Guys, summer is finally here. And although Rona might not be going anywhere anytime soon, it’s time for us to move around a bit and get out there and explore. Safely, physically distanced, of course.
Grab your map and sunglasses, or rather your Waze, Cheddar Bunnies, apple slices, water bottle, sunscreen, lovey, paci, books, mask, and a whole lotta patience, and let’s do this.
In our family we torture our kids by making them sit in the car without any screens whatsoever. Can you imagine those poor tender youthlings with nothing to do but stare out the window?
I know. It’s modern day torture.
But gosh darnit the car is our time to sing together, listen together, learn and explore, and I’m not about to give that up.
So this week I’m solving for one part of your car ride equation. Behold the ultimate family road trip playlist.
It’s got Kindie, grown up, mine, and anything that I think feels like the top down and the wind in our hair.
Before you go ahead and listen, or maybe even while you listen, here is a quick recap of what you’ll find.
1.Movin’ Right Along from The Muppet Movie
When I was about 6 my parents took us on a road trip. I think we listened to the Muppet Movie Soundtrack 1,257 times. This song was our fave. There was no way I was about to do a road trip playlist without it.
2. Through the Woods by the Okee Dokee Brothers
These guys are the explorers of the Kindie (kid indie) scene. They explore nature like I explore family dynamics. Each of their albums takes you to a different nature landscape. And they’ve got a great vibe too. You might recognize Justin Lansing’s voice from my song More of a Baby.
3. Lovely Day by Bill Withers.
Something about Bill Withers has always touched me to the core. His effortless voice, no frills singing, and good vibe yet profound songs.
4. Unhurried Journey by Elena Moon Park
Elena was once a part of Dan Zane’s kids band before she went off to do her own thing. It’s a good thing she did because her music is beautiful. This is from her new album and Elizabeth Mitchell joins her on this title track.
5. It’s My Mother and My Father and My Sister and My Dog by Barry Louis Polisar
You probably know Barry from the song All I Want is You on the Juno Soundtrack. But besides writing a kick ass movie title track he is also a kindie pioneer and this song is pretty entertaining.
6. Coniferous Trees by Molly Ledford and Billy Kelly
I’ve told y’all about this album before. I love it. It’s all about trees and its done so tastefully with humor, educational details, and beautiful melodies and production by Dean Jones. I particularly love this one. It’s like we are in the studio with them as they sing it.
7. You’ve Got a Friend in Me by Micheal Buble
Obviously this is a Randy Newman song and we all know and love it from Toy Story. But I felt compelled to add this version. Michael Buble is just so ridiculously perfect in his vocals. As much as I try to hate him, I really do love him. He always sounds easy going and upbeat and his singing makes me smile.
8. Rosie Darling by Joanie Leeds
If you make it all the way to the end without a bathroom accident, trantrum, fight with partner, or wrong turn I want to hear about it. I’ll send you a Vered shirt. Seriously. But if you do you’ll make it to this lovely song by my friend Joanie Leeds. This is from her new album produced by friend Lucy Kalantari.
So let’s do this. Let’s pile into the car, even if just to head from one side of town to the other, and play some tunes that will inspire, tickle, move, and groove.
What are your favorite road trip tunes? Please share them below.
Do you know someone in need of a good road trip playlist? Share this with them and they will be forever grateful. And tell them to sign up for future Tune Ins too.
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.
Yeah, many parts of this period of our lives has sucked big time. BUT I wonder if one day we will look back on this time as a sweet one for our families too. A moment in which there wasn’t a feeling that time was limited and someone was always rushing out, to work, to drinks, to see friends. Rather there was a feeling of togetherness—you could even call it stickiness.
I don’t know about you but I’ve been feeling clingier to my kids and husband. I mean, it’s ridiculous, because we’re with each other ALL the time, but I still didn’t want my husband to take a necessary 3 hour drive to get our stuff. As much as I need space, I want them to stay near me.
The beauty of this pandemic epoch is that there’s a little bubble that’s been built around our families that disconnects us from the world, and binds us closer to each other.
Of course, this might not be the case for everyone. I’m sure parents who are also essential workers are having a completely different experience.
But regardless of the situation, we could all use this moment for art.
Instead of having just stories and photos from this time, we can make a simple song that you’ll sing to your kids and they’ll sing to their kids to bring back the feeling of togetherness that we had during this time.
And I’m here to help you make it.
Here’s how to make your family’s quarantine song:
Tip: Since documenting the songwriting process is so easy these days on our phones, I suggest you take advantage and have the camera ready for each one of these.
The improv approach:
This approach is good for kids who want to fly by the musical seat of their pants. It entails letting your kid riff and you following along. This can be done with any age.
With babies and little kids start, with a melody. Nothing complicated. See if they take the lead and you can follow. Repeat any words that emerge and add on.
With the bigger kids who are able to come up with full sentences, go with their themes. It doesn’t totally need to make sense. Just go with it! It can be gibberish with only some real words.
Here’s some inspiration: You know how Elton John and Bernie Taupin write songs? Elton John comes up with a melody and chord progression while mumbling vocalizations into a recorder. Bernie then takes the recording and turns it into comprehensible words and ideas. He plays off the jibberish sounds Elton John makes and also finds his own.
You can do that with your kid! Themes you didn’t know were there might emerge later on second listening.
Tip: Get physically relaxed. Feeling lazy and comfy is key to letting creative juices flow without judgment. My daughter and I often do this lying down in bed holding the phone over us.
Here is an example I did today with my daughter. She is probably older than most of your kids, so yours may have shorter sentences or even one word verses. That’s ok!
The Pen to paper approach:
This one is all about lyrics first. If your kid is old enough, brainstorm with them. If not, do it with your partner or even on your own. Come up with some lines to describe how you’re feeling these days.
For instance, the other day in class one of the moms (shout out to Kristen!) said this period felt like she was “cramming for finals and pulling overnighters, with no finals in sight. How long can it last?” I loved that line, jotted it down and it made it into this song (with her permission of course.)
Here is a tip: Think about how you have been describing your feelings and days to your family and friends. Most likely you’ve been using some of the same phrases. Go with those!
The movement approach:
Writing a song with movement means that you are bringing rhythm in with your body. You can do this while you walk outside, jumping over pillows, or running around the house. It is similar to the improv approach but you are just saying one or two words per movement. This strategy is good for the kids who need to be on the move while they think and create.
The storytelling approach:
Use a character to tell a story. The character can be your kid’s favorite stuffy, a character from a show or book they like, or made up on the spot. For instance, if your kid has a favorite panda stuffy, ask them: What does panda do in the morning? How does her quarantine day look? Tell your family’s story through panda. You can use a melody from a song that exists, for instance the ABC song, or you can make up your own.
The facilitator approach:
This one’s my favorite because I get to be involved! I propose we put aside a half hour in which I sit virtually with you and your family and help you write your quarantine song. I’ll help you brainstorm and then shape your lyrics and melody into a song. Then I’ll send you a video of how it all turned out.
Saturday night family activity: CHECK.
Do any of you remember when I did a kickstarter for my second album Hello My Baby? One of the prizes was writing a song with me and many of you signed up to do it. It ended up being one of the most delightful experiences of the whole album making process. We wrote some great songs! I’m fantasizing about that experience with you all.
Last week my talented friend Amelia Robinson from Mil’s Trills invited my daughter and I to her songwriting show to write a song with her for a nurse. The experience reminded me how wonderful it is to have a facilitator during the songwriting process. (Here’s what we came up with. No, my daughter did not let us get a word in edge wise. Yes, it seems she is the daughter of a diva songwriter.)
I’d love to offer that to you! If you’re interested email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to book a time and find out the details.
Ok dear quarantunies, I hope you are inspired to start your quarantune songbook with your kid. What an album it will be! Sure, photo albums are great. But this is an album you and your family can take with you everywhere.
Have you written any quarantine songs with your kids? We want to hear them! Please post below! Do you have songwriting techniques? Comment below!
Do your friends need some inspiration? Are they in a puzzle making rut? Send them this post to ignite their inner Elton John.
Does anyone else feel like all the cards have been thrown into air and you have no idea how they’ll land?
I mean, suddenly ALL the questions are top of mind.
On a broad level I’m talking about things like “Will the economy ever recover? And “Will life as we knew it – fights, restaurants, and events, and SUMMER – ever resume?
But even more so, I am talking about the fact that this crisis has made me question EVERYTHING on a personal level too. All of the questions that I normally push to the back of my mind have surfaced big time:
Like “Do we want to stay in the city or make a break for the ‘burbs?” And “What do I really want to be when I grow up?” And, the one I hate most, “Does THAT person have it figured out?”
What a time. What a pause. What a weight dropped upon us.
And, what an opportunity.
Working remotely and having our kids “schooling” remotely has given us all the feeling that we can go ANYWHERE.
Woohoo! We can go anywhere!
Oh shit, we can go anywhere.
This is a problem born out of priviledge, no doubt. It is hard to complain about too many options. But the fact is that sometimes limitations can be more comforting.
These days it feels like we are all operating at a steady simmer of unease, confusion, and overwhelm. There are so many unknowns and the rules that we normally live by keep changing.
But here’s the thing: You know how to get through this. In fact, you’ve done it before. You’ve had these same questions arise with a lot of the same confusion, lack of control, and overwhelm.
And it took a while, but you made it through to the other side.
Do you know when that was? When you had your first baby.
Let’s go back even further. Remember before you had a baby when you thought you knew exactly what you wanted your life to look like? (That was so cute!) You wanted an exciting place to live, some adventure, some times to remember . You had ambitions and you worked to achieve them.
And then came baby. And everything was called into question.
Like – what is truly important to me? Is it this job that I’ve been working so hard to excel at or is it staying home with baby? Where should I raise this baby? Near the grandparents I’ve spent the last 10 years distancing from? And who am I again? What happened to the laid back cool girl, and who is this micro-manager who has surfaced?
Remember that? Well, there’s something you did then that we can learn from now:
You gave it time.
You realized you had to put aside looking for answers in order to care for the baby. And, as the strain of those first months lifted you revisited the questions slowly and cautiously.
You didn’t rush it. You knew you were still fragile and tender. You knew you were very similar to the baby who needed a whole lot of patience, cuddles, and soft singing.
You lived with the questions for a while and you slowly let the images of your next steps appear to you on their own. It wasn’t something you could solve right away. You had to live with the fear of simply not knowing.
It might have been painful. It might have brought a period of depression and hopelessness. It certainly brought a newfound respect for a long shower, a full night of sleep, and some eggs florentine on a Saturday morning, back when you called 12pm morning.
But your life was changed forever. And eventually your priorities felt more clear, you felt more human, more alive, more connected to every child, every parent, and every being out there.
You did it then, and you can do it again now.
The trick here, as it was then, is to find the courage to sit in the questions. To really cozy in to this deep pillowy seat of unknowns and breathe deeply.
One difference, which may be a bit comforting, is that we’re all having this baby together. You don’t need to look far to find your mama tribe and ask about the baby’s color of poop, you just need to hop on Zoom.
This week I listened to the latest episode of the podcast “On Being.” In it, Krista Tippet talks to Davendra Banhart about Pema Chodron’s book “When Things Fall Apart.”
Since then, I’ve been reading every sentence of the book as if it is an instruction manual for this time. Here’s an excerpt from this beautiful book:
“Anyone who stands on the edge of the unknown, fully in the present without reference point, experiences groundlessness. That’s when our understanding goes deeper, when we find that the present moment is a pretty vulnerable place and that this can be completely unnerving and completely tender at the same time.”
So guys, let’s sit with this together. Let’s accept the unknown and the groundlessness with the knowledge that it will lead us to a more beautiful place.
“What we’re talking about is getting to know fear, becoming familiar with fear and looking it right in the eye – not as a way to solve problems, but as a complete undoing of old ways of seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, and thinking.”
How are you dealing with all the questions? Or maybe you don’t have them? We want to know! Comment below.
Do you have a friend who needs to know they’re not the only one tossing and turning in their sleep? Send them this blog. Tell them to sign up for more.
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.
Last week we talked about IF, WHEN, and HOW to intervene in your kids’ altercations. We separated the types of fights into Lion Cub Fights and Helpless Rage fights and discussed what to do in each situation. If you missed it, click here.
Today we are covering more crucial info to help you help your kids get along.
But first, let’s remember that we’re all doing our best. We’re learning as we go. This is difficult stuff. Not only that, it’s NORMAL stuff. So be compassionate to yourself as you navigate this warzone.
Ok, let’s dive in.
1. Bigger doesn’t mean stronger
In the last post we said that in Lion Cub Fights we won’t intervene at all, and will let our kids be, completely, no matter what is going on. That might feel impossible to many. You might be saying – my older one will crush my younger! But ask yourself – is your little one tough? Can she/he defend themselves? If they are 5, 3, or even 1, I bet the answer is yes. If so, they do not need your protection. They are probably much stronger than you give them credit for. In a fight with their sibling they can take care of themselves. Not only that, there are advantages that only the smaller ones know how to use: crying first, getting more empathy, seeming weak, acting quick.
2. Find the time.
If you take nothing else from these two posts then heed this advice: Find time to be alone with each kid. I know you know this one and I know it’s not easy to do. And in quarantine it’s near impossible. Who has time for that? But parents, it is one of the most important things you can do to keep the peace at home.
Even if it is 10 minutes in a room with each a day. Put the other on a screen if you must. Or have QT as you sit with them by the bath, or as they help you make dinner, or as you play a game. It helps your child feel loved, seen, appreciated, and special. And that reduces the need for competition. I promise you it can make all the difference in how your kids behave with each other. Now here’s how you can make that alone time even more effective:
3. Witness their specialness.
So much of sibling rivalry is vying for OUR attention and love. So let’s cut it off at the pass. Before they start to feel invisible and unloved and want to kill off their competition, let’s remind our kids why we love, appreciate and admire them. Go for the meaningful compliments about their personality, and their process – “I love how you thought so carefully about how you would build that tower and then you sat patiently and didn’t get up until it was done.” “ I admire how you see things in a unique way and make me see things differently.”
Since we are in triage mode during this quarantine time, make a rule for yourself ot say at least 3 of these types of compliments a day.
4. Team building.
Punish both. If you feel like you need repercussion, remember this rule. Punish both. Last week we talked about how each side feels equally wronged. It is important not to distinguish between punishments so that the kids don’t feel that we are blaming one more than the other.
Reward both. By the same token, when possible, reward them both. Have they gone a full day without altercation? Both deserve a reward for that. Make sure to find times like these. Have they gone an hour without an altercation? Prize!!
Team them up. Try to play family games in which they are on the same team against you or both parents. Let them band together against you. We want to do whatever it takes for their animosity to move away from each other, even if it means moving toward you.
5. Don’t spotlight the other.
When alone with one, don’t talk too much about the other. No matter what you say they will interpret it as you saying the other is better. Read: that you love the other more.
6. Unite the coaches – you all
Synchronize messaging. Worse than us taking on the roll of the referee is having two referees who disagree. In our home, my husband is quicker to defend the younger sibling and I’m quicker to defend the older. And that causes tension between us, and the kids are always watching. Talk to your partner about NOT refereeing, about the strategies you will start to use moving forward (from last week’s blog), and about keeping it consistent between you both.
Model communication. We need to model the type of interaction we are expecting for the kids. Tell your partner your own feelings instead of blaming. Meaning, instead of saying – “I’ve been watching the kids all day and you haven’t even picked up a plate.” talk. Explain. Say “Its been a hard day. I’ve been chasing them non stop and feel exhausted. And when you finished work and sat to look at your phone it made me feel resentful.” Show your kids how to communicate feelings and that when it is done well it repairs the rupture.
Talk to your kids about the nature of sibling dynamics. Explain what competition means. Explain why they are feeling it and tell them all siblings feel it. Tell them it is fine to feel rage but there are more productive ways of expressing it than through physical fighting.
If they need to get their physical aggression toward their sibling out, grab a pillow and let them punch, for a while, as long as they can. Let them yell all of their angry thougts and feelings. It’s a great way to release some of that energy.
But also explain how lucky they are that they get to work on peer dynamics at home. This is the stuff of life. We constantly deal with these dynamics at work and with friends. How lucky they are to get to practice with someone who will be by their side forever, no matter how bad it gets.
8. Remember: YOU are the object.
One last point. As we’ve talked about in these two posts, siblings are competing over your love and attention. They are angry at their sibling for taking attention away but they are angry at YOU for having more kids. But our kids can’t fully take it out on us. It is much safer to take it out on their sibling. Taking it out on us means risking pushing us away, or even losing us. I don’t mean this literally. We aren’t going anywere. But that is the fantasy of our kids.
So in order to protect the relationship of your kids together, allow your children to take it out on you. Also, allow them to connect when they need. In fact, ALL of our kids’ interactions with us are vying for connection, even when they don’t feel that way.
Ok Tunie. I hope these posts help with your situation at home.
Need more help? I’ve got a workshop starting next week and there are still a few spots open.
Join us for a NEW ONLINE WORKSHOP FOR PARENTS – Individualized counseling on how to keep the peace in your home. Limited to 10 participants, meeting twice for 75 minutes.
I’ll leave you with a song I wrote on my album about siblings. All of the songs on the album have aspects from this post. This one was taken from a loving conversation my kids had over oatmeal one morning.
“It’ll be oh it’ll be so good to be grown up with you. Cus it’s pretty good to be kids with you too.”
You! Tuned-in parent. Sun! Summer is here. It’s my favorite favorite season. I don’t care how sticky it is and how much we sweat. We are finally free from the indoors! Our babies get fresh air! You with me?
We don’t despair by 5pm because we can just go outside. And see friendly faces. Whew! We made it. So now that we’re outside, I want to encourage you all to tune in to a different type of music: the sounds of the outdoors.
Here’s the thing – summer is also a good time to give ourselves a pause. Work places slow down a bit, we allow ourselves long weekends, and we even take full weeks off.
What does this mean for our inner musician? That we can relax into feeling more present. We can sit outside and take a moment to LISTEN.
How to tune in to the sounds of summer:
Park. Try laying next to your baby on the blanket. Gaze up at the trees and the leaves with them. Listen to the birds overhead. Listen to how your baby might be mirroring those sounds.
City. As you push your stroller, listen to the city life around you. Listen to the rhythm of human-made sounds as they interact with the sounds of nature. Is the wind moving objects on the street or sidewalk? Is a squirrel pitter pattering up a tree with stolen pizza in its mouth? Is there construction nearby keeping a beat?
Beach. When you are at the beach, listen closely to the sound of the waves. So often we sit at the beach talking, reading or zoning out. Take a few minutes to tune In. Notice the rhythm of the waves. Here’s the best way to do this: As you watch the waves, take in a deep breath as the water pulls back and then breathe out as the waves crash. Breathing with the waves helps us really tune in to the sound and the rhythm of the ocean.
Forest. If you are sitting in the forest camping or hiking, then sit quietly for a moment and notice the sounds. Do you hear gravel crunching? Do you hear mosquitoes nearby? Croaking crickets? If so, notice their rhythm. Notice how they all sing in unison. They are really rubbing their wings together like a violin.Interesting tangent – To get a rough estimate of the temperature in degrees fahrenheit, count the number of cricket chirps in 15 seconds and then add 37. The number you get will be an approximation of the outside temperature. There are perks to having kids in fifth-grade science!
Waterfall. We tend to hear a brook, stream or waterfall and quickly process them in our brain as white noise. It is hard for us to keep our attention on the small changes happening within moving water. Pause for a moment try to see if you can tune in to anomalies. Where does the water fall out of stream? Is there a pattern that repeats?
Pool. See if you can visualize yourself as a bird perched high above the pool or family event that you’re at. What sound landscape would that bird hear? Listen to the orchestra of kids playing and splashing water at the pool or the melody of the family barbecue’s low chuckling voices and high pitched toddlers. See if you can hear it as a landscape.
Your baby. Finally, let’s tune in to our baby’s noises. In the summer, we tend to be more laid back and we allow ourselves a little bit more space for wonder and observation. This is a perfect time to really listen to your baby’s noises and speech. What vocalizations is your infant experimenting with? How high does their voice rise and how low do they dip? Are they experimenting with more noises that they like using their lips and tongue?Have a crawler or walker? How are they learning to say words? Are they learning through the melody? Do they have a sing-songy way of speaking?And for older kids tune in to their sounds. When they hum or sing a tune what does their voice sound like? When they speak to you do they tend to use higher registers or lower registers? Can you find your own sing-songy speech and how they mirror it back to you?
So do you hear it? My hope for you this week is that you take the time to try.
What do you hear? Share with us in the COMMENTS. It is inspiring to hear what others observe.
Want to inspire your friend to take a pause and listen to summer? Send them this Tuesday Tune In. Tell them there are alot more where this one came from and they are all as helpful.
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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.
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.
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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This Tuesday Tune-in continues our summer-transportation series. (Last week, I gave you a playlist to use in the car. Go here to check it out). Today, let’s talk flights.
Keep reading for my tips or watch this video of my kids and I on a flight.
Listen, if anyone is your go-to source about flying with babies, it’s me. Since my parents and my husband’s parents all live in Israel, we’ve been doing a god-awful, 12- hour flight every year since my first was born. We’ve done the flight at all ages, at all times of the day.
The other day, we did it again. Aside from not sleeping much, not receiving our kids’ meals and some puking along the way; I would say it went as smooth as a summer smoothie. But they haven’t all been that way.
You see, I’m over the hellish-flight hump. Once your youngest is at least 4 years old, flying is a breeze. You know how I know? Because these days I don’t think twice about packing TWO hats in a carry-on hat bag. (Y’all know I have a hat fetish, right?) Would I have done that a few years ago? Hell no. It was wear it or ditch it.
Needless to say, I’ve learned a lot. And now I’ve divided it all into a few sections for easy, pre-flight scanning. This includes expectation setting, timing, dressing, eating, packing, playing, seating – and a few bonus secrets.
Are you braving a journey on a jet plane with your diapered companion? This one is for you.
How to Survive a Flight with Baby
Plan for it to be a bit hellish. Do your best to get through it peacefully but also know that it is just going to suck for a day and then its over. Also, know that the older they get, the easier flying gets. So you’ve got a few years in the bunkers (depending on how many kids you have) and then you’ll be cruising.
Loosen the rules. Allow stuff you wouldn’t otherwise. For me, that means unlimited screens, more junk food and less sleep.
Don’t expect to watch a movie or read a book. With little babies, you’ll be bouncing them to sleep in the carrier. With new walkers, you’ll be walking up and down the aisles feeling terrified with every turbulent bump that your baby will crash into an arm rest. You’ll also hope your neighbors don’t mind seeing your cute baby walking by. Again. For the thousandth time. As they are trying to sleep.
Surrender to jetlag. No matter how much you try to time the naps just right, it won’t really matter. Jetlag is a bitch. But it only lasts 5 days or so. Knowing this helps you to not stress about whether they sleep or not on the flight. Sometimes it is even better if they don’t because they start adjusting early.
Avoid traveling when baby is 10-18 months. This is because of what I said above re: walking up and down the aisles. Doable, and I’ve done it, but not ideal.
Aim for a flight time that takes off 2hrs before we want them to sleep. This timing is particularly for long flights because there is a lot of activity in the first two hours (takeoff, drinks, food, etc) and when that’s over it’s their usual bedtime. Plus, the cabin will be quieter for them by then. Our preferred time is a 5:00-7:00pm flight.
Wear slip-on shoes. Baby is in the carrier; bags are on your shoulders; and then they tell you to take off your shoes. No problem. Just slip them off. Same with bathroom trips while wearing the carrier.
Wear pants with big pockets. This is a life saver. Try not to wear yoga pants or tight pants that won’t store key items like a boarding pass, pacifier, tissues and EVERYTHING else.
Wear socks. It gets cold on flights and you won’t be able to fix yourself that perfect blanket/pillow cocoon that you once could before baby.
Pack lots. Lots of pacifiers, three bottles, an extra change of clothes on top of the extra change of clothes, an extra blanket. Whatever you can reasonably carry.
Prep relief for ear compression. Two age-appropriate ideas have worked for us:
For younger babies – Nurse during take off and landing to make sure your baby is swallowing often which will relieve ear compression.
For older babies– Bring lollipops for take off and landing. My kids still ask for them even now that they are older. It is a ritual that helps them through the transitions. Sort of a mini-party during the worst parts of a flight.
Store wipes. And have them in every bag and pocket ready to go.
Carry on a box of empty plastic bags. These will be for diapers, garbage, etc.
Mission critical: Snacks. For long flights, your child will need lots of options. And, perhaps more importantly, so will you. Flying with a baby is exhausting. Pack your favorite snacks for yourself to give yourself mini pats on the back.
Remember the changing pad. It is almost impossible to do it in the tiny bathroom cabins. I’ve done it but it isn’t a picnic. So if you can, it’s best to do it on your lap in your seat. If your baby is very young, even the poop won’t be that offensive. So have a lightweight changing pad ready to go.
Stickers. These are the best because they are a clean activity and don’t have things that roll away and get lost.
Painters tape. My favorite trick was always to bring painters tape and put little pieces all over the seat. My babies would spend hours taking it on and off.
Markers or pencils. If you do bring these, have them in a zippered case and be prepared to lose half.
Books. Lots of them. Soft cover are ideal so you can fit more in the bag and they’ll be lighter. (Not sure if I need to say this but I mean books for them. You won’t be reading much.)
Shows. Obviously, if your baby is older then screens will be your savior. Remember that not all planes have a place to charge your device so bring a few. Headphones are key. Download all programs and movies your child loves. They’ll go through many.
Car seat vs. Carrier. We always went with carrier. Our babies didn’t want to sit in the car seat anyway and fell asleep easily in the carrier. But it meant hours standing by the flight attendant area bouncing. Again, it’s all in your expectations. If you plan for those moments by the bathroom (and snacks), you won’t mind it.
Bassinet. For international flights its very nice to have the bassinets for babies under 6 months. Book your ticket way in advance for that because they tend to fill up.
Anywhere but the back. Book a seat not too close to bathroom because of noise/odor/light
Aisle vs window. If there are enough of you, then you’ll be lucky to have both options in a full row. Put baby toward the inside and sit on the aisle. If you are traveling solo with the baby, go with aisle so you can get up to soothe, etc.
Music. Yes, I am biased but music has saved me many times on a flight. Here are some of the ways:
Lullaby. You know by now that I believe in the power of the lullaby. It is portable; it acts as a behavioral cue; and it is soothing in and of itself. On the flight, take your baby aside and use your voice to create a bubble around you and your baby. Use your voice to recreate your normal environment.
Soothing song. If you have taken my classes, then you know exactly what I am talking about and how to use it. If you haven’t, you can find the song on Spotify at Vered and I will explain it further in a future blog. But the idea is – bounce, let your voice resonate, use a repetitive sound. Hold your baby with your voice.
Classical. If you are really desperate and your baby is not calming down, then you might want to try classical music in headphones. It has worked for me before.
Are you nervous? Don’t be. You can do this. Most of the time you will be pleasantly surprised that it was easier than you thought it would be.
It is a short run and then you’re done.
YOU CAN DO THIS!!
I know because I did it. Seriously watch the video of me doing it alone with my three kids. Smooth travels!
What has been your saving grace on a flight with a child? Comment below to add to this list.
Know someone flying to visit friends, family or just for vacation? Send them this post if they love lists as much as I do.
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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.
It’s that time of year, in-tune parents: The end of the school year.
We’re all excited, right? No wait. We’re all terrified we’ll never have a moment alone again. That’s right, right? Maybe we’re all sad our babies are becoming less baby-faced with every graduation. That seems more right. But the truth is: We’re all feeling a lot of things at once.
And if we feel that way, imagine how our kids feel right about now.
The end-of-year transition is even bigger for them. They go from the baby room into the two’s room, or from third grade into fourth grade, or (like one of mine) from elementary school to middle school.
What can we do to help them through this time?
And to help ourselves along with them?
We need to pause.
That’s not easy for me to do. During this frenzied time, the last thing I tend to do is pause. My wheels keep spinning all through the night. And during the day I am planning, packing and working ever so much harder until that last school bell rings.
But, listen: Summer can wait a minute. Eventually our plans will come together – more or less – and we will pack what we need , and probably forget the most important thing like usual. (It’s always the extra phone charger and the razor. Comment below and tell me your always-forgotten items.) There I go, spinning thoughts whirling again. We all need to learn how to pause so we can do the most important thing …
… help our kids pause.
4 Steps to Help Children Transition to Summer
1. Talk to them about the transition.
They are certainly feeling it, so you might as well name it. Naming the elephant in the room will dissipate the energy a bit.
Don’t: Introduce the transition as inherently anxiety ridden. Give them the space to reflect on their experience.
2. Ask them how they are feeling.
Find a quiet moment with your child and open the conversation with questions like these:
“How are you feeling now that schools out?”
“How does it feel to be leaving your friends for the summer?”
“How do you feel about going on this trip soon?”
“What are you feeling about starting camp?
Don’t: Ask leading questions like :
“Are you excited to start camp soon?”
“Are you sad about school ending?”
3. Follow up with detail-oriented questions.
If the answer is just “Good” or “Fine,” then you may need to ask questions a therapist asks like:
“And how does it make you feel?”
“What came up for you when that happened?”
“Where do you feel it in your body?”
Don’t: Think that’s all there is to it. There’s usually more beneath the surface.
4. Sit with their feelings and/or mirror their feelings back.
The best listeners also mirror back feelings in order to show the speaker that we fully understand and that we are listening. For example:
Child: “I am sad to leave my friends.”
Parent: “Sometimes it is sad to leave friends we have been with for a while.”
Child: “I won’t ever be able to win Student of the Day.”
Parent: “That sounds hard.”
Don’t: Start your sentence with BUT.
Child: “I’m going to miss my teachers.”
Parent: “But you’ll see them again next year probably.”
Child: “I don’t want to go on the trip”
Parent: “But we’ll have so much fun!”
Now here’s the important part about all of this: The answers might be difficult for us.
They might mirror our own anxiety about the transition. And they may even put a judgment on an upcoming activity.
Our job is to hear their feelings without letting our own feelings get in the way. Meaning, we need to purely to be an ear to the expression of their emotions without judgment of our own on their feelings. Children have an amazing ability to express how they are feeling without feeling a positive or negative judgment about it.
Let them show you how.
So parents, your task for this week is to Pause.
Notice your (and your child’s) anxiety about the transition and then talk to them about it. Remember the importance of being nonjudgmental. I wouldn’t judge you for being annoyed you have to go to the coast of Maine and spend time eating lobster with your in-laws. And you won’t judge your own kids for feeling psyched about that same trip.
Have you already noticed conflicted feelings in your family about summer plans? Comment and share how you’re trying to see all sides.
Know parents who would be relieved to pause? Send this post their way before the Last Day of School sneaks up on us all. They can sign up for the Tuesday Tune In below.
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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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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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:
Match your child’s tone. If your child is upset, sing along in their exact melody and take breaths where they do.
Take turns. If your child is not upset, this alternating method can feel like a vocal conversation with improvised sounds.
Harmonize. If your baby is singing a repetitive melody, accompany them on an instrument with one or two simple chords.
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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Today, I’m going to share 1 tip & 1 activity that releases yourself from the nagging belief that we need to do all kinds of things in order to enrich our babies.
Welcome to the Tuesday Tune-In. Here we go.
We really do drive ourselves crazy, right? It’s an epidemic of our generation. We had babies later in life than our parents did and had more time to feel independent, pursue careers and support ourselves than our parents ever did. We know how to get shit done.
It’s no surprise we feel a constant urge to enrich our babies.
We bounce through the night while scrolling through bits of information on how to do things best. Like business conferences, we absorb new information from our new friends and classes. And, as we go, we start to feel little pangs of stress. We look at the other babies and we wonder why our baby isn’t rolling yet, crawling yet, standing yet, talking yet or walking yet, like the other babies. That’s when we think we should be doing even more enrichment activities.
I know this all firsthand. I, myself, am an alpha mom type. In my case, with the second and third baby, I learned an important lesson:
Our babies actually don’t need us as much as we think.
They don’t need us to actively show them things. They are constantly exploring. They are natural scientists who are constantly gathering data from their surroundings. They’re finding patterns, noticing repetition and are continuously watching us very closely.
When we set out to actively enrich them, they don’t learn from our lesson plan, they learn from our unconscious behavior.
Babies are like mirrors, imitating our moves, our style, and our social behavior. Then we, in turn, mirror them back.
So here’s the tip for today: Let your baby lead you for 3 minutes (or more!)
Where to be: Join your baby in the same position he or she is in. If she’s lying down, lie down next to her. If he is sitting playing, sit next to him. If she is on the move, walk with her and explore what she is exploring.
What to do: Try to experience what she is experiencing. Try to imagine what she’s feeling in her hands or in her mouth. Now, all you need to do is try to see the world through her eyes.
What to say: You don’t need to say anything or do anything. Your baby is doing it all for herself. We are just there to be present with them in their exploration and get a lesson from them on how to be present in play.
What to watch: Look at your baby solely to see where they are looking. This is a mindfulness exercise. It is much more challenging than it sounds. (We spend most of our time gazing at our babies because they are beautiful and fascinating.)
What you may find is that your baby is on a constant quest to learn. He or she doesn’t actually need us to be the teacher. They just need us to make the classroom available. And the classroom is everything around us.
By the way, this is not just for babies. This is for kids of all ages. The 8 year old who is building stuff out of lego or boxes might want us to just sit nearby and be present with them. The 4 year old coloring might want us to join them in their process without showing them what to do, or even doing anything ourselves, rather just silently noticing or commenting on the process.
So the bottom line: You can relax. Your child knows how to learn. You just have to set the stage and let them lead.
On a scale of 1 to 10, how stressful has it been planning enrichment activities? COMMENT below and let me know.
Is our neighbor doing more to make their baby a genius? Heavens no! Have you ever felt that? how do you handle it?
Ever want to be a mythbuster? Share this Tuesday Tune-In.
Share this with your parent friends and bust the enrichment myth wide open for them. You don’t know until you know!
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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?
Know anyone who breathes?Share this Tuesday Tune-In.
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.
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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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.”
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:
“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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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!
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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.
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“If you’re the parent of a young child, you probably know Vered. If not, you should.”
Wow! What an opener! Thank you Paste Magazine! This article about my song on Songs for Sisters and Brothers is so awesome. And to top it off, I am huge fan of Paste.
It’s a modern love affair…
“If you’re the parent of a young child, you probably know Vered. If not, you should. The Brooklyn-based singer and music therapist has a knack for writing songs for every kind of kid, from infants to older sisters, and every kind of childlike parent. On her third album, Songs for Sisters and Brothers, she’s taking inspiration directly from her own family with a collection of songs devoted to the ups and downs of sibling relationships and the parents lost “in the battlefield.
The playful single “It’ll Be” was inspired by a conversation between Vered’s three kids in which they planned where they would live together as adults and how they would build their house. She’s joined on vocals by ex-Walkmen guitarist Walter Martin…”
Some of my favorite classes to teach are dads groups. Usually they are organized by the moms who took my class, who want the dads to have the experience they did. And during those weeks I get to hear about it all through their eyes.
Much of the stuff they talk about is the same. The challenge of getting baby to sleep and not sleeping enough, not always understanding what baby needs and wants, and the absolute joy of watching their baby grow. But often they add the perspective that was missing when their partner took the class. While the mom on maternity leave may have complained about her husband not helping enough, the dad complains of not having enough time with the baby and not feeling confident enough to trouble-shoot because of that. While the mom complained about needing physical space from the husband and not feeling romantic, the husband says that he misses his wife, although understands the distance.
This article was written by my favorite dad blogger Jeff Bogle. He took my song to heart and wrote this beautiful piece perfectly illustrating this dads’ perspective.
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?”