Category Archives: Sleep

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

Sleep and how to get it

Dear Tunesters, 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Tips to Better Sleep 

1.  A white-noise machine

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

 

2. A lovey

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

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

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

 

3. A lullaby

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

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

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

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

 

4. A bottle before bed

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

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

 

5. Baby talk 

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

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

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

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

 

6. Laying down only half asleep

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

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

 

7. Bedtime before overtired time

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

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

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

 

8. A long wind-down

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

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

 

9. A fade out 

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

But wait.

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

 

That’s all about getting your baby to sleep. 

Now what about keeping your baby asleep? 

 

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

And they can sign up for more below:

 

Yes! Please send me the Tuesday Tune-In!

I just did something awesome/crazy/scary

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

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

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

Now. Everyone. Can.

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

 

The Baby in Tune Online Class

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

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

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

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

WHY DID I DO THIS? Two reasons.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And it’s just a lot of good fun.

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

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

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

I feel like you get the drift.

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

And now. All this. And more to come!

 

Love,

Vered

Step one to a happy baby

Dear tuned-in parents, 

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

Sometimes there are easy fixes that we can make and it’s nice to have someone we trust remind us to do it. 

 

  1. How many hours of sleep are YOU getting?

This is a huge topic, I know. Many of you are in the trenches with sleep training or just hoping your baby will start to sleep REALLY soon – once they stop teething, coughing, pooping untimely or forget the old pacifier.

By far your own sleep is your biggest challenge. I know this first hand and I know it from listening to your challenges each week in class. 

 

Good news: There are some things that you can do.

First of all, you can put that Netflix show aside at night and get into bed early. I know that is way easier said than done. When I am addicted to a show (like Fleabag – love it!) I go to sleep every night at midnight.

Not only am I tired the next day but I am shorter with my kids and my body is much more achy. It takes a ton of willpower to Just. Go. To. Bed.

But we can do this. I know we can. Try to make your bed a non-screen zone and get into it no later than 10:00pm. Fine. 10:30pm. I promise you will be a happier person and a better parent. 

 

Here’s a tip: Make it hard for yourself to watch. Put the computer in the other room. Unplug the darn TV. Turn off the phone so you aren’t enticed. Listen. I am telling myself these things, too. I know it’s not easy.

 

(And – look out for a blog post solely about our favorite subject coming soon…SLEEP)

 

  1. How ALIGNED (not toned) does your body feel? 

You probably don’t have too much time to go to the gym right now so I’m not even going to suggest it. But I want to give you two tips that will make all the difference. 

 

First, do 15 minutes of stretching a day. Holding a baby is a TON of physical work. It is a huge strain on your body. Stretching for 15 minutes or even 5 minutes a day will help you feel so much better. You can do the strengthening another time.

For now, take care of your body and be kind to yourself. Try to find time to do either yoga stretches or deep breaths. 

 

Here’s another tip that I found extremely important while I had little babies: Stand up straight; put your bag on the other shoulder every now and then; bring your chin back slightly so that your neck is long and lift your chest.

By the time I was done with the constant holding phase for each baby I felt my body straightening out the way Keyser Söze did at the end of “The Usual Suspects.” My body went from all crooked and suddenly I was walking straight. 

Try not to make the same mistakes I made. 

 

  1. How KIND are you being to yourself? 

If you’re anything like me during days of having little babies, then you are having extreme highs and lows often in the same hour. Our hormones go a little wild after we have babies, especially if breastfeeding is involved.

So, first of all, know that this will not last forever. This is not your new state as a parent. I promise you will feel more emotionally stable as time goes on.

During this time please be kind to yourself. During any time really. You are working hard to tune into your babies and kids. Now I’m asking you to turn that same level of compassion and patience towards YOURSELF.

 

To your baby and your loved ones around, you are probably saying a version of “I love you. I’m listening.” Today, I’d like you to do the same for yourself.

Take a moment. Take some deep breaths. And say to yourself, “I love you and I am listening.” Now, see what comes up. 

 

See if you can put your thoughts into a feeling in your body. If you’re thinking about a particular frustration with someone or something, where does that sit in your body? Now put your hand there and hold it lovingly. 

You do so much soothing for your baby. You need just as much soothing yourself to keep at it. 

 

  1. When is the last time you asked for help? 

Here’s the final one for today. Please ask for what you need.

Ask your partner to get up in the middle of the night instead of you. Ask your parents to help out if you need them or stay away if you need more space.

Ask your friends to check in more often and be sure to tell her the best times to do so. One woman in my class had a friend who always checked in during the witching hour. The mom loved speaking to her friend (who was not a mom) and didn’t want to miss out on those calls. At the same time, she needed her friend to know how different her life now was and that her needs had changed. 

Usually when we tell people what we need they are grateful. We all want to be helpful and have a little superhero moment. Give those around you that opportunity. Let them know where they can swoop in and Save the Day. 

 

To sum it up: Instead of watching an admittedly hilarious 60-minute TV show, dedicate 20 minutes to your own needs (stretch & hold space).

And then go to bed. Immediately to bed. No sweeping. No folding of things. Do not pass Go. I’m quoting board games now which means maybe I need a bit of sleep, too?

And if even reading this gives you a headache because you are so far from being able to take care of yourself right now (trust me, I’ve been there,) then ask for help. People want to help you.

 

I hope hearing this helps you find a way to feel a little bit healthier and happier. 

 

If it did, let me know which of these mental-health prompts did you need to hear today? Maybe you didn’t realize it until you read it. Comment and let me know so I can ask more parents.

 

Have a friend who might need to hear one these tips for the good of themselves and their household? Forward this their way and have your own Save the Day moment.

 

AND – here’s a fun thing. Are you wondering what the best bedtime routine is for you and your baby? Take this QUIZ I put together to find out.

And maybe your friends need a little bedtime help? Send them this link and maybe they’ll thank you tomorrow morning 🙂

The Baby in Tune Bedtime Routine Quiz.