Tag Archives: baby in tune

Summer: Keep your schedule or toss it?

Dear tune-iverse,

The other day, I was hanging out with a friend and we were talking about how summer comes along and everything gets thrown off. All the little pieces of our lives that we managed to arrange, just so, tend to get all jumbled into a little fiesta.

We kind of go from my son’s dinner plate – nothing touching, everything in its place – to a messy, mixed-up Chipotle burrito.

It’s easier to stay out much later with our kids – picnicking, watching music shows, lingering at the playground or wading at the beach. And that means that our normal schedule goes off course.

I told my friend that I wanted to write a post about this and she imagined that I would be encouraging parents to stay on routine. That’s because she is Israeli and Israelis are REALLY GOOD at breaking rules. And you might be that way, too. Or maybe you are like me and need some permission to break the parenting rules.

So I wonder –

Where do you fall on the PSS (Parenting Schedule Spectrum)?
Yea, I made this up but I think it will help us figure out how to adjust to summer. I’ll touch on two extremes but there are many gray areas in between.

<Very Scheduled  / Somewhat Scheduled   /   Somewhat Unscheduled / Very Unscheduled>

The Very Scheduled Parent. Is this you?

This was me. Especially with my first. He was on such a tight schedule that I barely wanted to go to classes, or go anywhere really, in fear of throwing it off. He was a terrible sleeper and keeping to a tight schedule was my way of holding onto some sanity. It was a strand of control that made me feel like I could fix the situation and get my sleep back.

When summer came along we spent much more time outside with others and on other people’s schedules. It made this scheduled mom a bit uptight 🙂

So, I’m going to tell you what I wish someone had told me and what I now know after having my second and third:

 

Dear Very Scheduled Parent.
Relax. It is great that you have a schedule that you can rely on. You made it happen which means you can build it again. Habits are easily made and easily broken. Both ends work to our benefit. You can allow yourself to release it a bit every now and then.

Remember that summer is like a tight braid that can be slightly loosened in certain parts while still maintaining the braid shape. 

Go to the music shows. Stay out late. Have dinner at a barbecue with friends and your baby. You won’t do this every night and most nights your baby will be on your regular schedule. Straying a bit every now and then will not throw off your routine.

Bottom line: What do you have a schedule for if not to enjoy your time with your baby and as a parent? So let yourself Let It Go when the time is right. Allow your summer to be magical. You won’t remember the nights you got your baby into bed by 8pm. You will remember the first night your baby got to see fireworks.

Wild River Roller Coaster

 

And on the other extreme …

The Very Unscheduled Parent. Is this you?

This was me with my third. To you, I have a different message. This is the message my friend instinctually thought I was going to write in the blog because she was thinking about Israeli parents who fly by the seat of their pants and tend to know how to have fun.

Dear Very Unscheduled Parent,
Everything in moderation. You will have to find the right balance between letting the schedule go and taking baby to all the fun plans while also maintaining some routine.

Music can be exceptionally helpful during this time. Make sure to keep your lullaby going, use your morning song, your bathtime song, your diaper changing song. Those songs will help you and your baby anchor during certain moments of the day.

Try to put baby to sleep at the same time at least 5 out of 7 nights a week. Try to have the naps mostly be at the same time. This will be enough to maintain a schedule so that you and your baby can continue enjoying all the adventures that summer brings.

Our babies surprise us. I thought my baby would be so fussy if I didn’t have him exactly on our schedule. But, with time, I found that that was not the case at all. He was actually totally fine when we didn’t follow our regular routine. Maybe the strict routine was for me?

I also thought it would all be fiiiiiiine and my third would find a place to lie down and go to sleep when she was ready if we were out. She never did. And if we did many of those evenings we ended up paying a price in her increasing fussiness.

So our job during summer is to find the right balance. Have fun, Be spontaneous. Feel like your old self again. And at the same time maintain the foundation and hold up enough of a structure for you both.

What percentage are you planning to flex your schedule? Comment if you’re staying 100% the same (easy breezy!), 0% the same (adventure calls!!) – or somewhere in between.
Have procrastinator friends who are still putting off planning? Have prepared friends who booked camps a year in advance? Send them all this newsletter. We all need a little permission to find our flow this sun season.

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Your summer drive playlist for kids

Summer is upon us and that means two things:

1) spending a lot of time outside

2) spending a lot of time in the car getting to the places where we will be outside

 

Don’t worry. I’ve got you covered. This week’s Tuesday Tune-In is all about introducing you to Kindie (kid-indie) music you can play in the car – and to my talented friends who record it.

 

There is so much great music for kids being made out there and you need to know about it. I mean, you and I will always be first lovers. But I’m okay with an open relationship. This should be a pretty good introduction to how music for kids has changed since we were all little. Back then, there weren’t many options. I remember listening to “Free to Be … You and Me” by Marlo Thomas (still my absolute favorite kids album) and “The Muppet Show” TV soundtrack on repeat. Some Raffi trickled in there, too. Now, there are all these independent artists making beautiful songs with a bit of whimsy.

 

Already in the car and just need to hit play? Scroll down to find your summer drive playlist for kids.

 

Before I reveal these chart-toppers, let’s take a short moment to discuss what happened to the music world. On one hand, things are better for the independent musician. We can now have an audience – such as I do with you all – without being backed by a huge label.  On the other hand, music is free. People ask me what I make on Spotify listens. It’s about $0.006 per listen. It adds up if there are enough listens – and it helps musicians if you press the Follow button on Spotify (or comparable on iTunes/Amazon) – but it’s not great.

 

The point is: My Kindie friends and I don’t make music for the money.

 

We make it because we love making it and because we love singing and playing music with you all. You can hear this in their music. I know you are going to love these.

 

Your Kindie Playlist:

 

  1. The Verve Pipe

Do you remember this band from the 90s? Well, like the rest of us, they went and had kids and their music changed a little bit. Their album for kids was the first one I ever heard when I had my first baby. In fact, they made making music for kids seem almost cool to me. This album is so great and I chose my favorite song.

 

  1. Jon Samson/ CoCreative Music

Jon Samson and I met in the music therapy program at NYU and have somehow felt like family ever since. He produced “Good Morning, My Love” and got me started on this career path. He also produced my latest album, “Songs for Sisters and Brothers.” His own music is so creative and unique. You truly won’t find anything like it. His songs take twists and turns that have my kids intrigued throughout. I put my favorite song on the playlist (and if you listen closely you can hear my voice doing backups) but it’s worth checking out his full albums.

 

  1. Amelia Robinson (Mil’s Trills), Suzi Shelton and Katie Mullins (Katie Ha Ha Ha)

This trio and I were in a songwriting group together two years ago. Every week, we would each present a new song to the group. By the end of the year, we all ended up with an album worth of songs. Amelia is all about bringing the community together to sing and create. Her songs are fun, silly and catchy. Suzi has a knack for writing pop songs for kids – songs that will immediately have you singing along and smiling. Katie is the master of the sing-along and you can hear it in her ultra creative songs and gorgeous voice.

 

  1. Dean Jones

Dean produced my second album, “Hello, My Baby.” I wanted to work with him immediately when I heard his music because it reminded me of Paul Simon. Dean’s music is gentle, lyrical and silly and his instrumentation always sits just right.

 

  1. Lesley & the Flying Foxes

Lesley is the best-kept secret in the Kindie world. Her album is so charming it makes me wonder about all the little things in life that we disregard. While I listen to her music, I find myself daydreaming about butterflies and tumbleweeds.

 

  1. Justin Roberts

Justin Roberts is a master at writing kids songs. He makes catchy and thoughtful tunes that strikes that balance of gentle and energetic.

 

  1. Elizabeth Mitchell

If you haven’t heard her songs, go do so immediately. Elizabeth Mitchell was one of the first Kindie musicians out there. Her voice is so very lovely and she brings traditional songs into the palm of your hand.

 

So many more – Molly Ledford, Lucy Kalantari, Lucky Diaz, Josh and the Jamtones, Gustafer Yellowgold, Andrew and Polly, Kira Willey, Jazzy Ash, the Alphabet Rockers, KB Whirly, and the list goes on…

 

I could go on and on about the rest of the people on this playlist. And there are many more fabulous Kindie musicians who I will put on the next playlist. But I’ll leave it at that for the moment.

 

If that doesn’t work then here’s the link

I hope you love it.

 

Which song is your favorite? Go listen and don’t forget to come back and comment so we can compare notes.

 

Got a friend who’s taking kids on a roadtrip? Make their ride more Kindie-ful and send this their way.

 

 

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5 musical family activities

Dear tuned in parents,

Today is all about family fun.

Most of you connected with me when your first baby was tiny. Now, many of you have bigger families. I had your entire crew in mind when I wrote today’s Tuesday Tune-In on how to use music to bring everyone in your home together, including grandma, grandpa and all the rest.

I don’t know about your family, but mine can sometimes be a little serious. But I have memories of my parents sitting in the front seat of our brown Buick singing harmony together and smiling. No matter what tension happened a moment earlier, music seemed to be the salve.

Those kind of memories shape us. We try to recreate moments from our childhood that felt most connected and happy. Of course we also try to recreate moments that felt most difficult. We’ll leave that for therapy.

For now, let’s work on having experiences with our kids that feel free, joyful, and loving. The more we do the more it will teach them how to make those moments happen on their own. Who knows? maybe their whole career will be informed by it (See: Baby in Tune.)

Here are 5 activities that work for any age:

  1. Karaoke

Recently, I was in Florida with my extended family. My mother had just bought a Madonna circa Express Yourself tour type microphone and a small speaker for a project she was doing and it gave me an idea. After dessert, we connected it to the television and – voila! We had a karaoke set-up. These days it’s so much easier to set up karaoke than it used to be. In fact, all you need is YouTube. YouTube now has endless karaoke tracks of instrumentals songs and scrolling lyrics.

 

The youngest picked their songs first. There were lead singers and backup singers who enthusiastically belted out the chorus. It made my sometimes-serious family really loosen up.

 

If you want to take it to the next level, and I really think it’s quite necessary, invest in a small microphone and speaker. It doesn’t have to be fancy. And you don’t even need to get a microphone stand. You can get a lavalier which is a microphone that goes around your head.

 

  1. DJ in the car

How are your long car rides these days? Ours have been saved by two things: podcasts and car DJ. I’ll talk about my favorite podcasts in another blog. Let’s talk DJ.

 

The idea is that each family member gets to pick one song and we go around in turns.

For instance: my four-year-old daughter always chooses “Sofia the First,” my eight-year-old loves that song “Go the Distance” from Hercules. And my 10-year-old has been digging the a cappella group Pentatonix. I may choose an Elton John song and my husband often goes for a song by Arik Einstein or another Israeli singer.

 

What I love about this game is that we all get to listen to each other’s songs of the moment.

Sharing songs is like sharing a feeling. When we all sit and listen quietly to another family member’s song we feel HEARD, and happy that the people we love may also develop a love for that song.

 

  1. Dance parties

All of you who have taken my classes know that I’m all about dance parties. I especially love them at the witching hour. What could be better than pulling out your favorite dance song and getting down right when you thought life sucked the most? You know what it does? It makes it all better. And when you do it with the whole family, it turns it into a moment you don’t want to forget. Try it tonight. You’ll see.

 

  1. Call-and-answer songs

For those who went to camp this one might sound familiar. Call and answer songs are the ones where a group will sing something and one person will have to respond. For instance: “Who stole the cookie from the cookie jar?” These kind of songs get everyone singing and brings even the quietest family member who didn’t want to play into it.

 

When I was a kid, we used to sing a song called Loddy Lo Chubby Checker. I am so glad I am writing this blog because until now I kind of thought my parents had made it up. But it’s a thing! I love this one because we would make up verses and rhymes and then the whole family would sing – “Hey loddy loddy lo!”

 

I have no doubt that that song had a big influence in teaching me how to write songs and how to rhyme. It teaches kids to stay in rhythm and think on their feet.

 

  1. Sound orchestra

This one is my favorite. I actually haven’t done this with my family yet but as I was brainstorming for this blog I remembered this. I can’t wait to try it.

 

Here’s what it is: One person starts some kind of repetitive sound. It can be non-vocal like tapping your knees, making a funny sound on the car seat or tapping things together. Or it can be vocal like a melody, a repetitive baseline or clucking your tongue.

 

After that person has done their sound for a few moments, another person comes in with their sound. Then another, then another. Eventually a soundscape is created with everyone’s sounds together. It’s always so fun to be the last to add your sound to the orchestra, too. You’re able to fill the space with what is needed – a very high melody, a syncopated rhythmic sound, or a bass line to glue it all together.

 

I remember one time when I was eight and in the car with my cousins, on my turn, I repeated words on a highway sign – “Tuckerton Lumber, Tuckerton Lumber” –  in my lowest voice and accentuated the T and the K. To this day, every now and then one of my cousins will break into a round of “Tuckerton Lumber.” It was a hook!

 

Now you have 5 new tricks for making your family time a bit more musical and a bit more fun at any age. It may even be a moment that you and your child remember years and years from now.

 

How do you use music for family QT? Reply and let me know.

And what artists and tracks are your go-to for these moments? Comment here because we all need inspiration.

 

Have a friend who wants ideas for family time? Make their day and forward this along.

Let’s be honest we can only play board games and do puzzles for so long

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6 things I do to feel more present with my kids

Dear parents,
In this Tuesday Tune-In (coming out a little later than normal becuase I had a show this morning,) we are tackling why it’s so hard to be PRESENT with our kids – or with anything for that matter – and what you can do to get in the moment.

These days we are inundated with information: podcasts, articles, emails, texts, social posts. I don’t know about you but I definitely see a difference in my ability to stay focused on a task. I find myself glancing at my phone habitually. In addition, for those of us with babies, lack of sleep makes it almost IMPOSSIBLE to keep our presence on one thing.

Sometimes it’s also hard to align with our kids because, the truth is, they inhabit a different reality than ours.

Grown-ups: Think about the past, present and future at the same time.
Kids: Think about right now.

We can be at the playground watching our kid with hawkeyes climbing the slide, while thinking about what we will make for dinner, when a second ago we thought about what an ass we were at yesterday’s meeting.

Meanwhile what are they thinking about? Climbing the slide.

It can feel so exhilarating to be with them with that amount of presence. Our kids are naturally fully present in everything they do. The younger they are, the more present they are. It’s instinctual for them.

And it can also feel exhausting. Which is why we sometimes crave conversation with other adults who share our experience of being in the world for a while.

But with practice, we can drop into our kids’ world that is completely mindful and present. And then what happens? We truly enjoy our time together. We notice how precious every little bit is – the way they pick up a marker, the way their nose moves while they speak, the way they look at us with adoration.

6 things I do to feel more present with my kids

1. Tell them ahead of time that we will be spending time together.
I find this works both for them and for me. If I tell them in the morning that we will have some time later – or even if I tell them on the way back from school that we will have an hour to play together – it helps me prepare and holds me accountable. The problem I run into if I don’t do this is trying to do three things at once, including being present with them.

2. Put my phone in the other room.
For me, this one is essential. I’m an addict like the rest of us – always feeling the pull to glance at my phone. Putting the phone in the other room helps me realize I don’t need it and makes it physically difficult for me to get to it. Laziness is good for something.

3. Make my day as productive as possible so that I can release it.
The days I feel most present with my kids are the ones in which I manage to be very productive. For me, that means keeping to my to-do list and not getting distracted by social media or even email. If I’ve had four hours of focused productivity, I’m usually in a pretty good mood once I get to the kids. So, I consider building my productivity skills to be essential to how I mother.

4. Put on music.
Usually, after we get home from school there is an hour of acclimation. Snacking, changing clothes, running around, fighting with siblings. But eventually we calm down. At that moment, especially if my intention is to feel present with them, I like to put on some music that will calm me, first of all, and them as well. That can mean anything from vocal jazz to Motown to 80s pop or classical. (What music do you put on in that pre-dinner making hour? I would love to hear in the comments)

5. Sit where they are sitting.
This one might sound silly but for me it makes a big difference. When we’re playing together, I can either say, “Come sit with me at the table” (because most often that’s where I am). Or I can finish what I’m doing and go sit where they are sitting – on the carpet, in their room or sometimes even in the hallway. When I do that, I immediately feel the shift. They are aware that I’m putting aside the time to be with them and I’m meeting them where they are.

6. Take a moment to notice that nothing else is more important.
I know we know this but sometimes it takes reminding ourselves a few times a day – or even a few times an hour. At that moment, when we want to extract ourselves from playing with them – talking to them, sitting on the floor, playing hide and seek or whatever it is – we need to ask ourselves: What is actually more important?

For me, the answer is almost always: nothing.

I hope you enjoyed reading the 6 things I do to feel more present with my kids.

What would your kids say you do to be present with them? COMMENT below and let me know.
Sometimes thinking about it from our kids point of view helps us see what’s working and what’s not. What comes to mind for you?

Know more mindful parents? Share this Tuesday Tune-In.
They’ll love the tip about sitting where they are sitting – and hopefully the other five, too. Forward this email their way as a way of saying you’re proud of their intentional work..

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A surprising way to soothe your baby

Hello, tuned-in parents,

Today we’re going to talk about a technique that is used in music therapy called Vocal Holding. I think you’ll find that it is a nice alternative to purely consoling our babies with speech. And you might even find that it works better.

I had to use it just the other day.

We had received a new peeler in the mail and my daughter was excited to open the package as usual. Before I knew what was happening she got a surface cut on her finger. The site of blood and the surprise of the cut set her off and she started crying inconsolably.

I held her and – instead of empathizing with her through speech – I matched her sobs with the sound “ah.” I made my sound fit in the same phrase/length as hers and took in breaths at the same time.

Slowly, her cries tapered and we sat together silently. It was my way of acknowledging her pain and being available to her in a purely emotional – not intellectual – way.

Vocal holding is a technique developed by Dr. Diane Austin, who uses it to relieve adult trauma. It is an effective way to do psychotherapy that can be more emotional and less analytical than talk therapy.

The idea behind it is that the therapist uses her voice as a way to hold and support the client. In talk therapy, a patient might share something that is troubling at home. The therapist might reflect back to him what she said using other words or sometimes even the same words exactly.

The therapist might ask an open-ended question like, “How did that make you feel? Or in another instance the therapist might provide an intervention or an interpretation of what the patient is saying and feeling in order to help him advance and break out of old patterns.

Vocal holding does these things but with the voice.

When our children are upset about something they need us first of all to empathize and understand what they’re feeling. We can do this by telling them that we see they are upset, that we understand what happened, that we know it is hard to feel sad/ hurt / frustrated /etc.

But sometimes saying it is not enough. And when the crying continues it is often because our children need to continue to express their feelings. Our job is to allow space for that to happen.

In order for us to do that we need to feel okay with an expression of emotions. We need to not be scared of it rather welcome it.

In these situations vocal holding can be a great way to hold that space for our children. As you know, singing bypasses the intellect and comes from an emotional place.

How to try Vocal Holding:

  1. Match your child’s tone. If your child is upset, sing along in their exact melody and take breaths where they do.
  2. Take turns. If your child is not upset, this alternating method can feel like a vocal conversation with improvised sounds.
  3. Harmonize. If your baby is singing a repetitive melody, accompany them on an instrument with one or two simple chords.
  4. Sing in a lower tone. If your child is calm or upset, improvise using a resonant sound as if you are providing the foundation on which your baby can emote.

Next time your baby cries you might want to experiment with using this surprising way to soothe your baby to help her feel heard and understood.

Has your baby responded to musical soothing before? Did your upset baby love your humming or toddler want to hear a calming song?
Comment here so we can figure this out together.

Who in your life is open to new techniques?
Forward this to them so they can try vocal holding.

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One way to feel happier today

Hello, dear parents,

Today’s Tuesday Tune-In highlights a simple and quick happiness technique. I use it in groups all the time and do it on my own as well.

It involves two things: Grounding through breath and feeling grateful.

I write to you today from sunny Florida where I am spending spring break with my family. It’s pretty easy to feel happy when on vaca heading for a morning run on the beach. But even here, with family dynamics abound and surprises that arise I need to keep this easy tip in mind. And in my day to day I do this ALL the time.

There’s so much research in positive psychology that shows the benefits of having a gratitude practice. In short, it makes us happier.

This is a technique you can do while you’re breastfeeding, pushing a stroller, changing a diaper, or even while your baby is crying in your ear.

We all need a go-to technique when we are experiencing lack of sleep, hormone shifts and the endless physical exertions of parenthood.

Plus, not sleeping enough makes us irritable. We can have 5 highs and 5 lows all in the same hour. Our inner resources are depleted and annoyances that we might have been able to handle otherwise become too much.

Along with all that, caring for a baby means constant trouble shooting and that is stressful. Every time I had a small baby, I felt I was in survival mode during the first year.

This technique is also good to turn to when you have way too much on your plate, like I have had recently – growing my business, ushering one kid into middle school, making time to be fully present with the kids at home, working late hours, preparing for summer, keeping healthy and a thousand other things that I’m sure you relate to.

So what can we do? It’s so simple. It’s so short. And it’s also so effective.

My happiness technique: 3 Grateful Breaths

Take in 3 deep breaths. On every breath out, think of something you’re grateful for.

Don’t plan ahead of time what you’re grateful thing will be. Let it come to you as you start to breathe out. Let yourself be surprised by what it might be.

You may feel grateful for big things like your kids, your partner, your health, etc. Or you may feel grateful for things that seem insignificant and menial like forks, or diapers or a drink that you like.

In order to really tune in to what you’re feeling grateful for at that moment, let yourself really feel the breath in. Fill up your belly, your lungs, let your shoulders move and, rather than force in a deep breath, let yourself receive a deep and nourishing breath.

As you breathe out and think of what you’re grateful for, try not to just think it but instead  feel it. There’s a big difference between the two.

The way I gauge for myself whether I really feel gratitude in a particular moment is if I get the chills a little bit. When I breathe out and am really tuned in and feel deeply what I’m grateful for (whether it’s toilet paper or the health of my parents), I know I’m feeling it fully when I tremble just a little bit.

Three breaths seems like nothing. Can it really have an effect on your day? I think it can.

And the thing is, it’s so short and you can do it anywhere. If it can really make you happier , than why not give it a shot?

Try it. What popped into your mind? COMMENT below and let me know.
One time for me, it was iced tea. I thought it was silly but then realized it represented satisfying my own needs and I really was grateful for tending to myself, even in small ways. Yours?

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Seriously. If you’re alive, you can do this. It takes so little time and has such big impacts. Send this to your breathing friends.

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One quick way to solve diaper changing

Dear,
People who deal with all the pee and all the poop: You’re going to love The Tuesday Tune In this week.

Ok. Spoiler alert: I tell you how to write a Diaper-Changing Song. We all need one as bad as we need hand sanitizer.

So I bet you didn’t realize how deep in shit you would be as a parent.
How many times a day do you deal with it? Checking, smelling, getting supplies, and cleaning.

And, on top of that, if you have a baby who’s older than eight months, diaper changing has probably gotten pretty challenging. It doesn’t feel good to pin your baby down – I know.

So I’m going to give you the tip upfront and you can read down below to find out how to do this and when it’ll work. It’s so simple:

Use a Diaper-Changing Song.
Yes. Sing while you wipe. It can be about pee, poop, diapers or anything really. A Diaper-Changing Song is part-reminder, part-timer.

Here’s what I mean:

1. It lets your baby know that changing is about to happen.

If you start to sing your Diaper-Changing Song as you are bringing the diaper and as you start to undress the baby, then your baby will know it’s coming. Part of what they hate so much is that you are interfering with their exploration. So they protest: “What are you doing? I was just in the middle of something.” A song can let them know that diaper changing is on the horizon and can help them prepare.

2. It can be a good time keeper.

Your baby will start to recognize your two-minute song. He/she will know the beginning, the middle and the end of it. Babies seem to understand song structure. Often in my groups, babies as young as eight months old start to clap toward the end of the song because they know it’s about to end. Use the song as a way to tell your baby how long the diaper changing will take. It will behave like a sand timer and your baby will feel a bit more in control.

Don’t have a Diaper-Changing Song? I’m here to help.

Actually, you might you have a Diaper-hanging Song but you don’t think about it as one. So many parents in my groups tell me that they sing silly ditties about poop, about not peeing in your face or about staying still.

So don’t overthink it – just write your own. When you’re writing your song, you can just sing what you always say. Be playful with it. If you usually say, “Please don’t pee on me” or “You are a poopy head,” then put that in the song. It could look something like this:

“You’re my little poopy head
Let’s get you clean
Just hold still
And don’t pee on me”

I am sure you can come up something better than that. Get your creative juices flowing with a little inspiration: Check out my songwriting template here – it’s for Lullaby Songs but you can easily “change” it into a Diaper-Changing Song. See what I did there?

What song makes life easier at the changing table? COMMENT below and let me know.

Can it top: “Wipe wipe wipe your butt / gently wipe the stream”? Do tell. I love to hear what little ones respond to. Comment below.

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What Hamilton teaches us about being with our babies

This week, Broadway is my inspiration for The Tuesday Tune-in.

Art can teach us a lot about relationships – even the ones we have with our babies.

Let’s take a moment to consider “Hamilton.”

Whether or not you’ve seen or heard the songs from this Tony award-winning musical, you can benefit from one lesson I’ve taken away from it:


Stop saying – and start singing – every word.

In other words – Talk less. Sing more 🙂

 

Ok, I’ll admit – like many people in the United States – my family knows every single word to the soundtrack. It’s an album that we can all agree on. And even now, years after it had its heyday in my home, it is always a reliable go-to on long car drives.

 

One of the things that makes Hamilton so unique is that it is almost entirely sung. When you listen to the soundtrack, you’re pretty much getting the entire show. And for those who were lucky enough to see it, it’s an amazing experience to see an entire story told without speaking.

 

It reminds me of when I had my first baby and all the books and blogs said to narrate what I was doing with my baby. This would help him develop language, they all agreed. The idea was that the more language the baby hears, the more they will pick up on the sounds, syncopation and structure.

 

I tried it for a bit but, I have to say, it always felt ridiculous.


But you know what did feel right? Singing it.

For example: Picking my baby up from the crib,

I could say:

“I’m picking you up now and we’re walking into the kitchen.”

Or

I could sing:

“Let’s go into the kitchen, let’s go into the kitchen let’s find something to eat.“

 

As you go about your day, narrate it. Let your baby in on your story, on your thoughts and feelings. BUT don’t just narrate in words. Put it into melody, rhyme and rhythm. The more you do that the more your baby will be listening.

You can even challenge yourself to rhyme at the end of sentences. Hell, take a page from “Hamilton” (and rap and hip-hop) and see if you can even rhyme in the middle of sentences.

Here’s some inspiration. The creator of “Hamilton,” Lin-Manuel Miranda’s rhymes are so good they’ve been analyzed mathematically:

[HAMILTON]

“Thomas Jefferson, always hesitant with the President
Reticent—there isn’t a plan he doesn’t jettison
Madison, you’re mad as a hatter, son, take your medicine
Damn, you’re in worse shape than the national debt is in”
from “Cabinet Battle #1

 

And once you do it, you may find that it’s hard to stop. Here’s how Miranda felt about it:

“We found that if you start with our opening number, you can’t go back to speech. The ball is just thrown too high in the air.” (Mental Floss)
Once you start singing what you’re doing to your baby, it will feel incredibly natural. There are a few scientific and emotional reasons for this.

First of all, it turns out babies are much more interested in hearing us sing rather than speak, according to a study in “Infant Behavior and Development” (2004) They hold their gaze longer on the singer and even move their bodies less signaling that we are holding their attention.

The next reason is because it makes us more playful. When I did this with my baby I was organizing my words into repeatable and simpler phrases, which rolled off my tongue more easily. I’m sure that was much more relatable to my baby. It was definitely more interesting for me.

The third reason? it just made my baby and I a little happier. Suddenly we were smiling; we were bopping to whatever I was singing; and I was making myself giggle at the rhymes and the silly melodies that I was coming up with.

The creator of “Hamilton,” Lin-Manuel Miranda figured out how to hold the attention of the world with just this type of rhyme and silly melody. He figured out that if he brought us a show that had a strong rhythm to it, syncopation that made us move, intricate rhymes, and clever phrasing, then it would hold our attention. (It doesn’t hurt to have a fascinating story and a hugely talented cast either.).

With those tools, he managed to tell one of the most complicated stories ever told on stage with a soundtrack that is listened to over and over and over by all ages.

 

So I say: Let’s take a lesson from Hamilton.

Let’s learn how to be more engaged, more playful and more joyful.

And, along the way, let’s star in our own home-made musical.

 

 

Do you star in your own home-made musical? I want to hear about it! COMMENT in the comment box below and tell us how you do it.

What’s your favorite “Hamilton” song? Comment and let me know.

Know another “Hamilton” fan? Share this Tuesday Tune-In.

If they know all the lyrics like my kids, I can assure you they’ll appreciate this read. Forward along!

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2 steps to feeling closer to your partner

Hello dear In Tune Parents,

This week’s Tuesday Tune In is all about finding balance in our marriage. Is it possible? I would love to hear your thoughts. Here are some of my toughts about our relationship with our parnter post baby:

Every couple of years I take on a big project. During the year that it takes, I usually feel extremely creative, productive and motivated. The problem is that the more absorbed I get into creation, the more distant I feel from my kids and, especially, my husband.

Here’s what I’ve learned in 10 years of marriage:
When my plate is overflowing, my partnership is the first to suffer.

Okay. It’s true that he accepts my ebbs and flows. Maybe he’s even proud of me during those times. But I know that he also feels neglected. I start to see the signs: our conversations become all about household business, he stays up late watching TV, we don’t get in bed at the same time and we are a bit shorter with each other. I’ll even see negative effects trickle down to the household. The kids become shorter with each other and compete for attention. That’s a pretty convincing case that I need to shift my focus.

How do I make this shift? No need to immediately jump to sex. When there’s a rift in the relationship that can feel way too threatening. Instead, here are the 2 steps I’ve found work best. …

How to Intimately Reconnect with your Partner:

1. Find a moment to be fully present – physically and emotionally
Empty the to-do list and truly feel that the night is open ended.

2. Start small
A hand on a shoulder. A hug. Maybe it ends there for that night. Or maybe it goes further. Part of what feels stressful sometimes is the pressure of going ‘all the way’. But in those moments when it feels like there is a small glacier between us, sometimes just leaning on each other while watching TV feels like a big melting step.

This sounds so easy but its not. For me, right now in the busy work-mode that I am in, I almost need to schedule it in my calendar. It’s nice when it naturally rises to the top of my list. That’s when we effortlessly fall into each other. But during these moments that I’m talking about, and I know you’ve had them too, it feels effortFULL. It almost feels like laundry.

When each kid was an infant it felt the same way. My husband and I put everything we had into staying aflot above a sea of diapers, nightime wake ups, and a constant to-do list. During those years, raising a baby was the project.

I’m going to give you a happy ending on this one because I want to inspire you.

True story –  this morning my husband and I woke up feeling re-connected to each other. The kids immediately seemed a bit more chipper, and I’ve been feeling pretty damn productive all day.  You can imagine how last night went 🙂

So that’s the big lesson here. The one that I need to relearn again and again. Being productive does not necessarily mean “working.” It means balance.

And how do we learn what balance means for us? We keep asking ourselves – “What amazing things happened today?” Eventually, we get it. And then we forget it, and then we get it again.

Schedule time to just be present together. It might just bring new energy to all of your other endeavors too.

Has your career blomed while your marriage wilted? Comment below and let me know.
It can’t just be me, right? What work opportunities have you seized and how have you maintained your love connection? I would love to hear your comments below.

Know someone else who needs two ways to feel closer? Share this Tuesday Tune-In. Relationship advice is best when it comes from a good friend. Forward this email their way!

AND – if you are on Instagram please follow me! I do IG lives every Wednesday.
If you are on Facebook – please follow me! I do FB lives every Wednesday too 🙂

All for now,
Love Vered

Do you want to know everything there is to know about lullabies? <a href=”http://www.babyintune.com/lullabykit”>Click here</a> to download my new <strong><span style=”color: #800080;”><a style=”color: #800080;” href=”http://www.babyintune.com/lullabykit”>Easy Bedtime Lullaby Kit</a></span></strong> complete with a songwriting template, a playlist, and a gameplan to make your evenings easier for one and all.

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3 ways to get your baby drumming

Friends – It’s Tuesday Tune-In time.

Before we get started, some housekeeping. If you aren’t already, I highly suggest following me on Instagram at @babyintune, and on Facebook @baby in tune. I’ve been doing live posts with some good tips, have been sharing new songs, and find it a great way to connect with you all on a more regular basis.

Ok. Here we go.

This week, I let you in on a musical-bonding tool that’s not vocal. Spoiler: It’s drumming. More specifically, drumming together. It creates magic in a room.

Try it for yourself. You don’t need to be a musician to lead a drum circle. You don’t need special drums. Break out the pots and Tupperware – or just use the floor – and start banging. Believe me: Baby will follow your lead.

There’s a reason for this: It feels good to drum with someone else. It’s similar to the feeling we have when we dance with other people. Humans enjoy synchronizing to the rhythm of music, especially with others.

And that starts very early on – even little babies prefer synchronization and can modify their movements to the sound of music. (Have you been wondering if your baby is actually kicking to the beat? The answer is yes!)

Not sure where to start? Here are some techniques to create magic by drumming together.

(My favorite is the last one, so if you can, read till the end.  To me that one is really a metaphor for life. Maybe they all are?)

THREE WAYS TO START A FAMILY DRUM CIRCLE

1. Hold down a simple beat.
The easiest and most common rhythm in Western culture is a four count. So drum out your beat while counting: 1 2 3 4 1 2 3 4. You can add eighth notes (1 and 2 and 3 and 4), and you can syncopate it, which means taking out some beats and putting the stress on beats that might have otherwise been softer. (e.g. 1 2 and _ 4).

Since you are holding down the beat, your baby is free to drum within that. Your job is to stay steady and be the backbone like a drummer in a band. Your baby gets to be the soloist.

(You see what I mean by all this being a metaphor for life and parenting?)

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!

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