Did you know that your tone of voice can have a direct impact on your baby’s emotional state?
I’m going to show you a video that illustrates this in a surprising way. But first, let’s talk TONE.
Tell me if this has ever happened to you – You meet someone new and something about the tone of their voice or the musicality of how they speak makes you feel uneasy. You find yourself clawing for an escape or an alibi.
Maybe you also have a distant aunt who yell/speaks in a high pitched voice about the rugellah? (Or maybe it’s just me?)
So what is tone? It’s the way the air flows through our vocal chords. It is the COLOR of our voice. And Intonation is the MELODY in our voice.
Our babies don’t speak our language yet, so all of the information they are getting is through our tone, intonation, and rhythm (the syncopation that naturally occurs in our words and sentences.)
Those of you who have taken Baby in Tune classes know that we spend quite a bit of time learning how to make your tone of voice more resonant and more soothing for your baby.
We do this in a few ways:
By taking deep breaths between phrases.
By using the muscles at the bottom of our abdomen.
By making the voice deeper and creating more vibration.
By relaxing other parts of the body like shoulders, neck, hips.
By letting the jaw fall open.
Try this tonight: As you are singing your lullaby notice how your body feels. Try taking in deeper breaths from the bottom of your lungs, filling the sides as well. Relax your jaw, relax your shoulders. See if you feel a difference as you are singing. See if your body relaxes and if your baby calms more easily.
When we sing or speak without the support of our breath and abdomen we tend to feel tense, especially in our throat. And when that happens it doesn’t matter how many times we cycle through Twinkle Twinkle, our baby isn’t going to feel soothed.
There are research studies like this one or this one illustrating how babies listen closely and respond to tone.
But I also had my three subjects at home. In this video you’ll see something surprising that happened with my daughter when she was two months old.
It all began when I started singing a silly ditty I had made up:
“I could watch your eyebrows all day…”
I know. There’s a reason it never made it onto an album. But go with me because what happened next was the surprising part.
I started to sing an improvised melody with the vowel sounds Ah and Oo.
As she listened my daughter increasingly got VERY sad. She seemed to be responding directly to the shift in the music.
I wanted to be sure her mood shifts had to do with the music and not something else so I went back and forth between the eyebrow song and the haunting melody.
I was shocked to find that each time I sang the haunting melody my daughter’s lower lip jutted out, her eyes got red and wet, and her eyebrows went down. She was about to cry!
Elton John can only dream about such an attentive and responsive audience!
I was so intrigued by her response. Her mood seemed to shift as a result of the shift in the music:
So here’s what we can learn from this video and what I’m hoping you’ll take away from today’s post:
Our babies are listening to our tone, melody, rhythm very closely.
They are so sensitive to the EMOTION we convey in our tone.
We can change our tone to make them feel more calm, more soothed and happier.
Just as our baby is watching us closely, we can watch them closely and learn their preferences and behaviors.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on the video. How do you interpret my daughter’s reactions? Obviously this is not a controlled science experiment so interpretation is up for grabs. Let me know!
Also, have you noticed your baby’s preferences for certain songs? Tone? Rhythm? Please COMMENT below and let me know.
Do you have a friend who would be interested in learning about how to make her tone, intonation and rhythm more soothing for her baby? Forward this post to her and tell her to join a Baby in Tune class ASAP!
We had just moved to Israel. In the midst of my awkward, pimpled youth, swinging violently from overconfident to wanting to bury myself deep in a hole, I found myself in a completely foreign country. I didn’t speak the language, the kids were tougher and meaner, and the only thing they seemed to like about me were my Reeboks. And that wore off quickly.
It was a painful year in which I desperately wanted an invisibility cloak. In fact, I would have taken a COVID mask if you’d offered it. I felt uncomfortable through and through and just wanted to hide. The ground had been pulled out from under me and I grasped to recover.
In many ways, that year defined me. I developed empathy for immigrants, insecurities that often serve me (and sometimes don’t), and confidence that I can adapt to new situations.
I don’t remember 4th, 5th, 7th or 8th grade as much, but I remember 6th grade vividly. It was traumatic. And that’s also what made it so pivotal in my life.
To put it plainly, this year has sucked. We’re all dying to Gloria Gaynor 2020 to the curb -“Go! walk out the door! Just turn around now, ’cause you’re not welcome anymore…”
But the truth is, we’ll be looking back on it for the rest of our lives. We’ll be asking each other where we were, how we got through it. We’ll continue to process our trauma just like we talk about 9/11.
This year was a collectively defining moment in all of our lives, on a personal and global level. We’ve changed as a result. And no matter how much we want to put it behind us, it’s going to stay with us.
So maybe instead of saying a quick sayonara, we can be more mindful of the baggage we’re walking out with. Some of it will just add weight to our already heavy load. But I think there’s more there that needs to be unpacked. I think we may have grown as parents too.
First, a little kvetching. Here’s some of why this year can kiss our ass:
1. It’s kept us up at night thinking about the thousands of people who have died from COVID. And worse, the people they’ve left behind.
2. It’s put so many of us out of work, and as we kiss our kids goodnight, many of us have wondered how we’ll make ends meet, or pay this month’s bills.
3. It’s distanced us from our fellow humans. We cringe when people walk too close to us now. We do a double-take when actors on Netflix shows walk into a room without a mask, even though it wasn’t even filmed during the pandemic.
4. It’s made parenting so very hard. We’ve turned into full-time teachers, chefs, housekeepers without a minute away from the kids. For those with babies, it’s meant nonstop damage control, constantly one minute away from a glass bowl shattering on the floor.
5. It’s put marriages and partnerships to the ultimate test. Gone is the allure, the leg-shaving, even changing clothes sometimes. We’ve forgotten to curb annoying habits. After 10 months of endless togetherness, we just let it all hang out.
6. It’s turned us into doom-scrollers. We’ve spent hours and hours on our phones, yearning for some social connection, desperately waiting for a sign that this nightmare is over. And as our heads have been deep in our screens, our kids have been watching us.
I could go on…
But like 6th grade, this year has also made us who we are. We’ve grown as parents:
1. After 24/7 parenting, we’ve discovered a level of intimacy with our kids that goes beyond the Nose Frida in the middle of the night.
2. We’ve found energy to play one more round of hide-and-seek or build one more lego truck together.
3. We’ve become more relaxed parents. We don’t obsess about screen time anymore. We don’t spend endless hours Googling the perfect cry it out technique because we know there isn’t one.
4. We let ourselves just BE a lot more. We let our kids just be too. If they want to build a fort with every single pillow in the house, so be it.
5. We’ve come to realize how precious life is and how insignificant the small battles are. We let them go. What’s the point?
6. We’ve realized what DOES matter. The extra hug before bed, the spontaneous singing together, the giggles we find when we relax our body and let our kids love us the way they do.
7. We’ve learned that there is no point denying ourselves of things that we once did. If we want a Christmas tree but we are Jews, we get a Christmas tree, goddammit!
8. We’ve become more flexible. We had to be. We couldn’t fight the changes in the world and we had to adjust.
9. We’ve learned what is unshakable – our love for our kids, for our family, for our fellow humans.
What do you think, have we become better parents? I want to hear your take on it.
As we rush into 2021 we have the opportunity to decide what we’ll take with us. In a year’s time when we are all (hopefully) vaccinated and unmasked, will we bounce right back to our pre-COVID ways? What will we take with us from this unique period of time?
This is a year that will define us. We will remember it forever. And because of all the trials and challenges it brought us, it’s a year that has changed us, as parents, as family members, as humans. So who will we be once we remove our masks?
Let’s take a breath together. It’s election day. A really important one. And on top of that we’re living through a f*cking pandemic. And on top of that you’ve got your kids home. All the time.
Are your nerves running high? Have you been stress-munching on that leftover halloween candy? Me too.
So first- Let’s breathe. Seriously. Do it.
And as we change a diaper, made a puree, fill a bath, warm a bottle, let’s breathe.
Here’s what we know – No matter what happens today and this week, our job as parents is to continue to love our babies. We care so much about this election precisely because we love our babies so much.
We want them to grow into a world where there is respect for each other no matter what race, ethnicity, gender identities, religion, or country of origin.
It’s heartbreaking that the chasm in this country feels increasingly irreparable. It’s not the world we want for our babies.
So today as we bite our nails, doom scroll through our feeds and eat just one more Twix bar, let’s strain to understand the other side. That’s all we can do at this point.
Yesterday my family was on the shuttle in Zion National Park. Everyone was wearing a mask except for one woman sitting right in front of us.
I politely asked her if she didn’t mind putting on her mask. Her partner was wearing one, so it didn’t seem like an outrageous request.( Plus the fact that a simple piece of fabric on our faces SAVES LIVES.)
When she didn’t answer I said it louder. She and her partner kept their gaze ahead and just ignored me completely. And I sat seething.
We’ll come back to the end of this story in a second. For now, let’s understand what was going on for each of us.
Without fully knowing her perspective I can assume we have some major differences in our fundamental guiding dichotomies.
Here’s what I mean. Before setting out on our road trip this year I was lucky to have stumbled onto a podcast episode that would help me understand people I might encounter along the way outside of my comfy liberal Brooklyn bubble.
In it, Lee Hartley Carter explains the differences in thinking between Democrats and Republicans. According to her, it’s the distinction in primary values that prevents us from being able to understand each other. Both sides see the world in two very different dichotomies.
Democrats see the world in terms of HARM vs CARE. For them, caring means ensuring social justice, healthcare for all, equal rights in the workforce, LGBTQ rights, anti-racism, regulations for climate control, etc. For Democrats, if you are not driven by the CARE for your fellow human, then you are essentially condoning HARM.
Does that resonate?
Meanwhile, Republicans most often see the world in terms of LIBERTY vs. OPPRESSION. For them, the utmost priority is to insure their private human rights. Regulations they don’t agree with will be seen as OPPRESSION, threatening their right to decide for themselves. Guns, masks, curfews, quarantine, health care for all, taxes, affirmative action, communism, laws against fracking, etc – they all go against LIBERTY and freedom in their minds.
This paradigm makes sense to me. I can understand the Trump supporters I know through this lens. And I can see how they don’t understand my view. We’ve all grown up with certain dichotomies, and we’ve become so accustomed to them that another point of view feels literally impossible.
But as parents we have no choice. Not only that, we’re experts. We do it with our babies and kids all the time. We stretch ourselves to see the world through their eyes, understand their perspective, empathise with their challenges, no matter how uncomfortable it is. And when our kid can’t possibly wear the blue socks because they “hurt” and we need to scour the house for the orange socks when we’re already 10 minutes late, we have no choice but to take a breath, put our anxiety aside, and empathise with our baby’s experience.
It’s not easy. Especially if, like me, your HARM alarm is on HIGH. But I don’t see any other way.
So back to the bus. As she was getting off the shuttle the woman put her mask on.
I couldn’t take it any longer: “So NOW you put on your mask?”
She replied: “If you’re so worried maybe you shouldn’t be out in public.”
And I answered: “It’s just about caring for your fellow human.”
And there it was. I was seeing the situation through my HARM/CARE lens. She was seeing the situation through her LIBERTY/OPPRESSION lens.
And both of us felt completely RIGHT in our views.
I don’t know what this week will bring. But I do know that we’re parents, godammit. There’s no way we’re not going to do all we can to make the world a place where love reigns.
What do you think? Is it possible to bridge the great divide? I’d love to hear your thoughts. COMMENT below.
Do you have a friend who’s got one hand on a bottle, one hand in the M&M bag, and eyes on the developing election? Send them this reminder to take a breath. Tell them to sign up for more.
The thing we’ve been thinking about for years: Traveling long-term.
For years we’ve talked the idea into the ground, analyzing over and over when the best time would be to do it. Do we go when the eldest is in 7th? Before the youngest enters school? When the middle child is in 5th? When my husband is ready to get a new job? When I ditch this career and finally invent the massage pad I have in mind?
What’s the best time to extract ourselves from the path that feels “normal” and surrender fully to the unknown?
As it turns out, it’s NOW.
Remember when I wrote about the Coronator Accelerator? The idea that the COVID pandemic can accelerate processes?
Well, my husband and I could easily have continued on for years weighing the pros and cons, until next thing you know, we’d find ourselves waving our eldest off to high school murmuring: “we should have done it.”
For us, our moment has arrived to do this, and we are seizing it. Carpe travel!
Lots of people are moving out of the city these days, and for the most part, I think they are similar to us; they’ve been talking about it for years and just needed a kick in the butt.
There are many reasons for us to hate—nay—despise the Coronavirus. But in this odd instance, I’m actually saying “Thank you Coronavirus, for making us get a move on our dreams for the future.” Because…why the hell wait??
Have you been feeling the same about your plans? Have you had ideas rattling around in your head that seem to be creeping up more forcefully now? Along with the tragedy of it, we’ve been handed a gift: the reminder that our time is so very precious. Whatever it is we want to do, it must happen NOW.
Not to say that getting to this decision was easy— it was a process. We went from imagining life in Arizona (my husband often works there), to San Francisco (family), to Israel (family), and finally—as you might guess— to Westchester. We REALLY explored the latter. We spent days looking at houses, applied to a school, got financial aid, practically bought the trampoline for the yard. And, besides the fact that the houses are way overpriced these days and were far beyond our budget, it just didn’t feel right.
Then we got a twinkle in our eye and started thinking, “Maybe we don’t even need a home right now. Is it time for us to finally walk our walk?”
The fears rushed in: Can the kids handle not having a traditional school setting? Can I (since it will mostly fall on me)? Will it be ok for them not to have their friends around for the year? Will we be able to work from the road? How will we stay COVID-safe? And most of all: Will the kids drive us, and each other, to utter insanity???
Throughout the year, I’ll be sharing the answers to these questions as we go. I’m starting a new blog for this exact purpose. To get the updates, be sure to put your email in the sign up below. You’ll still get the Baby in Tune blog, but this one will be different. It will be a personal family journal with some funny (and likely, crazy) stories as well as some insights and teachable moments.
For now, I’ll try to answer some of the FAQs we’ve gotten most:
1. Are you renting an RV?
Not at the moment. We decided it was too risky regarding the WIFI. We will be depending on the internet for work and school so we can’t mess around. But we’ll probably rent one for a month at some point. I’ll let you know how that goes and if indeed RV living is the Corona dream.
2. So what’s your plan?
At the moment we are thinking we’ll Airbnb for a couple of weeks at a time in each location. We’ll sanitize, set up shop, do school, work, and explore. Then move on.
3. How will you get around?
We’re getting a new car with a third row. Anything is a step up from the beat up Outback we’ve been driving. The real question is, do we go SUV or full blown MINIVAN? My husband tells me the guitar takes up alot of space. Maybe we leave a kid out instead? I’ll let you know how that shakes out.
4. Where will you be going?
We don’t quite know yet. We’ve got a basic outline: Yellowstone Park by the end of September before it gets too cold. Then, we’ll tool around and hit the west coast by December/January. Along the way we’ll make social distance visits with friends and family. And then…
5. What about school?
Hmmm. Does anyone have a clue?
We decided to take ourselves out of the maddening back and forth and lean in to remote learning. We’ll be putting our kids in an all online school called Laurel Springs.
Pros – they’ve been doing online learning for 20 years. They know how.
Cons – it’s ALL asynchronous learning (pre-recorded videos and assignments). Will it keep the attention of the kids? Maybe not.
6. How will you work and homeschool at the same time?
I don’t f*cking know. But at least we’ve all been down this road before last year. It sucked, but we did it. I am imagining lots of ups and downs. Lots of tantrums. By the kids too.
7. What about Baby in Tune?
My other baby. I’m not letting her go. These last six months have shown me that online classes really are possible. In fact, they are lovely and supportive, and moving and meaningful. I’ll be continuing those.
I am also launching an online teacher training that will be starting Sept 21. Know anyone who might want to join? Let them know. Here’s the link for more info.
8. When do you leave?
About a week after Labor day.
Want to follow along with our adventure and see whether it was a fabulous or terrible idea? Or Both?
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.
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:
I’ve been going back and forth all week on whether to write this post, and, if so, how to do it. There are so many voices we need to be listening to right now. I keep asking myself, “Who am I to add one more? And what if I say something wrong?”
And then I realized, that’s part of the WORK ahead of us; to bumble through this, learn what we need to correct, and be willing to have the conversations to get us there. So I want to put it out there right away: If there is anything in this post that is offensive to anyone, please do write back. Tell me where I went off course. I want to learn.
I’ve been hearing a term these days that I resonate with: The Imperfect Ally. To me, it means having our intentions in the right place, wanting to work toward social justice and anti-racism, but also being completely aware that we don’t know exactly how to do that.
It may take time to learn, but we are in this for the long haul. Many have reminded us, “It’s a marathon, not a sprint.”
It is going to take a while for us to unlearn ways that feel normal; the mistreatment of people of color (whether unintentional or not) ingrained in our system, the exercising of white privilege daily. And beyond the cerebral understanding, the major shift will have to be cellular, in our bodies. We hold generations of presumptions. Shedding those habits will be painful and will take time.
There are plenty of actions to be taken now. I know you’ve probably got a list of them . But this post is about the action in the inaction.
Do you all remember the exercise we did in class called Passively Present? We challenged ourselves to be fully present with the experience of our baby. We got down to their level, laid in their position, and let them lead the play. From the outside it didn’t look like we were doing much. But what we were doing actually demanded a lot of effort—we were pushing ourselves to stay fully PRESENT with our baby’s experience. We put our own to do lists, desires, and distractions aside, and we followed our baby’s exploration.
There is a step that needs to happen in order to do this anti-racism thing right that cannot be rushed.
The other night I was in bed with my husband and we played out the cliche man/woman dynamic. I told him about something that was troubling me and he immediately went into offering solutions. My body tensed, I wanted to turn away and shut down. I didn’t want ideas for action. I needed him to acknowledge my sadness. I wanted to express my dark feelings and know that he saw my pain.
We are in a moment in our history when we need to fully absorb the Black voices around us and acknowledge the experience they’ve had in our country for generations. We need to be Passively Present to their experience. It demands our active listening and it takes effort to do so.
And you know what might creep up while we try to do that? Our good friend GUILT. And that may cloud our ability to listen.
For the White readers here, and that means most (I’m hoping to change that,) you might be feeling like me. I’m coming to terms, not just with opening my eyes to reality, but more than that, to realizing that I DID see what was happening before but that it was comfortable for me not to change things. In fact, I’ve come to see almost every choice I make as one of privilege.
But guilt is not a productive feeling. It makes us act impulsively. We want to demonstrate, to ourselves or to others, that we are good.
But guys, as I said earlier, we’re in this for the long haul. There is no need to burn out, fueled on guilt. Our intention, collectively, is not just to change things for our neighbor, although that is a great start, but for our kids’ generation and their kids’ generation.
Guilt shifts the conversation away from the victim. So how do we break out of it? We go back to being passively present. We absorb the words and the emotions of black speakers, writers and leaders. And we allow for our own response, in our bodies, to happen without covering them over with shoulds and shouldn’ts (aka guilt.)
Many of you have been saying in class that you are feeling distressed about what is going on in the streets. You want to join the effort, but you are busy taking care of a baby.
That’s ok. You won’t be in this survival phase forever with your baby. You will once again have the mind space and physical space to head out into a protest or to join local activist groups if you choose. But for now, there’s also work to be done from home.
I’ve never been an early adopter. I know this about myself. It is going to take me some time to figure out exactly how I can create change with my own hands. At the moment, I have my eye on putting my efforts into the elections this year.
Meanwhile, I’ve got work to do. I need to feel the sadness of my Black neighbors, the anger that the young Black leaders I watch on IG are expressing. I need to cry, shake, meditate, take deep breaths, and let the work happen in my body as well. I need to acknowledge my fear of losing certain comforts in order to gain humanity. I need to sit with my sadness of having let down my fellow humans.
And when I feel compelled to add my voice to the conversation, I’ll do so, knowing that I will make tons of mistakes, but I’ll listen and learn as I go. That’s the work.
Here is a list of some of the voices I have been listening to and feeling with. These are on IG:
So tell me. Do you think I’m right on this? Should we take a moment to fully FEEL or is it just a way to avoid the action that must be taken? COMMENT below and let me know your stance.
Do you have a friend who could use a dose of Baby in Tune each week? Send them this post to sign up.
It’s been a week to end all weeks. I know we all feel raw, emotional, fragile, and scared. For ourselves. For our children. For the future. But I can feel change on the horizon. Can’t you? It keeps my hope alive.
It’s taken a lot to shake our country to its core: a pandemic that sent us into our homes indefinitely, caused financial insecurity for so many, and disproportionately affected the black community. And on top of that, another tragic, unnecessary death of a black American.
We don’t have our regular trips to the market, days at work or pick-ups from daycare, to distract us from what is bubbling up in our country and in ourselves. And we get it (most of us). We feel it deeply.
This country needs to change NOW.
In today’s post I’m not going to give you a list of books for kids, or ways to educate yours. I know you can find that stuff elsewhere and you should.
What I can offer you is a new song to help you open the conversation with your kids.
It wasn’t easy to write it. It’s not perfect. But we’re all learning how to talk about this, how to understand the experience of our black neighbors, and most of all: how to take action.
The other day I opened the topic of race with my 11 year old. He said “I’m afraid to talk about it with friends because I’m scared I’ll say something racist.”
Oh man. That hit me hard. Not just because it is sad to hear that he doesn’t feel he can talk about it but because I identified. I know he is expressing what so many of us feel all the time: What’s the right thing to say to be supportive but not accidentally offend?
A couple of days later he told me a story I had never heard: a few years earlier he had said the “N” word at school. He didn’t know what it meant and was using it out of context. I’m not sure where he had even heard it to begin with. His teacher immediately reacted, brought the vice principal who spoke to the whole class about the matter. My son understood the gravity of it. He also felt ashamed to the point where he didn’t even tell me about it later.
So there you have point A leading to point B.
Here’s a kid who was curious, did not harbor judgment, and was misinformed. Immediately, due to the systemic issues in our country he got the feeling that he should never broach the topic.
My son did not set out to discriminate. He was aware of our family value and the school value of acceptance. He just didn’t know the word or how loaded it was.
I wonder now if the school could have handled it differently, opening the conversation, gently telling a child what words are offensive, and welcoming curiosity and questions about difference.
That’s our job with our kids. Let’s teach them non-judgment and encourage curiosity. Let’s teach them words and phrases that might be offensive. And let’s teach them to ask their black neighbor if what they said is offensive in any way.
That’s actually what I did yesterday after I wrote the song. I called a black friend and asked her to listen. I asked her if anything was triggering. I had never done that before about a song I wrote and I felt that was a big step in the right direction for me.
So that’s what I mean when I say change is on the horizon. I find it very encouraging. But we need to go through lots of growing pains before we get there.
So how have you broached the topic with your kids? Please comment below and let us know. We all need some support on this.
Do you have a friend who could use a song to illustrate the predicament we are in? Send them the Tuesday Tune In and tell them to sign up below so they’ll get the next one too.
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.
It’s day 1,298 of being home and your kids are driving you insane. I get it. But you’ve also told us in our classes that your kids are also what is keeping you SANE.
They are keeping you distracted from the news, busy with meal prep, frazzled with keeping them out of danger, occupied with keeping them clean, rested and calm.
And all of those tasks mean they are keeping you right here. In this moment.
We don’t have time to gaze out the window and zone out on what-ifs. We don’t have space to lie in bed staring at the ceiling wondering when this will end. We barely have time to shower for chrissake.
You are taking it day by day because that is all your baby allows you to do. So let’s let them teach us how to be fully present in this moment as they are.
Here are 6 ways to feel present with your baby amidst all the craziness going on right now.
1. Schedule time in your day to BE with your baby.
Whether you are working an outside job or not, you’ve got your hands full right now. But if we schedule time in our day when we plan to be fully present with our baby we might not fight it during the day. I bet you spend a lot of your day feeling guilty that you are not actually spending time with your baby. Especially now that you are with each other all day. But being near and being WITH is different. So now that we are all cooped up let’s pencil in some special time, even if it is just a few minutes a day.
2. Make a quarantine music video journal with them
We often think that taking pics or videos pulls us out the moment but I find that this activity brings you in. Lie on your bed together and take a selfie video of yourselves singing a song. Doesn’t matter which, you can even make one up. Try to do it every few days. Let the camera be witness to your present moment together. Doing so may invite your observer self to join which can add another layer to feeling present.
Here’s some inspiration. A video I made with my daughter.
3. Let your baby lead the play. You follow.
In this one you can relax. Your job is to just follow your baby around and surrender to their whims. Are they stopping to examine the remote control? Examine it with them. Are they grabbing at the play mat? Are they walking from room to room picking stuff up and throwing it down? Follow them. FIgure out what they are drawn to, what they want to touch, hold, and put in their mouth.
4. Put on music.
You guys. This just does the trick. It’s powerful. It brings us instantly into the moment. It takes us out of our thinking self and into our FEELING self. And that means we pause to explore through our senses. When we aren’t consumed with thoughts we open ourselves to the sounds, smells, sights, and textures around us. Remember that time you put aside to be with your baby? Enhance it with some good music in the background.
5. Pick up the corners of your mouth. Simple enough, just shift the corners of your mouth into a slight Mona Lisa smile and notice if your ‘tude shifted a little along with it.
6. TOUCH your baby
Doing these remote classes has made me realize how much I normally touch your babies in class – on their toes, their head, their bellies. I’ve been missing it desperately and have really identified with grandparents everywhere who can’t right now. So touch your sweet babies for all of us. Hold their squishy sweet bodies close. If you follow me on Instagram and Facebook you know I’ve written a song about this recently. I’m about done with it. Come find out how it ends up.
Here are two more ways Baby in Tune can help you feel more PRESENT, less guilty, more WITH, less near.
We are now offering 6-packs to be used anytime within 6 weeks. You can come to one class a week or 5 a week. Your choice. Go here to sign up for a remote class a la carte or for a 6-pack at a reduced rate.
Free intro class:
This is for any of your friends who have never taken a Baby in Tune class before . This Friday at 11:00am I’ll be doing a FREE remote into class. They can sign up HERE.
So now tell us – did any of these bring you into the moment with your baby? Which one? What exactly were you doing? Be specific so we can jump into the moment with you. COMMENT BELOW.
Have a friend who could use some de-guilting? Send them this post and tell them to sign up for more.
“Hello, 911? Yes it’s an emergency. My kids and I are stuck inside the house. I’m about to lose my sh*t.
Why yes, I’d love some Emergency Music Entertainment ideas. Like, NOW? “
Let’s do this.
IDEA #1: The Human Piano
Set up pillows on the floor in a circle around your child. As you jump from pillow to pillow, sing a different note. Doesn’t matter if it is in one scale or not, aka in tune or on melody! Your baby will quickly catch on.
If your baby is not mobile yet she will watch with delight as you jump from one pillow to the next singing a song. If your kiddo is mobile, she will join your jumping immediately, no doubt.
Get jiggy with it. Challenge yourself to jump further and remember the note that is associated with each pillow. It just might entertain you as much as it will them!
Pull ‘em all out. Go ahead. This is not a time to worry about mess. We’ve got some entertainment to pull off here! Plus, pots are pretty easy to put back once you’re done. Bring out the tupperware too while you’re at it.
And wooden spoons? Yep, them too. Do NOT take out the metal spoons because they’ll bust your ears and no one needs that.
Now, go nuts on your drums. Get tribal. Experiment with the sounds. Notice the different tones each pot and container has. And more than that, notice the sounds that different parts of the pot make. For instance, hitting the rim will sound different than hitting the side, or turning it over and hitting the bottom. Point this out to your child as you do it to help them learn.
The mere [not that chaotic] chaos of pots scattered around you both will be exciting for your baby.
Play like a Times Square subway master during rush hour. Bring down the house.
IDEA #3: Make up a song!
Here are two ways to try:
Body parts. This one is a no brainer. All of your kisses and squeezing of body parts lends itself to the lyrics already. In fact, you may have already written this one. But if not, go with a pattern. Say something about your baby’s thigh. Can be as simple as,“Here’s Jonah’s thigh!” Or “I can see your arm, it goes up and down.” And then go with it!
Do the same with all the other body parts you can think of. Bring in the limbs but also the smaller features like nose, ears, toes, etc.
Movement. I bet I can make a list of movements your baby likes to do: Run, jump, spin, crawl, roll, dance, squat and stand, sway upper body, and clap. Good list? Add your own and now let’s put them into a song. Doesn’t have to be complicated. In fact, the simpler the better. “Lucy likes to run run run! Run run run! Run run run! Lucy likes to jump jump jump! Jump jump jump….” you get the idea. At a loss for a tune? Use a simple one you know, like “Itsy Bitsy Spider.”
IDEA #4: Give the ball a voice
If you’ve taken our classes, you know that we love to play with balls in a musical way. We usually do it with the older babies, but musical ball play can work with all ages. In fact, today in class a mama said that her son’s first giggle came that day when she had thrown up a ball and caught it. He thought it was hysterical.
So what do you do? As you throw up a ball, make the sound effect of the ball. I have a feeling it is some sort of a high pitched “Whooooo!”
If you have different balls, you can make different sounds for each ball. And if your baby is older, you can pass it back and forth and both of you can make your sounds.
Ball play is so much more fun when the ball has a voice!
IDEA #5: Make up a dance
I admit it, I can’t help but be inspired by the Tic Toc dances teenagers are doing these days. So what do you do? Become the choreographer of your baby’s dreams.
Put on your favorite song and pretend you are a DJ on a cruise ship. Teach your baby the line dance of your favorite song. Make it up! Use the motions your baby knows how to do.
Hands up! Head bob! Tushie shake! Shoulder shimmy!
You know what? You and your baby may remember this dance forever and may just perform it at a family reunion in 25 years, ala Moira and David from Schitt’s Creek. (Google it. I promise it’s good.)
If you’ve got a baby, hold them as if they are your Frank Sinatra dancing across the room.
Got a toddler? Teach them your dance moves because YES, you DO think you can dance.
Two tricks to make this a success:
With all of these activities and all the musical activities you do with your baby, there is one important trick. Dynamics.
Dynamics can make the difference between your baby losing interest in a second and staying with you throughout.
If you’ve taken our classes you know we use dynamics all the time. What does it mean?
Sing loud, and then soft.
Go fast, and then slow.
Sing with a silly voice, and then your own voice.
Sing high, sing low.
Every time I do this in class, it astounds me how well it works. When your baby starts to lose interest, or the music becomes overwhelming, (or heck, you just need a breather!), come back to a steady rhythm. Patting on your thighs is sufficient. Bring it back to consistency. It works.
Hey, J-Lo and Shakira are two mamas who recently proved that in a major way.
So, did these ideas help you Tune in to a toddler about to combust? Or to a baby about to blow? COMMENT below and let me know.
Do you have any of your own musical fun ideas to get the wiggles out when you’re stuck indoors? Save a fellow parent in need and let us know below!
Most importantly – send this to that friend at home with a baby that you love best. Because sharing is caring.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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?
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.
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…”
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.
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.
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:
Dear Tunester – Today I want to talk about a topic that’s both painful and beautiful: Time. I’ve been thinking a lot about the phrase, “I don’t have time.”
As in: “I don’t have time to spend time with my baby.” Or “I don’t have time to do music with my baby.” – I need to do laundry, work, dishes, shower, eat, feed, put to sleep, and a thousand other things.
I can’t help but wonder though: Is it true that we don’t have time? In many ways, absolutely. Taking care of a baby and kids is a FULL-TIME job. No doubt about it. But also …
Is it possible that we use time as an excuse?
Let’s explore that for a minute. Are we avoiding hanging out with our kids in a meaningful way? Are we saying, “I don’t have time” but really meaning to say, “I don’t want to”?
I’m going to stop here for a minute and say that this blog post has been extremely hard for me to write. I’ve already spent more than 3 hours staring at the screen. And when that happens it is always an indication that this one is an issue that runs deep for me. So let’s continue but just know that I am right there with you if you are feeling it.
So – if time is an excuse to NOT hang out with our baby – why are we avoiding our baby?
Let’s explore some of the reasons that came up for me. I would love to hear yours in the comments below.
It’s boring. Being with a baby or kid can be repetitive. One more time playing hide and seek; one more time jumping on the bed or tickling or singing that one song.
It’s tiring. It’s a lot of physical work. Certainly for the first two years it’s all physical labor – picking them up, putting them down, dressing them, feeding them. Even after that it’s very tiring physically. Running around the playground, playing catch, throwing them around. One more push on that darn swing.
It takes a different mindset and can feel isolating. There isn’t the shared understanding we have with grown-ups that allows us to tune out together in the same way or take things for granted in the same way. It is comforting to be with a grown-up who has a similar outlook merely because they’ve been in the world for a longer time. We are not surprised by the same things our kids are. (Side note: This same reason is also what makes hanging out with kids and babies so fantastically refreshing. They are surprised by things we already take for granted. We get an opportunity to experience even mundane things anew with them.)
It involves self-sacrifice. Being with our babies and kids involves letting go of our own needs a bit. Although we strive to maintain our whole selves with them, their urgent needs take over. Kids are self centered and narcissistic and that is how they should be. But it means relinquishing ourselves a bit when we are with them.
It’s ok to feel these things. It’s ok to not want to be with our babies all the time. And it is important to explore all the reasons why.
So we know why we DON”T want to hang out with them.
And I know you know why we DO want to hang out with them.
In fact, I’ve spent my career trying to put those feelings into song. It’s impossible to describe the joy that we receive as parents and we never even came close to before. That profound joy is amplified because we watch our kids grow so fast right in front of our eyes. With every new ability and new shoe size, we feel that we are mourning the bliss that came right before.
So this whole thing is tragic really.
We want to be with them so badly. But we also don’t.
It is unbearable and sublime all at once.
And that tension, and the fact that our babies are the ultimate reminder of time passing and the moments slipping through our fingers, makes it all too hard.
So what do we do?
We do what we are doing here together. We acknowledge the difficulty.
We forgive ourselves. We try to satisfy our need not to be bored, tired, isolated and sacrificed. We do this on our own or with friends and family. And then we go and sit with our time-lapsed capsules of joy.
What else are we saving our time for? What else is more important?
As my time in this career passes, I’ve realized that my mission – beyond helping you feel more confident as parents by giving new tools and techniques – is to remind you and myself that indeed we don’t have time and we’ll never have time.
Time is not something we can have. What we do have is connection and touch, and feelings and breath.
This is why I made The Baby in Tune Online Class (and all the classes).
It isn’t about solving an urgent problem – although it helps you learn how to soothe baby, put him to sleep, and make your day wholly more fun. More than that, it is about helping you feel, touch, breathe, and sing with your baby. It is about finding time to be with your baby fully.
Our babies ask us for one thing: Our time.
That’s all they want. They want us to be with them.
So why is music the key to this conundrum?
Because it inherently brings us into the moment through FEELING, and BREATH, and being in SYNC, in a language that our baby understands and that we intuitively speak.
Let’s learn together how to do it in a way that feels just as nourishing for us as it is for them.
That’s what I am here to help you do.
Do you know someone who could use a step by step guide on how to BE with their baby in a way that is enjoyable and enriching for both? Send them to this link or buy them my brand new online class.
Do you know someone who really needs a weekly check in on all things parenthood and music? Send them the link below so they can join the Tuesday Tune In.
Do you resonate with the tragedy of wanting to be with your baby but also NOT wanting to be with your baby? Comment and let me know.
2) spending a lot of time in the car getting to the places where we will be outside
Don’t worry. I’ve got you covered. This week’s Tuesday Tune-In is all about introducing you to Kindie (kid-indie) music you can play in the car – and to my talented friends who record it.
There is so much great music for kids being made out there and you need to know about it. I mean, you and I will always be first lovers. But I’m okay with an open relationship. This should be a pretty good introduction to how music for kids has changed since we were all little. Back then, there weren’t many options. I remember listening to “Free to Be … You and Me” by Marlo Thomas (still my absolute favorite kids album) and “The Muppet Show” TV soundtrack on repeat. Some Raffi trickled in there, too. Now, there are all these independent artists making beautiful songs with a bit of whimsy.
Already in the car and just need to hit play? Scroll down to find your summer drive playlist for kids.
Before I reveal these chart-toppers, let’s take a short moment to discuss what happened to the music world. On one hand, things are better for the independent musician. We can now have an audience – such as I do with you all – without being backed by a huge label. On the other hand, music is free. People ask me what I make on Spotify listens. It’s about $0.006 per listen. It adds up if there are enough listens – and it helps musicians if you press the Follow button on Spotify (or comparable on iTunes/Amazon) – but it’s not great.
The point is: My Kindie friends and I don’t make music for the money.
We make it because we love making it and because we love singing and playing music with you all. You can hear this in their music. I know you are going to love these.
Your Kindie Playlist:
The Verve Pipe
Do you remember this band from the 90s? Well, like the rest of us, they went and had kids and their music changed a little bit. Their album for kids was the first one I ever heard when I had my first baby. In fact, they made making music for kids seem almost cool to me. This album is so great and I chose my favorite song.
Jon Samson/ CoCreative Music
Jon Samson and I met in the music therapy program at NYU and have somehow felt like family ever since. He produced “Good Morning, My Love” and got me started on this career path. He also produced my latest album, “Songs for Sisters and Brothers.” His own music is so creative and unique. You truly won’t find anything like it. His songs take twists and turns that have my kids intrigued throughout. I put my favorite song on the playlist (and if you listen closely you can hear my voice doing backups) but it’s worth checking out his full albums.
Amelia Robinson (Mil’s Trills), Suzi Shelton and Katie Mullins (Katie Ha Ha Ha)
This trio and I were in a songwriting group together two years ago. Every week, we would each present a new song to the group. By the end of the year, we all ended up with an album worth of songs. Amelia is all about bringing the community together to sing and create. Her songs are fun, silly and catchy. Suzi has a knack for writing pop songs for kids – songs that will immediately have you singing along and smiling. Katie is the master of the sing-along and you can hear it in her ultra creative songs and gorgeous voice.
Dean produced my second album, “Hello, My Baby.” I wanted to work with him immediately when I heard his music because it reminded me of Paul Simon. Dean’s music is gentle, lyrical and silly and his instrumentation always sits just right.
Lesley & the Flying Foxes
Lesley is the best-kept secret in the Kindie world. Her album is so charming it makes me wonder about all the little things in life that we disregard. While I listen to her music, I find myself daydreaming about butterflies and tumbleweeds.
Justin Roberts is a master at writing kids songs. He makes catchy and thoughtful tunes that strikes that balance of gentle and energetic.
If you haven’t heard her songs, go do so immediately. Elizabeth Mitchell was one of the first Kindie musicians out there. Her voice is so very lovely and she brings traditional songs into the palm of your hand.
So many more – Molly Ledford, Lucy Kalantari, Lucky Diaz, Josh and the Jamtones, Gustafer Yellowgold, Andrew and Polly, Kira Willey, Jazzy Ash, the Alphabet Rockers, KB Whirly, and the list goes on…
I could go on and on about the rest of the people on this playlist. And there are many more fabulous Kindie musicians who I will put on the next playlist. But I’ll leave it at that for the moment.
In this Tuesday Tune-In (coming out a little later than normal becuase I had a show this morning,) we are tackling why it’s so hard to be PRESENT with our kids – or with anything for that matter – and what you can do to get in the moment.
These days we are inundated with information: podcasts, articles, emails, texts, social posts. I don’t know about you but I definitely see a difference in my ability to stay focused on a task. I find myself glancing at my phone habitually. In addition, for those of us with babies, lack of sleep makes it almost IMPOSSIBLE to keep our presence on one thing.
Sometimes it’s also hard to align with our kids because, the truth is, they inhabit a different reality than ours.
Grown-ups: Think about the past, present and future at the same time.
Kids: Think about right now.
We can be at the playground watching our kid with hawkeyes climbing the slide, while thinking about what we will make for dinner, when a second ago we thought about what an ass we were at yesterday’s meeting.
Meanwhile what are they thinking about? Climbing the slide.
It can feel so exhilarating to be with them with that amount of presence. Our kids are naturally fully present in everything they do. The younger they are, the more present they are. It’s instinctual for them.
And it can also feel exhausting. Which is why we sometimes crave conversation with other adults who share our experience of being in the world for a while.
But with practice, we can drop into our kids’ world that is completely mindful and present. And then what happens? We truly enjoy our time together. We notice how precious every little bit is – the way they pick up a marker, the way their nose moves while they speak, the way they look at us with adoration.
6 things I do to feel more present with my kids
1. Tell them ahead of time that we will be spending time together.
I find this works both for them and for me. If I tell them in the morning that we will have some time later – or even if I tell them on the way back from school that we will have an hour to play together – it helps me prepare and holds me accountable. The problem I run into if I don’t do this is trying to do three things at once, including being present with them.
2. Put my phone in the other room.
For me, this one is essential. I’m an addict like the rest of us – always feeling the pull to glance at my phone. Putting the phone in the other room helps me realize I don’t need it and makes it physically difficult for me to get to it. Laziness is good for something.
3. Make my day as productive as possible so that I can release it.
The days I feel most present with my kids are the ones in which I manage to be very productive. For me, that means keeping to my to-do list and not getting distracted by social media or even email. If I’ve had four hours of focused productivity, I’m usually in a pretty good mood once I get to the kids. So, I consider building my productivity skills to be essential to how I mother.
4. Put on music.
Usually, after we get home from school there is an hour of acclimation. Snacking, changing clothes, running around, fighting with siblings. But eventually we calm down. At that moment, especially if my intention is to feel present with them, I like to put on some music that will calm me, first of all, and them as well. That can mean anything from vocal jazz to Motown to 80s pop or classical. (What music do you put on in that pre-dinner making hour? I would love to hear in the comments)
5. Sit where they are sitting.
This one might sound silly but for me it makes a big difference. When we’re playing together, I can either say, “Come sit with me at the table” (because most often that’s where I am). Or I can finish what I’m doing and go sit where they are sitting – on the carpet, in their room or sometimes even in the hallway. When I do that, I immediately feel the shift. They are aware that I’m putting aside the time to be with them and I’m meeting them where they are.
6. Take a moment to notice that nothing else is more important.
I know we know this but sometimes it takes reminding ourselves a few times a day – or even a few times an hour. At that moment, when we want to extract ourselves from playing with them – talking to them, sitting on the floor, playing hide and seek or whatever it is – we need to ask ourselves: What is actually more important?
For me, the answer is almost always: nothing.
I hope you enjoyed reading the 6 things I do to feel more present with my kids.
What would your kids say you do to be present with them? COMMENT below and let me know.
Sometimes thinking about it from our kids point of view helps us see what’s working and what’s not. What comes to mind for you?
Know more mindful parents? Share this Tuesday Tune-In.
They’ll love the tip about sitting where they are sitting – and hopefully the other five, too. Forward this email their way as a way of saying you’re proud of their intentional work..
Love this blog and would like to receive more to your inbox?
I’m really excited about this Tuesday Tune In, friends. It’s about parents taking a page from sailors in order to figure out what makes for an expert parent. It was inspired by something a yoga instructor said in class this week. (Ok. It was Chase Connolly from my favorite studio.) I’ve been thinking about it ever since. And you will be, too.
He said, “Joy is technical.”
I said, “Huh?” (from my downdog.)
He gave the example of a sailor being caught in a storm. If the sailor is new and unskilled, then a storm could be a terrifying and traumatizing experience. However, if the sailor is an expert and has years of experience, then getting stuck in a storm might be exhilarating and maybe even a joyful challenge.
It made me think of parenting. I wondered: What makes for an expert parent? Is it the technique we gain from experience or is it something else?
Expert sailors (and parents) have learned their technique:
which bucket (bottle)to use
how to hold the wheel (baby) in the correct position
where the lifejackets (pacifiers) are hidden
when to fiddle with the rudder (humidifer)
how to tie a knot (cloth diaper)
But more than that, expert sailors (and parents) are defined by their EMOTIONAL technique. It’s not just about finding solutions, rather it’s about finding a state of mind. The expert does not get crazed by the storm.
Deep in a moment of crisis she knows to say to herself- I will get through this and it will be ok. Partly this comes from experience. She has learned that the storm will blow over and peace will follow.
But partly it is the work of cultivating a deep sense of confidence. It takes some effort to truly believe that everything will be ok. That is the work of the expert parent.
In moments of storm the expert parent says: “I am taking care of this baby and I love this baby. My baby might be frightened but I am not because know I will figure it out. If she cries, it’s ok.”
Why is this so important? Because our baby needs us to believe it too.
So parents, here are some strategies for weathering the storm with grace:
Take a breath. Maybe two.
You may need to walk away for a minute knowing that it is for the best in the long run.
You may need to tune in to what YOU need at that moment in order to know what your baby needs. maybe it’s a walk outside. Maybe it’s a song.
Ask for help when you need it.
Know that the storm will pass.
It is not necessarily working to overcome the storm rather to accept it. It is part of sailing. It’s part of parenting. We can’t always make it go away. We do our best to help and we have the confidence that eventually it will pass. The sun will peek out from the clouds and there will be a sunset and a glass of wine waiting.
These are my strategies but I want to hear yours. Let’s brainSTORM on this. Please share below in the comments.
Now let’s look at it from another perspective – the passenger’s. As a passenger on the expert sailor’s boat we might feel frightened, but our fear would be contained by our skipper. We would have confidence that it would all be okay. On the novice sailor’s boat, it would be quite a shocking experience to be watching them frantically trying to troubleshoot – raising the sail, bringing down the sail, fiddling with the rudder, throwing things off the boat, etc.
Our babies need us to convey confidence that the storm will pass.
They register our trials and errors and our distress. Although they might feel scared, panicked, or confused, they trust us and need us to contain their anxiety.
So back to joy and technique – We may never fully feel that we have accrued enough technique to parent expertly. But we can work to cultivate confidence that the storm will pass. And that will open us up to experiencing all the joys that come with it.
How do you weather the storms? COMMENT below and let me know. Do you take a breath or two? Do you take a break yourself or turn to music?
Know a novice sailor or an expert one? Share this Tuesday Tune-In. We’re all making our way across this ocean together. Forward this email to all the sailors (parents) out there!
This week’s Tuesday Tune In is all about finding balance in our marriage. Is it possible? I would love to hear your thoughts. Here are some of my toughts about our relationship with our parnter post baby:
Every couple of years I take on a big project. During the year that it takes, I usually feel extremely creative, productive and motivated. The problem is that the more absorbed I get into creation, the more distant I feel from my kids and, especially, my husband.
Here’s what I’ve learned in 10 years of marriage: When my plate is overflowing, my partnership is the first to suffer.
Okay. It’s true that he accepts my ebbs and flows. Maybe he’s even proud of me during those times. But I know that he also feels neglected. I start to see the signs: our conversations become all about household business, he stays up late watching TV, we don’t get in bed at the same time and we are a bit shorter with each other. I’ll even see negative effects trickle down to the household. The kids become shorter with each other and compete for attention. That’s a pretty convincing case that I need to shift my focus.
How do I make this shift? No need to immediately jump to sex. When there’s a rift in the relationship that can feel way too threatening. Instead, here are the 2 steps I’ve found work best. …
How to Intimately Reconnect with your Partner:
1. Find a moment to be fully present – physically and emotionally Empty the to-do list and truly feel that the night is open ended.
2. Start small
A hand on a shoulder. A hug. Maybe it ends there for that night. Or maybe it goes further. Part of what feels stressful sometimes is the pressure of going ‘all the way’. But in those moments when it feels like there is a small glacier between us, sometimes just leaning on each other while watching TV feels like a big melting step.
This sounds so easy but its not. For me, right now in the busy work-mode that I am in, I almost need to schedule it in my calendar. It’s nice when it naturally rises to the top of my list. That’s when we effortlessly fall into each other. But during these moments that I’m talking about, and I know you’ve had them too, it feels effortFULL. It almost feels like laundry.
When each kid was an infant it felt the same way. My husband and I put everything we had into staying aflot above a sea of diapers, nightime wake ups, and a constant to-do list. During those years, raising a baby was the project.
I’m going to give you a happy ending on this one because I want to inspire you.
True story – this morning my husband and I woke up feeling re-connected to each other. The kids immediately seemed a bit more chipper, and I’ve been feeling pretty damn productive all day. You can imagine how last night went 🙂
So that’s the big lesson here. The one that I need to relearn again and again. Being productive does not necessarily mean “working.” It means balance.
And how do we learn what balance means for us? We keep asking ourselves – “What amazing things happened today?” Eventually, we get it. And then we forget it, and then we get it again.
Schedule time to just be present together. It might just bring new energy to all of your other endeavors too.
Has your career blomed while your marriage wilted? Comment below and let me know.
It can’t just be me, right? What work opportunities have you seized and how have you maintained your love connection? I would love to hear your comments below.
Know someone else who needs two ways to feel closer? Share this Tuesday Tune-In. Relationship advice is best when it comes from a good friend. Forward this email their way!
Do you want to know everything there is to know about lullabies? <a href=”http://www.babyintune.com/lullabykit”>Click here</a> to download my new <strong><span style=”color: #800080;”><a style=”color: #800080;” href=”http://www.babyintune.com/lullabykit”>Easy Bedtime Lullaby Kit</a></span></strong> complete with a songwriting template, a playlist, and a gameplan to make your evenings easier for one and all.
Before we get started, some housekeeping. If you aren’t already, I highly suggest following me on Instagram at @babyintune, and on Facebook @baby in tune. I’ve been doing live posts with some good tips, have been sharing new songs, and find it a great way to connect with you all on a more regular basis.
Ok. Here we go.
This week, I let you in on a musical-bonding tool that’s not vocal. Spoiler: It’s drumming. More specifically, drumming together. It creates magic in a room.
Try it for yourself. You don’t need to be a musician to lead a drum circle. You don’t need special drums. Break out the pots and Tupperware – or just use the floor – and start banging. Believe me: Baby will follow your lead.
There’s a reason for this: It feels good to drum with someone else. It’s similar to the feeling we have when we dance with other people. Humans enjoy synchronizing to the rhythm of music, especially with others.
And that starts very early on – even little babies prefer synchronization and can modify their movements to the sound of music. (Have you been wondering if your baby is actually kicking to the beat? The answer is yes!)
Not sure where to start? Here are some techniques to create magic by drumming together.
(My favorite is the last one, so if you can, read till the end. To me that one is really a metaphor for life. Maybe they all are?)
THREE WAYS TO START A FAMILY DRUM CIRCLE
1. Hold down a simple beat.
The easiest and most common rhythm in Western culture is a four count. So drum out your beat while counting: 1 2 3 4 1 2 3 4. You can add eighth notes (1 and 2 and 3 and 4), and you can syncopate it, which means taking out some beats and putting the stress on beats that might have otherwise been softer. (e.g. 1 2 and _ 4).
Since you are holding down the beat, your baby is free to drum within that. Your job is to stay steady and be the backbone like a drummer in a band. Your baby gets to be the soloist.
(You see what I mean by all this being a metaphor for life and parenting?)
If your baby isn’t sitting and drumming on their own yet, you can drum right by their ears and give them a stereo rhythm coming from both sides. You’ll see how your baby immediately becomes interested. In fact, it is a good trick to do when your baby is a little fussy. Often a beat by their ears can snap them out of it.
This song Galloping Horse was created to start rhythm with our babies. It also includes a bunch of hand gestures parents in my classes said their babies love.
2. Pick an area of the world you’d like to visit with your drumming.
Good options are: Africa, Cuba, Middle East, the Caribbean, India or others. Somewhere pique your interest?
Now, look up “African drumming.” Once you find a song that inspires you, you and your baby can drum along to that song. It’s pretty fun to jam along with music that you’re listening to. Especially drumming.
Recently in my classes we traveled into Asia through Japan and China. Taiko drumming, from Japan, is often accompanied by choreographed dance. And Chinese drumming can sometimes be lyrical and tell a story.
Although our classes are comprised of babies and parents who often don’t consider themselves musical, after we listen to music from a particular culture there is a distinct feeling to each drum circle that is clearly inspired by the music we just heard.
3. Listen very closely to the sounds people around you are making.
This reminds me of a game my kids play where they see how high a number they can count to. Each person says one number spontaneously, without designating an order.
If you’ve ever done this, then you know that the exercise sharpens your focus on being in the moment. It makes you stand in a group and look around with anticipation, wondering when the others will say a number and when there will be space for you to call one out. Most of all, it perks up your ears.
The best kinds of drum circles are like that. When each person listens very closely to the music and the sounds that others are making. The idea is to really be on the edge of your seat anticipating and excited by where your sound will fit into the sound of the group. It can feel pretty profound.
This drum circle may sound different than what you are used to. It may not have a steady beat, rather it may have a loose more spontaneous feel to it, like a conversation.
As way to truly converse through music, try mirroring your baby’s beats and vocalizations with your beats and voice as well.
If for just a few minutes a day we can take a moment to listen closely to the sounds around us – the sounds our baby is making, and our response to those sounds – we may just tell a story with our music.
(Feeling like a metaphor for life and parenting again?)
Just remember: The more you get into it, the more you will enjoy it. So let go of inhibitions. And know that, in order to do that, you need to play for much longer than you would think. So start and don’t stop until the story you’re telling comes to a close.
What have your drumming experiences been like? I’d love to hear about it in the COMMENTS section.
Did you drop in to a drum circle in college, on a trip or in a recent baby/me class? I want to know. Write a comment!
Who else needs baby/me activity inspo? Share this Tuesday Tune-In. I know the days can be long. Share this fun and emotionally connecting activity with a friend by clicking Forward!
Love this blog and would like to receive more to your inbox?
Good, good morning to you – moms, dads, grandparents, and caregivers.
It’s time for The Tuesday Tune In. This week, I’m telling you one super-quick, super-easy way to be present with your children.
You know that moment when our babies or kids ask us to do something “one more time”? I know you do.
We all love their desire for more Together Time – but in that moment we can pass on the opportunity. Often it’s because it’s nearing the end of the day and we’re too worn out. Or we see that little bit more as just TOO MUCH right then.
Or – if you’re like me – you’re just so ready for the fast-approaching Me Time.
So, you’ve probably already guessed what I’m going to tell you to try this week:
Push yourself to do that thing ONE MORE TIME.
For my kids, it’s an extra hug after bedtime kisses.
Have you ever seen a horse nearing the stable after a long walk? That’s when the horse’s walking turns into a trot because they know they’re almost home.
At 7:55pm, I feel me-time becoming a reality and I start to gallop home. And it’s right when I reach the stable when the kids each ask for one more hug.
For your child it might be asking for you to rock them one more time, to walk the curb like a balance beam one more time or to sing a chorus one more time.
I say, for the next week, Let’s see what happens when we push ourselves to give in for those two extra minutes – whether it’s the extra hug, the detour or the added rocking.
One of my biggest struggles as a parent is to do all of the things I do every day (career, errands, tasks, social life) and also find a way to be fully present with my kids.
I’ve found that this is one simple shift in my behavior that changes everything.
One day recently I went back and lied down with my daughter in her bed for a moment and I gave her a long, delicious hug. I let my tasks go. The emails would wait. The mess would still be there. And I gave in to two minutes of being fully present with her.
Later I realized that it was the best part of my day.
How did I realize the power of “one more time”? I wrote the extra hug in my Five Minute Journal.
A couple weeks ago, I sent out an email about a practice called The Five Minute Journal by Tim Ferriss. (Read that full post here.)
I noticed that at the end of the day, when I was writing my list of amazing things that happened that day, I would consistently write about the extra hug. And then the next day when I was writing my list of what would make the day great I started to put down the extra hug. Because: Why wouldn’t I make my day amazing?
So try it. See if it makes your day amazing, too.
What’s your child’s “one more thing”? Comment and let me know.
One last dance-off? One last tickle fight? It’s different for every child. I want to know yours. Drop me a line here.
Glad you read this Tuesday Tune-In? Share it – one more time!
Quick. Now. Before you’re ready to move on to Me time! Forward to a friend, you good samaritan.
This week in the Tuesday Tune In, I want to offer you a strategy for feeling good about your singing voice especially when singing with your baby.
You might be surprised to hear: Whenever I sit down at the microphone to record vocals for an album, I have a mini freak-out. I’ve never thought of myself as a great singer. What I really wanted since I was a kid was to be able to sing like Mariah Carey or Beyonce or other singers who seemed to have endless flexibility in their vocals. I hope you’re not reading this thinking – “Oh please. She has a beautiful voice.”
Because that’s my point: Everyone feels insecure when they sing. (Even those who make a career out of it.)
If you haven’t grown up singing in your home or with your family or friends, then it probably feels even more uncomfortable and scary.
So, I’m going to give you a strategy.
Here’s a method that I use when I’m singing at the mic. I’m hoping it will help you when you are singing to your baby. Because here’s the thing: Your baby wants to hear you sing. More than Paul McCartney, more than Aretha. Your baby wants to hear YOU.
The trick to STOP JUDGING and START LOVING your singing voice:
1. Relax your voice by taking in a deep breath before each phrase.
This is important because if your body tenses, then your voice will immediately feel constricted. Once that happens, our brains recognize the discord and we judge ourselves from the get-go.
2. Hear your voice as if it is coming from outside of you.
As you are singing try to hear your voice as if someone else is singing to you. This is the hard part and the incredible part. You might need to close your eyes as you do this but if you manage to do it, even for a minute, you may feel soothed by your own voice. Instead of judging it, you may enjoy it. This is because we are much less judgemental of others than we are of ourselves.
This technique is a bit easier in a group when you can focus on everyone else’s voice instead of your own. We do this alot in our classes. When shifting our focus to the voices around us we notice that our own voice tends to be more in pitch, more relaxed, and seems to find its place among the other voices in an effortless way.
I learned this while recording my albums. My biggest task in the studio was to get out of my own head. If I didn’t, I could feel my inner dialogue getting the best of me just a few words in. My voice felt and sounded constricted and didn’t seem to flow. If someone could’ve record my thoughts during those few words, they would probably have seen a quick moving list of comments – “You sound terrible,” “You shouldn’t be singing this song,” “That note was off,” “Your jaws is not relaxed,” “Sara Bareilles sounds much better” or, “No one will want to hear this.”.
That voice can be SO loud. And while we all have a version of it, some hear it louder than others.
I know this from years of doing classes and singing with parents. Many don’t feel comfortable singing in a group or, if they do, they will be sure to sing under their breath so no one can hear.
There’s a good reason for that. Singing is not like talking. Speaking often comes from an intellectual place. But singing bypasses our intellect and comes directly from an emotional place. That feels vulnerable no matter who you are.
But that is what makes singing so powerful.
Tonight as you are singing a lullaby to your baby, try it. It’s a mindfulness exercise and it’s not simple but it’s worth it. Why not let you AND your baby be soothed by your voice?
How comfortable are you with your voice?
Have you overcome insecurities while singng? How?
I want to hear!! Email and let me know.
So many parents in my groups feel insecure about singing. Your stories can help them overcome their anxiety.
Love this Tuesday Tune-In? Share it with a mom friend or dad friend. The ones who sang at your wedding and the ones who won’t even karaoke. Forward away.
Sleeping Much? I didn’t think so.
Download the FREE Easy-Bedtime Lullaby Cheat Sheet now
How cool is this? Scary Mommy published my article about getting siblings to stop fighting. I’d love to hear what you think. Also, has the album been helping at all? My hope is that it helps to raise some awareness in your family as to dynamics, challenges, and just feeling like we are not alone.
“Usually the fights have to do with sharing. Sharing a toy, a friend, a cousin, a food. And they do want those things, but below the surface, that’s not really what they are fighting over. They are competing for the love and attention of us parents. They want to know – do you love me the most? Do you think I’m the most special of all your kids? Am I unique and special?”
I am so excited to announce that my new album has been released to the world. It has been a year of HARD WORK. Seriously, doing my classes, training a new therapist, recording an album, launching a Kickstarter, and oh yeah, raising three kids, has been alot this year. But now I am at the other side of it all and can take a deep breath in.
The album is all about SIBLINGS. The Kickstarter campaign really explains where I was coming from with this one. Click here to see the video. This album was made with all of your help. I could not have done it without you.
It is already getting great press and airplay. But most importantly, I am hoping you all like it. Recently I received an email from a fan that made me feel like all of my hard work is worth it:
“The songs from the new album are beautiful and brought me to tears sometimes. Most of all, I was able to reflect on how much your class has meant to R and I during this profoundly important year and as my little lady is about to turn one! Thank you for what you do. I think yesterday was a testament to everyone around that you are meant to do the work that you do and to touch the lives of all of us in an awe-inspiring way.”
You can now purchase the album on Itunes, Amazon, or anywhere else. Please do check in and tell me if/which songs resonate with you.
I am not a chef. I admire and envy those people who feel so utterly comfortable in the kitchen. Usually it is because they have been watching their mother (father?) cooking in the kitchen since they were kids. There was no scene like that in my house. My parents both worked a lot and I was a typical 80s key kid. Once we moved to Israel when I was 11 I remember making my own chocolate spread sandwiches for school and throwing together dinners that were usually omelet, toast, cream cheese.
My mother did have two or three meals that she made. As did her mother, as do I. For years I have been trying to expand on those and maybe this year will be the year. But for now I thought I would post a sample week’s menu as we start the school season. The thing is, if it were just my husband and I we would probably eat odds and ends from the fridge every night. But we have to feed these children balanced, healthy meals goddamit.
This menu is for my fellow NON-CHEFS. Those of you who regularly use things like salad spinners, graters, mincers, and food processors need not read on. Unless you want to feel good about your cooking abilities and chuckle about mine.
My hope is that you will post your weekly menus in the comments too. I need more suggestions and I imagine others do too. Meals that are quick and easy with very few ingredients are the ones I go for. Also, I don’t do meals that need any earlier prep time. That is reserved solely for dinner parties in which I want to impress friends.
You might read these and think – my kid would never eat that. Well sometimes mine don’t either. But I insist on saying to them – this is what is for dinner. if you don’t like it then don’t eat. I do allow for a banana or apple at any meal even if it is not on the table.
7 Meals that Can be Done FAST
1. Meat Sauce Spaghetti
In a skillet fry the meat (I use organic farm raised shredded beef. no need to add oil)
In a pot fry onions, add red peppers,
Add tomato sauce from a can (I use the ones that are only tomato sauce without added seasoning) and maybe a small can of tomato paste to add thickness, and meat.
Soft tacos (my kids like whole wheat tortillas. they aren’t really tacos at all but are bien enough)
Refried beans – sometimes not even heated
Rice – depends how much time you have. White for fast, I like brown, farro if I am feeling daring enough to trick the kids into thinking it’s rice
Maybe cheese maybe salsa
Sauteed onions and peppers if I am feeling fancy
After making two meals I usually need a rest.
3. Frozen Pizza
We like Amy’s gluten free with spinach. It is very crunchy and tasty and although the kids are not gluten free I am.
4. Fish or chicken cutlets
This is really the most time intensive. It might be easier and faster to bake the fish or chicken but my kids like this.
Two plates – one with beaten eggs, one with almond meal (or other bread crumb). Put fish first in egg, then in crumbs (till covered).
Fry in skillet till golden. I use coconut oil because it comes out yummy.
(You can tell I am not a chef by how I am writing all these out. But I DO know they like to say the word “golden” a whole lot.)
Roast veggies – this is an easy staple for many meals. I often cut up whatever veggies we have (sweet potato, kale, brocolli, cauliflower, beets, onions, zuchini), put them in a baking pan, mush them around with olive and salt and throw the in the oven. Sometimes the kids nibble on it sometimes they don’t touch it. I love it.
5. Sushi Order-In (I realize this should not go on a recipe list but I want to put it out there that I allow myself a night of ordering in. Sometimes it is even cheaper than the other option.)
6. Stir Fry Chicken
Cut chicken breast into small pieces.
Cut carrots and celery and whatever else into small pieces
Fry onions, then chicken for a while. Throw in veggies.
Kids usually eat the chicken pieces without the veggies. I eat the veggies.
7. Weekend meals usually consist of lots of smoothies and sandwiches, and french toast for dinner
Please post your easy meals! Help out a fellow non-chef.
My 4 year old did something terrible and unthinkable. He choked his 1.5 year old sister, enough to make her cough. He has pushed her before, grabbed from her, or given her a too-hard hug. But this felt alot different.
I was terrified, mortified, and so angry. After making sure she was ok I sent him to his room. I needed to collect myself as much as I felt he did. My thoughts raced – how could he do this? what made him do it? my mind fast-forwarded: am I raising a murderer? a psychopath? I felt fear and shame. Have I failed as a mother? Sometimes all it takes is one moment like this for me to doubt all of the intentional parenting I pour my energy into.
So I took a breath and went into his room. I impressed upon him the gravity of what he had done. By my initial reaction he already knew it was serious. He was shaken and scared because he did not truly mean to put her in danger. In fact I don’t even think he meant to hurt her a lot. I think he wanted to throw her off her course. Not that his behavior was excusable. But he did not understand the full affect that strangling can have.
Next I asked – what made you do that?
As a therapist I know that is not a great question to ask. Usually, if someone can articulate why they did something terrible they probably wouldn’t have done it in the first place. But in my state it was all I could bring myself to ask.
“You!” he said. “What do you mean me?” I said, “I did not tell you to do that!” I was still so angry that I couldn’t hear what he was trying to tell me. He changed the subject a few times while I kept asking my non-therapeutic question “but please tell me – why did you do that?” And finally he said “you got dressed!”
I stopped and took a moment to follow the sequence of events as he had experienced them and it dawned on me. Once I had connected the dots for myself I did it for him (slowly and with emphasis):
“You were angry when I told you we were going out tonight. You and I played ball but then you got upset because I stopped the game and went to get dressed. I came back to play and you got even more upset when I had to change my outfit. You were angry at me for leaving you tonight and for leaving the game. And then you hurt your sister who is smaller and can’t hurt you back. But maybe you really wanted to hurt me. You were feeling so angry at me.”
When I finished he took a big breath. I always know I’ve reached them when they sigh big.
Last year I attended a conference at Zero to Three, where practitioners from all over the country who work in early childhood come to learn about the latest research and methods. I was particularly struck by the presentations of Dr. Alicia Lieberman and Dr. Chandra Ghosh Ippen, both of whom research the affect of psychotherapy on children who have undergone trauma. My biggest takeaway from it was the idea of helping children create a narrative of their experience. Ghosh Ippen calls it creating a “conjoint trauma narrative” and Lieberman calls it “giving expression to the traumatic experience.” It is the idea that even young babies need to eventually reconstruct the experience in order to understand it. This along with very loving, consistent, and attuned therapy can help a child overcome post traumatic symptoms.
Thankfully my children have not experienced severe trauma. However, when I returned from the conference and tried a similar technique on my kids for small injuries I found that it had a pretty magical effect. Especially when I paired it with the idea I learned from Dr. Serena Wieder, who talked about understanding and helping children through emotional dysregulation. For instance, when my baby was in the bath and hit her head on the spout she immediately started crying and splashing the water, holding her hands out to come out. She was dysregulated and her body reacted by putting her in a heightened state of “I want out!”
I don’t always catch the moment before something like this happens, and often my attention is only called when the crying starts. But this time I had caught the lead-up. I pointed to the spout and said to my one year old “you hit your head on the spout and got an ‘owey’ (I demonstrated by hitting my head. “and it hurts and you want to come out.” She absorbed the narrative and even recreated it in her own words with pantomime, hitting her head and pointing to the spout. She sighed, and kept playing happily in the bath.
I started helping my kids “connect the dots” in other situations when they got emotionally dysregulated. I recounted what had happened prior, marking events or triggers that I thought had led up to it. Sometimes it was in the span of 3 minutes, sometimes a few hours. This is basically what psychotherapy aims to do as well, often with a much larger span of time (childhood, adolescence, etc.)
Back to my son and the strangling. The most appalling part of the story is him as the perpetrator, not the victim. However it was his feeling of powerlessness and frustration that led him to act on his anger. They were not traumatic events per se but events that slowly led him to emotional dysregulation.
I am not saying that my son’s actions were forgivable because I can understand where his anger came from. But my hope is that if I can help him connect the dots when he gets upset and escalates enough times, he will eventually be able to do it on his own in real time and will be able to control his aggressive impulses.
I ended the conversation with giving him an alternate route: “next time you can say ‘mama! I am feeling angry that you are leaving and are not playing with me. I feel like I want to do something mean to someone. Please help me!”
If nothing else, our conversation was therapeutic for us both. Mama needed to connect the dots too, so that I wouldn’t dump all of my parenting mistakes into one moment and in my mind have them lead to a future psychopath who wreaks havoc.
On a side note, this year I will be presenting my own methods at the Zero to Three conference.I can only hope that at least one practitioner/parent will walk away with a new tool, or a deeper understanding of how to help make our lives with our kids more loving and peaceful.
Not sure how I got myself into it. A day flight, with three kids, on my own, including a 1.5 year old lap-baby. Is this what hell looks like?
Let’s back up. I spent a great month in Israel. Grandparents galore! And we did it right this time – the boys went to camp and the baby went to daycare. So they got their Israeliness (Alona says oy oy oy alot now) and I got a break during the morning. It was hot. But surprisingly, New York feels even hotter than Israel was. We did spend alot of time at the pool and the beach.
This time around I was struck by how alive Israeli’s are. Maybe it has something to do with living under the threat of war as a normal state of being. Here, we are just getting used to the idea that terror attacks can infiltrate the western world. Israelis were born into that reality.
It can make a person close down emotionally, deaden inside in order not to feel constantly overwhelmed. And for some people in Israel it does. But I also sensed the opposite. I felt a carpe diem quality that propels them to live strong, hard, fun, and edgy. The parties are intense. The protests are everywhere. And what struck me most of all, was the flirty nature of Israelis. Flirting happens at the deli, at a restaurant, at the playground. “You mean you don’t flirt with the dads at the playground?” My friend asked. I was appalled. Hell no! I completely close off that part of me when I am in ‘mom mode’. Flirt with another woman’s husband? Lord have mercy! “But,” she said “It is part of being alive. We are sexual beings. It is possible to be playful without acting on it.” I have to mull that one over.
I have been feeling hopeless and helpless about the state of America and the world and this attitude was a refreshing way to cope with it all.
Back to the flight. Here are the things I feel were crucial to getting through hell on wings. None of these are going to surprise you but it is good to have a list.
1. Duh. Screens. I had the kindle, the ipad, another ipad, the laptop, and the screens on the chairs to save my ass. The boys watched for 11 hours straight. Every program or movie I ever said no to. Time limits null and void. I even downloaded some Elmo for Alona who has not had any official screen time yet. She LOVES the videos of Elmos singing with celebs. (25 minutes down. 10.35 to go.)
2. Snacks. You can’t bring enough. Puffs, crackers, lollipops (for the ears), fruit, sandwiches (if they don’t like the plane meal), water bottles, nuts, bars, all of it.
3. Sticker books. Each of the boys had one (mindcraft for the older and this one which I love for the younger.) Alona had a book of Sesame Street stickers which gave me a good half hour. Yes, I was counting my time in half hour segments. I could happily watch my movie while absent mindedly helping her extract stickers.
4. Painters tape. This is a simple trick I pass on to anyone who is having trouble with wiggly-baby diaper changes. It is endless fun. Tear off a piece, it gets stuck on their fingers, on their body, keep tearing and sticking. Long pieces, short pieces.
5. Markers and notebook. We colored alot. Baby on a swing, baby waving hello, baby with an elephant. She especially enjoyed opening markers, using them for a second, closing them back and putting them in the box. I enjoyed it a little less when I had to bend over in our close quarters constantly searching for the lost cap.
6. A rolling suitcase as a carry on. To put all those screens and snacks in. This is in addition to the smaller backpack of absolutely essentials that go under the chair.
7. Now we are heading into emotional stuff. Resignation. That there will be segments of rest but basically it will be non-stop work. We walked up and down the aisles ALOT. We made friends with every baby and every grown up who didn’t give us a dirty look. And it was important that I was resigned to doing it. I expected it.
8. This is also obvious, but don’t forget the carrier. That is where they will finally fall asleep when there is 45 minutes to go. Right before the stewardess comes and says babies can’t be in a carrier for landing. Noooooo!!
9. Mental preparation for the older kids. I prepared them for the fact that I will not be going with them to the bathroom every time, that there might be a line so they should go BEFORE they can no longer hold it, and that they will probably have to climb over me. They whined but they went to those tiny closets without me.
All in all the day flight was refreshing in a way. I am used to night flights in which I do similar stuff but am also exhausted and dying to sleep. This time at least I was up for the fight.
Any tricks you use for flights? let me know. I have many more in my future.
For the last few months I have been thinking a lot about creativity. Mostly because I’ve had a hard time connecting to my own. Not to say that it has ever been that easy for me. It’s always been a struggle on some level. But this last year has felt especially dry.
I know I am not alone in this. Most people who have ever had a creative endeavor, which is to say everyone, have had periods of resistance. Creativity needs space and time and that is something that I, along with all of my fellow parents of little ones, do not have. Diving into that necessary place of experiment and playfulness seems almost impossible when I need to be goal driven so much of the time to get through that ever lasting list; pick up a kid, make a meal, clean the house, run a bath.
In addition, artistic creativity entails going inward to a non-social place where I am alone with my feelings. That doesn’t happen often in this house. But more than that, for me making art involves facing a pretty dark place, an existential one, in which I connect to the extreme sadness but also joy of being human.
Kim Brooks’ article “A Portrait of an Artist as a Young Mom,” in New York Magazine, lays out the struggles of being an artist and parent so eloquently and tragically. She writes: “the point of art is to unsettle, to question, to disturb what is comfortable and safe. And that shouldn’t be anyone’s goal as a parent.” Yes. “People make art,” she says, “for exactly the opposite reason they make families.”
Keeping up with this blog is a perfect illustration of where my creativity has been in the last year. I have an idea for a blog almost daily. I start writing them in my head and get excited about sharing them with you all (all 4 of you?). But I don’t follow through. I get home and am tired, or need to make dinner, or answer emails, or most often – have already poo poo’ed the idea in my head.
Because the universal enemy to artistic creation, whether an artist or not, is self doubt. Will anyone care? How will this make me look to others? Is it too self indulgent? Is it worth my time or anyone else’s time? On that topic I recommend Brene’ Brown’s TED talk on vulnerability in which she talks about vulnerability being the birthplace of creativity. It is a touching and inspiring account of her own avoidance of vulnerability and the growth that followed her facing it.
So – I found myself with a hundred beginnings of songs that were never followed through, and twenty blog post beginnings that I never finished. Coming up with the ideas is not my problem. It is working through that vulnerability, allowing myself to retreat into a lonely place, giving myself time away from my list, and most of all making myself sweat through it.
I did some work – I meditated a bit (I recommend the app Headspace for anyone interested in meditating but feeling resistance). I attended a meeting with strangers to talk about what it means to be creative. I attended other social gatherings relating to art that I dragged myself to but ended up feeling very inspired by. And then I did the best thing of all – I asked a few of my colleague friends if they wanted to join me in a creative lab in which we MUST write and present a song a week.
When it comes down to it, it isn’t about producing the perfect song or blog post, it is about producing. My friends hold me accountable and I finish a song even if I think it is crap (which have been most of them so far.) But I feel good. I am reminded of why I do art and put myself out there this way – it feels like I unload a little weight every time a song is realized to its completion. Not only that, it gives me the strength to finally go ahead and write a blog post in its entirety.
I know this looks familiar. Our kids have a pretty strong relationship with this screen that is both touching and heartbreaking.
Every day I ask myself why I live so far away from my parents. I know so many of us do. In my case my parents live in Israel, and a life there at the moment feels complicated and intense in a way that we are not prepared to endure. Our careers are going well here and the kids have a good life with endless events and activities.
But I don’t have to watch every single drama out there to know what truly matters most: Love. Family.
And yet the years seem to move on and my oldest son is already 6 years old. He sees his grandparents twice a year (luckily they come to visit us) but it is not enough. I fantasize about weekly get togethers, Friday night dinners, a babysitting night, a brunch.
I crave seeing the way my parents gaze at my kids on a regular basis. Their love for the grandkids seems so pure and wise, without any difficult emotions that sometimes can accompany the feeling of love. My own vision of my kids can sometimes be clouded by exhaustion, anger, disappointment, ego. Seeing my kids through my mothers eyes reminds me of the beauty of it all right when I forget.
I have lived far away from my parents for the past 20 years but it was only when I had kids that I suddenly missed them desperately. It was precisely at the moment in which I became a mom that I relaxed into the role of being my parents’ baby. Until then I fought it.
So for Mothers Day I am offering you a free download of my song ‘Grandparents’ HERE. This song does not come close to conveying everything I feel about this topic. But the last line hints at the crux of it all – “And me, well I sure could use that hug too.”
Mom (and dad), we miss you. Happy grandmothers day. You are a grand mother.