Category Archives: Routine

Tantrums – It all comes down to THIS.

Dear Tunester,

How have you been? It’s been a little while since we last checked in. For those who don’t know, my family has been on the road for a month. We decided to throw it all to the wind, pile into a car, and explore the country this year. All while the kids study remotely and we work remotely. 

 

Crazy? Hell yeah. But what else were we going to do during this nutty time if not live out the dreams we’ve always had? 

 

But today I don’t want to talk about the places we’ve been, how we’re navigating COVID, or the mental preparation I’ve needed to make in order to bridge the political divide with people we meet along the way.  (If you’d like to hear more about that stuff sign up for my travel blog here.)

 

Today I want to talk about TANTRUMS.

 

Because although we are seeing spectacular views, hiking through mind blowing canyons and driving through lyrical prairies, there are no less tantrums than there were before. And you know what? They look the same. Even with the heavenly backdrop.

 

In fact, they’re about the same two things they were when they were babies – FOOD and SLEEP.

 

I remember when I was a girl and we would travel with my family. My mother was the type who could go all day eating only an ice cream cone, and could always do one more thing – one more hike, one more swim, one more viewpoint. I have a few picturesque memories of the view on our cross country trip, but I especially remember long car rides, swimming in hotel pools, and whining

 

When I grew up I realized what I had been complaining about – HUNGER! Not only that, I realized that my father also had mini tantrums on these trips, and they were for the same reason. He and I share low blood pressure. If we don’t eat we get cranky and weak. My mother, on the other hand, can go on empty no problem.

 

Cut to motherhood and me entering with this super-knowledge. I vowed never to reach that point. I stock the car! Millions of snacks! Sandwiches! Variety! We make three meals!  and yet somehow I fall into the same trap. In fact, my kids get WAY more whiny and lethargic than I remember being.

 

Yes, I am asking a lot of them on this trip. We are doing a ton of moving around, walking, seeing, and sleeping in strange beds. But in the end it always comes down to these two basic bodily needs.

 

FOOD. SLEEP.

 

Here’s the scenario – it’s day two of Yellowstone. We are excited to see, hike, explore. And the whining is incessant – “I don’t WANT to go on a hike!” “I want to be in the hotel!” “I don’t want to be on this trip!” “Why are we doing this!”

 

We take a short walk hoping the fresh air will help. The eldest waits in the car. The other two drag along. We get back in the car and the whining continues. I offer snacks, sandwiches, games, all refused. My husband starts to get upset and barks at them. I get anxious and try to quell the tension. It is our usual family meltdown cycle.

 

And then I have the realization – They need a nap! Much like an infant, they need to reset. Anything we try to do before that happens won’t go well.

 

As a kid, back when safety regulations were limited to ‘don’t tie your kid to the roof,’ I often climbed into the back of the station wagon and slept for most of the ride. The tired whiny problem didn’t exist as much for my parents. 

 

So I brought down the axe with my kids. I told them they had to sleep for 30 minutes. And then I bribed them because we do what we gotta do. I told them If they did they would get extra screen time at the hotel.

 

We turned on classical music and demanded silence. Two out of three slept. WIN!

 

We arrived at a trail and all came, no complaints. The two hours went by with singing, joking, photographing, and climbing.

 

Whew.

 

Food and sleep. Just like infants. 

 

Here’s the takeaway. They need those two things and they need US to keep track of them and administer them, even as they grow. 

 

If you have the child who goes to nap voluntarily when they’re tired, congratulations. You’ve got one in a million. The rest of us need to make it happen if we want them to be resourceful, flexible, and (please god) pleasant.

 

HOW to get them to sleep or eat is another story. But I bet you’ve got your last resort failsafe methods. And I bet you use them when it hits you that nothing else will work until you take care of – 

 

FOOD. SLEEP.

 

Parents, we got this. And we definitely have the more important stuff – LOVE.

 

So what do you think? Are those the two primary reasons your kids have meltdowns and tantrums or am I missing something crucial? COMMENT below.

 

Do you have a friend who just pulled her hair out as her baby yelled through the streets? Send her this.

 
 

Yes! Please send me the Tuesday Tune-In!

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!

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!

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!

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!

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 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.

 

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.

 

 

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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.

 

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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:

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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:

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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.

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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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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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