Category Archives: Parenting

6 ways to ease your kids’ transition into fall

Here we are squeezing out the final drops of summer as the sun sets on this season.Can you almost hear John Travolta and Olivia Newton John singing “Those summer, niiiiiiiiiiiihiiiiiiiiights?”

So…now what?

Now we transition.

In past years, I’ve written blogs during this time about going back to school, picking up our routine again, rediscovering our own freedom.

Traditionally this was a time of stress, sure, but also of celebration! Parents would wipe away their first-day tears and then break out in dance on their way home or off to work.

Things are obviously so different this time around. Yes, it’s back-to-school season, but it’s nothing like the picture-perfect parade to school: new backpacks on new, freshly cut hair, leaves beginning to drop from the trees. It feels more like a procession of overgrown COVID curls, walking the plank off into a sea of the unknown.

If you’ve got school-age kids, you are probably feeling a mix of elation by the possibility that the kids may actually leave the house for two days, along with terror of the possibility of them hobnobbing closely with a million other kids, no matter HOW many regulations are put into place.

If you’ve got a baby, you’re probably staying up at night weighing your options— do you keep the baby home all day while you work, or do you send them to a daycare with other possibly Corona-bearing babies?Or should you bring in a nanny who might have to travel on the potentially COVID-y subway to and from your house?

Sure, we have options, but none of them look great from here.

But in all the unknowns, there are two things we do know:

  1. Our time is up. No more debating or hemming and hawing—the transition is HERE.
  2. We’ll put one foot in front of the otherand figure it out as we go.

We all know our kids crave some routine. They seem to fall in line when we manage to hold it together. In the past, school helped out with that. This year, it’s on us. And although we can also cut ourselves A LOT of slack in this regard, it will also help to go into this unprecedented year with a game plan.

 

To help you get through this week, here are 5 ways to help your kids and babies feel some semblance of what September is supposed to look like:

 

1. Music is your friend. USE IT.

I can ‘t stress this enough. Music is powerful, especially when it comes to calming us and setting routines.

During these next few weeks, use music in these two ways:

To reset routines. Round up your bath time music, your bedtime music, your feeding music. Pull out all the stops. Go full-force . It WILL help you reclaim your routine that might have slipped during summer. Here is a post with more ideas about this and why it works.

To calm everyone down. Precisely in those moments when you feel overloaded, when the kids are bouncing off the walls, when you can’t hear another conflicting message from the DOE, put on a song that will put you all in a good place. Maybe that’s a dance song, maybe it’s classical music, maybe it’s Raffi.

 

2. Organize the house a bit.

A cluttered space can easily make for a cluttered mind. I’m not saying you need to do a deep clean. But if you have 5 minutes, make a corner for your kid that says “In this spot we think, we create, we respect our surroundings.” Nothing too complicated. Just a clean corner that invites a new page and makes you feel a little peaceful when you look at it.

For your baby, create a “YES area”—a space where everything is allowed and they won’t get into trouble for touching things. A place where they can do their own exploring independently without you needing to monitor their every move or worrying about them getting hurt.

 

3. Reclaim your bedtime routine

Summer lovin’ throws off all evening routines. Trust me, it happened in my home big time. But it’s time to put actual bedtimes back into place. You know what that means? Beyond knowing what time that will be, it means starting the wind down process waaaaaay earlier than you’d think. The trick to keeping to your bedtime routine is giving yourself and your babies/kids enough time to wind down.

For instance, in our home, summer hours have pushed the kids’ bedtime to 9pm. I am going to do my damndest to move that back at least a half hour this fall. But that means that by 8pm they need to already be IN BED. Once they are in bed they read books, ask for a million things, chat and complain. It usually takes them a half hour to do all that no matter how much I try to minimize it. That means that my reading to them needs to start as early as 7:30, at least until we have this established. (Even as I write this, I’m rolling my eyes at my own suggestion.)

But we CAN do this, people. It takes effort but we know it’s worth it—for their sake and for ours.

 

4. Schedule playdates

This year, since we are deciding on friend pods ahead of time, it will help to schedule these meetings for the week. That will take a HUGE load off us when our kids ask for it daily. It will also ease our own scheduling hell and give your kids something to look forward to. Find two days a week that your kid will have playdates with their one or two friends.

Try to keep to set times at least for the first month or so. That way you’ll be able to say, “Tomorrow you have your playdate with Katie!,” which will be something positive for them to focus on, especially during the tough transition time.

 

5. Schedule FaceTime with grandparents

During the summer we did this whenever it felt right. If you’re like us, it probably happened about twice a week with each set. But as we head into the fall things will be a bit more chaotic. We’ll have more to do while our kids might have less to do.

It will help to think of meetings with the grandparents as after-school activities or even school meetings that they do once a week. For instance, my mother reads with my daughter, my mother in law does art with her. If we can get something set on a schedule, I know that my daughter, the grandparents and I will feel much more relaxed knowing the plan.

I want to be able to say, “It’s grandma Wednesday!”

 

6. Plan your weekly meals

I know you might hate me for even saying this. But if you can actually do some meal-planning, it can take a huge load off. Note: I am not talking about anything gourmet. In our home we’ve got 5-7 meals that we rotate between anyway, so why not have designated nights for them so that the kids can latch onto it and expect it. They love knowing what we’ll be eating ahead of time. I love not thinking about it, and it helps a lot with the shopping too.

At our home our weekly meal plan looks like this:

Monday: Ziti night
Tuesday: Taco night
Wednesday: Spaghetti night
Thursday: Chicken/fish night
Friday: Soup and salad night
Saturday: Leftovers
Sunday: Omelette
Get out of jail free card: Takeout night, for when I just can’t.

For lunches, since my kids will be home all the time, I’ll have a few options which they need to either make for themselves or help with heavily. Those are:

Turkey sandwich
Cream cheese sandwich
Quesadilla
Fake nuggets
Mac and cheese
Nutella sandwich

So there you have it. You now know the full extent of my culinary abilities. What’s your weekly meal plan?

 

Let’s do this, parents. It’s a strange new school year with all unknowns ahead of us. Our kids may be home with us for the entire year, they may be at daycare/school for a few weeks only or they may be there for a while. (Or, if you’re my family, they will be in the car with you 24/7.)

Regardless, the tiniest bit of routine will save us right now and be the perfect antidote to TRANSITIONITIS and whatever else this crazy time tries to throw at us.

 

Do you have a strategy for dealing with this year’s extreme case of Transitionitis? Comment below and let me know what it is. I could use some help myself.

 

Do you have a friend who is biting her nails as she heads into a precacrious fall season? Send her this. Tell her there is more help to come if she signs up for the Tuesday Tune In.

 

Yes! Please send me the Tuesday Tune-In!

We’re actually doing it

Dear Tunester family.

We’re actually doing it.

The thing we’ve been thinking about for years: Traveling long-term.

 

For years we’ve talked the idea into the ground, analyzing over and over when the best time would be to do it. Do we go when the eldest is in 7th? Before the youngest enters school? When the middle child is in 5th? When my husband is ready to get a new job? When I ditch this career and finally invent the massage pad I have in mind? 

 

What’s the best time to extract ourselves from the path that feels “normal” and surrender fully to the unknown?

 

As it turns out, it’s NOW.

 

Remember when I wrote about the Coronator Accelerator? The idea that the COVID pandemic can accelerate processes? 

 

Well, my husband and I could easily have continued on for years weighing the pros and cons, until next thing you know, we’d find ourselves waving our eldest off to high school murmuring: “we should have done it.”

 

For us, our moment has arrived to do this, and we are seizing it.  Carpe travel!

 

Lots of people are moving out of the city these days, and for the most part, I think they are similar to us; they’ve been talking about it for years and just needed a kick in the butt.

Last NY dinner at Frankie Spuntino’s in the hood

 

There are many reasons for us to hate—nay—despise the Coronavirus. But in this odd instance, I’m actually saying “Thank you Coronavirus, for making us get a move on our dreams for the future.” Because…why the hell wait??

 

Have you been feeling the same about your plans? Have you had ideas rattling around in your head that seem to be creeping up more forcefully now? Along with the tragedy of it, we’ve been handed a gift: the reminder that our time is so very precious. Whatever it is we want to do, it must happen NOW.

 

Not to say that getting to this decision was easy— it was a process. We went from imagining life in Arizona (my husband often works there), to San Francisco (family), to Israel (family), and finally—as you might guess— to Westchester. We REALLY explored the latter. We spent days looking at houses, applied to a school, got financial aid, practically bought the trampoline for the yard. And, besides the fact that the houses are way overpriced these days and were far beyond our budget, it just didn’t feel right.

 

Then we got a twinkle in our eye and started thinking,  “Maybe we don’t even need a home right now. Is it time for us to finally walk our walk?”

 

The fears rushed in: Can the kids handle not having a traditional school setting? Can I (since it will mostly fall on me)? Will it be ok for them not to have their friends around for the year? Will we be able to work from the road? How will we stay COVID-safe? And most of all:  Will the kids drive us, and each other, to utter insanity???

Final jaunt at the playground around the corner.

 

Throughout the year, I’ll be sharing the answers to these questions as we go. I’m starting a new blog for this exact purpose. To get the updates, be sure to put your email in the sign up below. You’ll still get the Baby in Tune blog, but this one will be different. It will be a personal family journal with some funny (and likely, crazy) stories as well as some insights and teachable moments.

 

For now, I’ll try to answer some of the FAQs we’ve gotten most: 

 

1. Are you renting an RV?

Not at the moment. We decided it was too risky regarding the WIFI. We will be depending on the internet for work and school so we can’t mess around. But we’ll probably rent one for a month at some point. I’ll let you know how that goes and if indeed RV living is the Corona dream.

 

2. So what’s your plan?

At the moment we are thinking we’ll Airbnb for a couple of weeks at a time in each location. We’ll sanitize, set up shop, do school, work, and explore. Then move on.

 

3. How will you get around?

We’re getting a new car with a third row. Anything is a step up from the beat up Outback we’ve been driving. The real question is, do we go SUV or full blown MINIVAN? My husband tells me the guitar takes up alot of space. Maybe we leave a kid out instead? I’ll let you know how that shakes out.

 

4. Where will you be going?

We don’t quite know yet. We’ve got a basic outline: Yellowstone Park by the end of September before it gets too cold. Then, we’ll tool around and hit the west coast by December/January. Along the way we’ll make social distance visits with friends and family. And then…

 

5. What about school?

Hmmm. Does anyone have a clue?

We decided to take ourselves out of the maddening back and forth and lean in to remote learning. We’ll be putting our kids in an all online school called Laurel Springs. 

Pros – they’ve been doing online learning for 20 years. They know how. 

Cons – it’s ALL asynchronous learning (pre-recorded videos and assignments). Will it keep the attention of the kids? Maybe not.

 

6. How will you work and homeschool at the same time?

I don’t f*cking know. But at least we’ve all been down this road before last year. It sucked, but we did it. I am imagining lots of ups and downs. Lots of tantrums. By the kids too.

 

7. What about Baby in Tune?

My other baby. I’m not letting her go. These last six months have shown me that online classes really are possible. In fact, they are lovely and supportive, and moving and meaningful. I’ll be continuing those.

I am also launching an online teacher training that will be starting Sept 21. Know anyone who might want to join? Let them know. Here’s the link for more info.

 

8. When do you leave? 

About a week after Labor day. 

 

Want to follow along with our adventure and see whether it was a fabulous or terrible idea? Or Both?

Put your email below. I’ll need some pen pals.  

Travel in Tune with Vered

 




Phone down, summer back. Let’s do this!

You guys—I need to detox, and I need your help.

 

I’m doom-scrolling at 6am, grabbing for the phone at every single lull, stopping tasks mid-way to give myself an “Instagram break”, and worst of all—flipping through my boring feed while my kids are right in front of me. 

 

Are you in this boat? If so, read on.

 

I don’t know about you, but my addiction has gotten SO MUCH WORSE since our old “friend” Corona stopped by. I’m ashamed by how many times I reach for my phone knowing full well that I just checked it a few minutes ago and found NOTHING interesting before either. 

 

But I’m not just talking about social media. My compulsion has grown for the news too. Never before have I actually RUN OUT of news articles to glance through on the NYT app. Sigh. It’s bad. And I can bet I’m not alone in this.

 

Assuming we know, more or less, at this point why this isn’t great for us (see: increases anxiety, lowers self esteem, makes us feel lonely) let’s look at why this isn’t great for our kids. For me at least, that is an even bigger motivator to kick this habit.

 

And then I’ve got a game plan. You might not know this about me but I’m a Challenge Girl. I love to do hard things by setting specific and doable goals for myself. And I especially love it when others join me for the ride. That’s key, actually. 

 

If you want to head straight to the challenge and skip the WHY then click on the link at the bottom of the post.

 

If you’re here for the info, let’s look at the effect our phone use has on our babies and kids.

 

As we talked about in last week’s post, the first three years of our baby’s life is the time to lay the foundation for empathy, self esteem, and emotional development.

 

So much of our baby’s social development happens through mirroring. If I set up a secret camera into your home, I would probably catch hundreds of micro-mirroring moments that you do with your baby without even realizing. You mirror their gestures, facial expressions and sounds, and they do the same back to you. 

 

And what do they see a lot of the time? Us, head bent down, enthralled  at a device that must be pretty darn interesting. And then they see it again, and again and again. And soon enough, they want to mimic our behavior and do it too. 

 

But the issue goes even deeper than just monkey see, monkey do. Through mirroring, our babies understand who they are, how to behave, and how to connect with others. When they are upset, they look to us to show them how to regulate their emotions and they eventually internalize our response. When they encounter others, they look to us to understand when they are in danger and when they are safe.

 

For instance, when a stranger comes up to your baby and leans over the stroller, your baby quickly glances over to you to determine how they should feel about the stranger. If they see your face tense up slightly, they feel that way too. If they see you fully relaxed and peaceful, they understand that the stranger is not a risk. 

 

Neurological connections are being made every time your baby looks to you to gather information about themselves and the world. And, they do it constantly. In fact, our babies actually look at us 70-80% of the time. That’s A TON

 

But here’s the catch: when they glance over at us and they see us staring at the phone, it’s confusing for them. 

 

Why? Imagine this scenario: You’re at the playground, your kid does a thing— jumps off the rock, slides down the pole, climbs up the slide, swings a little higher—and then glances over at you for acknowledgement. 

 

But you’re not looking back. Your head is down staring at the phone. 

 

At that moment, they don’t see themselves reflected back. They don’t see the loving witness that helps them develop self-esteem and self-efficacy. 

 

We might actually look up for a minute and give a little smile, but it is incongruous with what is happening because we don’t get the full picture, and because we are distracted and spacey.

 

Do you want to SEE this in action? Here is a research study by Dr. Tronick that really brings home the point. Check out what happens to these babies when they feel their mother is not appropriately engaged and mirroring their effect.

 

 

Here’s another illustration from the study.

 

These babies will do anything they can to get their parent’s  reaction to be more natural. They may use  charm, surprise, alarm (ie. a fake cough). If all that fails, they WHINE. Yup, we know that whine all too well. In an extreme case in which the parent is mostly disengaged, the baby eventually gives up 🙁

 

I’m not saying you need to be their loving witness every minute of the day. I’m saying we can do better and we know it. 

 

And us? Well, we already know what the phone does to us. But in case you need a refresher, it can make us feel isolated, depressed or stressed. It can eat away at our self confidence and infects us with self-doubt like a trip back to our high school days.

 

But worst of all? It is a TIME SUCK. An hour and a half later, we realize we’ve only really seen one thing that was truly interesting. And that same hour and a half will be the one you long  for the next day while you are with your kids thinking about how you didn’t get that one important thing done.

 

It’s summer. We want to be with our kids and have some carefree fun. That means not wasting our precious time on the f*cking phone.

 

So, who’s with me?

 

I’ve put together a well-thought-out 8 day challenge that I think is totally doable. It’s not going to be easy, but if we do it together, we can get to the other side and feel much better.

 

First step: Join the FB group for this challenge. There I’ll be explaining each step and how to do it. We’ll also be supporting each other. Lord knows I, for one, will need it.

Here’s how the challenge will look. It starts easier and gets harder:

 

Phone Down 8-Day Challenge

  1. Define accounts and sites that make you smile
  2. Categorize accounts you follow 
  3. Log your go-to times of day
  4. Delete accounts that make you frown
  5. Six feet away (from bed)
  6. Song for phone 3 times
  7. One hour a day
  8. Scrap the app after each use

 

Join the Facebook group here to join us for this challenge and kick our habit.

 

In the words of Glennon Doyle, whose books I LOVE but whose SM posts don’t hit me nearly the same way and just waste my time: WE CAN DO HARD THINGS.

 

Let’s go. Join me for the Phone Down Challenge.

 

*This podcast episode of 3 in 30 inspired some of the ideas in this post

How to nurture social development while social distancing

 

So here we are, almost 6 months in. That’s six months sans  popcorn and martinis with the girls, emotional downloads with parents at the playground, and surprise run-ins at the cafe. Our social lives have moved to a rectangle screen and 6-feet-apart hang-outs  with a select few.

 

And then there’s our kids’ social life. That’s where it hurts the most. My daughter just made a new friend on the beach. They did that adorable shy “want to play with me?” and started jumping waves together, but the other girl kept inching closer and closer and my daughter kept shooting me concerned looks, knowing she wasn’t supposed to get too close to her new friend. Oy. 

 

But it’s not just the positive experiences our kids are missing. The kid-to-kid altercations are just as important; fighting over the bucket in the sandbox, being hit over the head with a shaker in music class (of course, that never happens…).

 

You may find yourself wondering, How is social distancing affecting my  baby/toddler? Will they end up being hermits for the rest of their lives? Will they have any social skills whatsoever? Will they have ANY friends? (sob, sob)

 

These are all VERY valid questions. After hearing your concerns about this for the last couple months, I decided it was time to break it down and see what the experts say. Obviously we are in unprecedented territory. But I did my best to sew odds and ends together to understand what’s going on and come up with a game plan. So let’s dive in.

 

First of all, when does social development begin?

 

Right from the start. Infants are attuned to social and emotional stimulation and newborns appear more interested in stimuli that resembles faces, meaning they are interested in people.

 

At 6 months, infants communicate intentionally to others through smiling, touching and babbling. By the end of their first year of life, they’re ready to interact a bit with another baby and play side by side with the same toy.

 

In the second year of life babies start to show even more social development. They can move and speak, which means they can coordinate their behavior with another play partner, they can imitate each other, learn from each other, and start to alternate roles in play.

They also want to help others, and sometimes show aggressive behavior with peers. 

 

What skills does my baby need to develop in order to have peer relations?

 

These are some basic skills our babies need to learn in order to start making friends: Put their attention toward the same object as their peer; regulate emotions; control impulses; imitate a friend’s actions; understand cause-and-effect relationships (ie, if I hit him, he’ll be upset and won’t want to play with me); and be able to express themselves with language.

 

How do they learn these skills?

 

Some of it is simply by just growing up. But a lot of it has to do with OUR relationship with them. Your responsive caregiving helps them learn how to regulate emotions, develop a sense of predictability, and respond to their social environment. In fact, your relationship is so important that the level of your attachment with your baby is an indicator of  how good their relationship will be with peers.

How do we affect attachment? That’s all the good stuff I teach in our classes: being nurturing, consistent, attuned. Our babies need to have somewhat predictable interactions and they need us to be engaged with emotional sensitivity.

 

Got it. Our relationship is important.

But what about peers? Is having friends early in life important?

 

Yes. Kids who had friends early on were shown to have better social lives as kids and as adults. Toddlers who were able to engage in complex play with peers were better at dealing with other children later in school. Also, having friends in early childhood reduces the risk of developing psychological problems later in childhood.

 

What about siblings? Is that considered being social?

 

Yes. Sibling relationships are a special kind of peer relationship, more intimate and likely to last longer than any other relationship in one’s lifetime. They provide an important context for the development of children’s understanding of others’ worlds, emotions, thoughts, intentions and beliefs. But the other side of the coin is that frequent sibling conflicts during childhood are associated with poor adjustment later in life, including violent tendencies.

(Don’t worry mama, some fighting is totally normal and even helpful. Our job is to help them learn how to repair after so they know how to do that later on too.)

 

Ok, so our kids need friends. Does that mean that babies who go to daycare in the first three years have better social development?


Well, let’s look at the ol’ daycare versus home care debate to figure this out:

 

The National Institute for Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) did a huge study comparing types of childcare for babies. They concluded that what matters most is not the TYPE of care—whether nanny, parent, daycare, or other—but rather what’s happening at HOME. The children who experience warmth, responsiveness, and the right kinds of stimulation at home had the best social, cognitive, and emotional development regardless of whether they went to daycare or not.

 

Meaning, for our babies to develop socially it is much more important that the child be responded to warmly and with interest and have frequent back-and-forth interactions during the day with their parents. These kinds of parent-child interactions predict a child’s development far more than childcare factors do.

 

Ok so they don’t need to be at daycare, but they DO need friends.

But do they need MANY friends? And NEW friends?

 

Let’s consider this study that showed that when toddlers have stable friendships, they are able to increase the complexity in their social interaction. That means, when our kids have a buddy, they are more apt  to work stuff out, learn how to cooperate, learn how to share, and learn what happens when they don’t or when they get aggressive.

 

So is that the ticket? At least during our ‘Rona days?

 

Yup. It’s not about quantity, rather quality. It’s about giving your kid one or two GOOD friends, rather than insisting that merely seeing many other babies at the playspace is crucial to their development. Yes, there are benefits to that as we discussed—particularly having the opportunity to mimic and learn from others. But that can also happen with their primary good buddy.

 

So let’s recap: 

What are the two important factors regarding my baby’s social development?

 

  1. Their relationship with you at home
  2. Having stable relationships with friends (but can just be with one or two close friends!)

 

That’s great news. We can do that!

Here is a list of ways to make it happen:

 

Make a friend Pod:

You know how the school kids are making learning pods for this year? Consider making  your own kids’ social pod. Find one or two families that you trust when it comes to COVID exposure and agree to have social meetings for the kids once or twice a week. Allow your kids to engage and play. And that means all of it. Let them push and pull over a toy they both want, let them cooperate on building a tower, and even let them learn some impulse control by hitting or being hit (with you intervening when needed.) Of course, this is all based on your own comfort level and some guidelines will probably need to be agreed upon by all families in order to maintain safety as best as possible. 

 

When I set out to write this piece I emailed one of my mentors, Tovah Klein (Director, Barnard College Center for Toddler Development,) and asked her what she thought parents of toddlers should be doing in order to help with social development. Here’s her response: 

 

“Best to find one other family for the young toddlers to have some social contact and not worry about them being physically close when they are together.  A little socialization goes a long way!”

 

Here’s another important tidbit from her that touches on building independence, forming a healthy attachment, and relying on others:

 

“They also need to practice being away from mommy or daddy– so mommy goes out, even for a walk, says good-bye, and then lets toddler know when she is back.  Daddy the same. Gentle practice with separation is a step toward socializing with others.”

 

Help your child develop social skills at home:

The California Department of Education has a great resource on social-emotional development for babies and toddlers. They lay out the foundations necessary for our kids to develop social skills. Using their list, here are some things you can do at home:

 

  • Teach your child how to express emotion

Research shows that the ability to express positive and negative emotions plays a significant role in their social development. It is especially important for them to be able to express positive emotions. They appeal to social partners and enable relationships to form. 

 

  • Model empathy

As we mentioned earlier, our babies are naturally social creatures who mimic others. When they see us caring for others or experience our nurturance to them they mimic our behavior. You can also help them understand your emotions and the feelings of others so that they can understand someone else’s perspective.

 

  • Show them emotion regulation

This study shows that children’s ability to regulate their emotions factors in to how well they are liked by peers and how peers perceive their social skills.Here’s two ways to help them with this: One is through modeling. This is a hard one, especially these days when tensions are high. But if we can manage to show our kids that even in very stressful situations we are able to regulate our own emotions they learn that behavior as well. We can also support our babies’ emotion regulation by taking care to minimize their exposure to excessive stress or over-stimulation.

 

  • Assist in developing impulse control

This one has a lot to do with our babies just growing up, understanding social expectations, and being able to express themselves better. But we can help them along by teaching them how to deal with the frustration of waiting for needs to be met, inhibiting potentially hurtful behavior, and making safety rules very clear. Having a peer to practice cooperation and sharing with will offer natural opportunities to practice impulse control, so get that pod together if that feels like the right choice for you.

 

  • Support social understanding

This one has to do with our babies understanding what to expect from others, how to engage in back-and-forth social interactions, and which social scripts are to be used for which social situations. The good news? This has a lot to do with you. Recent research suggests that infants’ and toddlers’ social understanding is related to how often they experience adult communication about the thoughts and emotions of others. So talk to them about feelings—your own, theirs, and those around you.

 

 

So there you have it. All is not lost. In fact, we have all these cool new ways to ensure it’s not. And despite this strange isolated-and-yet-together time, we can make sure that by the time our babies get to their 40th birthday, they’ll have good friends around them and be well-adjusted, happy adults, ready to take on anything. After all, they’ll be able to say they survived “The Covid Era,” right?

 

Whew! That was alot of info. You still with me? Great. Then you probably have a comment about all this. I want to hear it! Please put it in the box below.

 

Also, do you have a friend who has been obsessing about their kid’s lonely future because they’re stuck at home now? Send them this to give them ideas on what to do. You can also tell them to sign up for future excellent info by putting their info in below.

 

Yes! Please send me the Tuesday Tune-In!

The Coronator Accelerator

Corona Corona, 

You’re like a bulldozer. 

So much disaster 

Everything moves faster

 

Here’s the gist. I know that your days may be moving at snail speed because maybe  you’ve got your kid hanging off of you at all times, but today I want to talk about how things are also moving so much faster. A catastrophe like COVID comes along and our walk becomes a RUN. 

 

But… who has time to loll around anyway?

 

Let’s take our social system for instance. We’ve been snoozing through social equality in this country for the past 75 years. We needed a wake up call. And it came fast and mighty.

 

Now take a look at your own life. The questions you’ve been saving for middle of the night wake ups and then brush aside in the morning have probably risen to the surface, kind of like the muck that’s been trudged up from the Gowanus near my place.

 

All signs and variations seem to point to  this question: How do I want to live my life?

 

Suddenly there is no clear path. There is zero roadmap for what we are experiencing. Together and apart we need to invent our next steps as we go.

 

And there are a myriad of unknowns.

 

All the things that were once a given – adult goes to work, kid goes to school, nanny watches baby, friends play together, have turned into question marks. 

 

I mean shit’s so bad I bet you’ve wondered if you were going to put together your own school pod this year. WHAT? Are we all suddenly principals and educators?

 

And what about Barbados? Who’s on their way there as we speak? Because the Coronator has all of us who’ve  been fantasizing about moving out of the city on a fast highway to the burbs, while suburbians are moving out to farms, and all the rest who never intended to move are suddenly clutching their sofas wondering if they’re missing the boat.

 

Why is this happening? Two reasons: 1. Our psyche is less cluttered with distractions, and 2.,  Life intensifies when there is danger.

 

During the last few months, I unintentionally read stories of people who lived in or escaped captivity. I re-read the Diary of Anne Frank, Educated, Circe, Lilac Girls. The other night I added to that list and watched the movie: “Room”. If you haven’t seen it, it’s the story of a woman who is held hostage for 7 years in a man’s shed. Two years in, she has a baby and raises him in the “Room.”

 

(**Spoiler Alert ** if you haven’t seen it and don’t know the story I am about to give something away but it’s in all of the previews so you probably know. It’s worth watching for the process. It’s not a plot type of movie)

 

When they finally escape the son is overwhelmed by how much space there is in the world. He says: 

There’s so much of “place” in the world. There’s less time because the time has to be spread extra thin over all the places, like butter.”

 

For those of us who have been lucky enough to stay healthy during this pandemic, the main issue we’ve grappled with is the walls closing in on us. Moving around less, not seeing friends, kids staying home. I don’t have to tell you.

 

But what that leaves us with is more time. We’ve reduced the rush from place to place and we freed ourselves for other processes to happen. Do you remember how much time we wasted moseying into Anthropologie and checking out that shirt we didn’t actually want? Or spending hours carting our kids to and fro places? Or coming home exhausted from the day’s marathon vegging for the rest of the day?

 

But there’s another piece. Do you remember how you felt 6 months before having a baby? I don’t know about you but I got more done in those 6 months than I had in all of my adult years before that. I went into overdrive each time I was pregnant with the feeling that my life (at least as I knew it) was about to end.

 

And I know I’m not alone. We move to new apartments, we get cars, we find our dream job, we take on mammoth projects and actually get them done. The three albums I made? Two of them were while I was pregnant. (here’s a video about how I actually made an album without being pregnant too.)

 

When we feel imminent danger or transition we are so much more aware that life is fleeting and precious. There’s no time to waste living in a place you don’t want to live, or doing a job that isn’t fulfilling, or staying in an unhealthy relationship.

 

Basically, our bucket list is in full force. And that list is staring us down with no other competing distractions to let us off the hook.

 

Here’s the good news. It’s exhilarating. It’s living. It’s not acquiescing to a situation that we might have continued in for years with our morning coffee and daily complaints.

 

One thing’s for sure: This year and maybe the next few years to come are going to take a big amount of flexibility.

 

But we got this. we can create our own map. And maybe it will even be what a little voice within us thought was just a dream and didn’t dare yell out during the day, only at night.

 

At this point,  anything’s possible.

 

So tell me- Is your bucket list calling you? Mine is. I hope to share some of my big moves in the next month or so. Are you making big moves? Are you asking big questions? Please let us know.

 

Do you have a friend who just bought chickens for her farm? Send her this post to let her know she’s not crazy.

 

Yes! Please send me the Tuesday Tune-In!

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.

 

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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

  

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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.

 

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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:

 

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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!

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

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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.
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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!

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!

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.

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