaths, and let the work happen in my body as well. I need to acknowledge my fear of losing certain comforts in order to gain humanity. I need to sit with my sadness of having let down my fellow humans.

 

And when I feel compelled to add my voice to the conversation, I’ll do so, knowing that I will make tons of mistakes, but I’ll listen and learn as I go. That’s the work.

 

Here is a list of some of the voices I have been listening to and feeling with. These are on IG:

@soniareneetaylor

@Whitneyrmcguire

@privtoprog

@brandonkgood

@laurenwesleywilson

@professor_crunk

@austinchanning

@osopepatrisse

@ericacourdae

@luvvie

@taranajaneen

@rachel.cargle

 

So tell me. Do you think I’m right on this? Should we take a moment to fully FEEL or is it just a way to avoid the action that must be taken? COMMENT below and let me know your stance.

 

Do you have a friend who could use a dose of Baby in Tune each week? Send them this post to sign up.

Yes! Please send me the Tuesday Tune-In!

How to talk to your kids about race? Start with a song

Dear Tunester,

It’s been a week to end all weeks. I know we all feel raw, emotional, fragile, and scared. For ourselves. For our children. For the future. But I can feel change on the horizon. Can’t you? It keeps my hope alive.

 

It’s taken a lot to shake our country to its core: a pandemic that sent us into our homes indefinitely, caused financial insecurity for so many, and disproportionately affected the black community. And on top of that, another tragic, unnecessary death of a black American. 

 

We don’t have our regular trips to the market, days at work or pick-ups from daycare, to distract us from what is bubbling up in our country and in ourselves. And we get it (most of us). We feel it deeply.

 

This country needs to change NOW.

 

In today’s post I’m not going to give you a list of books for kids, or ways to educate yours. I know you can find that stuff elsewhere and you should.

 

What I can offer you is a new song to help you open the conversation with your kids.

 

It wasn’t easy to write it. It’s not perfect. But we’re all learning how to talk about this, how to understand the experience of our black neighbors, and most of all: how to take action.

 

The other day I opened the topic of race with my 11 year old. He said “I’m afraid to talk about it with friends because I’m scared I’ll say something racist.” 

 

Oh man. That hit me hard. Not just because it is sad to hear that he doesn’t feel he can talk about it but because I identified. I know he is expressing what so many of us feel all the time:  What’s the right thing to say to be supportive but not accidentally offend?

 

A couple of days later he told me a story I had never heard: a few years earlier he had said the “N” word at school. He didn’t know what it meant and was using it out of context. I’m not sure where he had even heard it to begin with. His teacher immediately reacted, brought the vice principal who spoke to the whole class about the matter. My son understood the gravity of it. He also felt ashamed to the point where he didn’t even tell me about it later.

 

So there you have point A leading to point B. 

 

Here’s a kid who was curious, did not harbor judgment, and was misinformed. Immediately, due to the systemic issues in our country he got the feeling that he should never broach the topic.

 

My son did not set out to discriminate. He was aware of our family value and the school value of acceptance. He just didn’t know the word or how loaded it was.

 

I wonder now if the school could have handled it differently, opening the conversation, gently telling a child what words are offensive, and welcoming curiosity and questions about difference.

 

That’s our job with our kids. Let’s teach them non-judgment and encourage curiosity. Let’s teach them words and phrases that might be offensive. And let’s teach them to ask their black neighbor if what they said is offensive in any way. 

 

That’s actually what I did yesterday after I wrote the song. I called a black friend and asked her to listen. I asked her if anything was triggering. I had never done that before about a song I wrote and I felt that was a big step in the right direction for me. 

 

So that’s what I mean when I say change is on the horizon. I find it very encouraging. But we need to go through lots of growing pains before we get there.

 

 

So how have you broached the topic with your kids? Please comment below and let us know. We all need some support on this.

 

Do you have a friend who could use a song to illustrate the predicament we are in? Send them the Tuesday Tune In and tell them to sign up below so they’ll get the next one too.

How to break out of the quarantine rut

Dear QuaranTunie,

Did anyone else’s week go by in a flash? Could May possibly be almost done? Is it Tuesday already??

This month feels so different from March and April which moved like a snaaaaaaiiiil. 

 

You know why? It has to do with newness and sameness, novelty and monotony. Let’s look back.

 

In March the crisis hit us in the face. We spent all of our energy and time coming to terms with the seismic shift in the world, the horror of it, the extreme upheaval in our lives.

 

April followed along after. We were still absorbing, buying masks, furiously scrolling through the news, anxiously trying to figure out the million educational apps sent by teachers, worrying about grandparents, cooking 17 meals a day, figuring out how to survive our day to day.

 

By the time  May hit we were used to the sitch. Not that we liked it, but we settled in. Stopped fighting it. We bought a few more boxes of mac and cheese and found places to order in from, we said f*ck it- my kid figuring out how to navigate Netflix like a pro counts as learning how to read, we accepted that we weren’t going to be the best parents during home stay, nor the best employees at our work. 

 

We found some sort of routine in the chaotic lack of routine or maybe we just fully surrendered. And slowly, days started to look the same. 

 

So here we are. We don’t see many new people (or many people at all), we don’t have many new experiences, we don’t go to many new places. We have  fallen into the humdrums of it. (Of course, those of us who are in the trenches of this crisis are having  a completely different experience).

 

And that’s when time flies by. When we don’t have newness, when there is nothing unordinary in our day, when we don’t encounter surprises along the way or have events to mark the time. 

 

Remember when we had mini new moments all throughout our day? A shy glance at a stranger at the supermarket after we made the peppers come tumbling down. A clever comment we made to a new mom friend at pick up. A presentation we kicked out of the park after sweating it out the night before.

 

In their book “The Power of Moments,” Chip and Dan Heath find that  we tend to remember ‘defining moments’; moments which are surprising, meaningful and extraordinary. When we have these moments we feel as if time is moving more slowly.

 

Think back to a time in your life when a lot of new things were happening—your first year of high school, a backpacking trip, your first months  of being a parent. I bet if we had met during that time you wouldn’t be saying “It’s Tuesday again?” Because then  every day was packed with new challenges and surprises.

 

Home stay means we aren’t having many new experiences that don’t involve our kids. Don’t get me wrong, those are PLENTY and are extremely fulfilling. 

 

But I’m here to push us to find some more this week.

 

According to the Heath brothers, these  are some elements that make for memorable and defining moments:

 

  1. Boost your sensory appeal. This week, buy some flowers for your home. Turn up the music, light some candles, tickle your senses.
  2. Raise the stakes. Push yourself to do a presentation you’ve been putting off. Play a game you’re scared to lose, set a deadline for yourself that you know is a big challenge.
  3. Break the script. Do something that surprises your spouse. Hell, do something that surprises yourself. Buy him/her a gift, create a surprise of some sort, or simply say something you don’t normally share.
  4. Find connection. Create synchronized meaningful moments with others. This one is harder to do in quarantine, but not impossible. (Baby in Tune is all about helping you do exactly this.)

 

This week in our classes, I gave you homework to find moments like these and you came up with some ideas for how you would do this. One of you said you would run outside after not running for a while, another said you would try to bake something new, another said you would take the family on a trip.

 

So now I’m giving you the homework too. Let’s find ways to make this week memorable. Let’s bust out of the quarantine humdrums and change it up. You might not be able to try jumping out of a plane at the moment but I bet you can find a risk to take this week.

 

And I want to offer one way I can help you do this: Last week I told you how to write your very own quarantine song. This week I’m giving away 8 FREE sessions to a family who wants to write a song with me. I’m just feeling it. It will hit a lot of those points the Heath brothers mention: sensory, connection, breaking the script. 

 

And it’s a win win. I get to break out of my quarantine blues too and connect with you all.

 

If you’re interested email me at vered@babyintune.com

 

So let’s do this. Let’s flip the script on quarantine and take back some of the power. Who’s with me?

 

Can you think of a way to stretch yourself this week and do something that makes you sweat a tiny bit? Share with us! We’d love to get some ideas. Comment below.

 

Do you have a friend who could use some coaxing out of the humdrums? Send them this post and tell them to sign up for the Tuesday Tune In.

 

Yes! Please send me the Tuesday Tune-In!

How to write your family quarantine song

Dear Quaran-tunie,

Yeah, many parts of this period of our lives has sucked big time. BUT I wonder if one day we will look back on this time as a sweet one for our families too. A moment in which there wasn’t a feeling that time was limited and someone was always rushing out, to work, to drinks, to see friends. Rather there was a feeling of togetherness—you could even call it stickiness.

I don’t know about you but I’ve been feeling clingier to my kids and husband. I mean, it’s ridiculous, because we’re with each other ALL the time, but I still didn’t want my husband to take a necessary 3 hour drive to get our stuff. As much as I need space, I want them to stay near me.

The beauty of this pandemic epoch is that there’s a little bubble that’s been built around our families that disconnects us from the world, and binds us closer to each other.

Of course, this might not be the case for everyone. I’m sure parents who are also essential workers are having a completely different experience.

But regardless of the situation, we could all use this moment for art.

Instead of having just stories and photos from this time, we can make a simple song that you’ll sing to your kids and they’ll sing to their kids to bring back the feeling of togetherness that we had during this time.

And I’m here to help you make it.

 

Here’s how to make your family’s quarantine song:

 

Tip: Since documenting the songwriting process is so easy these days on our phones, I suggest you take advantage and have the camera ready for each one of these.

 

 

The improv approach:

This approach is good for kids who want to fly by the musical seat of their pants. It entails letting your kid riff and you following along. This can be done with any age.

With babies and little kids start, with a melody. Nothing complicated. See if they take the lead and you can follow. Repeat any words that emerge and add on.

With the bigger kids who are able to come up with full sentences, go with their themes. It doesn’t totally need to make sense. Just go with it! It can be gibberish with only some real words.

Here’s some inspiration: You know how Elton John and Bernie Taupin write songs? Elton John comes up with a melody and chord progression while mumbling vocalizations into a recorder. Bernie then takes the recording and turns it into comprehensible words and ideas. He plays off the jibberish sounds Elton John makes and also finds his own.

You can do that with your kid! Themes you didn’t know were there might emerge later on second listening.

Tip: Get physically relaxed. Feeling lazy and comfy is key to letting creative juices flow without judgment. My daughter and I often do this lying down in bed holding the phone over us.

Here is an example I did today with my daughter. She is probably older than most of your kids, so yours may have shorter sentences or even one word verses. That’s ok!

 

 

The Pen to paper approach:

This one is all about lyrics first. If your kid is old enough, brainstorm with them. If not, do it with your partner or even on your own. Come up with some lines to describe how you’re feeling these days.

For instance, the other day in class one of the moms (shout out to Kristen!) said this period felt like she was “cramming for finals and pulling overnighters, with no finals in sight. How long can it last?” I loved that line, jotted it down and it made it into this song (with her permission of course.)

Here is a tip: Think about how you have been describing your feelings and days to your family and friends. Most likely you’ve been using some of the same phrases. Go with those!

 

 

The movement approach:

Writing a song with movement means that you are bringing rhythm in with your body. You can do this while you walk outside, jumping over pillows, or running around the house. It is similar to the improv approach but you are just saying one or two words per movement. This strategy is good for the kids who need to be on the move while they think and create.

 

 

The storytelling approach:

Use a character to tell a story. The character can be your kid’s favorite stuffy, a character from a show or book they like, or made up on the spot. For instance, if your kid has a favorite panda stuffy, ask them: What does panda do in the morning? How does her quarantine day look? Tell your family’s story through panda. You can use a melody from a song that exists, for instance the ABC song, or you can make up your own.

 

 

The facilitator approach:

This one’s my favorite because I get to be involved! I propose we put aside a half hour in which I sit virtually with you and your family and help you write your quarantine song. I’ll help you brainstorm and then shape your lyrics and melody into a song. Then I’ll send you a video of how it all turned out.

Saturday night family activity: CHECK.

Do any of you remember when I did a kickstarter for my second album Hello My Baby? One of the prizes was writing a song with me and many of you signed up to do it. It ended up being one of the most delightful experiences of the whole album making process. We wrote some great songs! I’m fantasizing about that experience with you all.

Last week my talented friend Amelia Robinson from Mil’s Trills invited my daughter and I to her songwriting show to write a song with her for a nurse. The experience reminded me how wonderful it is to have a facilitator during the songwriting process. (Here’s what we came up with. No, my daughter did not let us get a word in edge wise. Yes, it seems she is the daughter of a diva songwriter.)

 

I’d love to offer that to you! If you’re interested email us at info@babyintune.com to book a time and find out the details. 

 

Ok dear quarantunies, I hope you are inspired to start your quarantune songbook with your kid. What an album it will be! Sure, photo albums are great. But this is an album you and your family can take with you everywhere.

 

Have you written any quarantine songs with your kids? We want to hear them! Please post below! Do you have songwriting techniques? Comment below!

 

Do your friends need some inspiration? Are they in a puzzle making rut? Send them this post to ignite their inner Elton John.

 

Yes! Please send me the Tuesday Tune-In!

How to get through this? You’ve done it before

Does anyone else feel like all the cards have been thrown into air and you have no idea how they’ll land?

 

I mean, suddenly ALL the questions are top of mind.

 

On a broad level I’m talking about things like “Will the economy ever recover? And “Will life as we knew it – fights, restaurants, and events, and SUMMER – ever resume?

 

But even more so, I am talking about the fact that this crisis has made me question EVERYTHING on a personal level too. All of the questions that I normally push to the back of my mind have surfaced big time:

 

Like “Do we want to stay in the city or make a break for the ‘burbs?” And “What do I really want to be when I grow up?” And, the one I hate most, “Does THAT person have it figured out?”

 

Whoa. 

 

What a time. What a pause. What a weight dropped upon us.

 

And, what an opportunity.

 

Working remotely and having our kids “schooling” remotely has given us all the feeling that we can go ANYWHERE. 

 

Woohoo! We can go anywhere! 

Oh shit, we can go anywhere.

 

This is a problem born out of priviledge, no doubt. It is hard to complain about too many options. But the fact is that sometimes limitations can be more comforting.

 

These days it feels like we are all operating at a steady simmer of unease, confusion, and overwhelm. There are so many unknowns and the rules that we normally live by keep changing. 

 

But here’s the thing: You know how to get through this. In fact, you’ve done it before. You’ve had these same questions arise with a lot of the same confusion, lack of control, and overwhelm. 

 

And it took a while, but you made it through to the other side.

 

Do you know when that was? When you had your first baby.  

 

Let’s go back even further. Remember before you had a baby when you thought you knew exactly what you wanted your life to look like? (That was so cute!) You wanted an exciting place to live, some adventure, some times to remember . You had ambitions and you worked to achieve them.

 

And then came baby. And everything was called into question.

 

Like – what is truly important to me? Is it this job that I’ve been working so hard to excel at or is it staying home with baby? Where should I raise this baby? Near the grandparents I’ve spent the last 10 years distancing from? And who am I again? What happened to the  laid back cool girl, and who is this micro-manager who has surfaced?

 

Remember that? Well, there’s something you did then that we can learn from now:

 

You gave it time. 

 

You realized you had to put aside looking for answers in order to care for the baby. And, as the strain of those first months lifted you revisited the questions slowly and cautiously. 

 

You didn’t rush it. You knew you were still fragile and tender. You knew you were very similar to the baby who needed a whole lot of patience, cuddles, and soft singing.

 

You lived with the questions for a while and you slowly let the images of your next steps appear to you on their own. It wasn’t something you could solve right away. You had to live with the fear of simply not knowing.

 

It might have been painful. It might have brought a period of depression and hopelessness. It certainly brought a newfound respect for a long shower, a full night of sleep, and some eggs florentine on a Saturday morning, back when you called 12pm morning.

 

But your life was changed forever. And eventually your priorities felt more clear, you felt more human, more alive, more connected to every child, every parent, and every being out there.

 

You did it then, and you can do it again now.

 

The trick here, as it was then, is to find the courage to sit in the questions. To really cozy in to this deep pillowy seat of unknowns and breathe deeply.

 

One difference, which may be a bit comforting, is that we’re all having this baby together. You don’t need to look far to find your mama tribe and ask about the baby’s color of poop, you just need to hop on Zoom.

 

This week I listened to the latest episode of the podcast “On Being.” In it, Krista Tippet talks to Davendra Banhart about Pema Chodron’s book “When Things Fall Apart.” 

 

Since then, I’ve been reading every sentence of the book as if it is an instruction manual for this time. Here’s an excerpt  from  this beautiful book:

 

“Anyone who stands on the edge of the unknown, fully in the present without reference point, experiences groundlessness. That’s when our understanding goes deeper, when we find that the present moment is a pretty vulnerable place and that this can be completely unnerving and completely tender at the same time.”

 

So guys, let’s sit with this together. Let’s accept the unknown and the groundlessness with the knowledge that it will lead us to a more beautiful place.

 

“What we’re talking about is getting to know fear, becoming familiar with fear and looking it right in the eye – not as a way to solve problems, but as a complete undoing of old ways of seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, and thinking.”

 

How are you dealing with all the questions? Or maybe you don’t have them? We want to know! Comment below.

 

Do you have a friend who needs to know they’re not the only one tossing and turning in their sleep?  Send them this blog. Tell them to sign up for more.

 

 

Yes! Please send me the Tuesday Tune-In!

Getting your kid to love Facetime with grandparents

Dear tunies,

It’s looking like this new reality of Zoom grandpa hugs and Facetime grandma kisses is going to last a while. But the problem is, our kids are kind of over it. So this week, let’s talk about something that’s become essential to our living these days—how to keep our little ones engaged with family members on the screen.

 

Here’s the thing. When quarantine started, we rushed to the computers. Hell, we were on a Facetime high for those first few weeks. We met with friends on Zoom left and right, the kids were excited to have extra time with the grandparents. It actually even felt a little better than normal; we were connecting with our loved ones even more than usual. 

 

And then the energy tanked. The kids crawled away or hid from the screen. They got tired of it and we understood. And that meant disappointed grandparents, some who even took it a littler personally. And It was a loss for us too. We came to rely on those convos as the next best thing to a babysitter. We could do the dishes, straighten up, or even take a work call as they were happening. Plus we loved them for helping maintain the connection between our kids and loved ones. 

 

So before we figure out how we can breathe new life into our kids’ relationship with extended family through the screen, let’s talk about why our kids might not be fans of connecting through video.

 

Why your kids are not a fan of Facetime

 

The obvious reason is that there is no substitute for the actual snuggles and kisses that relatives give. Kids need tactile stimulation. We all do. Not being able to curl up into grandpa’s lap for a story is a huge loss.

 

But there’s more to it.

 

Connecting visually through the screen can be confusing. When we are face to face with someone we learn to pick up on many tiny cues constantly happening: a twitch around the mouth, a slight smile in the eyes, a face slightly turned away, the body leaning in, the eyebrows in a slight scowl. These cues are extremely subtle and we react to them just as unconsciously as they were expressed.

Facetime eliminates a lot of those extra cues because the picture isn’t clear enough, there’s often a delay, and because we don’t see the full body. We have much less information to go on and that means it is harder to connect.

 

Not only that, the technical issues of video chatting make our emotional experience tiring. A recent New York Times article explained that because the image we are watching is out of sync with the speech, delayed, or frozen for a second, “we perceive it as a prediction error that needs to be fixed…we’re having to do more work because aspects of our predictions are not being confirmed, and that can get exhausting.” (Paula Niedenthal, professor or psychology at the University of Wisconsin.) 

 

Meaning, we aren’t able to make a logical match between the speech and the picture. We need to fill in the gaps to make sense of the emotion expressed. And that’s alot of work.

 

Why it’s worth it nonetheless

 

That said, the benefits of Facetime with grandparents, especially right now, outweigh the costs. Our kids (and us) need connection. They’ve got us at home all the time now but they also see us working more than ever, on our computers, cleaning, etc. Having family members who are exclusively focused on them repairs that a bit.

 

Also, believe it or not, this type of screen time is not only NOT harmful, it is beneficial. The American Academy of Pediatrics say that interactive facetime with a relative (or in a music class!!) is in a different category than normal screen time. It makes all the difference when your baby is fully engaged and when each side is reacting to each other.

 

So we know why it may be challenging, and we know why it’s worth fighting for nonetheless. So now let’s talk a few tips and tricks so your kids don’t go on hating them. Facetime that is, not the grandparents. 

 

So here are a few tips that YOU’VE told me have worked for you. 

 

1. Story Time 

No matter what age the child, this is a winner strategy. The family members can read board books and story books to the little ones and chapter books to the older kids. My daughter’s interest in grandma screen time was reignited when grandma started reading Charlotte’s Web. Now she is excited to tune in.

 

2. Lunch Date

Lots of parents have told me that their babies and kids are happier talking to family members when it’s over a meal. The kids are busy with the food and have something tactile to work on. The grandparents can tell them a story, just hang out, or have their own meal at the same time.

 

3. Facetime Song

I’m sure you’re not surprised to see this on the list. That’s  because it works! Ask your family members to have a hello song, and goodbye song, songs that help structure the call. If they can throw in some hand gestures and movement songs, even better.

 

4. Busy Bee 

Before you make the call, set your kid up with an engaging activity – drawing, play dough, cutting, painting, building, sticking, whatever. That way your kid can be busy with something they love and the grandparents can chime in and feel like they are involved. 

My daughter’s other grandmother is very crafty. She’s been leading them in art projects over the screen.

 

5. Puppet Play

Looking at 2D faces is not that interesting. You know what is? PUPPETS. The kids in my classes love when we do our puppets songs. They add color, fun, and imagination. Even the disengaged babies seem to tune in during the puppet song. Here is one of the songs we do in class. Send this to the grandparents. Send them a puppet in the mail. It’s super simple and is sure to be a hit. 

My daughter joined me on this one… a fave of hers too.

 

6. Bubble Bash

It’s never the wrong time for bubbles. Someone just mentioned this in one of my classes today and I love it. So simple. Have grandma grab a bottle of bubbles. That will definitely make the screen more interesting. And to make the party even more spectacular, you can blow bubbles on your side too.

 

7. Peace Out

Sometimes our kids get turned off by an activity that they feel they can’t get out of. Your daughter might have had a great time talking to grandma last week but it went on longer than she could handle. She ended up being tired of it and didn’t know how to end it. To avoid this, decide on a sign, gesture, word, song, that your kid uses to say “I’m done”. They don’t always know how to say it and that could be part of their hesitation. Give them a way to get out of it elegantly.

 

8. Ipad is best

When possible, use an ipad instead of a computer or phone – this is just a technical adjustment. The phone is too small and also trains our kids to stare at our phones (like we do all day). Better to avoid that. The computer has way too many enticing buttons on it. I’m sure you’ve already experienced that issue and are still trying to find that file that’s now vanished from your desktop.

 

 

The main gist of all of these is this: Take the focus off the screen in and of itself.

Have the grandparents bring in an activity or set your kid up with an activity. That way they can share in the experience. 

 

But there’s something important we need to remember:

This is going to go in phases. It is natural for our kids to be very into something for a while and then tired of it the next. We go through the same phases ourselves! It means that grandparents and family members need to accept this and not take it personally.

 

Mostly they know this and accept all push and pull their grandchild hits them with. But these times are different. Right now the older generation may be feeling scared, threatened, lonely and emotional. Connection to the grandkids is mostly everything.

 

You know what else they need right now? You guys. 

 

So even if your kids aren’t in the mood to connect with family members right now, you can make the effort to do so. Chances are, you need it just as much as they do.

 

In fact, that’s how I ended this song called “Grandparents.” I realized it was really me who needed the hug most of all.

 

 

Do you have  other tricks you use to get your kids excited about Skyping with the family? COMMENT below and let us know! We need your tips!

 

Do you have a friend who needs a Facetime cheerleader? Send them this post. Have them join our Tune-iverse.

 

 

Yes! Please send me the Tuesday Tune-In!

How to get siblings to get along – Part 2

Hi Tunester, 

Last week we talked about IF, WHEN, and HOW to intervene in your kids’ altercations. We separated the types of fights into Lion Cub Fights and Helpless Rage fights and discussed what to do in each situation. If you missed it, click here.

 

Today we are covering more crucial info to help you help your kids get along.

 

But first, let’s remember that we’re all doing our best. We’re learning as we go. This is difficult stuff. Not only that, it’s NORMAL stuff. So be compassionate to yourself as you navigate this warzone.

 

Ok, let’s dive in.

 

1. Bigger doesn’t mean stronger

In the last post we said that in Lion Cub Fights we won’t intervene at all, and will let our kids be, completely, no matter what is going on. That might feel impossible to many. You might be saying – my older one will crush my younger! But ask yourself – is your little one tough? Can she/he defend themselves? If they are 5, 3, or even 1, I bet the answer is yes. If so, they do not need your protection. They are probably much stronger than you give them credit for. In a fight with their sibling they can take care of themselves. Not only that, there are advantages that only the smaller ones know how to use: crying first, getting more empathy, seeming weak, acting quick.

 

2. Find the time.

If you take nothing else from these two posts then heed this advice: Find time to be alone with each kid. I know you know this one and I know it’s not easy to do. And in quarantine it’s near impossible. Who has time for that? But parents,  it is one of the most important things you can do to keep the peace at home

 

Even if it is 10 minutes in a room with each a day. Put the other on a screen if you must. Or have QT as you sit with them by the bath, or as they help you make dinner, or as you play a game. It helps your child feel loved, seen, appreciated, and special. And that reduces the need for competition. I promise you it can make all the difference in how your kids behave with each other. Now here’s how you can make that alone time even more effective:

 

3. Witness their specialness. 

So much of sibling rivalry is vying for OUR attention and love. So let’s cut it off at the pass. Before they start to feel invisible and unloved and want to kill off their competition, let’s remind our kids why we love, appreciate and admire them. Go for the meaningful compliments about their personality, and their process – “I love how you thought so carefully about how you would build that tower and then you sat patiently and didn’t get up until it was done.” “ I admire how you see things in a unique way and make me see things differently.”

For an easy game to play in order to make this happen try this.

Since we are in triage mode during this quarantine time, make a rule for yourself ot say at least 3 of these types of compliments a day.

 

4. Team building.

  • Punish both. If you feel like you need repercussion, remember this rule. Punish both. Last week we talked about how each side feels equally wronged. It is important not to distinguish between punishments so that the kids don’t feel that we are blaming one more than the other.
  • Reward both. By the same token, when possible, reward them both. Have they gone a full day without altercation? Both deserve a reward for that. Make sure to find times like these. Have they gone an hour without an altercation? Prize!!
  • Team them up. Try to play family games in which they are on the same team against you or both parents. Let them band together against you. We want to do whatever it takes for their animosity to move away from each other, even if it means moving toward you.

 

5. Don’t spotlight the other.

When alone with one, don’t talk too much about the other. No matter what you say they will interpret it as you saying the other is better. Read: that you love the other more.

 

6. Unite the coaches – you all

  • Synchronize messaging. Worse than us taking on the roll of the referee is having two referees who disagree. In our home, my husband is quicker to defend the younger sibling and I’m quicker to defend the older. And that causes tension between us, and the kids are always watching. Talk to your partner about NOT refereeing, about the strategies you will start to use moving forward (from last week’s blog), and about keeping it consistent between you both.

 

  • Model communication. We need to model the type of interaction we are expecting for the kids. Tell your partner your own feelings instead of blaming. Meaning, instead of saying – “I’ve been watching the kids all day and you haven’t even picked up a plate.” talk. Explain. Say “Its been a hard day. I’ve been chasing them non stop and feel exhausted. And when you finished work and sat to look at your phone it made me feel resentful.” Show your kids how to communicate feelings and that when it is done well it repairs the rupture.

 

7. Educate

Talk to your kids about the nature of sibling dynamics. Explain what competition means. Explain why they are feeling it and tell them all siblings feel it. Tell them it is fine to feel rage but there are more productive ways of expressing it than through physical fighting.

If they need to get their physical aggression toward their sibling out, grab a pillow and let them punch, for a while, as long as they can. Let them yell all of their angry thougts and feelings. It’s a great way to release some of that energy.

But also explain how lucky they are that they get to work on peer dynamics at home. This is the stuff of life. We constantly deal with these dynamics at work and with friends. How lucky they are to get to practice with someone who will be by their side forever, no matter how bad it gets.

 

8. Remember: YOU are the object.

One last point. As we’ve talked about in these two posts, siblings are competing over your love and attention. They are angry at their sibling for taking attention away but they are angry at YOU for having more kids. But our kids can’t fully take it out on us. It is much safer to take it out on their sibling. Taking it out on us means risking pushing us away, or even losing us. I don’t mean this literally. We aren’t going anywere. But that is the fantasy of our kids. 

So in order to protect the relationship of your kids together, allow your children to take it out on you. Also, allow them to connect when they need. In fact, ALL of our kids’ interactions with us are vying for connection, even when they don’t feel that way.

 

Ok Tunie. I hope these posts help with your situation at home.

 

Need more help? I’ve got a workshop starting next week and there are still a few spots open.

 

Join us for a NEW ONLINE WORKSHOP FOR PARENTS – Individualized counseling on how to keep the peace in your home. Limited to 10 participants, meeting twice for 75 minutes. 

 

Thursday May 7 8:15pm

Thursday  May 14th 8:15pm

 

Click here to register.

 

I’ll leave you with a song I wrote on my album about siblings. All of the songs on the album have aspects from this post. This one was taken from a loving conversation my kids had over oatmeal one morning. 

“It’ll be oh it’ll be so good to be grown up with you. Cus it’s pretty good to be kids with you too.”

 

10 ways to help your kids get along – Part 1

Before we dive into an info-packed Tune In, I wanted to let you know I’ll be doing a special individualized workshop for parents on sibling challenges. See below for details on how to register. It’s limited to 10 so act fast if you’d like to join.

 

Now let’s talk siblings.

 

Having kids home all day means that they have no other social outlet other than each other. No after-school soccer game to get out their competitive ya ya’s, no class-time scuffle to practice making up with a friend, and no recess Lord of the Flies action to figure out who gets the conch. now it’s just the SIBLINGS. All. Day. Long.

 

And while they seem to be in a never-ending boxing match, we teeter between joining them in the ring, coaching from the corner, and leaving the stadium altogether.

 

This topic is complicated, so I broke it down in two parts. Part 1 is all about IF, WHEN and HOW to intervene.

 

But one thing before we get started. Let’s be real. The stuff I’m about to say sounds great on paper. But pulling it off can be near impossible. Especially right now when we’re pushed to our limits. These are ways of thinking about the sibling dynamics. It’s going to be a lifelong journey to try to be Cuomo-calm with our kids. But every tiny step helps. Ok let’s do this.

 

1. First – Relax. You’re doing fine.
Keep your emotional level dooowwn. This is a biggie and we have to start here. When our kids fight we tend to go straight to a dark place – “I failed as a parent. My kids hate each other. They’re going to be axe murderers” (maybe that last one was just me?) But the thing is, ALL siblings fight. And we all have those same thoughts at some point.

It’s important to remind ourselves that we’re not bad parents and this is NORMAL; it has nothing to do with anything we did wrong. If we can remember this, we may be more able to accept it in the moment and not feel compelled to FIX. So especially these days tell yourself you’re a kick-ass parent because you are doing your very best. In fact, tell yourself it’s great your kids have an opportunity to learn how to handle competition and adversity. It’s going to help them when they run for president someday.

 

2. To intervene or NOT to intervene?
The million dollar question when our kids are fighting is IF and WHEN to intervene. It’s possible that living this constant conflict is the real reason our hair goes grey.

I find that there are three types of fights:

 

#1: The Lion Cub Fight:

Sometimes our kids just need to tussle. It often starts with a playful brush or a provocative jab. For instance, my middle son communicates through physical contact. When he feels distant from his brother or just plain bored he may provoke his brother to get a rise. Next thing you know they are actually fighting, not at all playing.

 

SOLUTION: In these moments of Lion Cub fighting, LET YOUR KIDS BE.

 

Tell them they can continue fighting but not in front of you because it upsets you to see it. Have them go into another room if they’d like to continue. More often than not, if you’re not a witness to it, they’ll lose interest. Part of the fun is seeing if it will get a rise out of us.
These fights are a general expression of the perpetual sibling wound: “you love the other more” and they are just waiting for us to intervene so we can settle it once and for all (Spoiler: it will never be settled. Our love is different for each).

In order to stay out of it, we need to accept that it is NORMAL and reduce our level of stress about it. (See #1)

One thing you could do is say – “This is starting out as play but I’m warning you now that someone might end up getting hurt.” Then it’s up to them. LET THEM BE. They won’t kill each other. If they hurt each other then they’ve learned for the next time.
I know it may feel like you’re walking out on Carole Baskin’s husband being fed to the tigers but trust me. It’s best for all.

 

#2: The Coveted Object:
You’ve seen it happen: an everyday object like a plate, stick, chair, suddenly becomes gold-plated. Both kids want it NOW. As you know, this fight is not necessarily about the object itself. It has more to do with possessing- “What you have looks good.” And then it takes a turn for the irrational. They want THE thing, and then another thing. It almost seems as if the kids want to experience a little scuffle.

 

#3: Helpless Rage:
This one happens when someone feels wronged and reacts quickly. A toy was taken, something hurtful was said. They resort to physical violence because they are SO MAD. And in that moment of feeling helpless, overwhelmed, angry and betrayed, they’re not the best communicators.

 

SOLUTION: In these last two scenarios, support but don’t solve.

 

Here are some guidelines:

 

3. Stop. Pause. Breathe—for US
When our kids quickly spiral into a full-on fight about a thing, our immediate desire is to FIX FAST. Just do anything for PEACE. At that moment we yell, we punish, we time-out, we go extreme. And when that happens, well it never ends well for anyone.

We need to stop, drop and roll. Or maybe just take a breath before responding. There is no rush, it just FEELS like there is. In fact, try to move in slow motion. If we go into it calmly the kids will feel it too.

 

4. Stop. Pause. Breathe—for our kids
When they’re IN it they can’t hear a thing. In their minds, whatever is going on is an emergency. Their underdeveloped prefrontal cortex makes them feel like they truly NEED that cookie, like they might NEVER get that doll back, or like they may have lost their spot on your lap FOREVER. Before we try to give them words to communicate, help them pause. You can say something like: “This is not how we solve conflict in our house.” You can have them both sit, go into different corners, or just breathe. Try to do this calmly, without putting blame on anyone. “Both of you are upset, you both contributed. If you are too upset we can talk about this later.”

 

5. Calmly Buffer
Especially with little ones, you can use your body or hand as a buffer between them. Calmly put your hand between the arm and mouth biting, or between the raised hand and the target. But stay chill, nonchalant. Try to make it look easy (Hey, fake it till’ ya make it). Having you as a calm buffer will take the edge off.
Your job here is not to end the conflict, rather to keep them safe. For all you care the conflict can grow. It is not your responsibility to stop it. You’re just there to keep them safe while they explore conflict.

 

6. DON’T Referee
Whether the clash is Helpless Rage or The Coveted Object, we are not there to conduct an interrogation or judge the details of the scene. It is a given that both sides feel wronged and both need to take responsibility (yes, not just the older one.)
If we get involved in the details the kids will inevitably feel that we’ve taken a side. And then the conflict won’t be about the Lego spaceship anymore but about who we love more.

 

7. DO Coach
Instead of refereeing, coach, especially before the match goes UFC level. Train them how to use words. When they come to you and say, “He took my ball and won’t give it back!” you can give your child words: “Tell him that you were playing with it, and it made you feel angry when he grabbed it.” Or: “Did you like that when he hit you? Tell him! Tell him to stop.” Or: “It sounds like you don’t want your sister touching the spaceship. Say, Can you please not touch that?” Instead of being their mouthpiece, teach them how to use their own words and their own voice. You know, so they can use it against you someday.

 

8. DO Validate emotions
Acknowledge the validity in both sides of the argument. We’re not solving, we’re just narrating what we see. But here’s the key – we’re doing it super matter of factly. Almost with curiosity. “Wow you both really want that, Maybe there is another way…”
And after the tussle we can help them connect the dots that led to it.
“You felt______ when he _______and he didn’t ________.
YOU felt _______and she didn’t ______”.
Since both sides are feeling injured, both are in desperate need of having their feelings heard.

 

9. Accept the Drama
There is going to be a kid on the ground yelling, running to their room, and crying in the corner. That just comes with the territory. It’s our job to accept it fully without trying to change anything. It’s natural, it’s normal, it’s part of the family landscape. Our kids are learning how to deal with frustration. That’s a lesson that we’re all still secretly trying to learn behind our Corona mask.

 

10. Connect before you correct
Only after our kids feel heard can we try to teach them how to manage this type of situation better in the future. “Next time he takes your doll you can say…” But before they feel validated they’ll still be caught up in the injustice they feel and you might as well be talking to their favorite lovey.

 

So let’s go over this again:

Lion Cub Fight > Don’t intervene

Coveted Object Fight > Don’t try to solve > Narrate nonchalantly > Accept the drama

Helpless Rage Fight > Pause > Don’t referee > Validate > Correct for next time

 

Putting them in these neat schemas makes it seem easy. But we all know it isn’t. In fact, I just read this piece to my 11 year old to get his opinion and at point #3 (Stop. Pause. Breathe- For us) he said – “Mama, you don’t do that!” And of course it’s true. Sometimes I don’t. Sometimes I am so overwhelmed by their aggression that I get sucked in and act rashly. But sometimes I manage to respond with patience and compassion for them and for ME.

 

We’re learning how to be parents as we go. We’re teaching each other and most of all, our kids are teaching us. Just being aware of these things is already a WIN.

 

Next week you’ll get PART 2 which has a whole slew of more important info.

 

Now, as you know sibling solutions are not a one-size-fits-all. Each dynamic is unique, each personality is unique. Which is why I have a new offering. Do you have a challenging sibling dynamic at home? (Right now, who doesn’t?)

 

Join us for a NEW ONLINE WORKSHOP FOR PARENTS. Individualized counseling on how to keep the peace in your home. Limited to 10 participants, meeting twice, for 75 minutes.

Wednesday April 29 8:15pm
Wednesday May 6th 8:15pm

Click here to register.

 

And please, help us out here—did you try any of these tactics this week? Did they work or did they lead you to another solution? Or did you just go hide in the bathroom for 10 minutes (we’ve all done it). Sharing is caring. COMMENT below.

6 Activity ideas for quarantine with a baby

Dear Tunester.

Do you have a baby 0-12 months old right now and are thinking—what the F**k? And HELPPP?

 

I mean, it’s hard enough to have kids of any age during this time. Mine won’t let me finish a thought without coming in to ask me to cut a rainbow, make a sandwich, play a game, or just to whine. 

 

Parenting during the Corona virus FEELS like that period of having a newborn for most of us. But you all actually HAVE one.

 

Which means, on top of  dealing with the insane reality we’re living in and being cooped up inside, you are just trying to figure out how to get through the day with no sleep, and a creature who needs tending to 24/7. 

 

So Tunie, I can’t do your laundry or babysit right now, but I can give you some ideas on what to do with your baby to feel more connected, more at ease, and help  you better speak your baby’s language. 

 

These 6 little gems will help you fill your day with giggles and restful naps. You might remember them from the Baby in Tune class. If you have taken it, use this as a refresher to help during those trying  days. 

 

1. The Mirroring Technique – Mirror your baby’s vocal sounds. Our babies register when we speak THEIR language. You can do this with older babies using instruments or vocals. This is the building block of connecting to your baby, making them feel heard and understood. If you’ve taken the class you remember how this technique can spur on a full back and forth conversation. In fact, this is usually the activity that gets dads feeling like – “yeah! we can hang!”

 

2. Passively Present Play – It takes focus to truly let your baby take the lead. Put aside your thinking self and join your baby with your sensing self. Try the exercise we did in class at home for at least 3 minutes each day. Get on the floor in the position your baby is in. Let your baby teach you how to be fully present and explore like a scientist.

 

3. Hand Gesture Songs – Your baby LOVES hand gesture songs. Remember the three types we talked about? 1. Just using hands, 2. Using hands + body, and 3. Using full body. Try these different types this week. Which ones does your baby like? (need a list? Email me.)

 

4. Rhythm Play – In our class we use rhythm in various ways. For this exercise, pat by their ears so they feel and hear the rhythm in stereo, and see if your baby becomes more alert or calm. Babies LOVE rhythm. Use the songs we did in class to drum on the rug or on pots and pans. Use dynamics (loud, soft, slow, fast), to keep your baby engaged.

 

5. The Songwriting Method – If you’ve taken a Baby in Tune class, hopefully you left feeling like anyone can write a good ditty, even the sleep-deprived parent. In fact, only you can write the PERFECT song for your baby. Using the steps we use in class it takes less than 5 minutes to write a whole song. Try to write your own each day. Go silly, go nonsensical, go poopy and pee-pee if you must. And when you remember the song you wrote the next day, that’s your hit.

 

6. Dance Party – Your baby loves to be in SYNC. And so do we! Dance parties are the perfect way. The best time to do it? Right when you can’t take it any longer. When you’ve been pushed to your limits and can’t change another diaper, bounce, shush, or sway for another second. Yup – around 5:00pm. Need a playlist? Here is mine.

 

Here’s the thing. Caring for a baby, especially right now when you can’t leave the house, is draining. It’s ok to sometimes feel angry at your baby for needing SO MUCH. It’s ok to not feel in love with your baby all the time and need some time alone. 

 

Activities like these can help us feel more in tune with our baby, and more attuned to our baby. When we start speaking our baby’s language through music, we start to understand our baby’s needs a whole lot more.

 

And that leads to more sleep, more peace, more joy, more snuggles, more smiles, more cooing, and less crying.

 

You know – that moment when you are both gazing into each other’s eyes and suddenly who cares if they woke you up every hour and a half? Connecting means shedding some of those indoor blues that we are all feeling right now.

 

And before doing these activities, try our “Three Breaths Technique” to bring you fully into the moment. Take in a breath and on every exhale think of something you are grateful for.

 

So let’s do this. Put the laundry pile aside, forget about the apple sauce crusted on the floor, put your phone in another room, and just be with your baby.

 

 

Do you know a parent of a baby who can’t sing Twinkle Twinkle one more time and needs some SOS activity help right NOW? Send them this.

 

AND – guys, I’ve got a big surprise coming to you THIS WEEK. Stay tuned.

 

COMMENT and let me know what your baby’s favorite activities are.

 

 
 

Yes! Please send me the Tuesday Tune-In!

The ONE thing you should be doing right now

Quarantunie, It’s week 4. Time to be real. 

 

We talked about some activities you could be doing. We talked about ways to feel more present with your baby.

 

But the fact is, the one thing you should be doing right now

IS NOTHING.

 

You know all of those art projects your crafty friend is posting? Screw them.

You know the muffins your baker friends are serially pulling out of the oven? NOPE.

The puppet shows your builder friends are constructing,

The apps your plugged-in friend is urging you to download,

Even the song your Broadway musical friend is writing with her baby.

Forget it. You don’t need to do any of it.

 

You know why?

Because your baby has all the enrichment they need just by being with you all day.

You are keeping your baby safe. Your baby is thriving. Your baby is doing great. 

They’re watching you work, clean, fold, cook, rest, smile, cry. And all of it enhances  their lives.

Maybe they’re even “helping” with the laundry? Kudos.

 

But Tunie, here’s what you DON’T need to be doing:

  1. Berating yourself for not staying on a schedule.
  2. Comparing yourself to your friends who are constructing castles out of cardboard or dolls out of towels.
  3. Feeling guilty for not wanting to play more with your baby.

 

You’re doing a lot, and you’re just trying to keep it together, and that is ENOUGH. Of course you don’t want to build one more magnet tile tower. Unless it has a bed inside it with a door you can close, that is.

 

And guys, do me a favor. I see that invisible whip in your hand that you use on yourself every time you hand your baby a screen. LAY OFF. 

 

Yes, our kids are watching WAY more screens these days.

No, it is not melting their brains. 

Yes, it is keeping you sane and that counts for a lot. Hey, it bought you a shower yesterday. That’s absolutely a win. 

And yes, this period will not last forever.

 

At a certain point things will go back to our normal.

 

We will return to our individual screen limits. We will monitor junk food more consistently. We will not constantly be on edge because we will have the alone time that we desperately need right now.

 

There will be an adjustment period but it will be done. This is not the new reality forever. And when we need to reconstruct our boundaries regarding food, screens, sleep, and behavior, we will.

 

But right now, give yourself a break.

 

You all were very real with me this week. I asked, – “What do you wish someone would say to you right now?” 

 

You said:

  • That my baby is ok. 
  • That my kid can eat more junk right now.
  • That my baby doesn’t need to reach every milestone exactly on target.

 

And most of all: 

  • That you can’t be 100% at both parenting AND working.

 

Haven’t you been telling your best friend exactly this?

 

Because right now we all look like Jimmy Fallon trying to host a show. And all we can do is laugh nervously through it and try to keep a smile.

 

But here’s the best part of this period despite all of your fears—you are giving your baby EXACTLY what they need and want: more time with you.

 

So before you go into the confession room to be punished for your sins, do THIS.

Take that glass of wine. Go take a seat on the couch. And congratulate yourself for being a kick- ass parent.

 

You have kept this boat afloat. Your baby barely feels the shit storm that is happening outside.

And that’s because you are doing a great job.

 

Hoorah.

 

 

Have you had a QuarantineWin today? Maybe a tiny little moment where you felt like you were crushing it, or even just not losing it? Help out a fellow Quarantunie by sharing here. 

 

Do you have a friend who hasn’t showered in days, had to meet with the VP while she changed a diaper and just put the ice-cream away in the pantry? Maybe she needs to hear this. Send her this post and tell her to sign up for the Tuesday Tune In here:

 

Yes! Please send me the Tuesday Tune-In!

6 tricks to win at being present during home-stay

Dear Tunie,

It’s day 1,298 of being home and your kids are driving you insane. I get it. But you’ve also told us in our classes that your kids are also what is keeping you SANE.

They are keeping you distracted from the news, busy with meal prep, frazzled with keeping them out of danger, occupied with keeping them clean, rested and calm.

And all of those tasks mean they are keeping you right here. In this moment.

We don’t have time to gaze out the window and zone out on what-ifs. We don’t have space to lie in bed staring at the ceiling wondering when this will end. We barely have time to shower for chrissake.

You are taking it day by day because that is all your baby allows you to do. So let’s let them teach us how to be fully present in this moment as they are.

Here are 6 ways to feel present with your baby amidst all the craziness going on right now.

1. Schedule time in your day to BE with your baby.
Whether you are working an outside job or not, you’ve got your hands full right now. But if we schedule time in our day when we plan to be fully present with our baby we might not fight it during the day. I bet you spend a lot of your day feeling guilty that you are not actually spending time with your baby. Especially now that you are with each other all day. But being near and being WITH is different. So now that we are all cooped up let’s pencil in some special time, even if it is just a few minutes a day.

2. Make a quarantine music video journal with them
We often think that taking pics or videos pulls us out the moment but I find that this activity brings you in. Lie on your bed together and take a selfie video of yourselves singing a song. Doesn’t matter which, you can even make one up. Try to do it every few days. Let the camera be witness to your present moment together. Doing so may invite your observer self to join which can add another layer to feeling present.

Here’s some inspiration. A video I made with my daughter.

 

3. Let your baby lead the play. You follow.
In this one you can relax. Your job is to just follow your baby around and surrender to their whims. Are they stopping to examine the remote control? Examine it with them. Are they grabbing at the play mat? Are they walking from room to room picking stuff up and throwing it down? Follow them. FIgure out what they are drawn to, what they want to touch, hold, and put in their mouth.

4. Put on music.
You guys. This just does the trick. It’s powerful. It brings us instantly into the moment. It takes us out of our thinking self and into our FEELING self. And that means we pause to explore through our senses. When we aren’t consumed with thoughts we open ourselves to the sounds, smells, sights, and textures around us. Remember that time you put aside to be with your baby? Enhance it with some good music in the background.

5. Pick up the corners of your mouth.
Simple enough, just shift the corners of your mouth into a slight Mona Lisa smile and notice if your ‘tude shifted a little along with it.

6. TOUCH your baby
Doing these remote classes has made me realize how much I normally touch your babies in class – on their toes, their head, their bellies. I’ve been missing it desperately and have really identified with grandparents everywhere who can’t right now. So touch your sweet babies for all of us. Hold their squishy sweet bodies close.  If you follow me on Instagram and Facebook you know I’ve written a song about this recently. I’m about done with it. Come find out how it ends up.

 

Here are two more ways Baby in Tune can help you feel more PRESENT, less guilty, more WITH, less near.

 

Remote classes:

We are now offering 6-packs to be used anytime within 6 weeks. You can come to one class a week or 5 a week. Your choice. Go here to sign up for a remote class a la carte or for a 6-pack at a reduced rate.

 

Free intro class:

This is for any of your friends who have never taken a Baby in Tune class before . This Friday at 11:00am I’ll be doing a FREE remote into class. They can sign up HERE.

 

So now tell us – did any of these bring you into the moment with your baby? Which one? What exactly were you doing? Be specific so we can jump into the moment with you. COMMENT BELOW.

 

Have a friend who could use some de-guilting? Send them this post and tell them to sign up for more.

 

Yes! Please send me the Tuesday Tune-In!

6 Original Quarantine Music Activities

“Hello, 911? Yes it’s an emergency. My kids and I are stuck inside the house. I’m about to lose my sh*t.
Why yes, I’d love some Emergency Music Entertainment ideas. Like, NOW? “

Let’s do this.

 

IDEA #1: The Human Piano

Set up pillows on the floor in a circle around your child. As you jump from pillow to pillow, sing a different note. Doesn’t matter if it is in one scale or not, aka in tune or on melody! Your baby will quickly catch on.

If your baby is not mobile yet she will watch with delight as you jump from one pillow to the next singing a song. If your kiddo is mobile, she will join your jumping immediately, no doubt.

Get jiggy with it. Challenge yourself to jump further and remember the note that is associated with each pillow. It just might entertain you as much as it will them!

Here’s some inspo to get you going. I love Bobby Mcferrin.

 

IDEA #2: Pots and pans band

Pull ‘em all out. Go ahead. This is not a time to worry about mess. We’ve got some entertainment to pull off here! Plus,  pots are pretty easy to put back once you’re done. Bring out the tupperware too while you’re at it.

And wooden spoons? Yep, them too. Do NOT take out the metal spoons because they’ll bust your ears and no one needs that.

Now, go nuts on your drums. Get tribal. Experiment with the sounds. Notice the different tones each pot and container has. And more than that, notice the sounds that different parts of the pot make. For instance, hitting the rim will sound different than hitting the side, or turning it over and hitting the bottom. Point this out to your child as you do it to help them learn.

The mere [not that chaotic] chaos of pots scattered around you both will be exciting for your baby.

Play like a Times Square subway master during rush hour. Bring down the house.

 

IDEA #3: Make up a song!

Here are two ways to try:

Body parts. This one is a no brainer. All of your kisses and squeezing of body parts lends itself to the lyrics already. In fact, you may have already written this one. But if not, go with a pattern. Say something about your baby’s thigh. Can be as simple as,“Here’s Jonah’s thigh!” Or “I can see your arm, it goes up and down.” And then go with it!

Do the same with all the other body parts you can think of. Bring in the limbs but also the smaller features like nose, ears, toes, etc.

Movement. I bet I can make a list of movements your baby likes to do: Run, jump, spin, crawl, roll, dance, squat and stand, sway upper body, and clap. Good list? Add your own and now let’s put them into a song. Doesn’t have to be complicated. In fact, the simpler the better. “Lucy likes to run run run! Run run run! Run run run! Lucy likes to jump jump jump! Jump jump jump….” you get the idea. At a loss for a tune? Use a simple one you know, like “Itsy Bitsy Spider.”

 

IDEA #4: Give the ball a voice

If you’ve taken our classes, you know that we love to play with balls in a musical way. We usually do it with the older babies, but musical ball play can work with all ages. In fact, today in class a mama said that her son’s first giggle came that day when she had thrown up a ball and caught it. He thought it was hysterical.

So what do you do? As you throw up a ball, make the sound effect of the ball. I have a feeling it is some sort of a high pitched “Whooooo!”
If you have different balls, you can make different sounds for each ball. And if your baby is older, you can pass it back and forth and both of you can make your sounds.

Ball play is so much more fun when the ball has a voice!

 

IDEA #5: Make up a dance

I admit it, I can’t help but be inspired by the Tic Toc dances teenagers are doing these days. So what do you do? Become the choreographer of your baby’s dreams.

Put on your favorite song and pretend you are a DJ on a cruise ship. Teach your baby the line dance of your favorite song. Make it up! Use the motions your baby knows how to do.

Hands up! Head bob! Tushie shake! Shoulder shimmy!
You know what? You and your baby may remember this dance forever and may just perform it at a family reunion in 25 years, ala Moira and David from Schitt’s Creek. (Google it. I promise it’s good.)

If you’ve got a baby, hold them as if they are your Frank Sinatra dancing across the room.

Got a toddler? Teach them your dance moves because YES, you DO think you can dance.

 

 

Two tricks to make this a success:

1-Dynamics
With all of these activities and all the musical activities you do with your baby, there is one important trick. Dynamics.
Dynamics can make the difference between your baby losing interest in a second and staying with you throughout.

If you’ve taken our classes you know we use dynamics all the time. What does it mean?

Sing loud, and then soft.
Go fast, and then slow.
Sing with a silly voice, and then your own voice.
Sing high, sing low.

 

2-Rhythm
Every time I do this in class, it astounds me how well it works. When your baby starts to lose interest, or the music becomes overwhelming, (or heck, you just need a breather!), come back to a steady rhythm. Patting on your thighs is sufficient. Bring it back to consistency. It works.

Hey, J-Lo and Shakira are two mamas who recently proved that in a major way.

 

So, did these ideas help you Tune in to a toddler about to combust? Or to a baby about to blow? COMMENT below and let me know.

Do you have any of your own musical fun ideas to get the wiggles out when you’re stuck indoors? Save a fellow parent in need and let us know below!

Most importantly – send this to that friend at home with a baby that you love best. Because sharing is caring.

 

Yes! Please send me the Tuesday Tune-In!

How to deal with our new reality

Dearest Tunester,

Here we are. A new reality. Our normal routine thrown out the window. So how do we deal with this?

Here are my two cents. At least for this week.

 

We take it day. By. Day.

It is so easy to slide into our fears. There are so many unknowns!
But worrying is an interesting thing. We worry to try to prevent something hard from happening in the future. But often we can’t control it, and meanwhile we may actually cause something hard to happen in the present – worry!!

What worry really does is distract us from what we are actually experiencing.

So let’s look around us and see what is happening TODAY.

And we’ll just go one step at a time.

 

We breathe.

Those of you in Baby in Tune classes know that I always do Three Breaths to get us into the present moment. This is such a simple technique and can make a difference in your day. It is just taking in three deep breaths and on every exhale thinking about something you are grateful for. Don’t plan it, just let whatever pops into your head come.

We are all feeling alot right now. Breathing deep can help us allow for all those feelings to exist. It’s ok. Let the feelings that are beyond words wash over you. Denying them is worse.

 

We find ways to lift us during the day.

It is so important to find your sunny windows during the day; Skyping with friends or relatives, finding some time to put everytihng aside and truly be present and play with your child, singing, stretching, jogging, reading, whatever it is.

And if you need us – we are here to add more lift to your day with your baby. We added a bunch of remote classes and they’ve been so fun and heartwarming so far. I love this community. We come together to sing. (Go to the classes page to register.)

 

We acknoledge the positives of the situation.

So many parents in our remote classes are telling us that the situation has brought them closer to their friends and community. I can say the same. Today I will be meeting with a bunch of YOU who I haven’t been able to sing with for a while because your baby started daycare or maybe aged out of my classes. I can’t tell you how excited I am to see you all again.

That is a HUGE plus for me.

Also, my kids have been joining me for some of the remote classes. It’s been so nice to sing these songs with my own babies again.

In addition, there are other benefits to this situation. While there will also be many tragedies due to Covid19, it is also making us reduce polution, reduce waste, care for each other, evaluate our health system, and even evaluate our educational system.

 

We truly take a pause.

This is an opportunity. We are being asked to slow down. To wash our hands of what we’ve been doing and go inward. Can we do it? It won’t be easy. We are used to moving fast, to having what we want at the tips of our fingers,

But I wonder if we can take some items out of our usual to-do list and allow for space? that is what is called upon us right now.

You guys, I sat for a whole hour today and did a puzzle with my kids. I don’t think I’ve EVER done that. I also played Risk with them in the morning (it confirmed my belief that it is the most evil game ever. A never ending sibling rivalry trap.) And in between I did a training for new Baby in Tune instructors and wrote a song.

So I worked, becuase I love working. But alot less than usual.

 

We care for each other.

We are so lucky to have the technology to connect remotely. We need to be practicing physical distancing. But we also have the tools to practice social inclusion. We can rely on each other more than ever as a community. Even if that means virtually.

And we can widen our circle of caring to those who need it desperately right now; Single parents,  parents who just gave birth and are experiencing even more acute post partum depression, parents who don’t have the resources to stock up on necessities, or don’t have computers to give their children access to remote learning.

 

We find some sort of routine to keep us sane.

I don’t mean having an excel sheet with an hour-to-hour plan. I mean having touchstones during your day. Breakfast, playtime, worktime, lunch, rest time, worktime, outdoor time, playtime, dinner, bedtime. That’s how it is shaping up more or less for us. How about you?

This is going to be our reality for a while. Give yourself time to find the anchors in your day so that you can reinforce them for you and your baby.

 

We keep in mind that we can get used to anything.

In a few weeks we won’t be as shocked by this new situation. We’ll be used to having the kids home all day and working from home will feel more normal.

Humans are so adaptive. We will find ways to mold our habits and benaviors to our new reality. We will make the best of it because that is what we do.

 

Before I leave you I want to invite you to how Baby in Tune can help you this week. I hope you will join us for one of these or many of these. We will be adding more to the schedule each week.

A la carte remote music classes!

Tuesday 10:00am (0-5 years)

Tuesday 12:30pm (0-7m)

Thursday 10:00am (0-5 years)

Thursday 12:30pm (0-7m)

Thursday 5:00pm (0-5 years)

Just go to the classes page to sign up. I can’t wait to sing with you.

 

Do you have friends who might want to join? Send them this post or the link to the classes page: www.babyintune.com/classes

How to relieve anxiety. And boy do we need it now.

First of all, let’s all take a deep breath.

 

There’s alot going on these days. We all seem to be teetering between-  “Omg the apocolypse!” and – “Eh it’s just the flu,”  about 10 times within an hour.

 

That takes a huge toll on our nervous system.

So today let’s see how music can help.

 

But first, a story.

 

I’m in monthly supervision with the Baby in Tune instructors and we’re having a tough conversation. 

 

We’re doing what we encourage YOU all to do in our groups – talk about your challenges openly and get support from each other.

 

Normally when we meet, besides talking about topics you all bring up, how to best lead a group discussion, and how we can improve on the music activities, we share our own insecurities and where they might get in the way of group leading.

 

The coversation was open and supportive, but it was also heavy and difficult. At a certain point we desperately needed an energy shift. We needed to release everything that had come up. 

 

So you know what we did? I bet you can guess.

 

Hell yeah. MUSIC.

 

I told the instructors about a group I had where one of the moms shared very upsetting news. After processing verbally, we turned to music to take us the rest of the way into supporting and soothing each other. 

 

The song I turn to in moments like that is “Peace like a River.” I’m not sure why, something about the simplicity of it, the predictable melody, the spiritual but not religious lyrics, does it for me.

 

It reminds me to breathe deeply, bring my focus back to my body, listen closely to the voices of others, and get out of my thinking brain and into my feeling body.

 

I asked the other instructors “What song does that for you?”

 

One mentioned “Landslide” and she sang it for us. Pause to imagine it. We didn’t even dare sing with her because we wanted to hear the calm and beauty of her voice.

 

Another said hers was “Let it Be.” This time we sang along, because we also felt the power of that song to bring us all together.

 

After a couple of songs we realized that the energy in the room had shifted COMPLETELY. We went from tension, insecurity, and anxiety, to connectedness. To feeling. To being fully in the moment and with each other.

 

So this week dear Tunesters, I’ve got two tips for you:

 

1. Share all of your fears and anxiety in our groups.  

That’s what they are there for. At this point you know that our classes are not just about singing The Itsy Bitsy Spider. And if you aren’t in our classes share with a friend or a relative.

As Tom Hanks recently said, quoting Mr. Rogers:

“If it is mentionable, it is manageable.”

But talking doesn’t get us there all the way.

 

2. When you start to feel overwhelmed, find your song.

When you are in the thick of a tough conversation, or find yourself talking about your challenges but not really feeling them, use a song. See if it can help you center, breathe into it, and feel that emotion even more. And if you’re not in a belt-out-loud appropriate place, sing it in your head. Or blast it on your headphones.

I bet you know how I would edit Mr. Rogers’ words just by listening to my music:

“If it’s singable, it’s manageable.”

 

We all have a song. Now find the one that makes you feel more powerful than the Coronavirus. 

 

Do you have a song that immediately calms you or your babe down (or, bonus points, BOTH of you)? Share with us and all the moms out there in need of a battle cry. 

 

Have you been singing Covid19 to the tune of “Come On Eileen?” If not it may be time to start.

 

Have a friend who needs to hear this? Send them the Tuesday Tune In so they can relieve their anxiety momentarily as well.

And tell them to sign up below so they can get more of these.

 

Family dating – the new frontier

In the last post we explored mom dating. But once the kids get a little older,  we are thrust back into the dating scene. This time, it’s Whole Family Dating.

 

Why Family Dating? Because it’s important. We all know the joy of having children can also take its toll on our social life. You know, as in meaningful contact/fun with people who don’t throw tantrums and care about something other than unicorns? It’s like free babysitting, where everyone can have fun AT THE SAME TIME. It’s almost too good to be true. 

 

Imagine the perfect date: You go to your friend’s house, they also have two kids, around the same age as yours. After 20 minutes, you exhale. Your kids’ initial shyness wears off, your youngest leaves your lap and your oldest accepts that the visit to a new home is going to last more than a few minutes and finds something to do.

 

By the end of dinner the kids are playing so hard together they actually don’t want to leave. You’ve been able to have a post-dinner glass of wine with your friends and everyone is pretty dang happy.

 

Never mind the shit show that is about to follow on the way home, or when you get home, trying to put over-tired over-stimulated and over-sugared kids to sleep. But that comes with the outing. Kind of like the way we accepted the nausea, headache, and regret we felt coming home from the bar with friends in our previous lives.

 

All in all, you feel like you just had a great date, and you find yourself fantasizing about more to come. 

 

Why was the date so good? Because there was a matching of all parts. All grown ups, all kids.

 

This, my friends, is the new frontier of dating—and it is so much more complicated than courting/dating that one person  was.

 

I mean, then, we only had to connect to each other. Now, there has to be an intricate meeting of all strands. Family needs to fit family. Everyone has to match! And holy shit, that’s not simple. It’s practically a probability nightmare!

 

And where does this dating lead to? Not to marriage obviously, but to the ULTIMATE GOAL way more coveted than that — THE. JOINT. FAMILY. VACATION. 

 

Now you readers out there with one kid might be reading this thinking “No problemo! If there isn’t a complete seal with each member of the family, my kid can sit on my lap, or they can play separately, or—the easiest option—they can watch a movie.”

 

But your kid will grow. And that just won’t be enough. Also, in order for the ULTIMATE GOAL to happen, there will need to be more chemistry than technology. Trust me.

 

The tricky part is this, your kid will not always get along with your favorite friends’ kid. It’s tragic when there’s no kid magic, but it happens. 

 

My eldest is an introvert. It’s not quite that he didn’t like the other kids at dinner parties, he just didn’t care for them. He felt no motivation to bond with new kids. He had his few good friends and that’s all he felt he needed. Done, end of story. For him…

 

For me, that was tough. I am (clearly) NOT an introvert. I need people, I like people, I want to be liked by people. I want to be invited back.

 

But my oldest son never brought me friends as my other two have, just by being more social.

 

And now I’ll share something even more personal: my husband is an introvert too.

 

What does this mean? Family dating rests primarily on my shoulders. It’s up to me to do the flirting and the scheduling. 

 

And then I need  to relinquish control on the rest.

 

So, because this blog is about giving you practical solutions to life’s complexities with kids and not just talking about them, here are some Tune-in Tips. 

  1. Flirting:
    This goes back to part 1 of this blog, about Mom Dating. Basically the gist is, be yourself. Don’t be afraid to be the imperfect, falling apart at the seams mom. Those are the ones we love.
  2. Scheduling:
    This actually tends to be much more challenging than it should be. My Israeli friends tell me that in Israel playdates and family gatherings are much more spontaneous. They happen daily without any pre-planning. I am not sure what it is about our culture that makes for effortful get togethers. We are all so busy, and our kids seem to be even busier. So with the scheduling, I think we need to take a page from our more laid-back mediteranean parent friends and try to have schedules that leave some wiggle room for more spontaneous meetings.
    Building on that: Are we afraid to throw out last-minute invitations? Do we feel we need to clean the house first? Prepare Pinterest-worthy snack plates? Newsflash: no one will judge you! I challenge you to throw out a spontaneous invitation, and please report back with the details.
  3. The Date:
    It’s taken me awhile to learn this, but my son has been my teacher. We just have to let go. If it is a match, it will happen. If it isn’t, it just won’t. You might be wondering, But what if we just continue to meet with the family? Eventually the kids will learn to get along, right? No. Or maybe. But it might take a ton of commitment on your part because you may have to deal with whiny kids for a fair part of it.
  4. Perseverance:
    Don’t give up after the first time. We have friends that we have invited for dinner but have never been invited back. Does that mean they didn’t match with us? Not necessarily! Who knows what they’ve got going on? With family dating, it can’t be tit for tat.
  5. Take It Down A Notch:
    The ultimate date is dinner or happy hour at a family’s home. But maybe you’re still wondering if there is a match. No problem. There are other less committal dates to be had: Cake and coffee, or meeting at the playground. 

 

Have you had an amazing family date where everyone matched? Where? What did you do? Or was it a disastrous date you’d like to have stricken from the records? Please comment below and hook up all the families in desperate need of a match! 

 

Also – do you have a friend who needs to learn the secrets of Family Dating? Or Mom Dating? Send them this blog! Tell them they can sign up for more Tuesdays Tune Ins below.

 

Yes! Please send me the Tuesday Tune-In!

It’s back to dating…

Ladies – You finally did it. You found the person you want to start a family with. Or maybe you even decided to do it on your own. It only took the first half of your life.

 

And what now? Dating again?

 

Yup. It’s Mom-dating time. 

 

You spent the first part of your life gearing up to this family thing and now your life has changed completely.  And now you to find new friends ASAP and get back into the field.

 

And it can be So. Much. Worse.

 

Because now you are hormonal, exhausted, lonely, bored, and oh so very NEEDY.

 

It hurts even to just write that. 

 

When I had my first baby I was a mess. Beyond the exhaustion, nursing went so awfully that at some point my mother said – “please just quit. You need to stop seeing your son as a predator.”

 

I was not quite dating material…

 

But let’s back up. Because the dating doesn’t start in those first months. That’s when we think we can just continue life as usual – going to brunch, seeing late music shows, going to friends’ parties with baby in tow.

 

I’m a cool mom!” you say to yourself. “I am still fun. I still do all the stuff I did before. And my baby is so chill! She just comes along for the ride!”

 

And then it hits hard.

 

The isolation. The loneliness. And if your other friends haven’t had babies yet, well then you’re on your own.

 

So what do we do? We mom date.

We go to classes, we hang at cafes, we chat on FB groups, and we put new found energy into finding our mom buddy.

 

We work so damn hard to conduct a conversation while seeming SUPER COOL about the fact that the baby just spit up on our sweater, won’t eat from the right side and the left side is dry, and we just left our phone in the cab along with our BRAIN.

 

We nonchalantly sit in the cafe across from our date going over our mental check-list:

  1. Did she lose it when the paci fell on the floor and someone stepped on it while walking by or did she laugh it off?
  2. Did she just make a funny joke about the face her baby made, but not in a way that makes it seem like she thinks her baby is overly SPECIAL in any way?
  3. Does she talk about anything OTHER than her baby but nothing too clever or referencing something we no longer are in touch with?
  4. Can we talk about sleep and how to get it without hearing about her last night down to the minute?
  5. Is she falling apart in front of our eyes and seems like a nice person but maybe in a month or so?


– or, the evil of all evils –

 

6. Does she seem like the PERFECT MOM?

 

Ugh. She’s got her shit together. She has the cute diaper bag. Somehow she looks fresh as a bunny and doesn’t look haggard or exhausted. Is that make up she is wearing? Are her NAILS F*CKING DONE??

 

Nope. She’s not the one.

 

You know why? Because there is no perfect mom. 

 

Here’s a secret. The perfect mom is the one you don’t know well. And that mom? She has her break down moments in the middle of the night alone, or on those twice daily conversations with her mom, or sobbing during SNL.

 

You know what YOU need for your friend?

 

The mom who isn’t afraid to say that it SUCKS. That it is hard, and that she has no clue what she is doing.

 

You need the mom who won’t judge you– who in fact will tell you what a great job you are doing even when you cry as you are telling her how hard it was to carry the groceries home while the baby shrieked and you had to pee so very desperately and knew you wouldn’t be able to for a good hour.

 

Here’s the real checklist you need when you go on your next mom date:

  1. Is she willing to be real, honest, vulnerable, supportive and IMPERFECT?

 

That’s your match mama. Now make sure that you are doing the same.

 

Have you gone on the perfect mom date recently? Or the mom date from hell? Let us know. Comment below.

 

Do you have a friend who needs to hear what her checklist should look like as she searches for her mama tribe? Send this email to her and tell her to sign up for the Tuesday Tune In for more.

And I’ll leave you with this: A pic of mama dating that went well as a result of Baby in Tune classes 🙂

Processed with VSCO with av4 preset

  

Yes! Please send me the Tuesday Tune-In!

How to get kids dressed & out the door? This song.

Deer petunias – It’s getting colder and that can only mean one thing: Layers. 

All the endless layers to put on your baby. I know how frustrating it is. 

 

First, you have to find all the pieces.

 I’m talking the socks, the gloves, the sweaters, the hats, the snow suits. 

 

Then, worst of all, you have to get them on your baby. 

 

Music can come to your rescue whether you’re rushing or have some time to do it (that never seems to happen). My advice? 

 

Have a song for getting your baby dressed.  

(spoiler alert: I made up a couple to inspire you.)

 

This is going to be the song that you sing during the entire process of putting all the layers on. You’ll keep singing it even through the tears and here’s why: 

 

Why You Need a Bundle-Up Song

  1. The more you sing your song as you’re getting your baby dressed, the more your baby will associate the song with this activity. Eventually, your baby will know that the song will end as does the dressing – and it always leads to going outside

 

  1. Singing the song will relax you and your baby through the process. If it’s a song that’s fun to sing, then you might even enjoy singing it and that will help turn the activity into a positive one. 

 

  1. If your song involves listing the clothing parts, it’ll help you remember them. And if you’re anything like me, then you’re probably forgetting a whole lot right about now. 

 

Now, what song are you going to sing? 

 

My strongest preference is for you to write one on your own. In my classes, we spend a session on songwriting so that the parents feel more comfortable to start writing songs on their own. 

 

You might already be writing little ditties about what you are doing with your baby. If you are, then the next time you start bundling your baby you can start to sing what you are doing. Try a few different melodies and eventually one will stick. 

 

Another option is to use something that’s already out there. It doesn’t have to be about getting dressed; it can be any song. Or you can use a song that exists and change the lyrics a little bit. For instance: “This is how we put on our socks, put on our socks, put on our socks.” 

 

And, to be a good sport, I just wrote 2 little ditties for you right now. Check them out here. They’re not going to win a Grammy but at least they’ll give you an idea for how simple it can be to write a short song that you can use. 

 

Admittedly: A short song that you will sing for possibly a not-short amount of time until the fingers and toes are sufficiently covered, insulated and secured. But you’ll thank me when you’re out catching snowflakes on your tongue – instead of still in a standoff next to the shoe rack.

 

What wintergear do you usually forget to put on? For me, it’s gloves. No matter how many times I try. COMMENT below and tell me how you do it. 

 

Been hearing bundling-up complaints from another mom or dad? Forward this to them because parents help parents get out of the house alive.

 

 

And if you’re still with me and want more, here is a vlog I did about getting out of the house with our babies.

 

4 secrets to enjoying songtime at home

Hi in-tune parents, 

 

Today, I’m going to let you in on some behind-the-scenes secrets – the things I do to make my music classes more enjoyable I’m hoping that you can use the same techniques with your babies when you play music with them. 

 

Being the leader requires extra energy and confidence. 

 

You know this is true when your babies look to you as an activity/meal leader. The same is true for leading them in how to engage with music

 

As you can imagine, some days I wake up in the morning and don’t feel like teaching classes. I would prefer to stay in my pajamas and be alone. Teaching takes a certain amount of energy and a comfort with being a focal point. It means I need to feel pretty good with myself when I do it. 

 

At this point, I’ve cultivated some tricks to help me get to where I need to be in class so that it is enjoyable for the parents and babies and for me. Invariably, even if I am not able to fully get there BEFORE class, I always leave feeling energized and gratified AFTER class. I consider myself very lucky in that regard.

 

So here we go. They are for teaching but I think you can use them with your baby, too:

 

4 Ways to Lead Musically

  1. Sing from the heart. 

I’ve found that when I dial in the singing in class (or anywhere really) you all don’t feel it and neither do I. But when I take deep breaths while I sing, put a slight smile on my face, and imagine that what I am singing is touching each one of you, I start to feel more grounded. 

So with your kid – fake it till you make it. Even if you are not enjoying playing music together at first, if you take deep breaths and put a smile on your face, eventually you will. Promise.

 

  1. Encourage your child to sing and play music from the heart. 

Once they’re old enough to know the difference between dialing it in and being invested, it really matters. . A big part of my job is making sure that not only I am I singing from the heart, but that YOU all are connecting to your voice, as well. I do this by leading you in deep breaths, choosing a song that I feel would help us connect at that moment, and taking a pause when needed. Often the pause is for myself, so that I can really bring my energy as I am asking you to bring yours. 

 

When we all sing together from a present and grounded place, we all feel it. In those moments, I imagine our voices swirling together in the middle of the circle.

Similarly, when we are drumming together I need to take a moment to ask you all to be fully present. When we can do that together, our music is more cohesive; we enjoy it so much more; and hour babies seem to feel it, too. I hope you’ll feel this way with your unified families’ voices, too. 

 

  1. Take Three Grateful Breaths. 

If you’ve taken classes with me before, you know that in most classes I have us take 3 Grateful Breaths. (I talked about this in one of my blog posts.  Click here to read what I’m talking about.) On every breath out, we think of something we are grateful for.

For me, I often think of music, my hearing so that I can hear all the baby sounds, the freedom to do what I love, and a thousand other things that come to mind in the moment. Try it before you sing with your child and see what comes to mind. It might surprise – and delight – you. 

 

  1. Open up with your child to fully connect. 

I can do these classes by sharing the material and curriculum. That would work and you’d probably get something out of it. But for my own sake, I love to connect with you all personally, too. I tend to have parents in my groups who are authentic, smart, funny, creative, and compassionate (I’m looking at you!).  I always feel very connected to the babies but even more than that to you all. I feel excited to see you, hear about your challenges and your joys of the week.

When you’re singing with your child, check in with them. See what’s making them feel good or feel bad. This connection will only enrich your musical moments together.

 

So yes, you need energy to lead songtime.

But, by doing the 4 things above, leading songtime can also connecting, energizing and incredibly enjoyable.

 

As you can see, it’s not too hard to find ways to make it enjoyable to teach my classes. It really has everything to do with you all. So thank you for singing from the heart, being present, taking in deep breaths, and connecting to me as I do to you. Since you’ve done it firsthand, I know you’ll have an easy time leading your own music sessions with your little singers. 

 

Do you have any rituals you do for songtime with your child? Stretching your bodies or warming up your voices? Comment below and I might just borrow it to use in my classes.

 

Have a friend who wants to sing more with his/her baby? Forward them this post and be their biggest cheerleader.  And then tell them to sign up below.

 

Yes! Please send me the Tuesday Tune-In!

Sleep and how to get it

Dear Tunesters, 

I can talk about music up the wazoo but the fact is that your biggest chagrin is sleep. I know. That’s why I’ve dedicated this Tuesday Tune-in to sleep and how to get it. After working with thousands of parents and dealing with three babies of my own, I’ve come up with what I feel are the important elements when it comes to sleep. 

 

Did you ever imagine that you’d be thinking about sleep so much? I’m sure that these days you plan your entire day around it – when you’ll feed, when you’ll leave the house, when you (eventually) take a shower, when you eat. It’s all around the baby’s sleep

 

That’s why, from the moment they come into our lives, they RULE us. We become slaves to shuteye. And our babies become our tyrant majesties. But such cute kings and queens! 🙂

 

I’m no sleep consultant and you guys know that’s not my main focus. But I do work hard to make your relationship with your baby the best it can be and sleep is an integral part of that. 

 

Most of us struggle with this at one point or another. There are those miracle babies out there who instantly sleep well at night, but if your baby is anything like my three adorable little night-hell creatures, yours keeps you up through the night. 

 

The frustrating thing about this is that there is no absolute right way. I am sure you know that by now because it applies to all things baby. Each path you choose will have its benefits and costs somewhere down the road.

 

So I’ll share tips that are not dependent on a particular strategy (CIO, attachment, 5 minutes, etc.) but can be used across the board. But the important part is to share with each other what has worked for YOU. Please comment below and let us know so that we can do some important group sharing. 

 

So here are my tips in no particular order of importance: 

 

Tips to Better Sleep 

1.  A white-noise machine

As a musician, I am particularly sensitive to sound. So are our babies. White noise helps to simulate the sound of the womb and helps to block out any sudden noises in the environment. If you have an older kid, this is important. And if you don’t want to be tiptoeing around your own home, this is also important. 

 

2. A lovey

In psychology, the English psychoanalyst Winnicott was the first to talk about transitional objects. The idea is that these objects – like a lovey or a blankey – help our baby transition from needing to be soothed by US to being able to SELF soothe with the help of an object that replaces us.

It is basically a micro version of our work with our children in general. We slowly teach them how to be independent and less reliant on us.

I like those little animals heads with the felt body like this one. It’s nice to put it in your shirt for a couple of days before you give it to your baby so it will smell like you. 

 

3. A lullaby

If you’ve been with me for a while, this should not come as a surprise. I’m not just saying this one because I believe in the power of music to soothe, make us happier and connect us to each other. The lullaby actually does work.

Pick a lullaby; be consistent with it; and eventually your baby will associate the lullaby with sleep and will rub her eyes just at the sound of it. 

Also, it is the perfect way to really connect with your baby before the overnight separation. 

Here’s mine as an example.  Your lullaby should be a song that’s soothing for YOU too. Find one that inspires you to slow down gaze lovingly into the eyes of your babe.

 

4. A bottle before bed

No matter if you are doing sleep training or not, it’s torturous to feel like our baby is crying because she’s hungry in the middle of the night. The best way to quell our own anxiety is to give them a full bottle before bed.

When we breastfeed it’s much harder to tell how much our baby is eating and it leaves us with too many middle of the night anxiety attacks. Knowing our baby went to sleep with a full stomach means they can potentially sleep through the night without refueling.

 

5. Baby talk 

This one becomes more important after about 9 or 10 months but it’s good to start it early on.

Talk to your baby. Tell your baby that you are about to put him into bed. Calmly tell him that you are right next door; that you love him; that you will be there if he absolutely needs you, but that it is better for him and for you to sleep through the night.

The more you talk to your baby in this way, the more your baby will start to understand this.

And parents, this is also for you. Because I know that you need to hear this just as much as your baby does. Talk to you.

 

6. Laying down only half asleep

I know you hate this one but it’s true. Try to put your baby into bed when they are not fully asleep. The best time to work on this is during the day for naps when they aren’t completely exhausted from the day and neither are you.

It’s great to have a mobile in the bed that will help them zone out a little bit until their eyes finally fall closed. But this one only works if you do the next tip … 

 

7. Bedtime before overtired time

This one’s hard. It involves catching our baby before the fussy-overtired-overstimulated-monster-baby takes over.

I know. It can be hard to pick up on the cues. For that reason, especially at the beginning, It’s best to go with time intervals to really help you be aware. For instance, babies around four months old can only stay awake for about an hour and 45 minutes between naps. This means that by the time an hour and a half has gone by you should start winding down.

I’ve found that this is a universal rule-  right when our babies are their most charming, funny and engaged, is when the crash is around the corner. 

 

8. A long wind-down

Think about yourself. When you get into bed it probably takes you at least half an hour to wind down. You might do this with a book, your phone, the TV, meditation or just staring at the ceiling. Our babies are the same way. But they need us to help them wind down.

In my opinion, music is the best way to do this. But no matter what tool you use, be sure to start winding down a good half hour before you are going to put them to sleep. Start to limit the noises in the room; dim the lights; bring down your own energy; and create a calm atmosphere. 

 

9. A fade out 

Once you’ve managed to calm your baby and you’ve found the sweet spot when they are a little drowsy but not overtired, you put them into the bed successfully.

But wait.

Be sure you don’t bolt out of there. That might ruin the whole deal. Take an extra minute to slowly fade out on your lullaby, to let your energy stay soft and calm as you slowly walk out of the room. It takes willpower, time and concentration but it’s worth the effort. 

 

That’s all about getting your baby to sleep. 

Now what about keeping your baby asleep? 

 

It’s important to know that all babies wake up in the middle of the night, just as we do. Our goal is to teach them how to put themselves back to sleep without our help. 

There are so many resources out there about sleep training. So much controversy, so many different types of advice. I’m not going to tell you whether to sleep train or not. I will tell you that I needed to do it with all three of mine, despite high hopes of not needing to.

I can tell you that in my years of working with parents, it is RARE that a baby who woke up often during the night learns how to sleep through the night on his own. They usually need some type of intervening or lack of intervening.

 

All that said,  here’s what I’ve learned and I think this is most important …

 

We all have a different threshold of what we can take. 

 

Some of you absolutely needed to start sleeping through the night at 3 months. Some of you don’t mind waking up a couple of times with your one year old. Some of you hit your threshold at 2 years and decided the baby needed to leave your bed. 

We all have a different breaking point and that’s okay. It’s important to notice our own. That’s going to be the moment when you are ready to take action. Until then, there’s no point in torturing yourself about whether or not you’ll sleep train. If you aren’t at your threshold yet, then you are going to want to believe that you don’t need to do it. If you are at your threshold, you will be ready to do what it takes to get a good night’s sleep.

It takes a ton of willpower and no matter what technique you use it’s no fun. 

But even if you don’t here’s something important to remember:  This does not last forever. I don’t mean that in a seize-the-moment kind of way. I mean it in a this-nighttime-hell-will-pass way.

Eventually, probably within the year, you will go back to sleeping through the night. I promise. By that time, your baby will be a little older and things will be different than they are now. You won’t be in quite the same sleepless haze wondering what someone JUST said. 

Okay. Stop reading. Go to bed. I hope you got some good sleep tonight.

And if you get woken up tonight sing your baby THIS. It is the only protest song I’ve ever written.

So we all REALLY want to hear – What is your best sleep trick? Comment below and tell us.

 

Does your friend need this list?  Send them the Tuesday Tune In.

And they can sign up for more below:

 

Yes! Please send me the Tuesday Tune-In!

My theme song for 2020

Dear tuned-in parents – I talk a lot about having songs for your baby to transition from one thing to another. Diaper to new diaper. Clothes to pajamas. Awake to asleep.

Well, today’s Tuesday Tune-in is about a song for YOU to transition – from this year to next year. 

 

Your theme song is powerful.

 

It can be an acknowledgement of where you are. 

Example: Sara Bareilles’ “She Used to be Mine.” There was a time a couple of years ago when this was my theme song. Looking back on that time, I see that I was mourning a part of myself. The song helped me reconnect through some sadness and kindness to myself. 

 

It can be a motivator to keep going. 

Example: “Eye of the Tiger,” the Rocky theme song. In my twenties, I dated a grunge rocker/ snowboarder. He brought me to his home state of Vermont to learn how to snowboard myself and let’s just say I fell. A lot. On my head. But what I did have was a theme song. Every time I fell, I took a moment to absorb the pain and frustration. Then I found myself getting back up while singing quietly to myself, “Rising up, back on my feet…”

 

It can be anything that makes you feel like your truest self. 

Theme songs have always gotten me going. Not to say that they’re always happy and upbeat.  But they’re always honest. They always act as a reminder of what I need to grow.

 

The amazing part is that most likely your theme song is already playing in your head – as you go to sleep, take a pause in your day, do something that energizes you or something that you dread. 

 

Our mind is like a jukebox with a playlist of its own. And every now and then one record keeps spinning because it is the one we need to hear.

 

For me, for the beginning of this year, two songs have been playing on repeat in my head. Interestingly, they seem contradictory. But dammit – so is life.

 

The first is an oldie, Otis Redding’s masterpiece – “Sitting on the Dock of the Bay”. It reminds me to take it slow, enjoy the breeze, notice the view, and breathe. I think this was actually spurred by one of my sweet students who requested that I play the song in class. Since then its been at the top of my mind and the tip of my tongue every time I pick up the guitar.

 

The second is by 2019’s queen of self-empowerment for women – Lizzo. Her song “Good as Hell” reminds me to locate that little often forgotten voice inside me screaming – “I am the shit!”

 

So dear Tunester, as you plunge into a new beginning, what’s your song? 

 

We don’t need to pick out our theme song for the whole year because it will change many times. 

 

I’m suggesting that we pick out our theme song for these next couple of months. The beginning of the year is a special time. We all feel just a little bit more motivated to do our best, to turn a new leaf, to start a project or to kick old habits. 

 

So your homework this week is fun homework. 

 

On your commute, at home with your babies or on the treadmill; search through new songs and old songs and see what resonates with you. 

 

Having a theme song is like having a friend that reaches out of hand and picks you up when you need it or makes your step a little bit bouncier when it drags. 

 

The best possible scenario is for us all to share our theme songs together. It’s like sharing the lullabies that we use with our babies. It gives us ideas and opens our mind to directions we haven’t thought of.

 

Please share it in the comments so that we can all get ideas.

 

These things are always more fun together. Forward this to your friends and tell them you’ll share yours if they share theirs.

 

 

Yes! Please send me the Tuesday Tune-In!

5 parenting resolutions you can actually keep

Here’s my challenge to you this year – 

 

What if we thought about resolutions a little bit differently? 

 

Instead of making changes in order to reach some grand goal we have in mind, what if we make small adjustments to our daily habits so that we can enjoy NOW even more?

 

Can we make a deal? Can our overarching theme for this year be to truly see and enjoy what is right in front of us? That is 2020 vision. 

 

So without further ado here are the 5 totally doable daily habits that will help you see (and feel) more clearly.

 

1. A morning hug. No matter how old your baby is, this one applies. Even in the frenzy of the morning, go to your child and share a delicious hug. It might be a standing hug with your baby in your arms or it might be a hug from behind if your kid is reading (like mine does in the morning), or it might be climbing into bed with them for a minute. Whatever position it is, take a breath in that hug. A full inhale and exhale. The exhale is the important part.
Your kid will start the day feeling held and loved. And you will start the day holding what is most precious to you.

 

2.  A song a day. When you are with your kids, play at least one song that makes you feel good. Share the music you love with your kids. Sing with it, dance with it, cook to it, fall asleep to it. Whatever you’re doing, take a moment to share one song a day that you really enjoy. See how it alters everyone’s mood and moment.

 

3. An activity you love. Do something you love doing in front of your kid/s each day – cooking, singing, playing piano, exercising, meditating, reading, knitting, painting, cleaning, writing. Whatever it is, try to find at least two minutes a day to let your kids see you doing it. You will reap the benefits of doing what you love and they will be inspired to find what they love, and maybe even do that same activity.

 

4. A bedtime hug. Right before you run out that door, take a moment to do a bedtime hug. This one is hard, I know. We want to start OUR time ASAP. And if your sleeping arrangements are like ours it isn’t always convenient to get that hug – one is on a bunk bed, one is in a nook.. But take a breath, pause for the hug. Inhale, exhale. Make it sweet. It may even be your favorite part of the day.

 

5. A helpful task. This one is especially for the older kids but you can start early – find one housekeeping task a day that your kids can help with. I know. This one isn’t quite in the joyful moment category. But if we have them do one thing a day, our day feels better, and eventually theirs will too. One is doable, and can make lasting change.

 

I like what Elizabeth Gilbert said this year. It’s nice to keep this in mind:

“You don’t have to have a New Years resolution.

You are not required to justify your existence on earth through constant improvement…

You don’t need to earn you right to be here by putting yourself to higher and higher standards.

You just get to be here.

You belong here.

You are loved on earth.”

 

That’s it for today dear Tunesters. 5 changes that are easy to make that will change your day for the better.

 

Now tell me – what are YOUR parenting resolutions for this year? Do you have more to add to this list? If so, COMMENT below. I’d love more ideas!

 

Have a friend who needs to put a new lens on 2020? Send her/him this to sign up for future ones too.

 

Yes! Please send me the Tuesday Tune-In!

The two things that made this year possible

As I prepare for our ski trip, ripping open packing tape on boxes to find fleece everything – pants, shirts, neck warmers, I have an image of last year’s ski trip.

 

I was on a ski lift with my brother in Maine and we were talking about my business. He said – “Why don’t you teach your class online too?”

 

Remember when he told me I should start a vlog like Casey Neistadt? I do. And I did.

 

Anywho, I’m about to get on that same ski lift and it’s making me think about all that’s gone down this year. I DID make that online course. But I also did SO MUCH MORE.

 

Cue the sentimental guitar music. It’s time to look back on 2019 for Baby in Tune.

 

You guys – the business has grown ALOT this year. And you know how that happened? You’ve all been by my side, and I’ve grown as an entrepreneur.

 

(At the bottom of this post I am going to list all the virtual mentors whose blogs and podcasts have inspired me to get to this point. They might inspire you too.)

 

And now, let’s take a look at what  we’ve done in 2019:

 

1. Learned more about what YOU need

I spent alot of time this year thinking deeply about issues you want solved, challenges that bring you down, and ways that Baby in Tune can ACTUALLY help. It was hard work and alot of good stuff came out of it:

  • A weekly blog that so many of you say you appreciate.
  • Better discussion and flow in class.
  • Helpful tools like Cheat Sheets and Playlists.
  • A Facebook group.
  • More useful Instagram and Facebook posts.

2. Created an online course

This was no small feat. 6 modules, 17 videos, and a whole lot of planning, writing, filming, preparing, and dreaming big. With the help of Paul Kaup, the videographer and editor, and all of YOU wonderful parents who participated in it, I think it came out pretty darn amazing. Here is a glimpse into the final video:


 

3. Trained 5 new Baby in Tune instructors

Training a big group like this just felt RIGHT. You know how every now and then you do something that uses all of your talents at once and it feels good? I have no doubt that I was meant to mentor in this way. Our training was rich with discussion, music, tweaking, learning, and a common goal of supporting you all in the best way we can.
 

 

4. Hired two new business managers

This has changed my life. It made me realize how much time I was spending on admin, customer service,  PR, and strategy, and how little time I had to do the stuff I am good at – build curriculum, write music, and plan future projects. I could only have done this by settling into the CEO/entrepreneur role enough to DELEGATE. Also, I found these two gems so it was a no brainer.

 

5. Performed at venues and birthdays

I love seeing you all at performances and I love sharing in your milestones. You can bet I always sing “One Day” at your parties. How can I not? I get sentimental. I also get a little teary when my kids perform with me at shows which they did quite a bit this year. Stay tuned for more of those in 2020.

 

6. Planned for 2020

What a pleasure to sit with two extremely talented women and delve into how we can make our classes better, what other services we can offer, how we can make our hosts feel more appreciated, and how we can support you all even more.

 

7. Dreamed big. And continue to dream big

I believe in what I do because I see the way you all respond to it. Just today someone said the Soothing song “saved her life.”  I also know how the instructors and I feel after each class – a little more present and elated – no matter what state we were in when we started it.
I had some really big ideas this year that we made a reality. So anything can happen in 2020…

 

Baby in Tune will continue to grow at light speed. All you need to do is sing, share, feel, support and dance with us and your babies.

 

And one more thing – tell us how we can be better. Tell us what you like the most and what we can tweak.  This is a great opportunity for you all to COMMENT below or write us a personal email with your ideas for this year.

 

Here’s to 2020. A year of connection and song.

 

Vered (and the Baby in Tune team.)

 

PS. Here are some of my virtual business mentors from this year. All have podcasts.

  1. Amy Porterfield
  2. Jenna Kutcher
  3. James Wedmore
  4. Rick Mulready
  5. Robert Miller
  6. Micheal Hyatt

Yes! Please send me the Tuesday Tune-In!

You are a tradition maker now

Dear tuned-in parents, 

December is here and I am feeling my usual inner conflict between loving the smell of pine trees and the sight of twinkly lights and my disdain for all the in-your-face sales. The festival of lights is definitely a time to celebrate together but it is also a time to go inward and reconnect with family.

 

We’ve been going deeper in our classes. Something in the air – and the darkness outside – makes me a little more emotional in groups. We’re taking extra deep breaths between songs and we’re sharing a little bit more deeply and authentically. We’ve been delving into exploring our feelings about family, our place in the family, the place of music in our family and memories and traditions. 

 

 

We’ve come to grips with one important fact: 

We are the grown-ups now. 

 

I know you don’t want to hear that. 

 

I still feel like a kid, too. But in the past it was up to someone else to continue traditions and family rituals. Now it’s our job

 

Along  with the responsibility of instigating and carrying through, we also have an opportunity here. 

 

We can continue or create whatever traditions we feel like. 

 

We can build on what worked In the past and nix what didn’t. 

 

Easier said than done, I know. Sometimes those old habits emerge even if we want to shed them.

 

The first step is to start to be more conscious about the family rituals and traditions that have existed until now. In the process, let’s realize our own potential to inspire and spurinstigate new ones.

 

4 Ways to Evaluate Holiday Traditions

  1. Think back to a time when you felt *most connected* to your family. 

What were you all doing? 

Maybe you were playing a board game? Maybe you were sitting around talking? Maybe you were having dinner? Or making dinner? Maybe you were dancing? Or maybe you were singing a song? 

 

When I think of moments that felt the most happy and free with my family they almost always involved music. We were singing in the car, singing while washing dishes, hanging a prayer together before a meal or dancing together. 

 

So what were yours? 

 

This is a really nice conversation to have with family members. Ask your siblings, cousins, parents. What were the times when they felt the family was most connected and happy together? 

 

That’s a good start in figuring out which traditions you are going to continue or create. 

 

  1. Think about moments that felt *least connected*.

We’ve all had a lot of those with our family. Spending time with our family can be so loaded. These are people who have seen us grow since we were babies and vice versa. It is almost impossible to break out of our childhood images. Right when we feel the most grown up is when our family can make us feel the most like a child. 

 

  1. Think about moments where you watched other families enjoy a connected moment. 

More often than not we idealize those moments but it doesn’t matter for this exercise. What matters is what we saw the family doing. What allowed them to come together? How are they engaging with each other? 

 

  1. Think about moments with your nuclear family and your baby. 

What are the moments you feel most connected? What are you doing? How are you engaging? 

 

Once you’ve thought this through you might realize that there is a common thread. Most likely the connection moments happened when you put aside the to-do list; expectations and disappointments and were able to be fully present in the moment. 

 

My point is: 

There’s a way to manufacture these types of moments. We don’t need to wait for them to happen. 

 

We can create them. Oftentimes, with music. 

 

The reason that music lends itself so well to these types of moments is because it helps us get out of our heads and into our bodies. And more than that, it’s a way for us to communicate emotionally, not intellectually. So singing together is a shortcut to doing all the things we are talking about above: Feeling connected, happy, togetherness and present. 

 

Before you go into your holiday celebration this year, take time to do these 4 exercises: 

  1. When did you feel most connected with your extended family in the past? 
  2. When did you feel least connected with your family? 
  3. When watching another family who seemed connected, what were they doing? 
  4. What were some moments you felt most connected to your nuclear family? 

 

Once you move through these prompts, you might have some ideas about how to bring a new energy to your extended family this holiday. 

 

But here’s the hard part: Because we tend to regress into our old ways and childhood selves it may be hard to bring new ideas to a group. Although I make my career out of it, I still found it really hard to pull out the guitar and ask everyone to sing a song before dinner last year. 

 

That’s said, I plan to do it again. Because it was a moment that I remember. I remember looking around at everyone’s faces while we were singing. People were swaying, leaning on each other, and most of all, weren’t thinking. 

 

Not to say that I didn’t get some objections. I did, and you can expect it, too. They might sound like this: 

“But we’re hungry!” 

“Here she comes with a new idea.” 

“Let’s do it later” 

“Can’t we all watch a movie together instead?” 

Or any other cynical comments you can think of. 

 

But our job is to create the traditions that we believe are good for our babies. 

 

So we need to push through the resistance, so that when it is our baby’s turn to do it, they won’t be up against as much cynicism. For them, it will be second nature to come together effortlessly in a way that makes family truly feel like family. 

 

That’s it you guys. We’re not the kids anymore. It’s time for us to be the grown ups.

 

Have you started a new tradition in your family? Comment below and share what it was and how it was received. We need all the inspiration we can to make way for new ideas with as few waves as possible. 

 

Know a parent who’s ditching the traditional ways? Forward them this post so they know we’re all looking for rituals that feel right – for us.

 

Tell them to sign up here for more words of wisdom:

Yes! Please send me the Tuesday Tune-In!

How to get through the Winter Witching Hour

Here it comes you guys – Winter is on its way. Evenings are getting darker and that means a lot more time at home with our babies. 

 

Let’s stay calm. We can get through this. 

 

Honestly, if it were just less sunlight on it’s own, then we could deal. But it feels like the last straw on top of already:

  • being bored out of your mind around 5pm 
  • Not sleeping and being basically half a human
  • Feeling your hormones rage high and low.
  • Watching your identity change completely from who you thought you once were

 

Sound familiar? 

 

And the worst side effect to having a baby in the winter? Watching that door like a hawk waiting for your partner to come home.  When I first realized I was doing that I was mortified. Where was the independent, creative, self-motivated, resourceful woman? What had become of me??

 

So how do we get through this? Just. Start. Dancing.

 

It might sound crazy that I think we can solve all of those things above by putting on a song and moving around. But you’re going to have to trust me on this one. 

 

I promise it’s easy. Find a song that you love dancing to. It doesn’t matter how embarrassing it is or how old it is or how uncool it is. It just has to be the song that gets you excited to move. Since you’re reading this now (before that 5pm low), think of what your song might be and put it in a playlist. Maybe even put three songs in that playlist. 

 

When the sun starts to set, scoop your baby up; put that song on; and go to town. Put all the tasks aside and just let your body move to the beat. 

 

Why exactly will dancing cure our woes?

  1. Music is an endorphin. It actually makes us happy. I know that you’ve experienced this in the past so I don’t need to elaborate. 

 

  1. Moving to the beat gets us out of our heads and into our body. And that gets us into the present moment. It alleviates spiraling into that go-to internal dialogue: “This sucks.” “I’m tired.” “Who am I?” “Where is he?” “What do I do?” “I’m SO tired…”

 

  1. Dancing is a workout. As you know, moving our body – even a little bit strenuously –  energizes us in the long run. It reduces stress and releases endorphins and physical tension.

 

  1. Dancing with our baby brings us in sync with each other. Babies love to dance and move to a rhythm. In fact, they do it on their own from a very early age. When we move them with us to the rhythm of the music, we are sinking up our breathing and our mood, all while holding them close. It’s the closest simulation of the womb. 

 

  1. A dance party is like a reset to your evening. Just try it. You’ll see that that mood that you were feeling a minute ago dissipates into nothing. You might even feel a moment of Celebration. You’ve got a lot to celebrate: You got through the day! 

 

So what’s your favorite dance-party song? The only thing we need to do now is share with each other and the longer our list, the better off we’ll be in that dark when we’re watching the door like a Stepford Wife waiting for her partner to save us. 

 

Instead, let’s save ourselves!

 

Comment below with your jam. Let’s make a “It’s 5pm and winter” playlist that’s 100 songs long. 

 

Have a friend who texts you around 5pm each day? They need this, too. Forward it to them now and have a long-distance dance party.

 

Tell them to sign up here for more words of wisdom:

Yes! Please send me the Tuesday Tune-In!

Parenting Mistakes Through the Eyes of an 8 Year Old

In today’s Tuesday Tune-In I’m going to give you the secret to parenting. 

It’s true. It makes all the difference. And if you ask your kids, they’ll say I’m right. It was actually my son who really drove this lesson home for me. A couple of years ago, he started writing a book that he called “Parenting Mistakes Through the Eyes of an 8 Year Old.”

Clearly, he had a whole book’s worth of material. 

 

That said, Lesson One was simple and important for us all to learn. Actually all the chapters came down to one main idea:

 

Be playful.

 

Or in his own words: “Parents need to be more silly, lighter about things.” When I asked him what he meant, he said, ”Let’s do a role play.” 

 

Example 1: Not Playful

He went to lie on the couch and told me to call him to go to the shower the way I normally do. I did, in a straightforward way,  and he said, “I don’t want to go.” And kept lying there. I said, “Please go to the shower so that we can have dinner.” He said, ”In a few minutes.”

 

Indeed, that was an annoyingly good illustration of how it normally goes.

 

Then he said, ”Okay, let’s try it again. This time, try to be more FUN about it. Find a way to turn it into a game.”

 

Example 2: Not Playful Enough

This time, I called him again with kind of a silly voice and did a silly dance along with it. 

 

He said, ”That’s not it. Try again.”  

 

(Side note: do the rest of you have parenting coaches at home or am I the only one? Is this retribution to me being a kind of a parenting coach?)

 

Example 3: Playful

Finally, I went over and said, ”I’m going to tickle you if you don’t get up right away and run into the shower. You better go quick!” Immediately, he started laughing. Then I tickled him and said, ”Let’s see if we can jump the whole way there.” He got up and started jumping.

 

That day, he reminded me of a lesson that we all need to keep in mind ALL of the time. Our kids want to play. They want to have fun with us. They want to be silly and they want US to be silly. And this is for ALL ages, from tiny babies to attitude tweens.

 

Here’s the thing.

 

Things tend to be very serious all the time in our very important worlds. We get caught up in day-to-day tasks that weigh down on us. Our kids see us working very hard to get things done – to feed them, bathe them, make sure they’re healthy, make sure we get our own stuff done, and put them to sleep. We can get pretty bogged down in a mode of checking things off of our list. 

 

So – We all need a reminder. And I am a girl who loves a challenge. 

 

I challenge you to be playful. 

 

See if you can turn small moments into a game and bring out your silly side whenever possible.

 

But there’s more to this. I’m not just suggesting to be silly. I’m recommending you to do it when you least want to. Right at that moment when your kid pushes back the most – when they are at their most intolerable, irrational and defiant.

 

It’s right at that moment – when WE may be our most tired, most frustrated, and most spent – that we need to remember this approach.

 

Here’s the scenario: You’re trying to get your toddler’s shoes on to get out the door. You’re late to wherever you’re going. Your child has already wanted to change outfits three times, has thrown tantrums over lunch and does NOT want to put on shoes.

 

You just want it to end. A part of you wants to force the damn shoes on the toddler and get going. But you also know that if you do that there are probably 3 more tantrums waiting around the corner.

 

You have no resources left. You feel depleted.

 

This is when I want you to dig even deeper and find that playful place within you. Find a way to be funny, to be silly, to turn it into a game, and to play.

 

I promise you that you will get out of the door so much faster than if you force it.

 

Now I want to hear from you. What are some ways that you turn a tough moment into a fun moment? Comment and don’t hold back because that is when we all need it the most.

 

Know a parent having a rough week? Forward this silly solution to them.

 

Finally, know a book publisher? Send me their info. I think this could be a huge hit . Seriously.

 

Here’s a way to get your friends on this list so they’ll have the secret to parenting too:

Yes! Please send me the Tuesday Tune-In!

Today’s Panel of Judges…Family!!

Dear Tunester Family,

My big online course launch is behind us and now we can focus on the next big thing: the holidays. And specifically, the feeling that our family judges our parenting choices

 

For those of you with a baby, this is a new frontier.
And for those of you with bigger kids – well, you know this is a thing.

 

Let us start with the much contested and very controversial Thanksgiving. I won’t go into all the pros and cons of it. I have a feeling you’ve done that work already. But I do want to delve into the most important stuff(ing) that might come up this weekend or in the holiday weeks to come. 

 

Even one sly comment at each gathering can make us feel defensive about how we choose to parent. Sometimes they don’t even need to say a word. We just feel it. (Is it all in our heads? Maybe.) But we must have heard the critique at some point – possibly growing up as kids. My point is that it was enough to make us feel that there is a critical thought behind the smile, even if it goes unsaid. Which is almost as intolerable. 

 

Why is this so torturous?

Because it awakens our own inner judge.

 

The problem with parenting is that there is no right way. We will forever try to find the key to the daughter who eats everything on her plate, the baby who sleeps through the night, the toddler who doesn’t have tantrums at the table, or the son who doesn’t curse at his mama (see prior post). But it just doesn’t exist. 

 

Our journey as parents is to continually DO OUR BEST.

When a family member questions our choices, that brings up all of our doubts.

And they are PLENTY.

 

We work so hard to understand our kids *and* we are also just children trying to understand ourselves. So when your toddler hits the floor in a mad tantrum, you cycle into your rolodex of what you could be doing better. And what you are doing wrong. When that family member comments on the fact that we are no longer nursing or nursing too long; putting the baby down too early or too late; being too lax or too firm; then something happens. Your inner judge comes to life – and it is ruthless.

 

So what do we do?

Tell your own inner judge to shut the front door.

 

Parents, I know you tune in. I know you are doing your best. Every. Single. Day. Sometimes you go to sleep wondering why you lost your temper so easily or why you didn’t allow that one thing, or why you couldn’t have just been a little more patient, more loving and more playful. And that is the work. 

 

I know you are doing your absolute best.

And more importantly, YOU know you are.

 

Remember this when you are with your family this weekend or in the month to come:

You love your baby deeply. You are working hard at this parenting thing and are doing pretty darn great. You have made decisions based on who YOU are and who your BABY is, and they are good decisions.

 

If you can truly sit with that, then the comments won’t touch you as deeply. Sure, it will be annoying. Nobody has the right to criticize anyone else. But it won’t be as triggering. Because their judge won’t be communicating directly with your inner judge. In fact, their outer judge will only be communicating with their inner judge, which we can’t do a thing about. 

 

You remember that. 

And for that snide commentor? Give them a compliment.

 

I’m dead serious. I got this idea from my daughter actually. The other day she was having a playdate. I overheard her friend say, “There is a girl in my class and she is so mean to me!” And my daughter said, “Give her a compliment!”

If you want to go above and beyond and want to communicate with their inner judge – give them a compliment.

Tell them you remember how well they parented, how they seem to really connect to your baby; how they seem to have great instincts.

 

This last instruction is not simple, I know. It would be pretty big of us if we could do this.

 

But maybe we can try. For the sake of a complicated holiday that reminds us to be better people.

 

So tell me – do you relate? Are you prepping your retorts for parenting “advice”?

 

Can you see yourself giving a compliment instead. I’d love to hear. COMMENT below.

 

Do you have a friend heading into a familial panel of judges? Help them get through it. Send them the link below so they can read this one and sign up for more.

 

Yes! Please send me the Tuesday Tune-In!

The real reason I don’t spend time with my baby

Dear Tunester – Today I want to talk about a topic that’s both painful and beautiful: Time. I’ve been thinking a lot about the phrase, “I don’t have time.” 

 

As in: “I don’t have time to spend time with my baby.” Or “I don’t have time to do music with my baby.” – I need to do laundry, work, dishes, shower, eat, feed, put to sleep, and a thousand other things.

 

I can’t help but wonder though: Is it true that we don’t have time? In many ways, absolutely. Taking care of a baby and kids is a FULL-TIME job. No doubt about it. But also … 

 

Is it possible that we use time as an excuse?

 

Let’s explore that for a minute. Are we avoiding hanging out with our kids in a meaningful way? Are we saying, “I don’t have time” but really meaning to say, “I don’t want to”?

 

Pause. 

 

I’m going to stop here for a minute and say that this blog post has been extremely hard for me to write. I’ve already spent more than 3 hours staring at the screen. And when that happens it is always an indication that this one is an issue that runs deep for me. So let’s continue but just know that I am right there with you if you are feeling it.

 

So – if time is an excuse to NOT hang out with our baby – why are we avoiding our baby?

 

Let’s explore some of the reasons that came up for me. I would love to hear yours in the comments below.

 

  1. It’s boring. Being with a baby or kid can be repetitive. One more time playing hide and seek; one more time jumping on the bed or tickling or singing that one song.
  2. It’s tiring. It’s a lot of physical work. Certainly for the first two years it’s all physical labor – picking them up, putting them down, dressing them, feeding them. Even after that it’s very tiring physically. Running around the playground, playing catch, throwing them around. One more push on that darn swing.
  3. It takes a different mindset and can feel isolating. There isn’t the shared understanding we have with grown-ups that allows us to tune out together in the same way or take things for granted in the same way. It is comforting to be with a grown-up who has a similar outlook merely because they’ve been in the world for a longer time. We are not surprised by the same things our kids are. (Side note: This same reason is also what makes hanging out with kids and babies so fantastically refreshing. They are surprised by things we already take for granted. We get an opportunity to experience even mundane things anew with them.)
  4. It involves self-sacrifice. Being with our babies and kids involves letting go of our own needs a bit. Although we strive to maintain our whole selves with them, their urgent needs take over. Kids are self centered and narcissistic and that is how they should be. But it means relinquishing ourselves a bit when we are with them.

 

It’s ok to feel these things. It’s ok to not want to be with our babies all the time. And it is important to explore all the reasons why. 

 

So we know why we DON”T want to hang out with them. 

 

And I know you know why we DO want to hang out with them. 

 

In fact, I’ve spent my career trying to put those feelings into song. It’s impossible to describe the joy that we receive as parents and we never even came close to before. That profound joy is amplified because we watch our kids grow so fast right in front of our eyes. With every new ability and new shoe size, we feel that we are mourning the bliss that came right before.

 

So this whole thing is tragic really. 

 

We want to be with them so badly. But we also don’t. 

 

It is unbearable and sublime all at once.

 

And that tension, and the fact that our babies are the ultimate reminder of time passing and the moments slipping through our fingers, makes it all too hard. 

 

So what do we do?

 

We do what we are doing here together. We acknowledge the difficulty. 

 

We forgive ourselves. We try to satisfy our need not to be bored, tired, isolated and sacrificed. We do this on our own or with friends and family. And then we go and sit with our time-lapsed capsules of joy.

 

What else are we saving our time for? What else is more important?

 

As my time in this career passes, I’ve realized that my mission – beyond helping you feel more confident as parents by giving new tools and techniques – is to remind you and myself that indeed we don’t have time and we’ll never have time. 

 

Time is not something we can have. What we do have is connection and touch, and feelings and breath. 

 

This is why I made The Baby in Tune Online Class (and all the classes). 

 

It isn’t about solving an urgent problem – although it helps you learn how to soothe baby, put him to sleep, and make your day wholly more fun.  More than that, it is about helping you feel, touch, breathe, and sing with your baby. It is about finding time to be with your baby fully.

 

Our babies ask us for one thing: Our time. 

 

That’s all they want. They want us to be with them.

 

So why is music the key to this conundrum?

 

 

Because it inherently brings us into the moment through FEELING, and BREATH, and being in SYNC, in a language that our baby understands and that we intuitively speak.

 

Let’s learn together how to do it in a way that feels just as nourishing for us as it is for them.

That’s what I am here to help you do.

 

Do you know someone who could use a step by step guide on how to BE with their baby in a way that is enjoyable and enriching for both? Send them to this link or buy them my brand new online class.

 

Do you know someone who really needs a weekly check in on all things parenthood and music? Send them the link below so they can join the Tuesday Tune In.

 

Do you resonate with the tragedy of wanting to be with your baby but also NOT wanting to be with your baby? Comment and let me know.

Yes! Please send me the Tuesday Tune-In!

I just did something awesome/crazy/scary

I’ve got some big news for you all and it deserves its own Tune In, not even on a Tuesday.

Do you have non-New Yorker friends or family who you wish could have taken my class with you?

Do you work 9-to-5and wish you could have taken my class if time was limitless?

Now. Everyone. Can.

After almost 10 years of classes, I’ve finally gone and done it: I’ve created a digital class!

 

The Baby in Tune Online Class

WHAT IS IT? A downloadable, six-week video series that teaches parents and babies how music can help them connect more deeply and joyfully.

As each parent self-navigates the curriculum, they also log in for weekly live meetings with myself and the group so we all develop a class community.

Participants also receive supporting materials from PDF instructions to song videos.

WHO IS IT FOR? Moms or dads with babies 0 to 12 months.

WHY DID I DO THIS? Two reasons.

To give parents who would otherwise not be able to take this type of class, access to the incredible connective power that music can have on a family.

Also, candidly, for me to be less tied to one city and open up the opportunity to travel with my family while still growing my passion project/business.

HOW DO I JOIN? Attend a FREE online workshop that will give you a taste of what we’ll cover in The Baby in Tune Online Class.

Registration for the Online Class will open Nov 6. Make sure to subscribe to my email list so you’re first to hear.

I think you know this but it’s worth restating: I really believe in what I teach.

I know that music is the perfect modality through which to connect to our babies.

It makes us instantly more present and more connected. I’ve felt this firsthand with my three babies and in class with you and your babies.

It’s a language we all understand. Babies included. And it’s a tool we can use to help our little ones feel soothed, sleepy, safe and happy.

And it’s just a lot of good fun.

Now I can share all of this knowledge with more parents. Cue happy dance!

You helped me hone my craft. So I turn to you first with this big news.

Share this with your pregnant friends!
Share this with your new-mom friends!
Share this with your second-time dad friends!
Share this with your cousin in Montana or your college friend in London.
Share this with your doula!
Share this with your prenatal yoga teacher!

I feel like you get the drift.

Share this with anyone who you think would appreciate the joy connecting to their baby with music. This is the perfect way to do it from the comfort of their own couch. Which is where this whole thing started anyway – with me singing to my first son on our little couch.

And now. All this. And more to come!

 

Love,

Vered

I’m not a real musician

Today’s blog is about finding your musical creativity despite your limitations. You know, the self-diagnosed level of musical genius you do – or don’t – have.

Even more than that, today is about finding your musical creativity within and because of your limitations.

Many parents in my groups say that they are not musicians, that they don’t sing well, that they have a terrible voice, or that they can’t hold a note.

 

Here’s the thing: Your babies don’t care. And musicality is part nature – but it’s also part nurture. It can catch up with practice.

I know what it’s like to not think of yourself as a musician.

 

I’m not a musician if you ask me. I’m someone who brings music to families – my own and music in general, but I’ve got major imposter syndrome.

I feel this way partially because I got into music quite late.

I only picked up a guitar when I was 24 years old. I never got the classical training that others got in their childhood or the harmonic training that people got in college.

 

The truth is: I started to play guitar because I wanted to sing jazz songs. Okay, yea and because paying a jazz musician to accompany me was expensive.

And then I started to write songs because, well, jazz songs are really hard to play.

 

My music was born out of limitation.

That’s the secret to art in my opinion. All art and creativity are born out of some limitation. Creativity is making something out of what you’ve got. If we have too many options, then it’s overwhelming.

So it’s worthwhile to investigate what your limitations are and how you can play within them. Here are some common ones but ask yourself what your own limiting thoughts are. I bet they’ll come to you pretty easily.


Three Common Limitations

1. “I sing off key.” or “I can’t hold a note.”

If you feel you can’t sing in the melody of a song you may have heard songs sung off key growing up. Or, maybe more likely, you have not had enough practice doing it.

What’s required is to sing along with music – with others or alone, ALOT.

But you may have been told not to sing as a kid, which made you stop. Sadly, we often only need one person to tell us that we’re not a good singer to make us stop singing for good.

Either way, there’s a Snowball Effect. It just gets handed down through generations.

The kid becomes a parent and doesn’t sing to their kids and then those kids don’t get enough practice either.

Want to go a step further than singing along to Stevie Wonder? Get some singing lessons.

Sometimes it is about learning how to use certain muscles in our vocal cords so that we can match what we hear. Having someone else who can mirror back what we are singing in a supportive way can also help us become aware of the discrepancy between what our voice sounds like on the outside versus you’re hearing in our heads.

 

2. “I don’t have a good voice.”

Once again, this one has to do with what we were probably told as kids. Often it’s more related to the melody/key issue in the first limitation above.

But assuming you are singing on pitch and still believe you don’t have a good voice, then I give you all of these examples: Bob Dylan, Cyndi Lauper, Tina Turner, Elvis Costello, Bjork, Rickie Lee Jones, and ME.

My voice is a little raspy and always has been. When I was young I would sing with my cousin all the time. Her voice was smooth; she could hit all the high notes; and her singing seemed to flow like a cool stream of water.

Meanwhile, although I did have an ear for music and could sing harmonies, I got the message from those around me that my voice was not as pretty.

(In fact, when I remind my mother of this story now she cringes: When I was in sixth grade, I auditioned for a part in a musical. My mother suggested that I add some dance moves to my song because my voice “wasn’t my strong suit.”)

Here’s what I say to all of you who feel that your voice is not pretty – it’s exactly that “unprettiness” that makes it so unique. So please -continue singing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3. “I’m not a musician.”

Okay, so this is a big one and I’ve already told you that I feel the same way. The good news is that it can be liberating. Knowing that you are not a musician means that you will not be trying to outdo any of the music out there that you love. It means that you’ve given yourself a pass.

Now let’s use that pass.

To you I would say: Why not try to pick up a ukulele or a guitar? All you need is three chords to play most songs out there. Since you are ‘not a musician’ you will never need to play them very well. You only need to play them well enough to have fun.

 

Have you spotted your limitation? Now, use it. 

Get creative as if you only had a candle, a roll of tape and a hairbrush to make it out of a locked room, Macgyver style. You would probably figure it out and find your way.

Here’s how I use my limitation:

I write songs that are in my key and that I can sing easily. They don’t have a wide range, they don’t have fancy twists and turns.

I also write songs that are fairly easy to play. They don’t have a lot of chord changes. And, when I am inspired, I learn some fancier ways to play to push me to write a particular song.

I write lyrics that I can fully relate to – about my life, my feelings, what I imagine my kids to be feeling. I write about what I know.

 

How can you use your limitations? Assuming that most of you are not planning to become professional musicians our task today is not to dwell on whether you may have the talent that will bring you to Carnegie Hall.

Our task is to find just the right amount of musicality to bring to your baby that is inspired by your limitation.

When you say “I don’t have a nice voice” or “I can’t sing on key,” see if you can use that in your music with your baby.

Write songs that fit your “pitchless” voice perfectly.

Show your baby the uniqueness of your voice. Trust me. She will love it more than any Bob Dylan or Adele.

 

So now tell me – How do you get creative in singing with a limitation? Only sing folk music and not pitch-changing pop? Add your unique raspiness to a chorus? Comment here and share with all of us non-musicians.

Got a friend who’s definitely said one of these limiting statements? Send him/her this blog so they know they’re not alone. They can sign up for it here:

Yes! Please send me the Tuesday Tune-In!

What’s so good about music, anyway?

Dear tuned-in parents,

As you know, I’m sold on music as a way to communicate with our babies.

Let’s say I’m a 10 out 10.

This Tuesday Tune-in is for any of you who are floating around a 6 out of 10.

Basically this is for those of you who are saying: “I feel like my baby responds to music but how can I be sure that it is the most effective way to soothe, play, enrich, and communicate with my baby?”

Today, I want to break it down so you can see why I’m a 10 out of 10 all the way.

Let’s start with the research. If you know me, you know that my background in psychology makes me quite the research lover/nerd.

Studies show babies who hear music respond to it, notice its patterns, prefer to be in sync with it, like it more than spoken words, sleep better with it, feel soothed by it and increase their language development.

Now, don’t just take my word for it. Read on to see what happened when these studies were performed…

 

1. Babies respond to music even before they are born.

While you were pregnant, you may have read some blogs telling you to put music headphones on your belly because your baby was listening. How do they know that? Because studies like this one in 2013 have shown that little ones remember the music that was played for them in utero.

Their responses were shown through heightened alertness, lower heart rate and fewer movements when they heard the music again.

 

2. Musical patterns and changes can be detected by babies.

This study is so cool. Our babies are little maestors.

Neuro research has shown that newborns could detect when a downbeat was missing from a drum pattern. You can see this by the change in brain activity during this 2009 study.

It means that babies possess a cognitive skill called beat induction, a uniquely human trait that allows us to detect and follow rhythmic patterns.

 

3. It’s not just adults that like moving to the rhythm.

You can dance, but you wonder – can your baby?

You’ve seen her kicking her legs and you could have sworn it was to the beat. Well it turns out it was.

A 2014 study shows that our babies are listening closely to the music around them and that they have a preference for being in sync with what they hear.

Not only that, they can MODIFY their movements according to the beat. WOW!

Another take away from this one-  Your baby prefers to be in sync with the external rhythm. So when you are bouncing your baby, she prefers you to bounce to the rhythm of a song .

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4. Mama, dada: Don’t say it. Sing it.

Ever feel like your infant listens longer when you sing to her instead of speak to her?  This 2017 study proves you’re right.

It was performed with 6 to 10-month-olds and speculated that the reason might be that song holds more emotion and babies are aware of that.

I’d add that babies prefer to hear the voices that they heard in utero, which are yours.

 

4. Music helps babies sleep.

Preemie babies in the NICU who are given music interventions have been found to sleep better, according to this 2016 study.

 

5. Babies feel soothed by music.

I don’t have to tell you that this is significant. This is what we spend much of our days doing in different ways: Soothing baby.

This 2003 study shows that a mother’s singing to her babies has the power to regulate her babies emotions – to calm and soothe them.

 

6. Music makes us – babies and parents – happier.

This happens through the release of endorphins, both for the baby and us.

 

7. Playing & interacting with music improves language development.

Finally, studies like this 2012 one show that babies’ brains benefit from music lessons, even before they can walk and talk.

(And I know of a pretty great music lesson for babies you might want to try 🙂

 

So let’s recap.

  1. Our babies are born with a sensitivity to music. You could even say that music is innate. This is a uniquely human quality.
  2. Our babies can and prefer to be in sync with the music they hear. You could say but our babies are born with an ability and a love to dance to music.
  3. Our babies prefer hearing us sing rather than speak. This is matters If you are thinking about the best way to communicate with your baby it’s going to be through melody rather than speech.
  4. Our babies feel happier when they hear music.
  5. Our babies feel soothed when they are sung to.
  6. Our babies improve language development through music.

 

That’s why I’m a 10 out of 10 when it comes to my confidence in music being the best way to connect with your baby.

But that’s not all!

The benefits that apply to your baby with music also apply to you.

We also feel regulated when we hear music. It can make us feel happier as well as calmer. And you already know that a happier and calmer parent makes for a happier and calmer baby.

 

I’ll leave you with this quick visualization:

Imagine you were saying to your baby, “I love you, now go to sleep.”

Now imagine you’re singing it: ” I love you, now go to sleep.”

Be honest. Is the second version more emotional? More soothing? More connected to your baby?

 

If the answer is yes, then you know exactly you are on the right path. That a musical journey with your baby is a beautiful way forward.

Play devil’s advocate for me. Why else do you feel less than 10 out of 10 in using music to connect with your baby? Comment so I don’t think everyone thinks like me!

Know another research lover/nerd? Send them this post and make their data-filled days.
They can sign up for the Tuesday Tune In right here:

Yes! Please send me the Tuesday Tune-In!

Step one to a happy baby

Dear tuned-in parents, 

Today it’s all about you. It’s time to time to tune in to YOU.

As you know, attachment theory shows that in order for parents to be emotionally available to develop a secure bond with their baby, they need to have THEIR needs met as well.

And in case you’ve forgotten what your own needs include, that’s everything from how much you move each day to how many colors are on your lunch plate and, definitely, how many Zzzs you’re getting. 

 

So it’s time to take inventory.  A 3 minute check-in.

It’s like sixth-grade honor code: You grade yourself. 

I can tell you for myself, that every now and then I get thrown off course and I need a little nudge to set me back.

When I had little babies at home this was especially true. I definitely didn’t sleep enough. I didn’t do yoga or the gym. And I constantly ate the leftovers from my kids’ plates. Is that you? Then let’s do this.

 

I’m just going to give you a quick checklist so you can go through and see how you’re doing.

Sometimes there are easy fixes that we can make and it’s nice to have someone we trust remind us to do it. 

 

  1. How many hours of sleep are YOU getting?

This is a huge topic, I know. Many of you are in the trenches with sleep training or just hoping your baby will start to sleep REALLY soon – once they stop teething, coughing, pooping untimely or forget the old pacifier.

By far your own sleep is your biggest challenge. I know this first hand and I know it from listening to your challenges each week in class. 

 

Good news: There are some things that you can do.

First of all, you can put that Netflix show aside at night and get into bed early. I know that is way easier said than done. When I am addicted to a show (like Fleabag – love it!) I go to sleep every night at midnight.

Not only am I tired the next day but I am shorter with my kids and my body is much more achy. It takes a ton of willpower to Just. Go. To. Bed.

But we can do this. I know we can. Try to make your bed a non-screen zone and get into it no later than 10:00pm. Fine. 10:30pm. I promise you will be a happier person and a better parent. 

 

Here’s a tip: Make it hard for yourself to watch. Put the computer in the other room. Unplug the darn TV. Turn off the phone so you aren’t enticed. Listen. I am telling myself these things, too. I know it’s not easy.

 

(And – look out for a blog post solely about our favorite subject coming soon…SLEEP)

 

  1. How ALIGNED (not toned) does your body feel? 

You probably don’t have too much time to go to the gym right now so I’m not even going to suggest it. But I want to give you two tips that will make all the difference. 

 

First, do 15 minutes of stretching a day. Holding a baby is a TON of physical work. It is a huge strain on your body. Stretching for 15 minutes or even 5 minutes a day will help you feel so much better. You can do the strengthening another time.

For now, take care of your body and be kind to yourself. Try to find time to do either yoga stretches or deep breaths. 

 

Here’s another tip that I found extremely important while I had little babies: Stand up straight; put your bag on the other shoulder every now and then; bring your chin back slightly so that your neck is long and lift your chest.

By the time I was done with the constant holding phase for each baby I felt my body straightening out the way Keyser Söze did at the end of “The Usual Suspects.” My body went from all crooked and suddenly I was walking straight. 

Try not to make the same mistakes I made. 

 

  1. How KIND are you being to yourself? 

If you’re anything like me during days of having little babies, then you are having extreme highs and lows often in the same hour. Our hormones go a little wild after we have babies, especially if breastfeeding is involved.

So, first of all, know that this will not last forever. This is not your new state as a parent. I promise you will feel more emotionally stable as time goes on.

During this time please be kind to yourself. During any time really. You are working hard to tune into your babies and kids. Now I’m asking you to turn that same level of compassion and patience towards YOURSELF.

 

To your baby and your loved ones around, you are probably saying a version of “I love you. I’m listening.” Today, I’d like you to do the same for yourself.

Take a moment. Take some deep breaths. And say to yourself, “I love you and I am listening.” Now, see what comes up. 

 

See if you can put your thoughts into a feeling in your body. If you’re thinking about a particular frustration with someone or something, where does that sit in your body? Now put your hand there and hold it lovingly. 

You do so much soothing for your baby. You need just as much soothing yourself to keep at it. 

 

  1. When is the last time you asked for help? 

Here’s the final one for today. Please ask for what you need.

Ask your partner to get up in the middle of the night instead of you. Ask your parents to help out if you need them or stay away if you need more space.

Ask your friends to check in more often and be sure to tell her the best times to do so. One woman in my class had a friend who always checked in during the witching hour. The mom loved speaking to her friend (who was not a mom) and didn’t want to miss out on those calls. At the same time, she needed her friend to know how different her life now was and that her needs had changed. 

Usually when we tell people what we need they are grateful. We all want to be helpful and have a little superhero moment. Give those around you that opportunity. Let them know where they can swoop in and Save the Day. 

 

To sum it up: Instead of watching an admittedly hilarious 60-minute TV show, dedicate 20 minutes to your own needs (stretch & hold space).

And then go to bed. Immediately to bed. No sweeping. No folding of things. Do not pass Go. I’m quoting board games now which means maybe I need a bit of sleep, too?

And if even reading this gives you a headache because you are so far from being able to take care of yourself right now (trust me, I’ve been there,) then ask for help. People want to help you.

 

I hope hearing this helps you find a way to feel a little bit healthier and happier. 

 

If it did, let me know which of these mental-health prompts did you need to hear today? Maybe you didn’t realize it until you read it. Comment and let me know so I can ask more parents.

 

Have a friend who might need to hear one these tips for the good of themselves and their household? Forward this their way and have your own Save the Day moment.

 

AND – here’s a fun thing. Are you wondering what the best bedtime routine is for you and your baby? Take this QUIZ I put together to find out.

And maybe your friends need a little bedtime help? Send them this link and maybe they’ll thank you tomorrow morning 🙂

The Baby in Tune Bedtime Routine Quiz.

 

 

This song is magic

 

Dear in tune parent,

If you have taken my class you know the soothing song and probably use it quite a bit. It works, and you’ve told me it can be a life saver.

 

But today I’m  not talking about the soothing song to get you though the tough moments. This song is even more special than that. Read on, friend.

 

Here’s the scenario: Last weekend, we went on a camping trip with friends and family. A minor tragedy happened when a rock got thrown at my daughter’s face, right by her eye.

 

As you can imagine, she immediately turned into a puddle of tears. The blood, the shock, the pain, the fear. So we hugged, we examined we made sure no major harm was done. 

 

And right then, I knew I needed to pull out my most powerful soothing tool. It goes beyond the hugs and the kisses.

 

It’s probably obvious by now – knowing me – that it was a song. But not the one you think it was.

 

It’s NOT a soothing song.

 

It’s OUR SONG – a song that’s just for me and my child. 

 

You know that song for you and your partner that makes you melt and say “That’s our song!” You need one of those for you and your son or daughter. 

 

How to find YOUR SONG

 

To set up your most powerful soothing tool, choose a song that you associate with feeling happy and connected. For me and my daughter, it is “You Are My Sunshine.”

 

Find moments to sing it in which you are both content and present. Perhaps in the morning, during bath, as you are walking with the carrier or just playing on the floor. Sing the song often so that it encapsulates the joy of being together. 

 

That moment for us is in the shower. Since my daughter was a baby, I have been singing “You Are My Sunshine” to her as I hold her and she rests her head on my shoulder, while we feel the warm water hitting our heads and shoulders.

 

Those moments are precious to us both. We both feel relaxed and soothed by the water and feel connected and peaceful together.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The more you do this something magical will happen.

 

Since that song will be associated with PEACEFUL moments, it will be waiting to help you when you need to soothe your baby. 

 

It is your most powerful tool so use it sparingly.

 

I suggest using it only when you really need it so that it keeps its place in your hearts as a fully positive experience. If you use it for soothing too much, then it will turn into something else a bit.

 

BUT for those moments when you need it most, it will be waiting for you.

  

So back to our day by the lake. The reason the song worked to soothe her was not just because music is soothing and I was rocking her to the rhythm of the song.

 

Even more than that, it worked because we both associate that song with feeling happy, connected, calm, warm, and alone together in a bubble.

 

As I sang it to her by the lake, it elicited all of those feelings and that’s what truly soothed her.

 

Music has the power to tap into our deepest bonds — if we let it. 

 

So now tell me: What song makes you feel happy and connected? Do you already have YOUR song? If so, share which one it is! We need inspiration. COMMENT BELOW.

 

Now that you know how to find your song, what moments of the day do you plan to sing it to your child and strengthen your connection? COMMENT BELOW.

 

AND – here’s a fun thing. Are you wondering what the best bedtime routine is for you and your baby? Take this QUIZ I put together to find out.

 

And maybe your friends need a little bedtime help? Send them this link and maybe they’ll thank you tomorrow morning 🙂

 

www.babyintune.com/quiz

 

 

Ready? Let’s tackle tantrums

Dear tuned-in parents,

To begin today’s Tuesday Tune-In, I want to tell you how my morning went. Spoiler: It has nothing to do with music and everything to do with tantrums – a parent’s least favorite sound.

Everything was normal to start. I gave the kids morning hugs – my eldest on the couch, my other son on the floor playing and my daughter in her bed. All was well.

And then something flipped.
Peaceful lapping waves raged into a storm and, yes, a tantrum was brewing.

Listen: Toddler tantrums are not all that different from school-age tantrums. They can look a bit different, with more reasoning available, but they take shape a lot like a toddler kicking and screaming on the floor.

The details are never the important part. Suffice it to say that my son was not getting what he wanted. And I was not prepared to budge in that particular moment. Yelling, door slamming, and aggression, too. And then he found a way to exert his ultimate control -A hunger strike.

So what do we do? Both with our toddlers and with our older kids?

Here’s the simple answer: We give them space to have the tantrum.

Pause for a moment. Let’s consider what this means. I don’t mean we watch them having the tantrum and wait for it to end while we boil inside. I mean we truly give them the space to express their emotions in the only way they can at that moment.

After we’ve tried to reason, emphasize and help; we need to accept.

It helps to remember that tantrums are appropriate.

Our kids are desperately trying to understand how much control they have and where the boundaries are.

They are looking to us to hold up limits so that they can feel safer. They want to know that not everything is possible and that we, their caregivers, will keep them safe.

I always think of the image of a pantomime.
You know how they walk around doing that move with their hands pretending there’s a glass wall. That’s what our babies are doing. Constantly asking: Is this where the wall is?

Parenting educator Janet Lansbury has a way to understand types of tantrums that really resonated with me.

She talks about three types of tantrums for toddlers in her work but I find it fully applicable to even my ten-year-old.

(Because you are all awesome you answered my call for pics of tantrums and delivered big time. So these three types will be accompanied by some real life visuals ala the Tune-iverse.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Three Types of Tantrums

1. Unarticulated Basic Needs

Overview: The toddler wants something like food water or sleep, but because he is not fully articulate and does not always know to ask for things, he gets to the point where it is too late and now he’s been pushed over the edge. He is too hungry or tired.

Response: In those moments, we empathise and try to give them what they need.

We could say something like: “Wow. I see that you were really hungry and it was hard for you to tell me that.”

I don’t know about you but my big kids definitely get to that point as well – and they can speak just fine.

In this situation, we can try to stay calm by reminding ourselves that it is totally natural for our kids to behave this way when they are in this state.

Of course, we can try to preempt it but every now and then we’ve got places to get to and other kids to tend to and we’re not always able to do that.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2. Unreasonable Wants

Overview: The toddler is in a tantrum where the demands are unreasonable. Perhaps the toddler is trying to break out of the tantrum but is not succeeding. That’s when your toddler wants a particular cup and when you bring it he throws it away and wants a different cup.

Response: In those moments, Lansbury suggests that we breathe and we take care of ourselves. We need to trust that the tantrum needs to happen right now. Our job during the tantrum is to keep our baby safe.

These storms pass when we allow them and when we don’t push back on it or try to fix it. Easier said than done I know.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3. Power Assertions

Overview: This is when we’re setting a limit or we’re saying no to something that we feel is important – whether it’s a safety, educational or health reason. (this is where I was at this morning.)

Response: We stick to our limits during these tantrums.

The important part is not to change our minds because we feel uncomfortable with the screaming and crying.

When we do that we can make them feel that their feelings scare us in some way. We give them the message that we will rescue them from these difficult feelings. In doing that, we teach them that if they push those down, then the boundary might move.

If we can keep our limits and show our children that it is ok to have feelings around it, then we teach them that we think they are safe there.

The bottom line with each of these types of tantrums?
We, as caregivers, need to know that is okay for kids to have them.

It’s okay for them to have difficult emotions. The more we can allow space for it without trying to fix it the more our children will know that it is perfectly safe to have those emotions.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So what happened with my son?

When I picked him up from school, he ran over and gave me a big hug. We embraced for a while.

I said, ”We didn’t get to say goodbye properly.” He said, ”I know. And I regretted it all day.” (Isn’t nice that he is old enough to say that? It is in your future!)

I told him that it is ok that he got angry at me. That I just wanted him to be safe.

We agreed that next time we would try to say goodbye in a nicer way no matter what, even if we are still angry and may need to continue to work it out later.

I told him the bottom line: ‘I love you so much no matter how angry you get, how many doors you slam, and despite the sandwich you left at home.

But let’s work on expressing your anger in a more productive way before you turn into the hulk.’

So you tell me – Do these types resonate with you? which one of them have you survived recently ?

Comment so we can all work through one of the toughest parts of parenting together.

Know anyone struggling with responding to tantrums? Send them this hunger-strike story so they feel less alone. Power to the parents.


Wish your friend was getting these weekly words of wisdom? Send them this link so they can sign up:


[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Your music is within you. Your baby wants to hear it.

Dear tunies,

Today’s post is a reminder to you that – even though it might not always seem this way – your music is within you. Now let’s figure out how to get it out.

Why? Because your baby wants to hear it. Pinky swear.

 

It might surprise you to hear this but I didn’t sing immediately with my first baby.  As someone who teaches parents how to use music with their babies, I imagine you think I sang with my baby from Day One.

Perhaps you imagine me as Julie Andrews, walking around the house dancing and smiling while caring for my calm baby.

 

Well, guess what? For a while after I had my first baby, I didn’t sing a note.

 

I distinctly remember sitting on the bed with two breast pumps attached to me, feeling tired, frustrated, irritable and like a milk machine. We had trouble with the latch, which meant that I did a lot of pumping and when I tried to feed I was in excruciating pain.

 

I remember looking over to see my husband giving our baby a bottle. He sang a sweet song while he did it rocking gently. When the baby was done drinking, my husband picked him up and sang as he walked around the house trying to get him to burp.

 

Here I was, reduced to the most basic bodily function (that barely functioned) while my husband seemed to be sitting on a private magical cloud with our baby.

 

It was the sweetest scene. And it pissed me off.

 

It took me a while for my music to come out of me with my baby.

 

It’s surprising, I know. But it’s true. So, if you haven’t found your music yet with your baby, then I know how you feel. And I have faith that you will. Even now, I lose my music with my kids every now and then. That’s when you can find me walking around doing tasks far away from rainbows and sparkles.

Sing With Me onesie (Baby in Tune)

 

So how do we find the music within us?

  1. Give it time.

As I watched my husband with my baby, I needed to know that I, too, would find my music with my son in my own time.

 

  1. Connect to music that holds the most emotion for YOU.

Usually, that’s music you heard when you were a little younger – whether it’s from college, high school, grade school or younger. The music that holds emotion for us will reconnect us to the music that’s within us.

 

  1. Start small and hum

Try humming softly to your baby. Maybe it’s a lullaby, a song that you love, or a song that you’re making up. Noone else needs to hear.

 

  1. Notice the effect it has on your baby.

One day, I found that every time I started to sing with my daughter she immediately started to sing along. Even if she didn’t know the song or the lyrics, she sang along with me as if she did. She just wanted to sing with me. She didn’t care what.

 

  1. Breathe deeply and use your full voice.

We try not to sing with that small insecure part of our voice that has listened to judgments from the past because that will make our body tense up even more. Now things are different. We have an unconditionally loving audience. Now we sing from our belly.

 

  1. Put on music during moments we would normally forget to enjoy.

Like washing dishes, making dinner, soothing our baby, or cleaning the house. You may already be putting music on during moments you love, like morning or bathtime. But we need to remember to locate our music during those moments that we go a little zombie, too. That will remind us that music enlivens us.

 

  1. Channel YOUR own inner Julie Andrews.

Try crooning in the shower or skipping to get a diaper while singing with a sly smile. Find the free and playful part of our voice because you’ll realize that now is the time not only to find your own music but to show your baby that she can find hers, too.

 

  1. Take music classes with your baby & be reminded to sing together.

We can learn how best to use our voice and which rhythms our baby responds to in class. In this space, it’s easy to watch your baby respond naturally to the music. (I won’t say which I think is best for this exact task…)

 

  1. Bring the music to your partner.

We imagine a day when the whole family will be sitting in the car singing a song together. Even though it’s in the future we can almost see it as a memory we cherish. Make it real by sharing your playlist with your partner today.

 

Believe me: You have inner music.  It’s there. For all of us. Even if sometimes it feels like it’s not. It’s not silly to try these one at a time. Enjoy the experiment and I think you’ll surprise yourself when you start to find your groove.

 

What brings out your inner music most for you? Is it when you’re cooking, showering, lullabying or something else? Comment and share your experience. Was it like mine or completely different?

 

Know a parent with inner music? That was a trick question: Everyone has it. But it may take a little nudge to find it. So send this post to them all!

 

 

Yes! Please send me more of the Tuesday Tune-In!


[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

What second-child guilt is really masking

Tunesters-

I’m going to say it right out: We didn’t give the second kid as much attention as we gave the first. But read on. I don’t think it’s such a bad thing.

 

For those of you who already have a second child, you might know this firsthand.

For those of you who are thinking about another baby (and are worried about exactly this), you are right to be concerned.

 

In our generation, we have babies pretty late in life. What that means is that we’ve had quite a bit of time in our lives to cultivate the alpha parts of our personality. We got used to being in control and having things done the way we want them. And then a baby comes along and we take it on like a project. We pour our energy into it in ways that our parents never did. And it’s not until the second comes along that we realize one big truth…

Our babies actually don’t need us to do much.

They need us to keep them healthy; create a loving environment for them to explore; and teach them how to be safe.

Figuring this out comes with a mild case of guilt.

 

We feel guilty that we haven’t given them as much as we did to our first. As we watch our second child thrive and surprise us with every song they sing, every scooter ride they conquer and every glass of water that they get all alone by pulling the chair to the sink; we torture ourselves that we didn’t give them enough attention.

 

But did our baby need us – or did we need to be needed?

 

What our guilt is masking is our surprise (again and again) at how little we are needed. It doesn’t feel good not to be needed and so we need to mourn that. Again and again.

 

Here’s how that guilt/surprise/mourning unfolded for me:

 

With my eldest, I convinced myself that I was extremely needed.

 

Tell me if this sounds familiar. With my first kid , I more or less followed the rules and so did my kid. As a baby, he had a schedule. As a toddler, he only ate healthy stuff and his pajama tops and bottoms always matched. I played with him on the rug for hours. I held on to certain structures and routines like they were a life vest thrown out to a drowning mama at sea. It was my way to make sense of the whole thing.

 

With my second, I couldn’t imagine how I would make it work.

 

I didn’t have the endless hours or the boundless patience. It wasn’t the same Mommy+Me life anymore. I couldn’t sit and watch him learn to roll – and then learn to get up on his knees and then learn to crawl and then walk. There was a toddler chanting “Mama” behind me.

 

Same thing when I would’ve wanted to sing to him – and play with him, teach him how to put wooden donuts on the stick. Seriously. I have a 5-minute video of my first struggling to get the red donut on the yellow thingy. Not only did I sit there filming it with more patience than Buddha, my friends and family watched it, too! (Lookout Netflix – it’s riveting.)

 

Let’s just say: I was used to putting all my energy into my first and in many ways I continued to do that. And the next thing I knew it, my second son started to roll, crawl, walk – and do so many things on his own.

 

That’s when I learned babies become independent – independently.

 

Your first teaches you a lot of things. A LOT. But your second teaches you different things:

He didn’t need me to show him how.

He didn’t fuss until I cheered him on.

He didn’t even wait until I was near him for each attempt at something new.

 

For all I knew, he sat alone and did those donuts until he had every one on. I don’t have a video to prove it but it definitely happened at some point. And I learned, with some guilt and some self work, that being needed gives me purpose but being their foundation gives them wings. And there’s nothing to feel guilty about when it comes to that.

Easy to say, right? How has second-child guilt manifested for you? Comment here whether it’s overcompensating on the weekends or taking it out on your workouts.

 

Know a friend thinking about a second? Or one dealing with attention-balancing act of having two? Forward them this blog because so they know every there’s something good to come of it.

 

And if you’re wondering whether I wrote a song about all this, in fact I did. It’s called Little Bird and is on my album about siblings – “Songs for Sisters and Brothers.”

 

Yes! Please send me more of the Tuesday Tune-In!

I bet I know your baby’s first word (& here’s why)

Hi, you! I see you doing the hard work of prioritizing tuning into your baby. With all the time you spend down on the floor with her gazing at her tiny lips and toes, you’ve probably cherished some of her tiny sounds, too. These tiny sounds turn into big babbles (and eventually, yes, demands for bananas or croissants).

That’s why I’ve dedicated this Tuesday Tune-In to taking a closer look at how babies learn to speak and what we can do to encourage it even more.

 

The short version? Add more music to your speech.

 

Now let’s figure out how to do that.

 

Breaking down language

Basically language is culturally agreed-upon sounds that symbolize concepts. An intricate part of these sounds is the syncopation and melody of them.

 

For instance: Think about how you say the word “computer.” We instinctively use this word all the time but we don’t think about all the musical elements but go into it. We put stress on the second syllable of the word. This creates a kind of melody. We start with a low note; we go up to a higher note; and we end on a note that is lower than the first. We also syncopate this word. Meaning we hold slightly longer on the middle syllable.

 

With our babies, we are even more musical with our speech.

 

It’s called parentese, baby.

Or motherese, depending on who you talk to. What is it? It’s how caregivers across cultures speak to their babies in a certain sing-songy speech that is reserved for their baby.

 

Don’t think you do it? Think again.

 

Parentese is a reality – even if we promised ourselves we would never use that high-pitched voice before we had kids, we still do it. That’s because when we use higher pitches in speech to our baby they become more alert and engaged. In fact, we often do it in the shape of a bell curve. We start lower go up higher and come back down. Think about how you might say “Hi” to your baby. It probably isn’t a deadpan “Hi.” It probably follows the shape mentioned above: “hiiiIIIiiii.”

 

Do you greet your partner when they come in the door like that? Hell no. But you do when you see your baby after not seeing her for a while.

 

Similarly, when we soothe our babies we are also sing-songy. Our voice tends to fall. It starts higher and goes slower. Think of how you say, “It’s okay.” Now think of that voice you use when you are pissed at your kid. That’s when we use a flat tone. Kind of robot like. As if to say, “I mean business kid.”

 

Words with melody are easier to learn

Speaking in our sing-songy way doesn’t only helps our babies be more engaged. It also helps our babies learn words faster than they might if we spoke to them the way we speak with other adults.

 

Case in point:  My daughter’s first word was “Diaper.” That’s because whenever I said it I always started low and ended on a higher note. Think of the “die” in a low voice, and the “per” in almost a squeaky voice. I didn’t do it intentionally.  It just came out that way every time I said “Should we go find your diaper?” or “Do we need to change your diaper?” it probably had a lot to do with the fact that I usually said it in the form of a question.

 

When she first said the word, she didn’t say it with the correct consonants. She first said it with the correct melody. In fact she even said, “ba ba?” I knew she was saying diaper because she used the same tones even if she didn’t use the same consonants.

 

My son’s first word was “Uh oh.” Same thing there. We tend to sing “Uh oh.” We start on a higher note and end on a lower note. It’s part of our language to sing that word.

 

Our babies, first and foremost, pick up on the musicality of language, according to a 2012 psychology report. There are a few reasons for this. First, it repeats in the the same way every time. Because we say “Uh oh” in the same melody each time, our babies can latch onto it and practice it. Second: Our babies are tuned in to dynamics. They are looking for contrast in melody and become more alert when we are more musical with our speech.

 

So what can we do to help our babies along with language acquisition? A few things:

 

 

How to encourage language acquisition

 

  1. Keep doing what you’re doing. And talking how you’re talking.

You are already speaking to your baby in a sing songy way without even realizing it. Now that you are aware of it, you can accentuate that even more. You can also feel proud that you are tuned in to what your baby needs from you.

 

  1. Reduce some of your sentences to one-or two-word sentences.

This will help your baby pick up on the melody of the words without complicating it with the whole sentence. For instance: You can say: “Eat food?” or just “Food?” when you are about to give your baby food  or “Stroller” when you are about to put them into the stroller.

 

  1. Use the same melody for certain words.

For many words, you are already doing this. Notice those. For some words you might be changing the melody of each time, see if you can decide on one melody and stick with it for a while. For instance, with the word “Bottle”.

 

 

This week, notice how your baby is tuned into music even when we think that there isn’t music involved. Like little musicians, their ears are picking up on subtle shifts in our melody.

 

See? You might already be singing much more than you think.

 

Tell me: Was your baby’s first word something you said a certain way? If your baby doesn’t talk yet, what word do you think might be their first based on how you say it? Comment below and let’s see what tops “Uh oh” and “Diaper”!

 

Know a parent who can’t help speak in parentese? Or one that swore not to? Send them both this blog! Tell them to sign up for more great tips below.

Yes! Please send me more of the Tuesday Tune-In!

When you feel distant from your kid, do THIS

Dear Tunester,

This week’s post is a super simple strategy for tuning in that you can try out immediately. Like right now. It’s fun; it’s easy; and it a superpower:

This game can repair a temporarily broken relationship with your child.

 

Every now and then I feel like one of my kids drifts away from me a bit. Sometimes it’s because he or she is going through a rough patch and is acting out more than usual. Other times it’s because the others needed more attention during that period. Or maybe it’s because I have been busier than normal and somehow that kid got lost in the shuffle.

 

For instance:
Currently, my eldest seems to be more aggressive with his siblings and more defiant toward me. Connecting with him is more of a struggle while connecting with the others comes more easily and more naturally at the moment.

Last month, it was my middle who seemed to constantly be on the edge of a tantrum. I found myself keeping my distance a bit from him, not wanting to set him off.

 

Our relationships with our kids ebb and flow just like the ones we have with our partners, friends and family members.

But when it comes to our kids, it’s up to US to notice the rift as quickly as we can and make an effort to repair it. That said, it’s not always easy to be the grown up.

When I am in this state, I need a jumpstart for the process of repair.

 

That’s when I play the “Why I Love You” Game.

It’s pretty simple. Ok, here goes:

  1. Say to your child, ”Let’s play a game. Let’s take turns saying to the other person why we love each other. I’ll start.”
  2. Say things that are very specific to your child’s personality. Use sentences that begin with “I love you because … “ or “I love how you …”.Examples:
      • “I love you because you laugh at little things that sometimes annoy me at first but then I see you laughing and I realize it is funny.”
      • “I love you because get very excited about what you are learning at school and you love to share it with me.”
      • “I love how you make up silly songs. They are so funny!”
      • “I love you because you try to find ways to help people around you.”
      • “I love you because you always give me the biggest warmest hugs before bed.”
      • “I love how you build things and you get so involved in your creations.”

Now imagine that you are in one of those difficult periods with your kid when it is harder to think of these positive things. Your rough patch is so rough right now that you can only think of reasons why he or she is driving you crazy. Don’t worry. It is ok. We have all been there at one point or another. It just means you have to look past the provocative behavior and pinpoint the charming ones.

Examples:

      • “I love how after you get very angry about something you always come back to me and find a way to give me a hug.”
      • “I love how when you feel overtired or overstimulated you know that you need to find time to be alone and read.”

 

What are they saying meanwhile? It doesn’t even matter.

They might even surprise you. They might be more perceptive than you think. They might just make your day with the reasons they love you.

Reminding each other of your love can be the first step toward reconciliation or reconnection.

In fact, we should all go around doing this to the people we love ALL THE TIME.

 

You know why I love you all?

I love you because you take the time to read what is important to me.
I love how you trust me to make music for your family.
And I love you because you share your most precious relationship with me – the one with your babies.

 

Have a thousand reasons you want to write down before you forget? Comment here with what you’ll tell your child tonight.

Have a friend who’s been in a rift with their child? Forward them this email and let them know sometimes a parent and child are only one game away from reconnecting.

How to reclaim your routine (Hint: music)

Dear Tunesters,

I hate to say it but it’s time for us to get back to work. The summer has been a blast. We can still taste sticky melted ice cream on our fingers, feel the salt in our hair and see the rosy glow on our cheeks.

As wonderful as it was, if you are like me, you are also saying “Thank goodness” for the return of our good-ole dependable routine. The kids go back to school and the hustle bustle reignites. It’s a new day. Now we find ways to create the structure once again. (Hopefully, with a few s’mores along the way, too.) Luckily there’s a way to do all this that works wonders and makes it pretty fun …

You guessed it: Music.

If you achieved the summer task of daily sunscreen on your child’s every appendage (it’s almost over!) then you can check these post-summer tasks off with the same finesse as finding a crumpled up sunhat at the bottom of the family tote with one hand while drinking iced tea with the other. See. I get it. Ok, here we go:

 

Post-Summer Task #1: Reclaim bedtime.

How do you do that? Let your lullaby work the magic. Use it for all naps and bedtime. This goes for very little babies and kids. I suggest you do it until your kid finally says no more. (For me, that happened around 8 years old.) If you’ve been in my classes, then you know that I highly encourage you all to use a consistent lullaby. The reason is: Our babies will eventually associate the sound of the lullaby with falling asleep.

Think of Pavlov’s dogs in Psychology 101. Do you remember? Pavlov rang the bells and the dogs came in ate. He rang again and the dogs ate. Eventually, he rang the bells and the dogs salivated at just the sound of the bell. They associated the sound with food.

That’s exactly how it is with our babies.

The more consistent you are with your lullaby, the more your baby will associate the song with falling asleep. It works. Many parents in my groups will tell you that their babies rub their eyes or yawn when they hear the lullaby. The song elicits a physical reaction. It also elicits a mental reaction: the baby hears the song and is more mentally prepared to be put to bed.

 

Post-Summer Task #2: Reclaim bathtime.

I know its been all over the place. You get home late. You skip it. You’ve done most of your showering during the day after pool or beach. But now it’s time to bring it back home. This could be before or after their dinner. In order to help you and baby structure bathtime, find your song. Similar to the lullaby, your song will help your baby prepare physically and mentally.

What song do you use? Maybe it’s my song “Bathtime”. Maybe it’s “Rubber Ducky” or “Splish Splash“. Or maybe it’s a song that you made up with your baby? Whatever it is, start to sing it as you are undressing your baby.

That way your baby will know that bathtime is around the corner. It won’t be as surprising when your baby is submerged in water. And, on top of that, it will help you start to mentally prepare, as well. The more you sing your song for bathtime, the more it will be associated with fun and play in the water.

Post-Summer Task #3: Reclaim morning.

This is a big one for me. During the summer, our mornings get smeared into the whole first part of the day. It’s lovely and relaxing but now that it’s time to be productive and get out the door early, I’m not quite prepared. For this, you can use music in two ways.

First, it is so nice to have a morning song with your baby. A good morning song will help your baby know that that it is morning as opposed to 3 a.m. Sing it as you are still in the dark room, as you are walking out into the light and the chaos.

Next, find a playlist that energizes you but is also somewhat gentle. Playing some morning tunes can really change the tone of our day.

 

Post-Summer Task #4: Prepare for the witching hour.

During the summer, we rolled with it. The witching hour happened and sometimes we were prepared and sometimes we weren’t. Sometimes the grandparents took the baby off our hands and sometimes we were able to put the baby to sleep in the stroller while we were out. Now it’s time to get back to business. If you know the witching hour is coming, then you’ll be ahead of the game. The best way to deal with it is to have a playlist for it.

Maybe even a few go-to songs. If you are at the winding-down phase, then you might need classical. If you are still working but are heading to wind-down, then you might want to play vocal jazz. In dinner-making phase? I always turn to Motown.

 

Here’s a perfect song for September

 

As you transition, be patient with yourself, ok? I never do this so I am telling myself this as much to me as I am to you.

It takes a minute for us to get back into the swing. I often jump into things full force and then have some pieces to pick up down the road.

My kids have different speeds than I do and they need me to help them ease into the transition, as well. They usually need much more support during September. In order to give them what they need, I need to be patient and almost think of the whole month as a ramp back into the swing. Yep, the whole month. After all, it’s still summer until the first day of fall on Sept. 23. Remember that when things are still murky and parent-teacher conferences have already happened. I know I will!

What other tasks do you do to get back in the swing of things? What rituals do you create to make routine feel fun? Comment below because we want to know.

Know any summer-loving freewheelers who never want the flex life to end? Help them ease back into the calendared life and send them this blog. It’s doable. I promise.

 

BONUS! I am leave you with some stellar September songs:

Agnes Obel – September Song

Sarah Vaughan – September Song

Earth Wind and Fire – September

  •  


Yes! Please send me more of the Tuesday Tune-In!

 

Your Labor Day Weekend survival guide

My Dear Tune-iverse,

Any plans to share a summer house with family or friends this weekend?

Our intentions are so well meaning when we make plans to get all our favorite people under one roof. Sure, there are differences in what people eat and don’t eat or what music they like or don’t – but the bigger adjustment is how to handle living with other families when you have completely different habits, routines and boundaries.

Do you ever think, “It’s too hard! We Just won’t go!”?

For me, that’s not an option. I love being with my family – as hard as it can sometimes be.

After many summers of grappling with other families’ routines and my own, I’ve figured a few ways to make the most our of shared summer living.

You see, every summer we spend a few weeks at my aunt’s beach house with my extended family. I especially love the joy that my kids get out of being with their cousins. For most of the day, we don’t even see the kids because they are playing together.

At full capacity, there are 17 kids and 15 adults. Eek! The house is big – but not that big. The kids sleep together in bunk beds and the grown-ups find their own corners. As you can imagine, meals are chaotic. We’ve found that the best (well, really the only) way is to feed the kids first and then send them to watch a movie while the grown-ups have a peaceful meal.

So here are some tips I’ve come up with over the years on how to make the most of shared summer living

 

1. FUN.
I won’t go into all my ideas here because you can find them in past blogs, But the point is, fun makes all the other conflict that might come up worth it. And my suggestion for fun? Make it musical. So to start check out this post that gives you 5 Musical Family Acitivities. My favorite is KARAOKE!! All you need to do is buy a simple microphone with a small speaker. That’s it! Becauese the rest can come from your laptop or computer or TV if it is hooked up to YouTube. Just type in Karaoke for your favorite songs.

 

2. Pick your battles.
When my first son was born and we would come to the beach house, Froot Loops seemed to me like the food of the devil. To that same thinking, the kitchen seemed to be made out of cakes and cookies alone and the other kids were on much different schedules then my own.

With the years, I’ve softened. Maybe I realized it was a losing battle but, more than that, I just realized it didn’t really matter. I learned to separate between the rules that we have at home and the rules that we have when we are with the family.

Not to say that everything goes smoothly. This year, I need to figure out my screen policy for the kids, who forever seem to be complaining that everyone else gets to watch more.

The bottom line is that I let go of many of our rules when I’m at the beach house. So they may eat less healthy, watch a bit more and go to sleep later. But what they gain is fun with their cousins, time on the beach, communal living and the stuff that makes up our best memories.

 

3. Let the kids work it out.
For the most part, we try to stay out of the kids’ conflicts. Even for the little ones, we believe that they can work it out. With family and close friends, that is an option that doesn’t exist on the playground.

There is a deep knowledge that we’re staying together no matter what. No matter how angry they get at each other, they will still be living with each other next summer and the summer after, etc. That is an important lesson for them. Of course, if the conflict is really challenging and they need us to intervene, we do.

 

4. Model the behavior.
It’s important to remember that the kids are watching us at all times. They’re watching how we handle our own family conflicts. They want to know how we deal with it when our boundaries are infiltrated.

When you’re living in a house with others, that can happen almost daily. It’s our job to show our kids but there’s a balance to strike between maintaining our boundaries and also softening them when we are in a particular situation like this.

 

5. Find your space.
For me, the most important thing to do on these weekends is to make sure I go on a nice long walk on my own. It keeps me grounded and reminds me of who I am. It is so easy to regress into old behaviors and thought patterns when we are with our family, both because we may be seen as the child we once were and because we revert to old dynamics.

The way to make sure that doesn’t happen is to take your space. For me, a walk by the ocean is the perfect cure.

 

6. Find Connection.

What keeps us coming back to be together are the moments of connection that we find with each other. But with a full house of people pulling in many directions that might not be an easy feat. It makes all the difference to grab a friend, sibling or a cousin for a quiet hang away from the chaos.

 

7. Turn on the music!

You’re making dinner, there’s tension in the air – who hates onions in their salad? who is gluten free? who is going to do all of these dishes? And you know what makes it all better?

Turn on the tunes. Sometimes we forget to do this simple move that changes everything.

Put on the music that will get everyone singing and moving their hips. Stevie Wonder? Queen? Beyonce? Figure out what it is for your family and go nuts.

8. Have gratitude.
This might be the most important one. The fact is this – Froot Loops or no Froot Loops – none of it matters.

What matters is that we get to share a living space with people we love and people who care about us and our kids.

During the year, we get caught in our own little bubbles. It’s no longer a village who takes care of our kids. Mostly, we somehow work it out on our own or with hired help. But these moments when we are able to feel the village are everything.

When you feel overwhelmed – like you just can’t make another meal, or fold another towel, or bend another rule – remember to breathe deep and think of what you are grateful for. It might just be the people around you.

IMG_5480

How about you – how do you deal with alot of different ways of doing things under one roof?

Do you stick to your ground? Do you give in on certain things? Which ones?

COMMENT below and let me know!

 

Do you have a friend who is spending this weekend with family in close quarters? Be a good friend. Send them this for some encouragement.
Yes! Please send me more of the Tuesday Tune-In!

You can’t stop time. But you can do this

Dear Tunester aka Parent in Tune,

In today’s Tuesday Tune-In, I’m going to share what we can do when we feel like time’s rushing by so fast and our babies are changing and growing in a way that’s equally exciting and heartbreaking.

I mean, I know time doesn’t go by fast when you’re not sleeping and you just want a good night’s rest, or when you’re stuck inside of the house during winter for One More Lonely Day with your baby and kids, or when you are sick and still need to take care of your kids.

But summer is just a nostalgic season. Everything about it feels like the sweetest ice cream cone that melts just too fast.

It makes me ever so acutely aware that my kids are growing. FAST.

 

I remember first feeling this when my eldest was a few months old. Already then, I knew that as difficult as that time was, I would one day look back on it and yearn for the simplicity of us lying side-by-side on the bed, quietly watching the way the sun moved across the wall.
Now again I notice it years later – looking back on the blur of early parenthood.
If you follow me on Instagram, you have probably noticed that I’ve got major baby fever. Partly It has to do with the fact that I’m aging out. My body is giving out one more primal plea to do what it was meant to do: procreate.
Believe me; I know what you’re thinking. You are so in it and you can’t imagine craving to hold a baby. I couldn’t believe it when my aunt said she wanted to take care of our baby for an afternoon. But here I am. My youngest is 4 and a half. She just got over the hump of being a toddler and doesn’t feel like a baby anymore. Her sentences are detailed and involved, she remembers more than I do about what we did or what we will be doing and she seems to be able to read my mind more than ever.
So here’s what I’ve come up with regarding what to do in these moment. But I want to hear your ideas in the comments.

What To Do When Baby is Growing at Lightspeed

  1. Breath deep.
    The only way to combat the feeling that time is moving too fast is to make sure that we are fully in the present. And in order to do that we need to breathe deep, and take a moment to be aware of our breath. And to bring it home for myself, while I’m breathing out I say something quietly to myself like- “I am with you.” It’s not because I don’t want to be with them but for some reason I’m just not always fully present.
  2. Say “Yes” at least 50% of the time.
    When you are at the playground and your son asks you to play basketball, at least half the time try to say, ”Yes.” And when you are at home and your daughter asks you to jump on the bed with her or play family, at least half the time try to say, “Yes.”Because, in the end, those moments will be the ones that you will remember. Those will also be your kids’ favorite moments of the day.We can’t do it all the time, but when you do try to really enjoy it. Be in the game. Make it interesting for yourself. Make it funny for yourself and for your child. It may only be a few minutes of play but if you do them with your entire self – body, mind, heart, they will be powerful moments.
  3. Play my song “One Day.”
    I wrote this song to capture this bittersweet feeling. Since then, even though my kids are older now, I get emotional every. single. time. I sing it. And it seems to hit the spot for others as well because there is always at least one other person who is tearful by the end of the song. Sometimes we need to validate the feeling. Let it be acknowledged for the pain and beauty it holds. I hope this song can do that for you, too.

mama looking at alona
Feel it.
Feel it all.
And know this: The more time I’m a parent, the more I realize that beyond the basic stuff like keeping our kids healthy and safe and creating an environment in which they can explore; our job is actually one more thing.

Our job as parents is for US to enjoy our children the most we possibly can.

We think that our job is more complicated than that. But the more we truly give ourselves to enjoyment with them, the more they get all the benefits we want them to have. So do your best to enjoy all of the fun moments, to create the fun moments, and even to enjoy all of the conflicted feelings that you might be having too.
Squeeze that moment for what it’s worth

And here’s the song to bring it home!

 

When you last felt the sting of time passing, where were you or what were you doing? Changing a diaper or watching graduation? Comment below with us all, who share in your grief and your glory.

 

Know someone who’s little one just had a growth spurt? Forward them this post and give them some ways to deal with the existential moment.

 

Yes! Please send me more of the Tuesday Tune-In!

What are your 3 things?

This Tuesday Tune-In is short and sweet – and the point of it is to hear from you at the end.

Recently, while listening to a podcast I love called “Magic Lessons,” I heard a quote that I’ve been thinking about a lot by playwright/performer Sarah Jones:

“What if joy is my only metric for success?”

Pause for a moment. Think about this. Why does success often mean something different for us?

If we said this quote to little kids who haven’t yet felt consumed by competition, then they would say, ”Duh.” For them, the sign of a good day is a fun day. They would give huge extra bonus points to a day if it involved giggles with us.

But what do we consider to be a sign of success? I’m not asking about happiness, rather success. It’s complicated for each of us. But often it has to do with money, freedom, acclaim, fame, property, nice things and nice vacations.

That said, I have a feeling that every single one of you just read that quote above and thought to yourself, “Yeah. That sounds much more accurate than any other concept of success.”

So let’s go with this idea for a moment and follow through. If JOY is our metric of success than what brings us joy?

Here’s the good news: Joy is moment to moment. It’s more of a short-term plan than actualizing something in the long term. Because, the thing is, we can’t possibly know what will bring us joy in a year. We can only try to figure out what will bring us joy right now.

I’ve told you before that the Five-Minute Journal has made me hone in on what makes me happy. [Here’s my post on how to practice it.] Looking back at my journals, I realize that three things consistently keep coming up for me when I put down on paper what would make my day better.

My 3 Joyful Things:
1. Smiling.
2. Laughing.
3. Singing.

These are the things that I need to remind myself to do daily, especially when I am low, in order to make my day great. I want to smile more to strangers. I want to laugh more with my children and with those around me. I want to sing and play music either by myself or with others.

It doesn’t mean that those are the only things that have come up for me. I’ve had days when I remind myself to hug my kids or husband more. There are days when I remind myself to meditate, speak to a friend or family member, go dancing or read a book.

No matter what though, these are the three simple things that come up again and again for me on my list. Coming up with what these are for me has been helpful. I can give myself a daily reminder of what I need to put some effort into in order to feel more joy during my day.

I just asked my eldest what his three things are and he said:

My Son’s 3 Joyful Things:
1. Read
2. Have fun
3. Learn

So I ask you: What are your 3 Joyful Things? I would SO LOVE to hear what come up with in the comments below! Please share.

Is one of your joyful things being a support to friends? Then you’ll get joy from forwarding a fellow parent this newsletter!

 

Yes! Please send me more of the Tuesday Tune-In!

The Mozart effect. Is it a thing?

Okay, in-tune parents – Today I’ll be your mythbuster.

Does the Mozart effect really work? Is classical music actually better for your babies? Will it make them geniuses?

I’m going to do my best to dive into this question. Plus, as a special bonus, I have been working on a classical music playlist that is perfect for your babies. Listen via the  link at the bottom.

So the short answer to the question above is: NO.

BUT listening to classical music has been linked to plenty of brain benefits, including one big one. Keep reading to find out what …

Here’s some background: In 1993, a research study by three university professors discovered that children showed improve spatial reasoning when doing a pencil-and-paper maze task while listening to Mozart. However, the study has since been debunked. Others have found that the study was incomplete and the results inconclusive. So it’s not clear if classical music can make us smarter and it’s certainly not clear if it has to do with Mozart. In fact, one of the counter studies showed a similar effect when people listened to the band Blur. They called it “the blur effect.” (This makes me wonder: Is there a “Vered effect”?)

 

To recap: Research studies show that listening to classical music:

… does *not* tie to IQ.

… does tie to other benefits.

Note: For the most part, these were not tested on babies but we can infer that some of the same benefits will affect babies as well.

 

So what’s the upside of listening to Mozart and the like?

 

  1. It’s calms us..

Listeners have benefited from lower blood pressure, lower stress levels and less depression, according to research published in the Journal of Behavioral Medicine (2000) and XYZ. (Add links/sources.)

 

  1. It makes us emotional. 

This one is a big one for us parents. If our focus is on attachment and on developing unauthentic and engaged relationship with our babies, perhaps listening to classical music can help us do that. So it’s worth looking at the results of this study, which showed that when listeners heard classical music in the background their writing was more emotionally vulnerable.

 

  1. It helps us fall asleep.

Before bedtime, classical music has been shown to encourage rest in a 2008 study on nursing students.

 

  1. It helps our memories.

College students were shown to remember their lecture material better when they listened to the lecture with classical music playing in the background, according to this 2012 study. Again, the problem here is that we don’t know how much the students would remember if they had listened to, say, my music.

 

  1. It improves concentration.

Both mood and concentration improved among radiologists of a 2009 study when they listened to Baroque music in their reading rooms.

 

But here’s the catch-

While the studies above found these results with Classical music, they did not control with other types of music.

This study did. They showed that listening to Classical music reduced stress after doing an arithmetic task more than silence or Jazz.

 

So should you be turning on Bach instead of Bieber to make your baby smarter? Or Vivaldi instead of Vered? There is not enough evidence to say.

But we do know this: Children who PLAY music have improved hearing sensitivity. 

Just last year, researchers published a study that showed that children who learned to play piano were much more able to detect the sounds of consonants, vowels and pitch. This makes sense because learning an instrument involves so many skills – note reading, understanding a language and translating it to our movements and to the mechanics of the instrument we are playing.

Classical music tends to have more complex chord progressions and chord structures so playing it develops this skill even more than other types of music.

 

So how do we make sense of this and put this all together?

The more you listen to classical music at home, the more you will be familiarizing your baby with this music, and the more your baby will grow to love it.

Eventually when they’re old enough to play an instrument they might even gravitate toward one of those pieces.

And PLAYING classical music is definitely beneficial.

 

Of course that doesn’t mean you should turn off your other types of music. Variety will only benefit your little maestros.

 

Here is a little playlist to get you started. Keep in mind that I have a soft spot for saddish piano pieces, lone cellos, and fast moving guitars.

 

So tell me – have you felt calmed/vulnerable/sleepy/focused after listening to classical music? Comment here if you’ve experienced the proven results of this musical genre firsthand.

 

Do you know a parent who’s on the fence about playing classical music for baby? Forward them this email for the science behind it all.

 

17 roadtrip games to keep the peace

It’s summer! Let’s go somewhere. Wait. The dreaded road trip. What will we do with all those hours in that small air-conditioned space?

 

Whether you are traveling to the beach, to the country, to your hometown, or cross-country destinations you’re going to need some go-to activities for those moments when everyone is getting antsy in the car. This is a problem even snacks cannot solve. Believe me. I’ve tried.

 

We personally haven’t given in to using screens on the road yet and my goal is to keep it that way. But that means we need to have a lot of tricks up our sleeves.

 

Today, I’m sharing this trick list with you.

 

Keep it handy for when you need it most. Not all of these are musical but many are. Let’s break them down into categories:

 

For Babies:

I’ll start with the tiniest passengers because most of you have one on board. There is nothing worse than being stuck on a congested highway with hours ahead and having a crying baby in the back seat. For these games I am going to assume you are not the driver and can give it your full attention.

 

    1. Peekaboo – Grab a towel, a lovey, piece of paper, anything. Peekaboo is a game that can delight for hours. As you are playing it, notice the musicality of the game. Notice how your voice rises at the top to signify a moment of surprise when you say “Peekaboo!” or “There she is!”
      (For a song to use with this game try mine here).

 

    1. Seat dancing – Babies love to dance and move to the rhythm. Put on your favorite dance song and move their legs and arms around to the beat. Bend their legs, straighten them, move their arms around. Part of what makes the carseat so unbearable is the constriction. So help them move.

 

  • Hand gesture songs – Those who have taken my class know the why and the how of hand gesture songs. But basically, use dynamics, make big gestures, think of dancing with your hands, use facial expressions for extra credit. (Bikeride is a fave amongst parents in my classes.)

 

 

  • Puppets – Grab a puppet or really anything – even a shoe can be a puppet – and bring it to life. In fact, it may be even more fascinating for babies to see inanimate objects that don’t obviously have a face come to life. Have your puppet sing a song, do a dance, talk to your baby, and best of all – play hide and seek with your baby.

 

 

  • Books – when your baby is on the verge of tears she needs you to bring out your full book-game. What does that look like? Bring out the voices, the gestures, the facial expressions, the melodic reading. Slow down when the Hungry Caterpillar is eating to count each and every plum slowly.

 

 

  • Painters Tape – did you see my post about surviving a flight with a baby? If not check it out for more tips that would apply here too. Especially the painters tape trick. All you need is a role of it. Tear it up into pieces. Put it along your baby’s chair. Let your baby take them on and off and play with the stickiness. (Best to do this when you are next to your baby so she won’t put the tape in her mouth.)

 

For the older ones:

Speaking Games

 

  1. 20 questions – Reminder: This is when you are thinking of a person place or thing and the others need to guess what you’re thinking about. They can only ask questions that have a Yes or No answer. It’s fun to play this with kids and try to guess family members, friends or movie characters. What’s great about this game is that it teaches kids how to go from thinking in general terms to increasingly specific ones.

 

  1. I spy – My four year old can play this one for hours. Every time I think we might have exhausted objects with colors in the car, she finds something new or we switch it to thinking about something with the first letter blank.

 

  1. Who am I – We play this game a lot at home when we can act it out . It’s basically speaking or acting like someone and having people guess who it is.

 

  1. The association game – This one is not quite a traditional game. There’s no end result but instead there’s a never-ending association game that can be fascinating. We started playing it when my daughter would say something like, “I’m thinking of … a car.” And my husband would respond, “ … and I’m thinking of wheels.” Then she would say, “ … and I’m thinking of the street.” So basically each person is just free associating with what the person said right before. The tricky part of this game is to truly go with associations to the last word said, not with the topic itself. For instance, the word street might remind me of gum if I’m thinking about sticky gum stuck to the street. That would be disconnected from the car theme that was going prior and might be a very unique association. It makes each person stay on their toes and truly react to the last thing said, not plan it ahead of time.

 

  1. Story in sentences – One person starts the story by saying a made up sentence. Then each person adds in their turn. Again, with this game, we need to relinquish our associations and accept the other ideas that people have and then build on them. This is a real Yes And game.

 

Musical games

  1. The singing game – I grew up playing this game with my cousins and I think it had a lot to do with me becoming a musician. It trained me to listen closely to lyrics and songwriting. The idea is that one person sings a song and the others need to start singing another song that shares a word from the first song. For instance, someone might sing “You Are My Sunshine” and another person would cut in and start to sing “Ain’t No Sunshine When She’s Gone.” Obviously transitional words like the or and don’t count. And when you get really good at it you can make the word “love” not count either to add an extra challenge. A song can’t be repeated.

 

  1. Car DJ – This one is not quite a game but it has passed many hours for us in the car. Each person gets to choose one song to play on the stereo and we go around and take turns. At this point, we all know the words to Sofia the First because my daughter always chooses the same song. You too may have an uber fan of an artist or songs at home. These days with streaming music, Car DJ is so easy to do. Every song is at our fingertips!

 

  1. Call and response songs – About a month ago, I did a post about doing music with the whole family and I added in some ideas for the car, as well. This was in that post, as well as other ideas that are not car specific. (You can see that post here.) There are a bunch of call-and-response songs out there similar to “Who stole the cookie from the cookie jar?”. Those songs get everyone singing along for a little while.

 

  1. Made-up songs – The other day I did this with my daughter in the car. It is similar to Story in Sentences but with a song. We each took turns making up a phrase. You can sing about what you see, where you’re going, how you feel or what you’re doing. You can use a melody that exists or make one up.

 

  1. Sound orchestra – This one was also on the list of musical activities to do with the whole family. With this game, someone will start making a sound repetitively – like tapping on their knees or clucking their tongued. Another person will join in layering their sound on top. And then the others will do this one by one. It’s fun to hear the tapestry that is created by all the sounds together.

 

  1. The quiet game – The game of all games. How does it still work with my big kids? Don’t ask questions. It just does. When the energy runs high and people are getting exhausted, it’s worth a shot to try this one. You probably remember it. You are just trying to be the quietest. The person who makes a sound first loses. This game has saved us many times. And each time I wonder when my luck will end and they will refuse to play. But, for now, I think they are just as thankful as I am at that moment to have some quiet.

 

For everyone

 

Stuff to listen to:

  1. Favorite ALBUMS – This might sound obvious but these days the album has been a little forgotten in favor of the single or the five most played songs at the top of the artist’s profile. It’s so nice to have the time to listen to a full album in the car. I put together a list of Kindie musicians who we love to listen to in another post so I’ll just mention a couple of albums here: Molly Ledford and Billy Kelly’s “Trees,” and an oldie but a goodie that has never been surpassed in my opinion – “Free to Be … You and Me”.

 

  1. Musicals – Musicals are so great for car rides because they tell a story through songs and they often take about an hour. Our favorites are “Hamilton,” “Mary Poppins,” “The Sound of Music,” “Annie,” and the Disney soundtracks, too.

 

  1. Stand up comedy – Once you have a 10 year old, you are in a different listening world and doors open up. On the other hand, I still have the littles in the car so I need to make sure everything is age appropriate. Stand-up comedy has been a new love of ours. My friend Billy Kelly (who is also a musician mentioned above) made a stand-up comedy album for kids. It’s really great and I wish there were more like this. We’ve managed to find some comics who are more or less appropriate for kids. We love Brian Regan although you may not agree with me on whether it’s fully appropriate. Nine years old seems to be the turning point for these types of jokes that can have more complex set-ups. My seven-year-old struggles to understand all of the nuances while my ten-year-old giggles throughout.

 

  1. Podcasts – I’ve developed a huge love for podcasts myself and they can also come in handy with the kids. Our favorite one to listen to is “Wow in the World” by NPR and the wonderful Mindy Thomas and Guy Raz. It seems to appeal to all the ages I’ve got in the car. It’s funny and educational. There are many more podcast for kids out there but I’m not a connoisseur. I would love to hear which ones you listen to with your family so that I can get more ideas.

 

  1. Switch it up – My final suggestion is to switch up your musical genres in the car. It changes the mood completely when you put on classical, jazz, acoustic, world music or any other. Since you’ve got your kids captive, you might as well expose them to the wonderful music in the world. We love listening to Bach, Beethoven and others in classical. And recently we have been listening to my brother in law Yotam Silberstein’s lovely new jazz album Future Memories.

 

With this list, your goal is to have your car ride be just as memorable (in a good way) as the destination itself.

 

And hey, this list is never finished – add to it! What are your road-trip tricks, podcasts and go-to games? COMMENT below with your faves.

 

Know someone embarking on a family roadtrip? Send this to them and get a big hug when they return. You’ll get one from me, too, clearly. They can sign up for more on the link below.

 

Yes! Please send me more of the Tuesday Tune-In!

THIS is what summer sounds like

You! Tuned-in parent. Sun! Summer is here. It’s my favorite favorite season. I don’t care how sticky it is and how much we sweat. We are finally free from the indoors! Our babies get fresh air! You with me?

 

We don’t despair by 5pm because we can just go outside. And see friendly faces. Whew! We made it. So now that we’re outside, I want to encourage you all to tune in to a different type of music: the sounds of the outdoors.

 

Here’s the thing – summer is also a good time to give ourselves a pause. Work places slow down a bit, we allow ourselves long weekends, and we even take full weeks off.

What does this mean for our inner musician? That we can relax into feeling more present. We can sit outside and take a moment to LISTEN.

How to tune in to the sounds of summer:

 

  1. Park. Try laying next to your baby on the blanket. Gaze up at the trees and the leaves with them. Listen to the birds overhead. Listen to how your baby might be mirroring those sounds.

 

  1. City. As you push your stroller, listen to the city life around you. Listen to the rhythm of human-made sounds as they interact with the sounds of nature. Is the wind moving objects on the street or sidewalk? Is a squirrel pitter pattering up a tree with stolen pizza in its mouth? Is there construction nearby keeping a beat?

 

  1. Beach. When you are at the beach, listen closely to the sound of the waves. So often we sit at the beach talking, reading or zoning out. Take a few minutes to tune In. Notice the rhythm of the waves. Here’s the best way to do this: As you watch the waves, take in a deep breath as the water pulls back and then breathe out as the waves crash. Breathing with the waves helps us really tune in to the sound and the rhythm of the ocean.

Water splashing up
My daughter experiencing a natural splash park

 

  1. Forest. If you are sitting in the forest camping or hiking, then sit quietly for a moment and notice the sounds. Do you hear gravel crunching? Do you hear mosquitoes nearby? Croaking crickets? If so, notice their rhythm. Notice how they all sing in unison. They are really rubbing their wings together like a violin.Interesting tangent – To get a rough estimate of the temperature in degrees fahrenheit, count the number of cricket chirps in 15 seconds and then add 37. The number you get will be an approximation of the outside temperature. There are perks to having kids in fifth-grade science!

 

  1. Waterfall. We tend to hear a brook, stream or waterfall and quickly process them in our brain as white noise. It is hard for us to keep our attention on the small changes happening within moving water. Pause for a moment try to see if you can tune in to anomalies. Where does the water fall out of stream? Is there a pattern that repeats?

 

  1. Pool. See if you can visualize yourself as a bird perched high above the pool or family event that you’re at. What sound landscape would that bird hear? Listen to the orchestra of kids playing and splashing water at the pool or the melody of the family barbecue’s low chuckling voices and high pitched toddlers. See if you can hear it as a landscape.

 

  1. Your baby. Finally, let’s tune in to our baby’s noises. In the summer, we tend to be more laid back and we allow ourselves a little bit more space for wonder and observation. This is a perfect time to really listen to your baby’s noises and speech. What vocalizations is your infant experimenting with? How high does their voice rise and how low do they dip? Are they experimenting with more noises that they like using their lips and tongue?Have a crawler or walker? How are they learning to say words? Are they learning through the melody? Do they have a sing-songy way of speaking?And for older kids tune in to their sounds. When they hum or sing a tune what does their voice sound like? When they speak to you do they tend to use higher registers or lower registers? Can you find your own sing-songy speech and how they mirror it back to you?

So do you hear it? My hope for you this week is that you take the time to try.

Stop.

Pause.

Breath.

LISTEN.

 

What do you hear? Share with us in the COMMENTS. It is inspiring to hear what others observe.

 

Want to inspire your friend to take a pause and listen to summer? Send them this Tuesday Tune In. Tell them there are alot more where this one came from and they are all as helpful.

 

Tell them to sign up for it below.

 

 

Love this blog and would like to receive more to your inbox? Or have a friend who might like it? you and they can sign up here:

Yes! Please send me more of the Tuesday Tune-In!

Summer: Keep your schedule or toss it?

Dear tune-iverse,

The other day, I was hanging out with a friend and we were talking about how summer comes along and everything gets thrown off. All the little pieces of our lives that we managed to arrange, just so, tend to get all jumbled into a little fiesta.

We kind of go from my son’s dinner plate – nothing touching, everything in its place – to a messy, mixed-up Chipotle burrito.

It’s easier to stay out much later with our kids – picnicking, watching music shows, lingering at the playground or wading at the beach. And that means that our normal schedule goes off course.

I told my friend that I wanted to write a post about this and she imagined that I would be encouraging parents to stay on routine. That’s because she is Israeli and Israelis are REALLY GOOD at breaking rules. And you might be that way, too. Or maybe you are like me and need some permission to break the parenting rules.

So I wonder –

Where do you fall on the PSS (Parenting Schedule Spectrum)?
Yea, I made this up but I think it will help us figure out how to adjust to summer. I’ll touch on two extremes but there are many gray areas in between.

<Very Scheduled  / Somewhat Scheduled   /   Somewhat Unscheduled / Very Unscheduled>

The Very Scheduled Parent. Is this you?

This was me. Especially with my first. He was on such a tight schedule that I barely wanted to go to classes, or go anywhere really, in fear of throwing it off. He was a terrible sleeper and keeping to a tight schedule was my way of holding onto some sanity. It was a strand of control that made me feel like I could fix the situation and get my sleep back.

When summer came along we spent much more time outside with others and on other people’s schedules. It made this scheduled mom a bit uptight 🙂

So, I’m going to tell you what I wish someone had told me and what I now know after having my second and third:

 

Dear Very Scheduled Parent.
Relax. It is great that you have a schedule that you can rely on. You made it happen which means you can build it again. Habits are easily made and easily broken. Both ends work to our benefit. You can allow yourself to release it a bit every now and then.

Remember that summer is like a tight braid that can be slightly loosened in certain parts while still maintaining the braid shape. 

Go to the music shows. Stay out late. Have dinner at a barbecue with friends and your baby. You won’t do this every night and most nights your baby will be on your regular schedule. Straying a bit every now and then will not throw off your routine.

Bottom line: What do you have a schedule for if not to enjoy your time with your baby and as a parent? So let yourself Let It Go when the time is right. Allow your summer to be magical. You won’t remember the nights you got your baby into bed by 8pm. You will remember the first night your baby got to see fireworks.

Wild River Roller Coaster

 

And on the other extreme …

The Very Unscheduled Parent. Is this you?

This was me with my third. To you, I have a different message. This is the message my friend instinctually thought I was going to write in the blog because she was thinking about Israeli parents who fly by the seat of their pants and tend to know how to have fun.

Dear Very Unscheduled Parent,
Everything in moderation. You will have to find the right balance between letting the schedule go and taking baby to all the fun plans while also maintaining some routine.

Music can be exceptionally helpful during this time. Make sure to keep your lullaby going, use your morning song, your bathtime song, your diaper changing song. Those songs will help you and your baby anchor during certain moments of the day.

Try to put baby to sleep at the same time at least 5 out of 7 nights a week. Try to have the naps mostly be at the same time. This will be enough to maintain a schedule so that you and your baby can continue enjoying all the adventures that summer brings.

Our babies surprise us. I thought my baby would be so fussy if I didn’t have him exactly on our schedule. But, with time, I found that that was not the case at all. He was actually totally fine when we didn’t follow our regular routine. Maybe the strict routine was for me?

I also thought it would all be fiiiiiiine and my third would find a place to lie down and go to sleep when she was ready if we were out. She never did. And if we did many of those evenings we ended up paying a price in her increasing fussiness.

So our job during summer is to find the right balance. Have fun, Be spontaneous. Feel like your old self again. And at the same time maintain the foundation and hold up enough of a structure for you both.

What percentage are you planning to flex your schedule? Comment if you’re staying 100% the same (easy breezy!), 0% the same (adventure calls!!) – or somewhere in between.
Have procrastinator friends who are still putting off planning? Have prepared friends who booked camps a year in advance? Send them all this newsletter. We all need a little permission to find our flow this sun season.

Love this blog and would like to receive more to your inbox? Or have a friend who might like it? you and they can sign up here:

Yes! Please send me more of the Tuesday Tune-In!

How to survive a flight with a baby

Dear parents – Let’s tune in.

This Tuesday Tune-in continues our summer-transportation series. (Last week, I gave you a playlist to use in the car. Go here to check it out). Today, let’s talk flights.

Keep reading for my tips or watch this video of my kids and I on a flight.

Listen, if anyone is your go-to source about flying with babies, it’s me. Since my parents and my husband’s parents all live in Israel, we’ve been doing a god-awful, 12- hour flight every year since my first was born. We’ve done the flight at all ages, at all times of the day.

The other day, we did it again. Aside from not sleeping much, not receiving our kids’ meals and some puking along the way; I would say it went as smooth as a summer smoothie. But they haven’t all been that way.

You see, I’m over the hellish-flight hump. Once your youngest is at least 4 years old, flying is a breeze. You know how I know? Because these days I don’t think twice about packing TWO hats in a carry-on hat bag. (Y’all know I have a hat fetish, right?) Would I have done that a few years ago? Hell no. It was wear it or ditch it.

Needless to say, I’ve learned a lot. And now I’ve divided it all into a few sections for easy, pre-flight scanning. This includes expectation setting, timing, dressing, eating, packing, playing, seating – and a few bonus secrets.

Are you braving a journey on a jet plane with your diapered companion? This one is for you.

How to Survive a Flight with Baby

Expectation setting:

  • Plan for it to be a bit hellish. Do your best to get through it peacefully but also know that it is just going to suck for a day and then its over. Also, know that the older they get, the easier flying gets. So you’ve got a few years in the bunkers (depending on how many kids you have) and then you’ll be cruising.
  • Loosen the rules. Allow stuff you wouldn’t otherwise. For me, that means unlimited screens, more junk food and less sleep.
  • Don’t expect to watch a movie or read a book. With little babies, you’ll be bouncing them to sleep in the carrier. With new walkers, you’ll be walking up and down the aisles feeling terrified with every turbulent bump that your baby will crash into an arm rest. You’ll also hope your neighbors don’t mind seeing your cute baby walking by. Again. For the thousandth time. As they are trying to sleep.
  • Surrender to jetlag. No matter how much you try to time the naps just right, it won’t really matter. Jetlag is a bitch. But it only lasts 5 days or so. Knowing this helps you to not stress about whether they sleep or not on the flight. Sometimes it is even better if they don’t because they start adjusting early.

Timing:

  • Avoid traveling when baby is 10-18 months. This is because of what I said above re: walking up and down the aisles.  Doable, and I’ve done it, but not ideal.
  • Aim for a flight time that takes off 2hrs before we want them to sleep. This timing is particularly for long flights because there is a lot of activity in the first two hours (takeoff, drinks, food, etc) and when that’s over it’s their usual bedtime. Plus, the cabin will be quieter for them by then. Our preferred time is a 5:00-7:00pm flight.

Dressing:

  • Wear slip-on shoes. Baby is in the carrier; bags are on your shoulders; and then they tell you to take off your shoes. No problem. Just slip them off. Same with bathroom trips while wearing the carrier.
  • Wear pants with big pockets. This is a life saver. Try not to wear yoga pants or tight pants that won’t store key items like a boarding pass, pacifier, tissues and EVERYTHING else.
  • Wear socks. It gets cold on flights and you won’t be able to fix yourself that perfect blanket/pillow cocoon that you once could before baby.

Packing:

  • Pack lots. Lots of pacifiers, three bottles, an extra change of clothes on top of the extra change of clothes, an extra blanket. Whatever you can reasonably carry.
  • Prep relief for ear compression. Two age-appropriate ideas have worked for us:
    1. For younger babies – Nurse during take off and landing to make sure your baby is swallowing often which will relieve ear compression.
    2. For older babies – Bring lollipops for take off and landing. My kids still ask for them even now that they are older. It is a ritual that helps them through the transitions. Sort of a mini-party during the worst parts of a flight.
  • Store wipes. And have them in every bag and pocket ready to go.
  • Carry on a box of empty plastic bags. These will be for diapers, garbage, etc.
  • Mission critical: Snacks. For long flights, your child will need lots of options. And, perhaps more importantly, so will you. Flying with a baby is exhausting. Pack your favorite snacks for yourself to give yourself mini pats on the back.
  • Remember the changing pad. It is almost impossible to do it in the tiny bathroom cabins. I’ve done it but it isn’t a picnic. So if you can, it’s best to do it on your lap in your seat. If your baby is very young, even the poop won’t be that offensive. So have a lightweight changing pad ready to go.

Playing:

  • Stickers. These are the best because they are a clean activity and don’t have things that roll away and get lost.
  • Painters tape. My favorite trick was always to bring painters tape and put little pieces all over the seat. My babies would spend hours taking it on and off.
  • Markers or pencils. If you do bring these, have them in a zippered case and be prepared to lose half.
  • Water-marker books. These are genius.
  • Books. Lots of them. Soft cover are ideal so you can fit more in the bag and they’ll be lighter. (Not sure if I need to say this but I mean books for them. You won’t be reading much.)
  • Shows. Obviously, if your baby is older then screens will be your savior. Remember that not all planes have a place to charge your device so bring a few. Headphones are key. Download all programs and movies your child loves. They’ll go through many.

Seating:

  • Car seat vs. Carrier. We always went with carrier. Our babies didn’t want to sit in the car seat anyway and fell asleep easily in the carrier. But it meant hours standing by the flight attendant area bouncing. Again, it’s all in your expectations. If you plan for those moments by the bathroom (and snacks), you won’t mind it.
  • Bassinet. For international flights its very nice to have the bassinets for babies under 6 months. Book your ticket way in advance for that because they tend to fill up.
  • Anywhere but the back. Book a seat not too close to bathroom because of noise/odor/light
  • Aisle vs window. If there are enough of you, then you’ll be lucky to have both options in a full row. Put baby toward the inside and sit on the aisle. If you are traveling solo with the baby, go with aisle so you can get up to soothe, etc.

Bonus: Secrets

  • Music. Yes, I am biased but music has saved me many times on a flight. Here are some of the ways:
    1. Lullaby. You know by now that I believe in the power of the lullaby. It is portable; it acts as a behavioral cue; and it is soothing in and of itself. On the flight, take your baby aside and use your voice to create a bubble around you and your baby. Use your voice to recreate your normal environment.
    2. Soothing song. If you have taken my classes, then you know exactly what I am talking about and how to use it. If you haven’t, you can find the song on Spotify at Vered and I will explain it further in a future blog. But the idea is – bounce, let your voice resonate, use a repetitive sound. Hold your baby with your voice.
    3. Classical. If you are really desperate and your baby is not calming down, then you might want to try classical music in headphones. It has worked for me before.

Are you nervous? Don’t be. You can do this. Most of the time you will be pleasantly surprised that it was easier than you thought it would be.

It is a short run and then you’re done.

YOU CAN DO THIS!!

I know because I did it. Seriously watch the video of me doing it alone with my three kids. Smooth travels!

What has been your saving grace on a flight with a child? Comment below to add to this list.

Know someone flying to visit friends, family or just for vacation? Send them this post if they love lists as much as I do.

Love this blog and would like to receive more to your inbox? Or have a friend who might like it? you and they can sign up here:

Yes! Please send me more of the Tuesday Tune-In!

Your summer drive playlist for kids

Summer is upon us and that means two things:

1) spending a lot of time outside

2) spending a lot of time in the car getting to the places where we will be outside

 

Don’t worry. I’ve got you covered. This week’s Tuesday Tune-In is all about introducing you to Kindie (kid-indie) music you can play in the car – and to my talented friends who record it.

 

There is so much great music for kids being made out there and you need to know about it. I mean, you and I will always be first lovers. But I’m okay with an open relationship. This should be a pretty good introduction to how music for kids has changed since we were all little. Back then, there weren’t many options. I remember listening to “Free to Be … You and Me” by Marlo Thomas (still my absolute favorite kids album) and “The Muppet Show” TV soundtrack on repeat. Some Raffi trickled in there, too. Now, there are all these independent artists making beautiful songs with a bit of whimsy.

 

Already in the car and just need to hit play? Scroll down to find your summer drive playlist for kids.

 

Before I reveal these chart-toppers, let’s take a short moment to discuss what happened to the music world. On one hand, things are better for the independent musician. We can now have an audience – such as I do with you all – without being backed by a huge label.  On the other hand, music is free. People ask me what I make on Spotify listens. It’s about $0.006 per listen. It adds up if there are enough listens – and it helps musicians if you press the Follow button on Spotify (or comparable on iTunes/Amazon) – but it’s not great.

 

The point is: My Kindie friends and I don’t make music for the money.

 

We make it because we love making it and because we love singing and playing music with you all. You can hear this in their music. I know you are going to love these.

 

Your Kindie Playlist:

 

  1. The Verve Pipe

Do you remember this band from the 90s? Well, like the rest of us, they went and had kids and their music changed a little bit. Their album for kids was the first one I ever heard when I had my first baby. In fact, they made making music for kids seem almost cool to me. This album is so great and I chose my favorite song.

 

  1. Jon Samson/ CoCreative Music

Jon Samson and I met in the music therapy program at NYU and have somehow felt like family ever since. He produced “Good Morning, My Love” and got me started on this career path. He also produced my latest album, “Songs for Sisters and Brothers.” His own music is so creative and unique. You truly won’t find anything like it. His songs take twists and turns that have my kids intrigued throughout. I put my favorite song on the playlist (and if you listen closely you can hear my voice doing backups) but it’s worth checking out his full albums.

 

  1. Amelia Robinson (Mil’s Trills), Suzi Shelton and Katie Mullins (Katie Ha Ha Ha)

This trio and I were in a songwriting group together two years ago. Every week, we would each present a new song to the group. By the end of the year, we all ended up with an album worth of songs. Amelia is all about bringing the community together to sing and create. Her songs are fun, silly and catchy. Suzi has a knack for writing pop songs for kids – songs that will immediately have you singing along and smiling. Katie is the master of the sing-along and you can hear it in her ultra creative songs and gorgeous voice.

 

  1. Dean Jones

Dean produced my second album, “Hello, My Baby.” I wanted to work with him immediately when I heard his music because it reminded me of Paul Simon. Dean’s music is gentle, lyrical and silly and his instrumentation always sits just right.

 

  1. Lesley & the Flying Foxes

Lesley is the best-kept secret in the Kindie world. Her album is so charming it makes me wonder about all the little things in life that we disregard. While I listen to her music, I find myself daydreaming about butterflies and tumbleweeds.

 

  1. Justin Roberts

Justin Roberts is a master at writing kids songs. He makes catchy and thoughtful tunes that strikes that balance of gentle and energetic.

 

  1. Elizabeth Mitchell

If you haven’t heard her songs, go do so immediately. Elizabeth Mitchell was one of the first Kindie musicians out there. Her voice is so very lovely and she brings traditional songs into the palm of your hand.

 

So many more – Molly Ledford, Lucy Kalantari, Lucky Diaz, Josh and the Jamtones, Gustafer Yellowgold, Andrew and Polly, Kira Willey, Jazzy Ash, the Alphabet Rockers, KB Whirly, and the list goes on…

 

I could go on and on about the rest of the people on this playlist. And there are many more fabulous Kindie musicians who I will put on the next playlist. But I’ll leave it at that for the moment.

 

If that doesn’t work then here’s the link

I hope you love it.

 

Which song is your favorite? Go listen and don’t forget to come back and comment so we can compare notes.

 

Got a friend who’s taking kids on a roadtrip? Make their ride more Kindie-ful and send this their way.

 

 

Holy shit, Schools out! All the feels.

It’s that time of year, in-tune parents: The end of the school year.

We’re all excited, right? No wait. We’re all terrified we’ll never have a moment alone again. That’s right, right? Maybe we’re all sad our babies are becoming less baby-faced with every graduation. That seems more right. But the truth is: We’re all feeling a lot of things at once.

And if we feel that way, imagine how our kids feel right about now.

The end-of-year transition is even bigger for them. They go from the baby room into the two’s room, or from third grade into fourth grade, or (like one of mine) from elementary school to middle school.

What can we do to help them through this time?
And to help ourselves along with them?

We need to pause.

 

That’s not easy for me to do. During this frenzied time, the last thing I tend to do is pause. My wheels keep spinning all through the night. And during the day I am planning, packing and working ever so much harder until that last school bell rings.

But, listen: Summer can wait a minute. Eventually our plans will come together – more or less – and we will pack what we need , and probably forget the most important thing like usual. (It’s always the extra phone charger and the razor. Comment below and tell me your always-forgotten items.) There I go, spinning thoughts whirling again. We all need to learn how to pause so we can do the most important thing …

… help our kids pause.

4 Steps to Help Children Transition to Summer

1. Talk to them about the transition.

They are certainly feeling it, so you might as well name it. Naming the elephant in the room will dissipate the energy a bit.

Don’t: Introduce the transition as inherently anxiety ridden. Give them the space to reflect on their experience.

 

2. Ask them how they are feeling.

Find a quiet moment with your child and open the conversation with questions like these:
“How are you feeling now that schools out?”
“How does it feel to be leaving your friends for the summer?”
“How do you feel about going on this trip soon?”
“What are you feeling about starting camp?

Don’t: Ask leading questions like :
“Are you excited to start camp soon?”
“Are you sad about school ending?”

 

3. Follow up with detail-oriented questions.

If the answer is just “Good” or “Fine,” then you may need to ask questions a therapist asks like:
“And how does it make you feel?”
“What came up for you when that happened?”
“Where do you feel it in your body?”

Don’t: Think that’s all there is to it. There’s usually more beneath the surface.

 

4. Sit with their feelings and/or mirror their feelings back.

The best listeners also mirror back feelings in order to show the speaker that we fully understand and that we are listening. For example:

*Example A
Child: “I am sad to leave my friends.”
Parent: “Sometimes it is sad to leave friends we have been with for a while.”

*Example B
Child: “I won’t ever be able to win Student of the Day.”
Parent: “That sounds hard.”

Don’t: Start your sentence with BUT.

*Example A
Child: “I’m going to miss my teachers.”
Parent: “But you’ll see them again next year probably.”

*Example B
Child: “I don’t want to go on the trip”
Parent: “But we’ll have so much fun!”

 

Now here’s the important part about all of this: The answers might be difficult for us.

They might mirror our own anxiety about the transition. And they may even put a judgment on an upcoming activity.

Our job is to hear their feelings without letting our own feelings get in the way. Meaning, we need to purely to be an ear to the expression of their emotions without judgment of our own on their feelings. Children have an amazing ability to express how they are feeling without feeling a positive or negative judgment about it.

Let them show you how.

So parents, your task for this week is to Pause.

Notice your (and your child’s) anxiety about the transition and then talk to them about it. Remember the importance of being nonjudgmental. I wouldn’t judge you for being annoyed you have to go to the coast of Maine and spend time eating lobster with your in-laws. And you won’t judge your own kids for feeling psyched about that same trip.

Have you already noticed conflicted feelings in your family about summer plans? Comment and share how you’re trying to see all sides.

Know parents who would be relieved to pause? Send this post their way before the Last Day of School sneaks up on us all. They can sign up for the Tuesday Tune In below.

Love this blog and would like to receive more to your inbox?

Yes! Please send me more of the Tuesday Tune-In!

5 musical family activities

Dear tuned in parents,

Today is all about family fun.

Most of you connected with me when your first baby was tiny. Now, many of you have bigger families. I had your entire crew in mind when I wrote today’s Tuesday Tune-In on how to use music to bring everyone in your home together, including grandma, grandpa and all the rest.

I don’t know about your family, but mine can sometimes be a little serious. But I have memories of my parents sitting in the front seat of our brown Buick singing harmony together and smiling. No matter what tension happened a moment earlier, music seemed to be the salve.

Those kind of memories shape us. We try to recreate moments from our childhood that felt most connected and happy. Of course we also try to recreate moments that felt most difficult. We’ll leave that for therapy.

For now, let’s work on having experiences with our kids that feel free, joyful, and loving. The more we do the more it will teach them how to make those moments happen on their own. Who knows? maybe their whole career will be informed by it (See: Baby in Tune.)

Here are 5 activities that work for any age:

  1. Karaoke

Recently, I was in Florida with my extended family. My mother had just bought a Madonna circa Express Yourself tour type microphone and a small speaker for a project she was doing and it gave me an idea. After dessert, we connected it to the television and – voila! We had a karaoke set-up. These days it’s so much easier to set up karaoke than it used to be. In fact, all you need is YouTube. YouTube now has endless karaoke tracks of instrumentals songs and scrolling lyrics.

 

The youngest picked their songs first. There were lead singers and backup singers who enthusiastically belted out the chorus. It made my sometimes-serious family really loosen up.

 

If you want to take it to the next level, and I really think it’s quite necessary, invest in a small microphone and speaker. It doesn’t have to be fancy. And you don’t even need to get a microphone stand. You can get a lavalier which is a microphone that goes around your head.

 

  1. DJ in the car

How are your long car rides these days? Ours have been saved by two things: podcasts and car DJ. I’ll talk about my favorite podcasts in another blog. Let’s talk DJ.

 

The idea is that each family member gets to pick one song and we go around in turns.

For instance: my four-year-old daughter always chooses “Sofia the First,” my eight-year-old loves that song “Go the Distance” from Hercules. And my 10-year-old has been digging the a cappella group Pentatonix. I may choose an Elton John song and my husband often goes for a song by Arik Einstein or another Israeli singer.

 

What I love about this game is that we all get to listen to each other’s songs of the moment.

Sharing songs is like sharing a feeling. When we all sit and listen quietly to another family member’s song we feel HEARD, and happy that the people we love may also develop a love for that song.

 

  1. Dance parties

All of you who have taken my classes know that I’m all about dance parties. I especially love them at the witching hour. What could be better than pulling out your favorite dance song and getting down right when you thought life sucked the most? You know what it does? It makes it all better. And when you do it with the whole family, it turns it into a moment you don’t want to forget. Try it tonight. You’ll see.

 

  1. Call-and-answer songs

For those who went to camp this one might sound familiar. Call and answer songs are the ones where a group will sing something and one person will have to respond. For instance: “Who stole the cookie from the cookie jar?” These kind of songs get everyone singing and brings even the quietest family member who didn’t want to play into it.

 

When I was a kid, we used to sing a song called Loddy Lo Chubby Checker. I am so glad I am writing this blog because until now I kind of thought my parents had made it up. But it’s a thing! I love this one because we would make up verses and rhymes and then the whole family would sing – “Hey loddy loddy lo!”

 

I have no doubt that that song had a big influence in teaching me how to write songs and how to rhyme. It teaches kids to stay in rhythm and think on their feet.

 

  1. Sound orchestra

This one is my favorite. I actually haven’t done this with my family yet but as I was brainstorming for this blog I remembered this. I can’t wait to try it.

 

Here’s what it is: One person starts some kind of repetitive sound. It can be non-vocal like tapping your knees, making a funny sound on the car seat or tapping things together. Or it can be vocal like a melody, a repetitive baseline or clucking your tongue.

 

After that person has done their sound for a few moments, another person comes in with their sound. Then another, then another. Eventually a soundscape is created with everyone’s sounds together. It’s always so fun to be the last to add your sound to the orchestra, too. You’re able to fill the space with what is needed – a very high melody, a syncopated rhythmic sound, or a bass line to glue it all together.

 

I remember one time when I was eight and in the car with my cousins, on my turn, I repeated words on a highway sign – “Tuckerton Lumber, Tuckerton Lumber” –  in my lowest voice and accentuated the T and the K. To this day, every now and then one of my cousins will break into a round of “Tuckerton Lumber.” It was a hook!

 

Now you have 5 new tricks for making your family time a bit more musical and a bit more fun at any age. It may even be a moment that you and your child remember years and years from now.

 

How do you use music for family QT? Reply and let me know.

And what artists and tracks are your go-to for these moments? Comment here because we all need inspiration.

 

Have a friend who wants ideas for family time? Make their day and forward this along.

Let’s be honest we can only play board games and do puzzles for so long

6 things I do to feel more present with my kids

Dear parents,
In this Tuesday Tune-In (coming out a little later than normal becuase I had a show this morning,) we are tackling why it’s so hard to be PRESENT with our kids – or with anything for that matter – and what you can do to get in the moment.

These days we are inundated with information: podcasts, articles, emails, texts, social posts. I don’t know about you but I definitely see a difference in my ability to stay focused on a task. I find myself glancing at my phone habitually. In addition, for those of us with babies, lack of sleep makes it almost IMPOSSIBLE to keep our presence on one thing.

Sometimes it’s also hard to align with our kids because, the truth is, they inhabit a different reality than ours.

Grown-ups: Think about the past, present and future at the same time.
Kids: Think about right now.

We can be at the playground watching our kid with hawkeyes climbing the slide, while thinking about what we will make for dinner, when a second ago we thought about what an ass we were at yesterday’s meeting.

Meanwhile what are they thinking about? Climbing the slide.

It can feel so exhilarating to be with them with that amount of presence. Our kids are naturally fully present in everything they do. The younger they are, the more present they are. It’s instinctual for them.

And it can also feel exhausting. Which is why we sometimes crave conversation with other adults who share our experience of being in the world for a while.

But with practice, we can drop into our kids’ world that is completely mindful and present. And then what happens? We truly enjoy our time together. We notice how precious every little bit is – the way they pick up a marker, the way their nose moves while they speak, the way they look at us with adoration.

6 things I do to feel more present with my kids

1. Tell them ahead of time that we will be spending time together.
I find this works both for them and for me. If I tell them in the morning that we will have some time later – or even if I tell them on the way back from school that we will have an hour to play together – it helps me prepare and holds me accountable. The problem I run into if I don’t do this is trying to do three things at once, including being present with them.

2. Put my phone in the other room.
For me, this one is essential. I’m an addict like the rest of us – always feeling the pull to glance at my phone. Putting the phone in the other room helps me realize I don’t need it and makes it physically difficult for me to get to it. Laziness is good for something.

3. Make my day as productive as possible so that I can release it.
The days I feel most present with my kids are the ones in which I manage to be very productive. For me, that means keeping to my to-do list and not getting distracted by social media or even email. If I’ve had four hours of focused productivity, I’m usually in a pretty good mood once I get to the kids. So, I consider building my productivity skills to be essential to how I mother.

4. Put on music.
Usually, after we get home from school there is an hour of acclimation. Snacking, changing clothes, running around, fighting with siblings. But eventually we calm down. At that moment, especially if my intention is to feel present with them, I like to put on some music that will calm me, first of all, and them as well. That can mean anything from vocal jazz to Motown to 80s pop or classical. (What music do you put on in that pre-dinner making hour? I would love to hear in the comments)

5. Sit where they are sitting.
This one might sound silly but for me it makes a big difference. When we’re playing together, I can either say, “Come sit with me at the table” (because most often that’s where I am). Or I can finish what I’m doing and go sit where they are sitting – on the carpet, in their room or sometimes even in the hallway. When I do that, I immediately feel the shift. They are aware that I’m putting aside the time to be with them and I’m meeting them where they are.

6. Take a moment to notice that nothing else is more important.
I know we know this but sometimes it takes reminding ourselves a few times a day – or even a few times an hour. At that moment, when we want to extract ourselves from playing with them – talking to them, sitting on the floor, playing hide and seek or whatever it is – we need to ask ourselves: What is actually more important?

For me, the answer is almost always: nothing.

I hope you enjoyed reading the 6 things I do to feel more present with my kids.

What would your kids say you do to be present with them? COMMENT below and let me know.
Sometimes thinking about it from our kids point of view helps us see what’s working and what’s not. What comes to mind for you?

Know more mindful parents? Share this Tuesday Tune-In.
They’ll love the tip about sitting where they are sitting – and hopefully the other five, too. Forward this email their way as a way of saying you’re proud of their intentional work..

Love this blog and would like to receive more to your inbox?

Yes! Please send me more of the Tuesday Tune-In!

<!–End mc_embed_signup—>

A surprising way to soothe your baby

Hello, tuned-in parents,

Today we’re going to talk about a technique that is used in music therapy called Vocal Holding. I think you’ll find that it is a nice alternative to purely consoling our babies with speech. And you might even find that it works better.

I had to use it just the other day.

We had received a new peeler in the mail and my daughter was excited to open the package as usual. Before I knew what was happening she got a surface cut on her finger. The site of blood and the surprise of the cut set her off and she started crying inconsolably.

I held her and – instead of empathizing with her through speech – I matched her sobs with the sound “ah.” I made my sound fit in the same phrase/length as hers and took in breaths at the same time.

Slowly, her cries tapered and we sat together silently. It was my way of acknowledging her pain and being available to her in a purely emotional – not intellectual – way.

Vocal holding is a technique developed by Dr. Diane Austin, who uses it to relieve adult trauma. It is an effective way to do psychotherapy that can be more emotional and less analytical than talk therapy.

The idea behind it is that the therapist uses her voice as a way to hold and support the client. In talk therapy, a patient might share something that is troubling at home. The therapist might reflect back to him what she said using other words or sometimes even the same words exactly.

The therapist might ask an open-ended question like, “How did that make you feel? Or in another instance the therapist might provide an intervention or an interpretation of what the patient is saying and feeling in order to help him advance and break out of old patterns.

Vocal holding does these things but with the voice.

When our children are upset about something they need us first of all to empathize and understand what they’re feeling. We can do this by telling them that we see they are upset, that we understand what happened, that we know it is hard to feel sad/ hurt / frustrated /etc.

But sometimes saying it is not enough. And when the crying continues it is often because our children need to continue to express their feelings. Our job is to allow space for that to happen.

In order for us to do that we need to feel okay with an expression of emotions. We need to not be scared of it rather welcome it.

In these situations vocal holding can be a great way to hold that space for our children. As you know, singing bypasses the intellect and comes from an emotional place.

How to try Vocal Holding:

  1. Match your child’s tone. If your child is upset, sing along in their exact melody and take breaths where they do.
  2. Take turns. If your child is not upset, this alternating method can feel like a vocal conversation with improvised sounds.
  3. Harmonize. If your baby is singing a repetitive melody, accompany them on an instrument with one or two simple chords.
  4. Sing in a lower tone. If your child is calm or upset, improvise using a resonant sound as if you are providing the foundation on which your baby can emote.

Next time your baby cries you might want to experiment with using this surprising way to soothe your baby to help her feel heard and understood.

Has your baby responded to musical soothing before? Did your upset baby love your humming or toddler want to hear a calming song?
Comment here so we can figure this out together.

Who in your life is open to new techniques?
Forward this to them so they can try vocal holding.

Love this blog and would like to receive more to your inbox?

Yes! Please send me more of the Tuesday Tune-In!

You don’t need to enrich your baby

Today, I’m going to share 1 tip & 1 activity that releases yourself from the nagging belief that we need to do all kinds of things in order to enrich our babies.

Welcome to the Tuesday Tune-In. Here we go.

We really do drive ourselves crazy, right? It’s an epidemic of our generation. We had babies later in life than our parents did and had more time to feel independent, pursue careers and support ourselves than our parents ever did. We know how to get shit done.

It’s no surprise we feel a constant urge to enrich our babies.

We bounce through the night while scrolling through bits of information on how to do things best. Like business conferences, we absorb new information from our new friends and classes. And, as we go, we start to feel little pangs of stress. We look at the other babies and we wonder why our baby isn’t rolling yet, crawling yet, standing yet, talking yet or walking yet, like the other babies. That’s when we think we should be doing even more enrichment activities.

I know this all firsthand. I, myself, am an alpha mom type. In my case, with the second and third baby, I learned an important lesson:

Our babies actually don’t need us as much as we think.

They don’t need us to actively show them things. They are constantly exploring. They are natural scientists who are constantly gathering data from their surroundings. They’re finding patterns, noticing repetition and are continuously watching us very closely.

When we set out to actively enrich them, they don’t learn from our lesson plan, they learn from our unconscious behavior.

Babies are like mirrors, imitating our moves, our style, and our social behavior. Then we, in turn, mirror them back.

So here’s the tip for today: Let your baby lead you for 3 minutes (or more!)

  • Where to be: Join your baby in the same position he or she is in. If she’s lying down, lie down next to her. If he is sitting playing, sit next to him. If she is on the move, walk with her and explore what she is exploring.
  • What to do: Try to experience what she is experiencing. Try to imagine what she’s feeling in her hands or in her mouth. Now, all you need to do is try to see the world through her eyes.
  • What to say: You don’t need to say anything or do anything. Your baby is doing it all for herself. We are just there to be present with them in their exploration and get a lesson from them on how to be present in play.
  • What to watch: Look at your baby solely to see where they are looking. This is a mindfulness exercise. It is much more challenging than it sounds. (We spend most of our time gazing at our babies because they are beautiful and fascinating.)

What you may find is that your baby is on a constant quest to learn. He or she doesn’t actually need us to be the teacher. They just need us to make the classroom available. And the classroom is everything around us.

By the way, this is not just for babies. This is for kids of all ages. The 8 year old who is building stuff out of lego or boxes might want us to just sit nearby and be present with them. The 4 year old coloring might want us to join them in their process without showing them what to do, or even doing anything ourselves, rather just silently noticing or commenting on the process.

So the bottom line: You can relax. Your child knows how to learn. You just have to set the stage and let them lead.

On a scale of 1 to 10, how stressful has it been planning enrichment activities? COMMENT below and let me know.

Is our neighbor doing more to make their baby a genius? Heavens no! Have you ever felt that? how do you handle it?

Ever want to be a mythbuster? Share this Tuesday Tune-In.
Share this with your parent friends and bust the enrichment myth wide open for them. You don’t know until you know!

Love this blog and would like to receive more to your inbox?

Yes! Please send me more of the Tuesday Tune-In!

The most important moment when putting baby to sleep

Tell me if you relate. You sing a lullaby; give your baby the last feed; and prepare everything for a perfect landing into the crib. Your baby is drowsy and he falls asleep instantly. You’re doing an internal happy dance because Me Time is just around the corner. You taper your song a bit and walk out.

Two minutes later? You guessed it. Your baby starts to cry. (This was basically the first year with my eldest.)

I realized that the only way to truly ease him into sleep was a technique musicians have been using forever …

So what is the most important moment when putting your baby to sleep?

The Fade Out

● Place your baby in his crib as you’re singing the lullaby
● Use your voice to fade out, aka to slowly get softer in volume
● Hold out the notes even longer.

It sounds simple but it does a few profound things:

 

For You
It slows us down. We’re so excited to be done and feel Netflix calling. The Fade Out forces us to take our time, slow down, and bring our energy level down in those last 10 or 20 seconds that you’re with your baby. If we truly slow down, then our baby does too.

It also forces us to be present. It’s almost impossible to fade out without being fully present while you’re doing it. It actually takes a lot of vocal control. Try it. In order to do it correctly, we need to put effort into slowly making our voice softer and that takes focus. It’s whatforces us to be mindful and present. Although freedom calls, our concentration keeps us in the moment.

 

For Baby
It eases the transition. Think about when you’re listening to an album on your headphones. Many of the songs fade out in order to ease us into the next song. The Fade Out that you will do with your own voice will help your baby transition from noise, togetherness, and excitement into sleep.

 

Here’s how you’ll know if your Fade Out is working:
If it’s making YOU tired and putting YOU to sleep, then it’s going to do the same for your baby.

I find that this is usually the gauge with all things baby. We can use ourselves as a litmus test to understand our baby’s state. What I mean is: If you are feeling overstimulated in a crowd, your baby probably is, too. If you are feeling tired, then your baby probably is, too. And if you are feeling sleepy as you listen to your own voice, then your baby probably is, too.

 

Think of your lullaby and The Fade Out as points of deep connection with your baby before the overnight separation. Some parents in my groups say that their baby even gets slightly more alert at the beginning of the lullaby. This is because they feel that it is a real moment of connection with you. For those babies start a bit earlier than you would normally.

Eventually all the babies will be soothed by the lullaby if you do it the right way – if you yourself are present, relaxed, and getting sleepy from your own voice.

 

So try it tonight. Slow the process down. Give yourself two extra minutes to do this. Close out your day with your baby with care and attention. I think you’ll find that both you and your baby will benefit from a well-executed Faaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaade
Ouuuuuuuttttttttt
ttttttttt.

 

Do you do a fade out? Or do you use another technique to seal the deal? I want to hear about it! Comment and let me know.

Does your baby seem most relaxed when you are? Comment and let me know.
Simultaneous naps? Simultaneous tantrums? Comment here and tell us how in sync you are.

Know a baby who cries out from the crib? Share this with their parents.
And tell them I know what it’s like!


Love this blog and would like to receive more to your inbox?

Yes! Please send me more of the Tuesday Tune-In!

Two songs that changed my life

I’m on a bus in Croatia, pregnant with my first baby. Mountains to both sides and a good two hours ahead of me. I put my headphones on to listen to the album I had recorded before I left New York. I needed to listen objectively, as an outsider. I needed to be real with myself and figure out if a career as a singer-songwriter was in the cards for me or not. I was about to start a family and it was time for me to be a grown-up.

What did I decide?
That it wasn’t good enough.

This Tuesday Tune-In focuses on something that people don’t always talk about: Post-baby career reevaluation

So many parents in my groups feel confused and exasperated about their career once they have a baby. They don’t know if they want to go back to work, and if so when, and if not, what happens to the career that they spent 10 years building before having a baby. I should know. It happened to me.

Here’s what I learned:
Don’t rush to an answer about career pathing. Give it the time it needs.

Having a baby forces us to hone our value system and chisel our goals to the core, to the bare essentials. But it can take a year or two or even more. If we can allow for the questions, the confusion, and the feeling that the ground has fallen beneath our feet, I believe a clear path will emerge.

So back to the story.

I mourned my rockstar dream and eventually picked myself up and continued toward my other interests – psychology and therapy. I had my baby and 8 months later I began a Ph.D program in Clinical Psychology.

You may be asking yourselves – What the hell was she thinking? A graduate program with a new baby? And it’s true. The program entailed endless amounts of work and devotion. And, as you know, so did my baby.

I threw myself into both callings with all the energy I had. But there was a tiny voice that still whispered to me every now and then. You know which one. The singer-songwriter.

She didn’t go anywhere. And when she was ready, she presented herself to me through 2 songs that changed my life.

Song 1: “Don’t Leave Me”
In the midst of all the papers I was writing an old friend invited me to perform in a show. When I ran out of material, I asked the audience if they wanted to hear a ditty I had written to my son.

I sang the first verse and chorus of “Don’t Leave Me.” I didn’t have any more written and didn’t think I ever would. I thought I was done writing full songs. I considered it a jingle, a snippet that I blurted out to my baby one day.

A couple of friends from the psychology program were there and after the show they were enthusiastic about the song. They loved how it put a theory we had learned in school – “Rapproachement” – into a simple phrase and melody. They felt it said it all and could reach parents much more than any book. I went home thinking about it a little differently .

Song 2: “Sunday”
A month or so later, I went to see a music therapy colleague of mine, Jon Samson. I asked him to help me record five songs I had written a year earlier before that bus ride in Croatia. I felt I could move on more easily if I had a record of my final creations.

During a break Jon went upstairs and I continued noodling on the guitar in the studio. I softly sang another ditty I had written for my baby called “Sunday.” Again, I only had the first verse and chorus. To me, it wasn’t a real song.

From upstairs Jon yelled down, “Play that one again!” I did. And then he asked me to play it again, and again. He came downstairs and said that he wanted to record an album with me. But he didn’t want to do my grown-up songs. He wanted to make an album of the songs I had written for my baby.

And then what happened? Well, the rest is history.

I recorded an album with him called “Good Morning, My Love.” I realized that what I really wanted to do was help parents connect to their babies through music. I also realized that my prior meanderings came together in a way I could not have expected. Music therapy, psychology, the singer-songwriter, and the new mom.

Although I wanted to finish the PHD to the end, I also realized I couldn’t do it all. At that point, I was also pregnant with my second. Time was precious and I needed to focus solely on what I wanted to do most and shed the rest.

When I look back on that time, it’s astounding to me to think that I was going to give up on the singer-songwriter inside of me. I am thankful that I decided to play the two ditties for my friends. Their reactions inspired me to finish them, call them songs and share them with other parents. And that changed my life.

Having a baby motivates us to answer one of the most important questions:

What do you truly want to spend your time doing?

If you give yourself time, the answer will become obvious.

Have you reconsidered your career path post-baby? COMMENT below and let me know.
How did your inner voice show you the way forward and how long did it take? We’re all in this together.

Have friends trying to navigate careers after babies? Share this Tuesday Tune-In.
The best way to support the career of someone you love can just be letting them know you are there for them through the struggles and triumphs. Forward this email their way – sometimes it’s that simple.


Love this blog and would like to receive more to your inbox?

Yes! Please send me more of the Tuesday Tune-In!

5 instruments for babies and kids

In this Tuesday Tune-In, I want to answer a question I get asked all the time: Which instruments are best to introduce to your baby?

As you know, I’m all about making music with your baby.  As you read this list, keep in mind that my intention is not only for you to buy these instruments and let your baby explore them but for you to have fun too.

If you do it right, these instruments will eventually have an association to togetherness and bonding with your baby.

Important note: As you go out to buy instruments for your baby and children, keep in mind that they need to sound somewhat good. Many of the toy instruments out there just don’t sound good. To me, those will not end up inspiring our babies to make music. Try to find instruments that inspire even you to sit and play with them.

As I say in my classes all the time: “The more our babies see us enjoying music and engaging in music, the more they will want to do it too.”

 

5 instruments I recommend for babies:

*I am not affiliated with any of these brands. They’re just instruments that I’ve found to be well made and sound decent.

 

  1. Drums:

As you know, I love drumming with little ones. If you’ve been in my classes for older babies, you know that we often dive into drum circles and learn drumming rhythms and styles from other cultures. For years, I’ve been looking for drums that don’t take up too much space and still sound good. I finally found them. These nested Frame Drums are perfect for pulling out and having a family drum circle and then being able to store them away.   

As another option, these Djembes sound great and store easily in different sizes.

 

  1. Harmonicas 

I love using harmonicas with babies and kids. Harmonicas are built in one key. So, if you are playing a song on the speakers or on the guitar, you can easily play a song in the key of your harmonica. When you buy it, check out what key it is in. It often says it on the harmonica itself.

It will take some time for your baby to learn how to blow into it. Keep showing them yourself, and have fun making music while you are doing so. Sometimes it helps to blow on their cheek and then blow into the harmonica in order to illustrate the concept of blowing.

As with anything, you can find extremely cheap harmonicas that are made poorly and don’t sound good. Try to find one that has somewhat of a good sound. These colorful, plastic Harmonicas can take a beating and have a decent sound. They will fall apart eventually but I’ve found that it takes a while.

 

  1. Shakers

This easy-to-hold instrument is so great to teach your baby rhythm. They fit in little hands and are a fun shape to put in little mouths. There are very cheap shakers out there that don’t sound great to me and can bust open, spreading small beads everywhere. Clearly, I avoid those. But I’ve found some that work perfectly.

These colorful plastic Shakers have a great sound and don’t fall apart easily. These fruit-shaped Shakers are fun and sound good, too – although it may be a bit confusing for your baby. If you are looking for slightly larger wooden shakers, you can find those as well. Often they don’t have as good of a sound but they are a little bit safer because they are larger and don’t fit in a mouth.

Note: All of these instruments will say 3+ on them. That doesn’t mean that your baby can’t use them, it just means that she/he should be supervised when they do.

 

  1. Glockenspiels

This is an arrangement of metal bars laid out in a scale (often in C) that sound like bells. It resembles a piano or small xylophone and is often the first instrument to be slapped onto a toy. If you’re going to get one, you’ll need to invest a little bit in one that sounds good. These can be so fun for babies to play with.

Again, most of them are not recommended for babies under three because they can be taken apart. But if you play with your baby and make sure she is not getting into trouble it should be fine.

I like this Glockenspiel set because you can use as bells separately and as a scale. If your child is older, there is this Glockenspiels with musical note boards, and this one. Both seem great although although I have not had the chance to try them yet.

 

  1. Uke

Once again, you can find some very cheap ukuleles out there and they sound pretty awful and fall apart in a day. I’m sure you’ve had that experience already. So it’s worth investing a bit more to get something that will last a bit longer. These first Ukuleles  come in all different colors, aren’t too expensive, sound good and are easy to tune.

 

So there is your list. I hope you feel inspired to expand your music corner at home.

Now, make me a promise: If you buy musical instruments for your baby, try not to just give them to her and hope that she becomes Mozart. Sit with her. Play with her. Make music with her. Let her feel the magic that comes from playing music together.

 

 

Which instrument have you tried and loved or hated? I want to hear your experience! COMMENT BELOW and let me know.

Something you got as a gift from a relative? Something that was an impulse buy? We learn from each other!

 

Who’s your most (or least) musical parent friend? Share this Tuesday Tune-In.

They want to read this, too. Send this their way and help them find their groove.

 


Love this blog and would like to receive more to your inbox?

Yes! Please send me more of the Tuesday Tune-In!

One way to feel happier today

Hello, dear parents,

Today’s Tuesday Tune-In highlights a simple and quick happiness technique. I use it in groups all the time and do it on my own as well.

It involves two things: Grounding through breath and feeling grateful.

I write to you today from sunny Florida where I am spending spring break with my family. It’s pretty easy to feel happy when on vaca heading for a morning run on the beach. But even here, with family dynamics abound and surprises that arise I need to keep this easy tip in mind. And in my day to day I do this ALL the time.

There’s so much research in positive psychology that shows the benefits of having a gratitude practice. In short, it makes us happier.

This is a technique you can do while you’re breastfeeding, pushing a stroller, changing a diaper, or even while your baby is crying in your ear.

We all need a go-to technique when we are experiencing lack of sleep, hormone shifts and the endless physical exertions of parenthood.

Plus, not sleeping enough makes us irritable. We can have 5 highs and 5 lows all in the same hour. Our inner resources are depleted and annoyances that we might have been able to handle otherwise become too much.

Along with all that, caring for a baby means constant trouble shooting and that is stressful. Every time I had a small baby, I felt I was in survival mode during the first year.

This technique is also good to turn to when you have way too much on your plate, like I have had recently – growing my business, ushering one kid into middle school, making time to be fully present with the kids at home, working late hours, preparing for summer, keeping healthy and a thousand other things that I’m sure you relate to.

So what can we do? It’s so simple. It’s so short. And it’s also so effective.

My happiness technique: 3 Grateful Breaths

Take in 3 deep breaths. On every breath out, think of something you’re grateful for.

Don’t plan ahead of time what you’re grateful thing will be. Let it come to you as you start to breathe out. Let yourself be surprised by what it might be.

You may feel grateful for big things like your kids, your partner, your health, etc. Or you may feel grateful for things that seem insignificant and menial like forks, or diapers or a drink that you like.

In order to really tune in to what you’re feeling grateful for at that moment, let yourself really feel the breath in. Fill up your belly, your lungs, let your shoulders move and, rather than force in a deep breath, let yourself receive a deep and nourishing breath.

As you breathe out and think of what you’re grateful for, try not to just think it but instead  feel it. There’s a big difference between the two.

The way I gauge for myself whether I really feel gratitude in a particular moment is if I get the chills a little bit. When I breathe out and am really tuned in and feel deeply what I’m grateful for (whether it’s toilet paper or the health of my parents), I know I’m feeling it fully when I tremble just a little bit.

Three breaths seems like nothing. Can it really have an effect on your day? I think it can.

And the thing is, it’s so short and you can do it anywhere. If it can really make you happier , than why not give it a shot?

Try it. What popped into your mind? COMMENT below and let me know.
One time for me, it was iced tea. I thought it was silly but then realized it represented satisfying my own needs and I really was grateful for tending to myself, even in small ways. Yours?

Know anyone who breathes? Share this Tuesday Tune-In.
Seriously. If you’re alive, you can do this. It takes so little time and has such big impacts. Send this to your breathing friends.

One quick way to solve diaper changing

Dear,
People who deal with all the pee and all the poop: You’re going to love The Tuesday Tune In this week.

Ok. Spoiler alert: I tell you how to write a Diaper-Changing Song. We all need one as bad as we need hand sanitizer.

So I bet you didn’t realize how deep in shit you would be as a parent.
How many times a day do you deal with it? Checking, smelling, getting supplies, and cleaning.

And, on top of that, if you have a baby who’s older than eight months, diaper changing has probably gotten pretty challenging. It doesn’t feel good to pin your baby down – I know.

So I’m going to give you the tip upfront and you can read down below to find out how to do this and when it’ll work. It’s so simple:

Use a Diaper-Changing Song.
Yes. Sing while you wipe. It can be about pee, poop, diapers or anything really. A Diaper-Changing Song is part-reminder, part-timer.

Here’s what I mean:

1. It lets your baby know that changing is about to happen.

If you start to sing your Diaper-Changing Song as you are bringing the diaper and as you start to undress the baby, then your baby will know it’s coming. Part of what they hate so much is that you are interfering with their exploration. So they protest: “What are you doing? I was just in the middle of something.” A song can let them know that diaper changing is on the horizon and can help them prepare.

2. It can be a good time keeper.

Your baby will start to recognize your two-minute song. He/she will know the beginning, the middle and the end of it. Babies seem to understand song structure. Often in my groups, babies as young as eight months old start to clap toward the end of the song because they know it’s about to end. Use the song as a way to tell your baby how long the diaper changing will take. It will behave like a sand timer and your baby will feel a bit more in control.

Don’t have a Diaper-Changing Song? I’m here to help.

Actually, you might you have a Diaper-hanging Song but you don’t think about it as one. So many parents in my groups tell me that they sing silly ditties about poop, about not peeing in your face or about staying still.

So don’t overthink it – just write your own. When you’re writing your song, you can just sing what you always say. Be playful with it. If you usually say, “Please don’t pee on me” or “You are a poopy head,” then put that in the song. It could look something like this:

“You’re my little poopy head
Let’s get you clean
Just hold still
And don’t pee on me”

I am sure you can come up something better than that. Get your creative juices flowing with a little inspiration: Check out my songwriting template here – it’s for Lullaby Songs but you can easily “change” it into a Diaper-Changing Song. See what I did there?

What song makes life easier at the changing table? COMMENT below and let me know.

Can it top: “Wipe wipe wipe your butt / gently wipe the stream”? Do tell. I love to hear what little ones respond to. Comment below.

Before your next diaper change … Share this Tuesday Tune-In.
Be the person who gives another parent this useful idea. Forward this email their way!

What makes for an expert parent?

I’m really excited about this Tuesday Tune In, friends. It’s about parents taking a page from sailors in order to figure out what makes for an expert parent. It was inspired by something a yoga instructor said in class this week. (Ok. It was Chase Connolly from my favorite studio.) I’ve been thinking about it ever since. And you will be, too.

He said, “Joy is technical.”

I said, “Huh?” (from my downdog.)

He gave the example of a sailor being caught in a storm. If the sailor is new and unskilled, then a storm could be a terrifying and traumatizing experience. However, if the sailor is an expert and has years of experience, then getting stuck in a storm might be exhilarating and maybe even a joyful challenge.

It made me think of parenting. I wondered: What makes for an expert parent? Is it the technique we gain from experience or is it something else?

Expert sailors (and parents) have learned their technique:

  • which bucket (bottle)to use
  • how to hold the wheel (baby) in the correct position
  • where the lifejackets (pacifiers) are hidden
  • when to fiddle with the rudder (humidifer)
  • how to tie a knot (cloth diaper)

But more than that, expert sailors (and parents) are defined by their EMOTIONAL technique. It’s not just about finding solutions, rather it’s about finding a state of mind. The expert does not get crazed by the storm.

Deep in a moment of crisis she knows to say to herself- I will get through this and it will be ok. Partly this comes from experience. She has learned that the storm will blow over and peace will follow.

But partly it is the work of cultivating a deep sense of confidence. It takes some effort to truly believe that everything will be ok. That is the work of the expert parent.

In moments of storm the expert parent says: “I am taking care of this baby and I love this baby. My baby might be frightened but I am not because know I will figure it out. If she cries, it’s ok.”

Why is this so important? Because our baby needs us to believe it too.

 

So parents, here are some strategies for weathering the storm with grace:

  1. Take a breath. Maybe two.
  2. You may need to walk away for a minute knowing that it is for the best in the long run.
  3. You may need to tune in to what YOU need at that moment in order to know what your baby needs. maybe it’s a walk outside. Maybe it’s a song.
  4. Ask for help when you need it.
  5. Know that the storm will pass.

It is not necessarily working to overcome the storm rather to accept it. It is part of sailing. It’s part of parenting. We can’t always make it go away. We do our best to help and we have the confidence that eventually it will pass. The sun will peek out from the clouds and there will be a sunset and a glass of wine waiting.

These are my strategies but I want to hear yours. Let’s brainSTORM on this. Please share below in the comments.

Now let’s look at it from another perspective – the passenger’s.  As a passenger on the expert sailor’s boat we might feel frightened, but our fear would be contained by our skipper. We would have confidence that it would all be okay. On the novice sailor’s boat, it would be quite a shocking experience to be watching them frantically trying to troubleshoot – raising the sail, bringing down the sail, fiddling with the rudder, throwing things off the boat, etc.

Our babies need us to convey confidence that the storm will pass.

They register our trials and errors and our distress. Although they might feel scared, panicked, or confused, they trust us and need us to contain their anxiety.

So back to joy and technique – We may never fully feel that we have accrued enough technique to parent expertly. But we can work to cultivate confidence that the storm will pass. And that will open us up to experiencing all the joys that come with it.

 

How do you weather the storms? COMMENT below and let me know. Do you take a breath or two? Do you take a break yourself or turn to music?

Know a novice sailor or an expert one? Share this Tuesday Tune-In. We’re all making our way across this ocean together. Forward this email to all the sailors (parents) out there!

What Hamilton teaches us about being with our babies

This week, Broadway is my inspiration for The Tuesday Tune-in.

Art can teach us a lot about relationships – even the ones we have with our babies.

Let’s take a moment to consider “Hamilton.”

Whether or not you’ve seen or heard the songs from this Tony award-winning musical, you can benefit from one lesson I’ve taken away from it:


Stop saying – and start singing – every word.

In other words – Talk less. Sing more 🙂

 

Ok, I’ll admit – like many people in the United States – my family knows every single word to the soundtrack. It’s an album that we can all agree on. And even now, years after it had its heyday in my home, it is always a reliable go-to on long car drives.

 

One of the things that makes Hamilton so unique is that it is almost entirely sung. When you listen to the soundtrack, you’re pretty much getting the entire show. And for those who were lucky enough to see it, it’s an amazing experience to see an entire story told without speaking.

 

It reminds me of when I had my first baby and all the books and blogs said to narrate what I was doing with my baby. This would help him develop language, they all agreed. The idea was that the more language the baby hears, the more they will pick up on the sounds, syncopation and structure.

 

I tried it for a bit but, I have to say, it always felt ridiculous.


But you know what did feel right? Singing it.

For example: Picking my baby up from the crib,

I could say:

“I’m picking you up now and we’re walking into the kitchen.”

Or

I could sing:

“Let’s go into the kitchen, let’s go into the kitchen let’s find something to eat.“

 

As you go about your day, narrate it. Let your baby in on your story, on your thoughts and feelings. BUT don’t just narrate in words. Put it into melody, rhyme and rhythm. The more you do that the more your baby will be listening.

You can even challenge yourself to rhyme at the end of sentences. Hell, take a page from “Hamilton” (and rap and hip-hop) and see if you can even rhyme in the middle of sentences.

Here’s some inspiration. The creator of “Hamilton,” Lin-Manuel Miranda’s rhymes are so good they’ve been analyzed mathematically:

[HAMILTON]

“Thomas Jefferson, always hesitant with the President
Reticent—there isn’t a plan he doesn’t jettison
Madison, you’re mad as a hatter, son, take your medicine
Damn, you’re in worse shape than the national debt is in”
from “Cabinet Battle #1

 

And once you do it, you may find that it’s hard to stop. Here’s how Miranda felt about it:

“We found that if you start with our opening number, you can’t go back to speech. The ball is just thrown too high in the air.” (Mental Floss)
Once you start singing what you’re doing to your baby, it will feel incredibly natural. There are a few scientific and emotional reasons for this.

First of all, it turns out babies are much more interested in hearing us sing rather than speak, according to a study in “Infant Behavior and Development” (2004) They hold their gaze longer on the singer and even move their bodies less signaling that we are holding their attention.

The next reason is because it makes us more playful. When I did this with my baby I was organizing my words into repeatable and simpler phrases, which rolled off my tongue more easily. I’m sure that was much more relatable to my baby. It was definitely more interesting for me.

The third reason? it just made my baby and I a little happier. Suddenly we were smiling; we were bopping to whatever I was singing; and I was making myself giggle at the rhymes and the silly melodies that I was coming up with.

The creator of “Hamilton,” Lin-Manuel Miranda figured out how to hold the attention of the world with just this type of rhyme and silly melody. He figured out that if he brought us a show that had a strong rhythm to it, syncopation that made us move, intricate rhymes, and clever phrasing, then it would hold our attention. (It doesn’t hurt to have a fascinating story and a hugely talented cast either.).

With those tools, he managed to tell one of the most complicated stories ever told on stage with a soundtrack that is listened to over and over and over by all ages.

 

So I say: Let’s take a lesson from Hamilton.

Let’s learn how to be more engaged, more playful and more joyful.

And, along the way, let’s star in our own home-made musical.

 

 

Do you star in your own home-made musical? I want to hear about it! COMMENT in the comment box below and tell us how you do it.

What’s your favorite “Hamilton” song? Comment and let me know.

Know another “Hamilton” fan? Share this Tuesday Tune-In.

If they know all the lyrics like my kids, I can assure you they’ll appreciate this read. Forward along!

Love this blog and would like to receive more to your inbox?

Yes! Please send me more of the Tuesday Tune-In!

2 steps to feeling closer to your partner

Hello dear In Tune Parents,

This week’s Tuesday Tune In is all about finding balance in our marriage. Is it possible? I would love to hear your thoughts. Here are some of my toughts about our relationship with our parnter post baby:

Every couple of years I take on a big project. During the year that it takes, I usually feel extremely creative, productive and motivated. The problem is that the more absorbed I get into creation, the more distant I feel from my kids and, especially, my husband.

Here’s what I’ve learned in 10 years of marriage:
When my plate is overflowing, my partnership is the first to suffer.

Okay. It’s true that he accepts my ebbs and flows. Maybe he’s even proud of me during those times. But I know that he also feels neglected. I start to see the signs: our conversations become all about household business, he stays up late watching TV, we don’t get in bed at the same time and we are a bit shorter with each other. I’ll even see negative effects trickle down to the household. The kids become shorter with each other and compete for attention. That’s a pretty convincing case that I need to shift my focus.

How do I make this shift? No need to immediately jump to sex. When there’s a rift in the relationship that can feel way too threatening. Instead, here are the 2 steps I’ve found work best. …

How to Intimately Reconnect with your Partner:

1. Find a moment to be fully present – physically and emotionally
Empty the to-do list and truly feel that the night is open ended.

2. Start small
A hand on a shoulder. A hug. Maybe it ends there for that night. Or maybe it goes further. Part of what feels stressful sometimes is the pressure of going ‘all the way’. But in those moments when it feels like there is a small glacier between us, sometimes just leaning on each other while watching TV feels like a big melting step.

This sounds so easy but its not. For me, right now in the busy work-mode that I am in, I almost need to schedule it in my calendar. It’s nice when it naturally rises to the top of my list. That’s when we effortlessly fall into each other. But during these moments that I’m talking about, and I know you’ve had them too, it feels effortFULL. It almost feels like laundry.

When each kid was an infant it felt the same way. My husband and I put everything we had into staying aflot above a sea of diapers, nightime wake ups, and a constant to-do list. During those years, raising a baby was the project.

I’m going to give you a happy ending on this one because I want to inspire you.

True story –  this morning my husband and I woke up feeling re-connected to each other. The kids immediately seemed a bit more chipper, and I’ve been feeling pretty damn productive all day.  You can imagine how last night went 🙂

So that’s the big lesson here. The one that I need to relearn again and again. Being productive does not necessarily mean “working.” It means balance.

And how do we learn what balance means for us? We keep asking ourselves – “What amazing things happened today?” Eventually, we get it. And then we forget it, and then we get it again.

Schedule time to just be present together. It might just bring new energy to all of your other endeavors too.

Has your career blomed while your marriage wilted? Comment below and let me know.
It can’t just be me, right? What work opportunities have you seized and how have you maintained your love connection? I would love to hear your comments below.

Know someone else who needs two ways to feel closer? Share this Tuesday Tune-In. Relationship advice is best when it comes from a good friend. Forward this email their way!

AND – if you are on Instagram please follow me! I do IG lives every Wednesday.
If you are on Facebook – please follow me! I do FB lives every Wednesday too 🙂

All for now,
Love Vered

Do you want to know everything there is to know about lullabies? <a href=”http://www.babyintune.com/lullabykit”>Click here</a> to download my new <strong><span style=”color: #800080;”><a style=”color: #800080;” href=”http://www.babyintune.com/lullabykit”>Easy Bedtime Lullaby Kit</a></span></strong> complete with a songwriting template, a playlist, and a gameplan to make your evenings easier for one and all.

3 ways to get your baby drumming

Friends – It’s Tuesday Tune-In time.

Before we get started, some housekeeping. If you aren’t already, I highly suggest following me on Instagram at @babyintune, and on Facebook @baby in tune. I’ve been doing live posts with some good tips, have been sharing new songs, and find it a great way to connect with you all on a more regular basis.

Ok. Here we go.

This week, I let you in on a musical-bonding tool that’s not vocal. Spoiler: It’s drumming. More specifically, drumming together. It creates magic in a room.

Try it for yourself. You don’t need to be a musician to lead a drum circle. You don’t need special drums. Break out the pots and Tupperware – or just use the floor – and start banging. Believe me: Baby will follow your lead.

There’s a reason for this: It feels good to drum with someone else. It’s similar to the feeling we have when we dance with other people. Humans enjoy synchronizing to the rhythm of music, especially with others.

And that starts very early on – even little babies prefer synchronization and can modify their movements to the sound of music. (Have you been wondering if your baby is actually kicking to the beat? The answer is yes!)

Not sure where to start? Here are some techniques to create magic by drumming together.

(My favorite is the last one, so if you can, read till the end.  To me that one is really a metaphor for life. Maybe they all are?)

THREE WAYS TO START A FAMILY DRUM CIRCLE

1. Hold down a simple beat.
The easiest and most common rhythm in Western culture is a four count. So drum out your beat while counting: 1 2 3 4 1 2 3 4. You can add eighth notes (1 and 2 and 3 and 4), and you can syncopate it, which means taking out some beats and putting the stress on beats that might have otherwise been softer. (e.g. 1 2 and _ 4).

Since you are holding down the beat, your baby is free to drum within that. Your job is to stay steady and be the backbone like a drummer in a band. Your baby gets to be the soloist.

(You see what I mean by all this being a metaphor for life and parenting?)

If your baby isn’t sitting and drumming on their own yet, you can drum right by their ears and give them a stereo rhythm coming from both sides. You’ll see how your baby immediately becomes interested. In fact, it is a good trick to do when your baby is a little fussy. Often a beat by their ears can snap them out of it.

This song Galloping Horse was created to start rhythm with our babies. It also includes a bunch of hand gestures parents in my classes said their babies love.

2. Pick an area of the world you’d like to visit with your drumming.
Good options are: Africa, Cuba, Middle East, the Caribbean, India or others. Somewhere pique your interest?

Now, look up “African drumming.” Once you find a song that inspires you, you and your baby can drum along to that song. It’s pretty fun to jam along with music that you’re listening to. Especially drumming.

Recently in my classes we traveled into Asia through Japan and China. Taiko drumming, from Japan, is often accompanied by choreographed dance. And Chinese drumming can sometimes be lyrical and tell a story.

Although our classes are comprised of babies and parents who often don’t consider themselves musical, after we listen to music from a particular culture there is a distinct feeling to each drum circle that is clearly inspired by the music we just heard.

3. Listen very closely to the sounds people around you are making.
This reminds me of a game my kids play where they see how high a number they can count to. Each person says one number spontaneously, without designating an order.

If you’ve ever done this, then you know that the exercise sharpens your focus on being in the moment. It makes you stand in a group and look around with anticipation, wondering when the others will say a number and when there will be space for you to call one out. Most of all, it perks up your ears.

The best kinds of drum circles are like that. When each person listens very closely to the music and the sounds that others are making. The idea is to really be on the edge of your seat anticipating and excited by where your sound will fit into the sound of the group. It can feel pretty profound.

This drum circle may sound different than what you are used to. It may not have a steady beat, rather it may have a loose more spontaneous feel to it, like a conversation.

As way to truly converse through music, try mirroring your baby’s beats and vocalizations with your beats and voice as well.

If for just a few minutes a day we can take a moment to listen closely to the sounds around us – the sounds our baby is making, and our response to those sounds – we may just tell a story with our music.

(Feeling like a metaphor for life and parenting again?)

Just remember: The more you get into it, the more you will enjoy it. So let go of inhibitions. And know that, in order to do that, you need to play for much longer than you would think.  So start and don’t stop until the story you’re telling comes to a close.

What have your drumming experiences been like? I’d love to hear about it in the COMMENTS section.

Did you drop in to a drum circle in college, on a trip or in a recent baby/me class? I want to know. Write a comment!

Who else needs baby/me activity inspo? Share this Tuesday Tune-In. I know the days can be long. Share this fun and emotionally connecting activity with a friend by clicking Forward!

Love this blog and would like to receive more to your inbox?

Yes! Please send me more of the Tuesday Tune-In!

A quick way to feel present with your baby

Good, good morning to you – moms, dads, grandparents, and caregivers.

It’s time for The Tuesday Tune In. This week, I’m telling you one super-quick, super-easy way to be present with your children.

You know that moment when our babies or kids ask us to do something “one more time”? I know you do.

We all love their desire for more Together Time – but in that moment we can pass on the opportunity. Often it’s because it’s nearing the end of the day and we’re too worn out. Or we see that little bit more as just TOO MUCH right then.

Or – if you’re like me – you’re just so ready for the fast-approaching Me Time.

So, you’ve probably already guessed what I’m going to tell you to try this week:

Push yourself to do that thing ONE MORE TIME.

For my kids, it’s an extra hug after bedtime kisses.

Have you ever seen a horse nearing the stable after a long walk? That’s when the horse’s walking turns into a trot because they know they’re almost home.

At 7:55pm, I feel me-time becoming a reality and I start to gallop home. And it’s right when I reach the stable when the kids each ask for one more hug.

For your child it might be asking for you to rock them one more time, to walk the curb like a balance beam one more time or to sing a chorus one more time.

I say, for the next week, Let’s see what happens when we push ourselves to give in for those two extra minutes – whether it’s the extra hug, the detour or the added rocking.

One of my biggest struggles as a parent is to do all of the things I do every day (career, errands, tasks, social life) and also find a way to be fully present with my kids.

I’ve found that this is one simple shift in my behavior that changes everything.

One day recently I went back and lied down with my daughter in her bed for a moment and I gave her a long, delicious hug. I let my tasks go. The emails would wait. The mess would still be there. And I gave in to two minutes of being fully present with her.

Later I realized that it was the best part of my day.

How did I realize the power of “one more time”?
I wrote the extra hug in my Five Minute Journal.

A couple weeks ago, I sent out an email about a practice called The Five Minute Journal by Tim Ferriss. (Read that full post here.)

I noticed that at the end of the day, when I was writing my list of amazing things that happened that day, I would consistently write about the extra hug. And then the next day when I was writing my list of what would make the day great I started to put down the extra hug. Because: Why wouldn’t I make my day amazing?

So try it. See if it makes your day amazing, too.

What’s your child’s “one more thing”? Comment and let me know.
One last dance-off? One last tickle fight? It’s different for every child. I want to know yours. Drop me a line here.

Glad you read this Tuesday Tune-In? Share it – one more time!
Quick. Now. Before you’re ready to move on to Me time! Forward to a friend, you good samaritan.

Do you have a friend with a baby who needs sleep asap? Send them the Easy-Bedtime Lullaby Kit.

One trick to feeling good about your singing

Hi, tuned-in moms and dads,

This week in the Tuesday Tune In, I want to offer you a strategy for feeling good about your singing voice especially when singing with your baby.

You might be surprised to hear: Whenever I sit down at the microphone to record vocals for an album, I have a mini freak-out. I’ve never thought of myself as a great singer. What I really wanted since I was a kid was to be able to sing like Mariah Carey or Beyonce or other singers who seemed to have endless flexibility in their vocals. I hope you’re not reading this thinking – “Oh please. She has a beautiful voice.”

Because that’s my point:
Everyone feels insecure when they sing. (Even those who make a career out of it.)

If you haven’t grown up singing in your home or with your family or friends, then it probably feels even more uncomfortable and scary.

So, I’m going to give you a strategy.

Here’s a method that I use when I’m singing at the mic. I’m hoping it will help you when you are singing to your baby. Because here’s the thing: Your baby wants to hear you sing. More than Paul McCartney, more than Aretha. Your baby wants to hear YOU.

The trick to STOP JUDGING and START LOVING your singing voice:

1. Relax your voice by taking in a deep breath before each phrase.

This is important because if your body tenses, then your voice will immediately feel constricted. Once that happens, our brains recognize the discord and we judge ourselves from the get-go.

2. Hear your voice as if it is coming from outside of you.

As you are singing try to hear your voice as if someone else is singing to you. This is the hard part and the incredible part. You might need to close your eyes as you do this but if you manage to do it, even for a minute, you may feel soothed by your own voice. Instead of judging it, you may enjoy it. This is because we are much less judgemental of others than we are of ourselves.

This technique is a bit easier in a group when you can focus on everyone else’s voice instead of your own. We do this alot in our classes. When shifting our focus to the voices around us we notice that our own voice tends to be more in pitch, more relaxed, and seems to find its place among the other voices in an effortless way.

I learned this while recording my albums. My biggest task in the studio was to get out of my own head. If I didn’t, I could feel my inner dialogue getting the best of me just a few words in. My voice felt and sounded constricted and didn’t seem to flow. If someone could’ve record my thoughts during those few words, they would probably have seen a quick moving list of comments – “You sound terrible,” “You shouldn’t be singing this song,” “That note was off,” “Your jaws is not relaxed,” “Sara Bareilles sounds much better” or, “No one will want to hear this.”.

That voice can be SO loud. And while we all have a version of it, some hear it louder than others.

I know this from years of doing classes and singing with parents. Many don’t feel comfortable singing in a group or, if they do, they will be sure to sing under their breath so no one can hear.

There’s a good reason for that. Singing is not like talking. Speaking often comes from an intellectual place. But singing bypasses our intellect and comes directly from an emotional place. That feels vulnerable no matter who you are.

But that is what makes singing so powerful.

Tonight as you are singing a lullaby to your baby, try it. It’s a mindfulness exercise and it’s not simple but it’s worth it. Why not let you AND your baby be soothed by your voice?

How comfortable are you with your voice?
Have you overcome insecurities while singng? How?
I want to hear!! Email and let me know.

So many parents in my groups feel insecure about singing. Your stories can help them overcome their anxiety.

Love this Tuesday Tune-In? Share it with a mom friend or dad friend. The ones who sang at your wedding and the ones who won’t even karaoke. Forward away.

Love Vered

Sleeping Much? I didn’t think so.

Download the FREE Easy-Bedtime Lullaby Cheat Sheet now

5 Minutes That Will Change Your Day

Dearst parents,
I recently came across a way to get all the energetic upside of a gratitude practice AND all of the actionable results of a goal-setting practice. When I noticed the feel-good wave it gave me day to day, I knew this would be the first thought in my new Tuesday Tune-In blog series that I’d share with you.

It’s called The 5 Minute Journal and it’s the brainchild of self-experimenter and bestselling author Tim Ferriss (“The Four-Hour Work Week”).

I’ve woven it into my life since December and appreciate how simple it is. And for parents who may be sleep deprived – and are certainly time deprived – this is a perfect way to journal daily and check in with yourself in literally five minutes. Honestly, I can make it three minutes, so you can, too.

Notice my kids in the pic waiting patiently for me in the morning. I’ve trained them that this is two minutes of mommy time 🙂 And if your baby is too young to wait for you to do this then just know it is in your future!

The Five Minute Journal
In the morning, you write 3 (or more) points for each of these:

I am grateful for…
What would make today great?
Daily affirmations: I am…

In the evening you write 3 (or more) points for these:
Amazing things that happened today
How could I have made today even better?

I can attest: These little questions do a lot.

The question that struck me most was: What would make today great?

I’ve been surprised by the things I write here. They are often much smaller moments than I expected. And I feel empowered that they’re small enough that I can go ahead and try to make them happen the next day.

I urge you to go into this with curiosity – what are those things that would make your day truly great?

The evening follow-up –  What amazing things happened today?, might surprise you as well. Again, they might be big but they might be small.

Remember, it’s a few minutes and it’s truly worth it.

As it turns out, journaling is one of the top habits of successful people. (Oprah talks about hers here.) And a gratitude practice has been shown in Positive Psychology to improve our well-being, both long and short term. Just look to the empirical research in Robert A. Emmons and Cheryl A. Crumpler ‘s 2000 article “Gratitude as a human strength: Appraising the evidence” for the Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, which he talks about here.

I know you are all busy – feeding babies, putting kids down, waking up early with kids and more. You may have NO TIME WHATSOEVER to journal. I totally get that. But in case you have just five minutes to try it, it might make your day great. Or amazing.

Did you get through this in 2 minutes or less? Reply and let me know.
I want to make sure that each weekly thought is useful to you – and not just one more lengthy article that you put aside for later. My goal is to make it short enough for you to digest it on the go. This way, you can take the ideas into your life with your baby and feel that much more present and joyful. Drop me a line here.

Love this Tuesday Tune-In? Share it with a mom friend or dad friend.
We all need a little love. Forward away.

Do you want to know everything there is to know about lullabies? Click here to download my new Easy Bedtime Lullaby Kit complete with a songwriting template, a playlist, and a gameplan to make your evenings easier for one and all.

See you next Tuesday,
Love Vered

I’m in Paste Magazine!!

“If you’re the parent of a young child, you probably know Vered. If not, you should.”

Wow! What an opener! Thank you Paste Magazine! This article about my song on Songs for Sisters and Brothers is so awesome. And to top it off, I am huge fan of Paste.

It’s a modern love affair…

“If you’re the parent of a young child, you probably know Vered. If not, you should. The Brooklyn-based singer and music therapist has a knack for writing songs for every kind of kid, from infants to older sisters, and every kind of childlike parent. On her third album, Songs for Sisters and Brothers, she’s taking inspiration directly from her own family with a collection of songs devoted to the ups and downs of sibling relationships and the parents lost “in the battlefield.

The playful single “It’ll Be” was inspired by a conversation between Vered’s three kids in which they planned where they would live together as adults and how they would build their house. She’s joined on vocals by ex-Walkmen guitarist Walter Martin…”

https://www.pastemagazine.com/articles/2018/05/walter-martin-joins-vered-on-ill-ge.html

Something Other Than a Mom

Some of my favorite classes to teach are dads groups. Usually they are organized by the moms who took my class, who want the dads to have the experience they did. And during those weeks I get to hear about it all through their eyes.

Much of the stuff they talk about is the same. The challenge of getting baby to sleep and not sleeping enough, not always understanding what baby needs and wants, and the absolute joy of watching their baby grow. But often they add the perspective that was missing when their partner took the class. While the mom on maternity leave may have complained about her husband not helping enough, the dad complains of not having enough time with the baby and not feeling confident enough to trouble-shoot because of that. While the mom complained about needing physical space from the husband and not feeling romantic, the husband says that he misses his wife, although understands the distance.

This article was written by my favorite dad blogger Jeff Bogle. He took my song to heart and wrote this beautiful piece perfectly illustrating this dads’ perspective.

https://www.huffpost.com/entry/i-remember-when-you-were-something-other-than-a-mom_b_7188930

Article in Scary Mommy!

Hello dear parents!

How cool is this? Scary Mommy published my article about getting siblings to stop fighting. I’d love to hear what you think. Also, has the album been helping at all? My hope is that it helps to raise some awareness in your family as to dynamics, challenges, and just feeling like we are not alone.

“Usually the fights have to do with sharing. Sharing a toy, a friend, a cousin, a food. And they do want those things, but below the surface, that’s not really what they are fighting over. They are competing for the love and attention of us parents. They want to know – do you love me the most? Do you think I’m the most special of all your kids? Am I unique and special?”

https://www.scarymommy.com/how-i-got-my-kids-to-stop-fighting/

NEW ALBUM IS OUT!!

Hi everyone,
I am so excited to announce that my new album has been released to the world. It has been a year of HARD WORK. Seriously, doing my classes, training a new therapist, recording an album, launching a Kickstarter, and oh yeah, raising three kids, has been alot this year. But now I am at the other side of it all and can take a deep breath in.

The album is all about SIBLINGS. The Kickstarter campaign really explains where I was coming from with this one. Click here to see the video. This album was made with all of your help. I could not have done it without you.

It is already getting great press and airplay. But most importantly, I am hoping you all like it. Recently I received an email from a fan that made me feel like all of my hard work is worth it:

“The songs from the new album are beautiful and brought me to tears sometimes. Most of all, I was able to reflect on how much your class has meant to R and I during this profoundly important year and as my little lady is about to turn one! Thank you for what you do. I think yesterday was a testament to everyone around that you are meant to do the work that you do and to touch the lives of all of us in an awe-inspiring way.”

You can now purchase the album on Itunes, Amazon, or anywhere else. Please do check in and tell me if/which songs resonate with you.

Lots of love,
Vered

The VLOOOOOOOOOOOG

People, I haven’t been great about posting on this blog. But that is because I have been spending my time posting on my VLOG! So if you haven’t subscribed already. DO IT! You will get the straight to your inbox right when I hit publish.

And guys, the vlog takes alot of work. It takes me about 5 hours from start to finish. Filming the bits I want, figuring out the topic, editing, adding the graphics. Every.single. week.

And then of course there is the emotional work. Every single time i hit publish on this thing my stomach is in knots. For alot of reasons. First of all, it’s private stuff. My doubts, my family life, my insecurities, my questions. Writing a personal song feels waaaaaay easier than this because I get to edit it, put a melody to it, sculpt it. I usually only get a day to spend on the vlog. And then it goes out with a click.

Second, it makes me put myself out there in a way I am not used to doing. I’m not in my performer self, singing and playing music. I am filming me as I am in my daily life. I don’t usually wear make up but I feel like I should when I watch the vlog, my hair is often a mess, my voice sounds mousy, and in general I watch it back saying – who is that??

I am enjoying the challenge of it. “Living out loud” has been interesting. Keeping to my once a week goal is as satisfying as it is challenging. And it has been a growing experience to have a place to reflect every week on whatever questions arise.

So -all this to say. Here are the last few I’ve done:

Why Do We Make Art?

New Year Resolutions
Sexuality in Our Kids

Please check them out and if you have a minute, let me know what you think and if there is a topic you’d like me to cover.

Thank you!
Vered

Vacation!! With kids and without

The end of this summer has been – complicated. While the country was revealing it’s ugliest faces I was away in my semi-homeland Israel. These days there are too many similarities between the two states.

I came for a long vacation with the kids. My husband was with us for the first half and I stayed on for another two weeks. The first two weeks were a wonderful. A whirlwind of catching up with friends and family, going to the beach, going out a night, spending time with the grandparents.

The best parts were when my husband and I got to get away and spend a night without the kids. After a year of not having the grandparents on both sides near us, we usually take advantage during the summer and leave the kids for one night with each unit.

My husband and I desperately needed to reconnect. I talk all about it in episode 8 of my vlog:

Episode 8 – Vaca and Sex

But then he left and I was left with the three kids, no routine, no camp, and a way too early wake up for me. So I wasn’t the most patient mama during that time.

It made me think alot about what vacation really is and what we can expect it to be when we have the kids with us. I talk about that in my last vlog:

Episode 9 – Vaca and kids

I’m not complaining. I feel very lucky to have had the opportunity to come here and be with family and friends and relax from work. But like everything else with kids its a mixed bag. I love experiencing the beach through their eyes. I love seeing them with the grandparents and seeing how loving the grandparents are to them, I love playing with them without thinking about work. But I also cherish my own time. And without it I can be slightly less pleasant.

Well, It’s over now. Back to school and to work. And life goes on.

I started a Vlog!!!!

For those of you who are wondering what a vlog is, it is a blog on video. Until now I have been keeping this blog, although not as regularly as I would have liked, where I have been writing impressions from my work with parents and babies and have been bringing in articles or things I find interesting. Now I am taking it to a new level. And I have to say, it both terrifies and excites me.

We live in a time where we are used to seeing public figures revealed through video, not just text. We have become accustomed to seeing not only the polished and edited version of someone but the more raw, day to day version as well. A static frame can present a moment that we have chosen and curated. A moving frame or video discloses alot more. Words can’t be chosen as obsessively. Awkward movements are broadcast in all their glory.

As someone who is a mix of introvert and extrovert, leaning more toward introvert, this is a daunting endeavor. But one that intrigues me nonetheless.To make matters worse, I will be doing alot of talking into the camera which is going to feel silly. But I will be imagining you all as I do so. (And if you subscribe that will help me alot in knowing that you are actually listening – plug!)

Not to say that I will be taking you with me everywhere I go in my day as many vloggers do. But I will be taking you with me to groups with parents and babies, to recordings, and other experiences I think you would be interested in hearing about.

The concept is intimidating and I imagine that for a while I will be pretty awkward in these. Also, I am quite conflicted about how much of my personal life I will show you – kids, husband etc. For now I will try to keep the lens only on my professional life.

So here it is – my first VLOG!!

My first vlog entry

Feel free to leave a comment on the vlog letting me know what you think. It is in its very first days like a baby so any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

My takeaways from the Zero to Three conference 2016

In 2015 I attended the Zero to Three conference for the first time. I was inspired to be in the company of 3000 other practitioners who devote their career to benefitting the care of babies. You can read about my biggest takeaway from that conference here. I walked away from the conference saying to myself – I want to present there next year.

During the summer I was excited to find out that my presentation proposal with my colleague Mia Pixley was one of those chosen out of hundreds. Presenting was a thrill. With two huge screens projecting my powerpoint, I talked about my work and how I view the meeting point between music therapy and attachment theory. I led the large group in a drum circle and we wrote a song together. I showed them videos of you all from my groups (thank you!) to illustrate important points. Mia talked about her research on infant-directed singing. It went really well.

Screen shot 2017-01-06 at 1.02.46 PM

But even more exciting was hearing some of the other lectures.

There is a huge body of research showing how important it is to focus on the first three years of a child’s life. Improper emotional care, (not just physical,) has been shown to increase the risk for heart disease, cancer and other illnesses. It is becoming more and more clear that resources should be poured into improving care for our babies. Which is why for the first time ever, early childhood was included in a mental health reform bill that was passed in congress. That is really exciting news.

There was a lot of talk about biofeedback and neurofeedback as a way to improve behavior based on self learning. One direction that made me wonder why we haven’t been doing this all along and why we aren’t all doing this more is a computer game that helps teach kids how to regulate their own brainwaves. Sensors are connected to ear lobes to measure brain activity and spaceships (or other images) react to those brainwaves. The idea is to help the patient restore equilibrium in the brain. For instance, kids can learn how to increase the amount of orange space ships, those responding to brain waves associated with executive functioning, and reduce others responding to brainwaves that are leading to dysregulation.  The hope is that with more research and development it will help reduce the need for meds.

Sarah Watamura did a fascinating talk on the long term affects of toxic stress and how these can be buffered. Baby rats who were groomed and licked after reuniting with their mothers were less likely to maintain a high level of stress. Meaning, us parents can help our kids buffer stress so that it does not become chronic and debilitating. Her main point was that we need to save our stress for the big things. During life threatening events, our bodies use a stress mechanism that rallies in order to protect our functions and keep us safe. Wasting precious resources on worrying about the future or other daily stressors takes away from needed functions. She has found that babies who underwent trauma or whose mothers did when they were in the womb maintain a constant higher level of stress which reduces daily functioning. For kids this means that they may be maintaining a level of high alert, which calls on necessary functions and resources, which affects their ability to focus on schoolwork and learning.

In her program she works with parents on “serve and return”, which basically means helping the parent become more aware of how they are reacting to their baby, mirroring, being attuned, etc. A lot of the stuff we do in my workshops.

My biggest takeaway this year had to do with activism. In general, my activist self, which has been quite dormant for much of my adult life, has been waking up as a result of our political situation. So these talks hit a nerve. The first was Paul Schmitz who inspired each of us to be a leader by illustrating that even those who we see as great historical leaders, like Rosa Parks or Martin Luthor King, were led to their actions by the work and leadership of many people around them who didn’t end up being the face of the movement. His point was that we are all leaders and are all needed to make a change, it is not up to the few who will be the face of change in the history books.

The second was Bryan Stevenson who is a public interest lawyer and has dedicated his career to helping the poor, the incarcerated and condemned. He was a profoundly charismatic speaker. Here is his Ted Talk if you want to get a gist. His work fighting poverty and challenging racial discrimination is inspiring. He believes a few things are needed in order for us to help those who need it most:

  1. Hope. This one is loaded for alot of us these days. But we need to maintain our hope if we are to change our world for the better.
  2. Proximity. We need to get close to those who need our help. Go to their neighborhoods, find them where they are.
  3. Be willing to be uncomfortable. That’s the hardest one. But we know he is right of course.

I walked away from the conference even more ignited to bring my skills to parents who need it, who can’t pay for it, who don’t have access to services like this. Last year I tried to volunteer at some hospitals in high risk areas because I figured that if I could help young moms find music with their babies in their first days together they would feel that much happier and more confident when they went home. I was rejected from the hospitals because of the intricate beurocracy of large institutions. But I feel reinvigorated to continue my search for where I can donate my time.

If you made it this far in this post, you may be the person to ask. Do you know of any organizations or locations who would benefit from my workshops? I am prepared to donate time and am also looking for a grant situation so that I can do this on a long term basis. Thanks team.

 

 

 

 

Happiness in a Minute

My groups have been more intense lately. In the last few, weeks as a result of world events, I have entered rooms where parents are already teared up, feeling overwhelmed, seeking community and connection with others.

Normally in my groups the discussions revolve around challenging and joyful moments parents have had with their babies. We sing about them and talk about them and find release together. But lately I’ve felt the need to shift the conversation toward gratefulness.

Researchers in psychology provide studies showing that if we say or write down something we are grateful for every day we will feel happier. Similarly if we recount a wonderful moment daily we will feel a long term improvement in mood as well.

The parents I work with are often already feeling somewhat overwhelmed. Hormones are raging and causing unpredictable mood swings and the extreme shift in day to day tasks and overall sense of identity can be profound.

So why not use a simple tool that science has given us?

That and music of course. So many of my group members have said that they are grateful for music during difficult times.

Me too.

For the NON-CHEF (/working+distracted+couldn’t be bothered/parent)

I am not a chef. I admire and envy those people who feel so utterly comfortable in the kitchen. Usually it is because they have been watching their mother (father?) cooking in the kitchen since they were kids. There was no scene like that in my house. My parents both worked a lot and I was a typical 80s key kid. Once we moved to Israel when I was 11 I remember making my own chocolate spread sandwiches for school and throwing together dinners that were usually omelet, toast, cream cheese.
My mother did have two or three meals that she made. As did her mother, as do I. For years I have been trying to expand on those and maybe this year will be the year. But for now I thought I would post a sample week’s menu as we start the school season. The thing is, if it were just my husband and I we would probably eat odds and ends from the fridge every night. But we have to feed these children balanced, healthy meals goddamit.

Spaghetti. Yum.
Spaghetti. Yum.

This menu is for my fellow NON-CHEFS. Those of you who regularly use things like salad spinners, graters, mincers, and food processors need not read on. Unless you want to feel good about your cooking abilities and chuckle about mine.

My hope is that you will post your weekly menus in the comments too. I need more suggestions and I imagine others do too. Meals that are quick and easy with very few ingredients are the ones I go for. Also, I don’t do meals that need any earlier prep time. That is reserved solely for dinner parties in which I want to impress friends.

You might read these and think – my kid would never eat that. Well sometimes mine don’t either. But I insist on saying to them – this is what is for dinner. if you don’t like it then don’t eat. I do allow for a banana or apple at any meal even if it is not on the table.

7 Meals that Can be Done FAST

1. Meat Sauce Spaghetti

  • In a skillet fry the meat (I use organic farm raised shredded beef. no need to add oil)
  • Drain fat
  • In a pot fry onions, add red peppers,
  • Add tomato sauce from a can (I use the ones that are only tomato sauce without added seasoning) and maybe a small can of tomato paste to add thickness, and meat.
  • Boil spaghetti

2. Taco/Burritos

  • Soft tacos (my kids like whole wheat tortillas. they aren’t really tacos at all but are bien enough)
  • Refried beans – sometimes not even heated
  • Rice – depends how much time you have. White for fast, I like brown, farro if I am feeling daring enough to trick the kids into thinking it’s rice
  • Avocado slices
  • Maybe cheese maybe salsa
  • Sauteed onions and peppers if I am feeling fancy

After making two meals I usually need a rest.

"Tacos" rolled in a soft tortilla and roasted veggies.
“Tacos” rolled in a soft tortilla and roasted veggies.

3. Frozen Pizza

  • We like Amy’s gluten free with spinach. It is very crunchy and tasty and although the kids are not gluten free I am.

4. Fish or chicken cutlets

This is really the most time intensive. It might be easier and faster to bake the fish or chicken but my kids like this.

  • Two plates – one with beaten eggs, one with almond meal (or other bread crumb). Put fish first in egg, then in crumbs (till covered).
  • Fry in skillet till golden. I use coconut oil because it comes out yummy.

(You can tell I am not a chef by how I am writing all these out. But I DO know they like to say the word “golden” a whole lot.)

  • Roast veggies – this is an easy staple for many meals. I often cut up whatever veggies we have (sweet potato, kale, brocolli, cauliflower, beets, onions, zuchini), put them in a baking pan, mush them around with olive and salt and throw the in the oven. Sometimes the kids nibble on it sometimes they don’t touch it. I love it.

5. Sushi Order-In (I realize this should not go on a recipe list but I want to put it out there that I allow myself a night of ordering in. Sometimes it is even cheaper than the other option.)

We all agree that this is the best meal of all - ordering in
We all agree that this is the best meal of all – ordering in

6. Stir Fry Chicken

  • Cut chicken breast into small pieces.
  • Cut carrots and celery and whatever else into small pieces
  • Fry onions, then chicken for a while. Throw in veggies.
  • Make rice

Kids usually eat the chicken pieces without the veggies. I eat the veggies.

7. Weekend meals usually consist of lots of smoothies and sandwiches, and french toast for dinner

Please post your easy meals! Help out a fellow non-chef.

Helping Them Connect the Dots

My 4 year old did something terrible and unthinkable. He choked his 1.5 year old sister, enough to make her cough. He has pushed her before, grabbed from her, or given her a too-hard hug. But this felt alot different.

I was terrified, mortified, and so angry. After making sure she was ok I sent him to his room. I needed to collect myself as much as I felt he did. My thoughts raced – how could he do this? what made him do it? my mind fast-forwarded: am I raising a murderer? a psychopath? I felt fear and shame. Have I failed as a mother? Sometimes all it takes is one moment like this for me to doubt all of the intentional parenting I pour my energy into.

So I took a breath and went into his room. I impressed upon him the gravity of what he had done. By my initial reaction he already knew it was serious. He was shaken and scared because he did not truly mean to put her in danger. In fact I don’t even think he meant to hurt her a lot. I think he wanted to throw her off her course. Not that his behavior was excusable. But he did not understand the full affect that strangling can have.

Next I asked – what made you do that?
As a therapist I know that is not a great question to ask. Usually, if someone can articulate why they did something terrible they probably wouldn’t have done it in the first place. But in my state it was all I could bring myself to ask.

“You!” he said. “What do you mean me?” I said, “I did not tell you to do that!” I was still so angry that I couldn’t hear what he was trying to tell me. He changed the subject a few times while I kept asking my non-therapeutic question “but please tell me – why did you do that?” And finally he said “you got dressed!”

I stopped and took a moment to follow the sequence of events as he had experienced them and it dawned on me. Once I had connected the dots for myself I did it for him (slowly and with emphasis):

“You were angry when I told you we were going out tonight. You and I played ball but then you got upset because I stopped the game and went to get dressed. I came back to play and you got even more upset when I had to change my outfit. You were angry at me for leaving you tonight and for leaving the game. And then you hurt your sister who is smaller and can’t hurt you back. But maybe you really wanted to hurt me. You were feeling so angry at me.”

When I finished he took a big breath. I always know I’ve reached them when they sigh big.

Last year I attended a conference at Zero to Three, where practitioners from all over the country who work in early childhood come to learn about the latest research and methods. I was particularly struck by the presentations of Dr. Alicia Lieberman and Dr. Chandra Ghosh Ippen, both of whom research the affect of psychotherapy on children who have undergone trauma. My biggest takeaway from it was the idea of helping children create a narrative of their experience. Ghosh Ippen calls it creating a “conjoint trauma narrative” and Lieberman calls it “giving expression to the traumatic experience.” It is the idea that even young babies need to eventually reconstruct the experience in order to understand it. This along with very loving, consistent, and attuned therapy can help a child overcome post traumatic symptoms.

Thankfully my children have not experienced severe trauma. However, when I returned from the conference and tried a similar technique on my kids for small injuries I found that it had a pretty magical effect. Especially when I paired it with the idea I learned from Dr. Serena Wieder, who talked about understanding and helping children through emotional dysregulation. For instance, when my baby was in the bath and hit her head on the spout she immediately started crying and splashing the water, holding her hands out to come out. She was dysregulated and her body reacted by putting her in a heightened state of “I want out!”

I don’t always catch the moment before something like this happens, and often my attention is only called when the crying starts. But this time I had caught the lead-up. I pointed to the spout and said to my one year old “you hit your head on the spout and got an ‘owey’ (I demonstrated by hitting my head. “and it hurts and you want to come out.” She absorbed the narrative and even recreated it in her own words with pantomime, hitting her head and pointing to the spout. She sighed, and kept playing happily in the bath.

I started helping my kids “connect the dots” in other situations when they got emotionally dysregulated. I recounted what had happened prior, marking events or triggers that I thought had led up to it. Sometimes it was in the span of 3 minutes, sometimes a few hours. This is basically what psychotherapy aims to do as well, often with a much larger span of time (childhood, adolescence, etc.)

Back to my son and the strangling. The most appalling part of the story is him as the perpetrator, not the victim. However it was his feeling of powerlessness and frustration that led him to act on his anger. They were not traumatic events per se but events that slowly led him to emotional dysregulation.

I am not saying that my son’s actions were forgivable because I can understand where his anger came from. But my hope is that if I can help him connect the dots when he gets upset and escalates enough times, he will eventually be able to do it on his own in real time and will be able to control his aggressive impulses.

I ended the conversation with giving him an alternate route: “next time you can say ‘mama! I am feeling angry that you are leaving and are not playing with me. I feel like I want to do something mean to someone. Please help me!”

If nothing else, our conversation was therapeutic for us both. Mama needed to connect the dots too, so that I wouldn’t dump all of my parenting mistakes into one moment and in my mind have them lead to a future psychopath who wreaks havoc.

On a side note, this year I will be presenting my own methods at the Zero to Three conference.I can only hope that at least one practitioner/parent will walk away with a new tool, or a deeper understanding of how to help make our lives with our kids more loving and peaceful.

How I Survived an 11 Hour Flight On My Own With 3 Kids and Other Musings

Not sure how I got myself into it. A day flight, with three kids, on my own, including a 1.5 year old lap-baby. Is this what hell looks like?

Let’s back up. I spent a great month in Israel. Grandparents galore! And we did it right this time – the boys went to camp and the baby went to daycare. So they got their Israeliness (Alona says oy oy oy alot now) and I got a break during the morning. It was hot. But surprisingly, New York feels even hotter than Israel was. We did spend alot of time at the pool and the beach.

This time around I was struck by how alive Israeli’s are. Maybe it has something to do with living under the threat of war as a normal state of being. Here, we are just getting used to the idea that terror attacks can infiltrate the western world. Israelis were born into that reality.

It can make a person close down emotionally, deaden inside in order not to feel constantly overwhelmed. And for some people in Israel it does. But I also sensed the opposite. I felt a carpe diem quality that propels them to live strong, hard, fun, and edgy. The parties are intense. The protests are everywhere. And what struck me most of all, was the flirty nature of Israelis. Flirting happens at the deli, at a restaurant, at the playground. “You mean you don’t flirt with the dads at the playground?” My friend asked. I was appalled. Hell no! I completely close off that part of me when I am in ‘mom mode’. Flirt with another woman’s husband? Lord have mercy! “But,” she said “It is part of being alive. We are sexual beings. It is possible to be playful without acting on it.” I have to mull that one over.
I have been feeling hopeless and helpless about the state of America and the world and this attitude was a refreshing way to cope with it all.

Back to the flight. Here are the things I feel were crucial to getting through hell on wings. None of these are going to surprise you but it is good to have a list.

1. Duh. Screens. I had the kindle, the ipad, another ipad, the laptop, and the screens on the chairs to save my ass. The boys watched for 11 hours straight. Every program or movie I ever said no to. Time limits null and void. I even downloaded some Elmo for Alona who has not had any official screen time yet. She LOVES the videos of Elmos singing with celebs. (25 minutes down. 10.35 to go.)

2. Snacks. You can’t bring enough. Puffs, crackers, lollipops (for the ears), fruit, sandwiches (if they don’t like the plane meal), water bottles, nuts, bars, all of it.

3. Sticker books. Each of the boys had one (mindcraft for the older and this one which I love for the younger.) Alona had a book of Sesame Street stickers which gave me a good half hour. Yes, I was counting my time in half hour segments. I could happily watch my movie while absent mindedly helping her extract stickers.

4. Painters tape. This is a simple trick I pass on to anyone who is having trouble with wiggly-baby diaper changes. It is endless fun. Tear off a piece, it gets stuck on their fingers, on their body, keep tearing and sticking. Long pieces, short pieces.

5. Markers and notebook. We colored alot. Baby on a swing, baby waving hello, baby with an elephant. She especially enjoyed opening markers, using them for a second, closing them back and putting them in the box. I enjoyed it a little less when I had to bend over in our close quarters constantly searching for the lost cap.

6. A rolling suitcase as a carry on. To put all those screens and snacks in. This is in addition to the smaller backpack of absolutely essentials that go under the chair.

7. Now we are heading into emotional stuff. Resignation. That there will be segments of rest but basically it will be non-stop work. We walked up and down the aisles ALOT. We made friends with every baby and every grown up who didn’t give us a dirty look. And it was important that I was resigned to doing it. I expected it.

8. This is also obvious, but don’t forget the carrier. That is where they will finally fall asleep when there is 45 minutes to go. Right before the stewardess comes and says babies can’t be in a carrier for landing. Noooooo!!

9. Mental preparation for the older kids. I prepared them for the fact that I will not be going with them to the bathroom every time, that there might be a line so they should go BEFORE they can no longer hold it, and that they will probably have to climb over me. They whined but they went to those tiny closets without me.

All in all the day flight was refreshing in a way. I am used to night flights in which I do similar stuff but am also exhausted and dying to sleep. This time at least I was up for the fight.

Any tricks you use for flights? let me know. I have many more in my future.

photo (15)

The Third Baby

The third baby feels like a gift that the world offered to me and I selfishly took.

Did I just write that? A gift? How about when she is crying at 3am or is having her 5th tantrum of the day? And Selfish? What about all the selfless giving that it entails?

A gift, because I am ok with it all and am even enjoying it. I was ok with the nursing pain, the teenage hormones, the sleepless nights, the lonely bubble, and now the incessant diaper changing, the frustration, the shrieking, the demands. all of it feels inconsequential compared to what I am getting.

My father says that watching me with my daughter is like watching a girl with a baby doll. All he sees is play and playfulness. Most of the time I am laughing or smiling with her as she rolls around in my arms.

I swear I was not this sappy with the first two. Actually, I was so in shock the first time that I changed careers completely and started to write songs about my experience. I couldn’t come to terms with my identity shift. In my eyes I went from independent rock star woman to baby slave. My time wasn’t my own and my day to day felt like an endless string of waiting on his majesty. Not to say that I didn’t enjoy him immensely. I did and he ended up inspiring an album of love songs. But I mourned my old self daily.

And then came the second. And with him the frenzy of trying to save the first from the terrible trauma of losing my full and attentive love. At the time it felt like a tragic Shakespeare play in which my first was being brutally abandoned by the two people in the world he thought he could forever count on for love. In my dramatization I over compensated and practically ignored my beautiful little baby who watched my every move with big eyes. Slowly he learned to take care of himself in a way my first never did and now surprises me again and again with his independence and ingenuity.

And then the third. A lot has to do with just getting used to something. I got used to having babies and all that comes with it. I also got used to the emotional roller coaster, the effect the kids have on each other, the affect a new baby has on my marriage. But also my identity has long ago shifted to include ‘mother’ as an integral part of it. And, I don’t worry about the first two as much because they have each other to push off of and don’t always need me.

I am available to just enjoy her. Smell her, sing with her, lay with her, laugh with her, crawl with her, eat with her, sleep with her, walk with her, and watch her blossom.

Anyone close to me knows that the decision to have a third was one of the toughest I have made. I was so nervous for so many reasons, one of them being that I felt it was a selfish act. Would my boys be ok? Would this harm the family in any way, which we were already so lucky to have? Would it be too much for us financially and emotionally and we wouldn’t be able to parent well?

And now I see that yes, it was selfish. It is a gift that I was able to take and am enjoying so very much.

Creativity

For the last few months I have been thinking a lot about creativity. Mostly because I’ve had a hard time connecting to my own. Not to say that it has ever been that easy for me. It’s always been a struggle on some level. But this last year has felt especially dry.
I know I am not alone in this. Most people who have ever had a creative endeavor, which is to say everyone, have had periods of resistance. Creativity needs space and time and that is something that I, along with all of my fellow parents of little ones, do not have. Diving into that necessary place of experiment and playfulness seems almost impossible when I need to be goal driven so much of the time to get through that ever lasting list; pick up a kid, make a meal, clean the house, run a bath.
In addition, artistic creativity entails going inward to a non-social place where I am alone with my feelings. That doesn’t happen often in this house. But more than that, for me making art involves facing a pretty dark place, an existential one, in which I connect to the extreme sadness but also joy of being human.
Kim Brooks’ article “A Portrait of an Artist as a Young Mom,” in New York Magazine, lays out the struggles of being an artist and parent so eloquently and tragically. She writes: “the point of art is to unsettle, to question, to disturb what is comfortable and safe. And that shouldn’t be anyone’s goal as a parent.” Yes. “People make art,” she says, “for exactly the opposite reason they make families.”

Keeping up with this blog is a perfect illustration of where my creativity has been in the last year. I have an idea for a blog almost daily. I start writing them in my head and get excited about sharing them with you all (all 4 of you?). But I don’t follow through. I get home and am tired, or need to make dinner, or answer emails, or most often – have already poo poo’ed the idea in my head.
Because the universal enemy to artistic creation, whether an artist or not, is self doubt. Will anyone care? How will this make me look to others? Is it too self indulgent? Is it worth my time or anyone else’s time? On that topic I recommend Brene’ Brown’s TED talk on vulnerability in which she talks about vulnerability being the birthplace of creativity. It is a touching and inspiring account of her own avoidance of vulnerability and the growth that followed her facing it.

So – I found myself with a hundred beginnings of songs that were never followed through, and twenty blog post beginnings that I never finished. Coming up with the ideas is not my problem. It is working through that vulnerability, allowing myself to retreat into a lonely place, giving myself time away from my list, and most of all making myself sweat through it.

I did some work – I meditated a bit (I recommend the app Headspace for anyone interested in meditating but feeling resistance). I attended a meeting with strangers to talk about what it means to be creative. I attended other social gatherings relating to art that I dragged myself to but ended up feeling very inspired by. And then I did the best thing of all – I asked a few of my colleague friends if they wanted to join me in a creative lab in which we MUST write and present a song a week.

When it comes down to it, it isn’t about producing the perfect song or blog post, it is about producing. My friends hold me accountable and I finish a song even if I think it is crap (which have been most of them so far.) But I feel good. I am reminded of why I do art and put myself out there this way – it feels like I unload a little weight every time a song is realized to its completion. Not only that, it gives me the strength to finally go ahead and write a blog post in its entirety.

How Serena and Venus inspired my songwriting

Watching the game between Serena and Venus the other night was emotional for me. I was on the edge of my seat. Would Venus be able to stand in the way of her younger sister achieving a Grand Slam this year? Would Serena be able to get out of her younger sister role and beat her older sister, who has recently come back from fighting an autoimmune disease? Will they be able to just be tennis players on that field and not sisters? They certainly tried. There was no eye contact whatsoever.

Ever since having a third kid the sibling rivalry in my house has intensified a thousand times. I wish I could tear myself into three and play with one, give a hug to another, and feed the other, all at the same time. And sometimes I manage to do that. But often one of them feels angry and neglected and immediately turns to his or her sibling to take it out on.

Venus on top
Venus on top

Being a sister myself, I know how it feels. I remember feeling upset when I thought my mother loved my brother more. I also remember the uncomfortable feeling when unfairness was tilted my way, and I got more than my brother did. Somehow it wasn’t totally enjoyable.

Today I feel very lucky to have a brother. Although we are very different people, we are nonetheless cut from the same cloth. We understand each other deeply, and his is one of the opinions I value most. And to this day I can also feel the remnants of sibling rivalry show up in grown up stuff – money, attention, success.

I have started so many songs about siblings from every which angle; the older siblings view of the new baby, the parent’s view of the change in dynamics, the little brother as he grows, etc. Most of these songs are not completed and I think it is because the topic remains so complicated for me. But as you guys know, ever since I had a baby I don’t write about requited and unrequited love anymore. Now what interests me is family dynamics. Music seems to capture all those complicated feelings so well.

Serena on top
Serena on top

So I am re-inspired by our countesses of tennis. They remind me of my own father who taught my brother and I how to play, getting so frustrated when we missed a ball. I gave up on the idea of beating my older brother in tennis long ago. Serena overcame that obstacle. Today’s song was inspired by Serena, Venus and my brother.
Serena and Venus in a heartfelt hug after the match is over
Serena and Venus in a heartfelt hug after the match is over

Back to School – For Me

Maybe it’s that back to school feeling in the air, maybe it has to do with my baby reaching her 9-month milestone, or maybe it is a reaction to last year, which was a year of production (CD, videos, a baby). Whatever the reason, I am feeling a strong need to fill up my cup with new knowledge and experience. We all go in waves of production, consumption, and assimilation, and its time for me to take in rather than put out.

Easier said than done.

As an independent business owner I don’t work for a system that has professional development expectations and opportunities built in. I don’t have a boss who gets disappointed when I don’t stay current in my field or when my performance is lackluster. I don’t have colleagues sitting at the next desk who trigger healthy competition. Which means I have to seek it on my own.

And of course there is the time issue. Have to run the bath, make dinner, make a bottle, pick up a kid, run a class, play a show. Read an article or book? Not lately. There is of course that after 8pm slot. (snore.)

A conference far away from my home might be in order
A conference far away from my home might be in order

The final obstacle is my administrative assistant/PR agent, meaning me. She is very motivated, but more in the alpha achievement realm than the humble knowledge seeking realm. She works to expand my business, return an email, send out a request, research new opportunities. When there is a free minute to write a song or read a book she always somehow wins.

But this is important. Getting re-excited about my work makes the parents I teach more excited too. My message comes across much more convincingly and parents walk away from my groups singing to their babies.

So I am putting it on paper as a way of committing. A conference, a few books, a few articles, conversations with people who will inspire me. It’s time for some professional development for this mom/entrepreneur. Are you feeling the same pull?

The screen we call Grandma

I know this looks familiar. Our kids have a pretty strong relationship with this screen that is both touching and heartbreaking.
Every day I ask myself why I live so far away from my parents. I know so many of us do. In my case my parents live in Israel, and a life there at the moment feels complicated and intense in a way that we are not prepared to endure. Our careers are going well here and the kids have a good life with endless events and activities.
But I don’t have to watch every single drama out there to know what truly matters most: Love. Family.
And yet the years seem to move on and my oldest son is already 6 years old. He sees his grandparents twice a year (luckily they come to visit us) but it is not enough. I fantasize about weekly get togethers, Friday night dinners, a babysitting night, a brunch.
I crave seeing the way my parents gaze at my kids on a regular basis. Their love for the grandkids seems so pure and wise, without any difficult emotions that sometimes can accompany the feeling of love. My own vision of my kids can sometimes be clouded by exhaustion, anger, disappointment, ego. Seeing my kids through my mothers eyes reminds me of the beauty of it all right when I forget.

I have lived far away from my parents for the past 20 years but it was only when I had kids that I suddenly missed them desperately. It was precisely at the moment in which I became a mom that I relaxed into the role of being my parents’ baby. Until then I fought it.

So for Mothers Day I am offering you a free download of my song ‘Grandparents’ HERE. This song does not come close to conveying everything I feel about this topic. But the last line hints at the crux of it all – “And me, well I sure could use that hug too.”

Mom (and dad), we miss you. Happy grandmothers day. You are a grand mother.photo 2

All I Want

Mother’s day is around the corner. What would I like for my present? Sleep wrapped up in a bow.
I knew going into this that sleep wouldn’t look pretty. Three kids, two grownups, 2 bedrooms. So this is how sleep looks in our home at the moment. All of us but one 6 month old in a room together. I am giving her a week. After that she better be sleeping like a baby. That sounds awful. She better be sleeping like a cat on a sunny window sill.
So I offer you a song to get through the day if you are going through anything like this with me. My thought is that if we all sing it together with feeling the babies of the world will get the message. Sing it like you mean it people!
Go HERE for the free download.
Happy mother’s day. We are 6 days away from being promised that nap, massage, pedicure. Let’s skip the brunch.

Hello My Baby is getting some love

So far “Hello My Baby” is being received fantastically. Thank goodness. I have to say, I was a little nervous about it. I felt like I was taking a huge risk. Sure it has some light tunes like Hello, Cooking, Changing, and Peekaboo, but it also has some heavy ones, like Something Other Than a Mom and Forgive. I didn’t know how you all would feel about it. I mean, what the hell is this album? A kids album? A parent album? Can there be such a thing as both, truly? Luckily, you guys seem to not only accept what I do but appreciate it fully. Many of you have told me that the album has been on repeat since you got it. Yes!! Not only that, the people who are vocal in the press seem to like it too. I wanted to share some nice press hits.
1. Hello My Baby received a National Parenting Publications (NAPPA) Gold Award. Woohoo!!
2. Cool Mom Picks says “”Vered’s gorgeously light and tuneful voice sings light-pop songs about some of the best parts of parenting a baby…I also appreciate that she doesn’t gloss over the harder parts of parenting, but its always done with sweetness and humor…” Read the full review HERE.
3. It was on Red Tricycle’s list of The Newest Kids Albums to Put on Repeat. Check out that great list HERE.
4. Swing Whistle Zing said “Vered is the quintessential voice of parents.” Read the full review HERE.
5. Jeff Bogle at Cooper and Kid said “Vered delivers sophistication and style to babies, and brings a much needed rawness and honesty to ‘parent’ music too.” Read that piece HERE.

Dialing in the Lullaby

Those of you who have taken my workshops know that one of the first things we talk about is how to use music to establish your routine with your baby. What would that look like? For one, singing the same lullaby every time you put your baby to sleep.

By doing this you are helping your baby associate sleep with a song that he or she will come to know well. Parents in my classes say that when they do this consistently, eventually their baby rubs his/her eyes at just the sound of the song. Yesterday a mom said when her son (2 yrs) heard her singing the song he curled up in her arms and requested to go to bed. Sounds like a dream to me.

The lullaby not only acts as a trigger, prompting the baby to prepare for sleep, but also literally soothes the baby. The music acts like a massage that relaxes the body and the baby starts to flow with the rhythm. That is why lullabies from different cultures tend to have long notes, with simple and repetitive melodies. They lull us like a swing, creating long vibrations carried by the voice.

I know this on my own skin. It worked like a charm with both of my boys. We got to the point where we could use the lullaby to trigger sleep in tough situations like the car, the airplane or the inlaws house.

And yet, last night I found myself dialing in the lullaby. Literally. I was scrolling through Facebook while supposedly singing a tender lullaby to my baby. Was she going for it? Of course not.

You’d think that with my third I would be somewhat of an expert and would have this schedule and routine stuff figured out. But we are all so busy, and can’t always devote our full attention to our kids. In my case I had had a long day and was happy to have a minute away from my sons. I was secretly using the bedtime routine with Alona as my own time to check out from momhood.

The thing is that the lullaby has another purpose. It allows us to intensely connect with our babies before the (hopefully!) long separation. Music bypasses our intellect and has a way of coming from, or releasing out of, a much more emotional place. Our babies are like emotional antennas and feel when we are stressed, relaxed, or disengaged. The lullaby is so important because it is the time for both parent and baby to say – its ok, I will see you tomorrow, we will have another day together.

You might be thinking – I don’t need to soothe myself with that thought. All I want is a nice long night of sleep away from my baby. But that is not entirely true. How many of us go look at pictures of our baby on the computer or check in constantly on the monitor after our baby goes to sleep?

So back to last night. Once I realized I was doing this I felt ashamed. Not to mention guilty of exposing my baby to countless harmful rays from the cell phone.

So I put down the phone.

I went on singing but really focused on our song together. I reminded myself that she won’t always fit in my arms, that it is only 10 minutes, and most importantly, that it will be much more affective if I give it my full emotional attention. And I did. And it was. She was asleep within minutes.

Believe it or not I actually have a song about this on my new album. If you want to hear it please go to my
Kickstarter campaign
to support the making of it. I only have 4 days left! Thanks for your support.

The Kickstarter Campaign is Launched!

You guys probably know that making an album costs a ridiculous amount of money. Truly ridiculous. But it makes sense – I like to work with the best of the best and bring my songs to life in the most beautiful way I can imagine. On this album I am working with a Grammy winning producer named Dean Jones, the Babes, Jon Samson, Saul McWilliams, and other amazing musicians and technicians. And that can get costly.
The good news is that these days musicians don’t have to wait for a label to come along and show interest. I did plenty of that when I was making music for adults. Now, instead of waiting for luck to shine upon us we can go directly to the people who will actually be enjoying our creation and ask them to support the album in the making. Instead of buying the CD when it comes out, we ask that you buy it while it is still being made in anticipation of the release.
The other awesome thing about crowdfunding through a site like kickstarter is that it is a great way to get the word out to people who don’t know my music and my mission. I put alot of work into making a video that explains what I do in the best way I could.
So now it is up to you – If you can pledge financial support, that would be awesome. But regardless, what I am also asking is that you forward the link to this video to friends and family members who you think would enjoy the album I am making and my mission to make music that both parents and babies will enjoy and appreciate and will bring them together.
Thanks guys. I can’t wait to be stuffing all the CDs into envelopes and sending them off to you.
love v

Stuff I Like

Stuff I Like

logo

None of these companies are paying me to say this, it is just stuff that I like and use regularly.
(But some are companies of family and friends)
This gets updated every now and then with my latest loves.

Ambitious Kitchen – I am not a chef. But for some reason I really like this blog. I have made a bunch of the desserts and some of the meals and they come out great. Not too complicated.

YogaGlo – This is my go-to when I don’t have time to get out of the house to work out which is, well, always. I like that I can choose the duration of class and how hard I want to work.

Farmigo – This is actually my brother’s company but it is totally awesome. I get fresh produce sent directly from the farms to my apt and I don’t have to commit to a certain amount of time or quantity. But you do need to have a pick up place with at least 10 others.

Zulily – I don’t get out much to shop so it is nice to have good deals come to my inbox. I only let myself buy stuff that I am in need of – like PJs for the boys at the moment.

YogaMerav – She is actually my sister in law but I love her classes. She also has some great videos that can help with sleep and anxiety.

TeenyTinyFoodie – A great food blog for tots by a woman who took some workshops with me and is now a friend.

Wild Kratts – It is so hard to find something for my boys to watch that I approve of. This one is top of my list.

OWTK – Dad blog written by Jeff Bogle. He is honest, genuine, and a kindie music appreciator.

Kids Music I Like:
I get asked this all the time so figured I would consolidate some stuff. But I am always posting new videos and music I think is great for families on my Facebook page – VeredMusic, so that is the best place to look.

CocreativeMusic – Jon produced my first CD and makes great music for kids. He is also a fellow music therapist and his sessions with kids are highly recommended. I send my kids to him when I can.

DogOnFleas – Dean Jones produced my second album. His music reminds me of a Paul Simon album for kids. I really can’t say a better compliment than that.

ElizabethMitchell – Who doesn’t love a soothing voice paired with old tunes we remember from our own childhood?

MilzTrills – Amelia’s music is fun and creative and she is a great performer.

Lesley Kernochan – I love Lesley’s sweet and funny songs. She is quirky and old-timey. Kind of like me.

Joanie Leeds – Joanie’s music is witty and smart and she is a soulful singer.

OkeeDokeeBrothers – Kind of like the Wild Kratt Brothers of kids music with humor and twang.

ThePopUps – Jacob and Jason are just cute with all their shenanigans.

Lori Henriquez – Jazzy and smooth. I like her style.

GustaferYellowgold – Morgan incorporates his own drawings with his beatles-esque music.

Todd Mchatton – Also with a Beatles-y flare. Really nice songs.

Baby in Tune is Born!!

Ladies and gentleman I would like to introduce my new business name and my new website! I have been working on this for a while, plugging away late at night after the kids are asleep. I am so excited that it is ready to be unveiled. Here are some of the new develpments:
1. Videos! I put a bunch on this site and there will be more added periodically. There is a beautiful video for Good Morning My Love coming down the pipeline so stay tuned…
2. Michelle is on the workshop schedule and is teaching classes. You can read about her and schedule a class with her soon. She is wonderful!
3. My Facebook, Twitter and Youtube names will all be changing to Babyintune. I will let you know as that happens.
4. I have a blog!! I will be adding posts as regularly as possible, about music, psychology, my own process, and whatever I think you might be interested in hearing about.
5. I will very soon be launching a kickstarter for my new album!!!

My business is officially 3 years old. I am really amazed at how far it has come thanks to you all.
Love Vered

Zeke:

My wife and I love this album. We got it as a gift when our daughter turned five months old and it has been nonstop pleasure for us ever since. Phrases like “mama leave me be but don’t leave me” have entered our daily lexicon and I wake up every morning to my wife singing “good morning my love!” to our daughter. We intend to give it as a gift to many more couples over time!

Bump To Baby Gear

“If you’re looking for some fun and original music to enjoy with your little one, Vered’s award-winning Good Morning My Love CD released earlier this year is something you really should check out… The CD features 16 tracks that are best described simply as joyful and fun.”

Sarah:

Thank you so much for the incredible experience of being in your class. As a new mom, so many of the things I was feeling were scary and overwhelming. Your songs and your words made me feel every week that they were not only normal and OK, but also a very special part of being a mom. The songs give me the opportunity to pause occasionally and recognize how magical my baby is, and how incredible a gift.

LA Parent

“An enchanting album…this lovely CD comes with gentle lullabies and fun ditties, all performed with warm, soothing, yet inventive musical arrangements that will make parents and babies smile.”

Julie:

Thank you so much for the wonderful class. This is such a tender time for me (and all the Moms) and I really appreciated how supported I felt by your warm, thoughtful facilitation. It was also super helpful to get your expert thoughts and to hear from the other Moms too about shared experiences. Aaron and I both love your music.

Parents’ Choice Foundation:

“It may have been Vered’s studies in music therapy and clinical psychology that inspired her to create this album to support the theories she was studying. However, if you’ve ever experienced a moment of pure joy, then you won’t need similar training to know precisely what fuels this CD…with warmth enough to melt the polar ice cap, the love, understanding, and humor emerge.”

Jill:

From the moment I greet Julia each morning to our playtime and meal time and bathtime, right up until our last cuddle each evening, your music is in my head (and often coming out of my mouth, albeit off key! )
I hope my daughter will sing your songs to HER children some day. They are timeless and very special.

Take It From Me:

“This album is something special… Vered’s voice is beautiful. The collection of enchanting songs on the album tug at the heartstrings and leave you with such a peaceful feeling. The songs celebrate the wonderful aspects of new life and the joy that comes with raising a child.”

Paige:

My husband and I have been so incredibly touched by the magical, sweet, honest and funny lyrics in your songs. No matter how grown my son becomes over the years, I will always look back on this time with incredibly fond and sweet memories of listening to your music.

Midwest Books Review:

“Songs touch upon the delights of playtime, bathtime, sleep, and discovering the wonderful and ineffable connection between oneself and one’s children. Vered’s Good Morning My Love is highly recommended especially as a gift for baby showers or to brand new parents.”