Should I Ignore the Tantrum?

Let’s talk tantrums. 

 

As annoying as they are, the fact that your baby has tantrums means that they’re doing exactly what they should be doing.

 

It’s their way of asserting independence, experimenting with limits, and expressing their emotions. They do it with what they’ve got – their voice and their body.

 

Sometimes your baby may have a tantrum simply to let out all the big emotions that are flooding their body. Not necessarily to change an outcome, but to express feelings. Haven’t you sometimes wanted to yell at the top of your lungs in anger? We don’t do it because we’re grown ups. Your baby can and should.

 

The question is – how are you to respond?

 

Parents in our classes often ask – SHOULD I IGNORE THE TANTRUM?

 

Here’s the short answer. 

 

You don’t want to reinforce tantruming as a way for your baby to get what they want.

 

Meaning, when your baby has a tantrum, let’s say about a thing you just took away for whatever reason, you will be reinforcing the yelling and flailing if you respond by giving it back.

 

Your baby will quickly compute – she took it away, I yelled, she gave it back. Therefore when I yell, I get what I want.

 

On the other hand, you don’t want to turn your back on your baby’s expression of emotions. You want your baby to know that ALL emotions are allowed, even the difficult ones.

 

So how do you NOT IGNORE but also NOT REINFORCE?

 

You ALLOW. You make space. But you DON’T change your limits as a result of their behavior.

 

Here’s how that would look:

 

You baby is tantruming about wanting to get out of the carseat – 

You empathize  with their emotions. “I know this is frustrating. I see that you’re very angry. I know you want to get out of the carseat.”

 

And then you make space for them to express their big emotions about it (unless they are putting themselves or others in danger in the process in which case you intervene.)

 

Here’s the important part – how are YOU feeling during the tantrum?

 

Often your own stress level can spike as your baby has a tantrum and that is part of the reason you may want to respond quickly and JUST MAKE IT STOP.

 

Instead, tell yourself that it is completely normal, try deep breathing, picking up the corners of your mouth a bit, and truly making space for your baby to express their emotions.

 

As they are tantruming you can try to coregulate – say soothing words, give a hug, sing a song. 

 

But sometimes your baby may just need to let it out in that way.

 

And your job is not to IGNORE, but to ALLOW.

 

Want a more detailed set of directions for what to do when your baby tantrums? Check out this post.

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So what do you think? Does this sound like a good strategy for your baby’s dreaded tantrums? Comment below and let me know.

 

Do you have a friend who needs to hear this right now? Send them this post and the link below so they can sign up for more.

9 things I wish someone had said to me when I had my baby

I was so cocky going into motherhood. Were you?

Even if someone had shared the wisdom I needed when I was crazed with my first baby I’m not even sure I would have listened.

But boy do I wish I could have taken in what I know now. It would have saved me endless heartache, anxiety, and self-reprimand.

So just in case there’s a mom to be out there who might have slightly less bravado than I did, and may just be open to hearing some sound advice, here goes:

9 things I wish someone had told me and I had LISTENED to before I had my first baby:

  1. You don’t need a perfect schedule.
    Babies end up pretty much the same with or without the obsession on when to feed, when to nap, when to sleep. (And man, I obsessed hard.)
  2. You won’t get a truly good nights sleep for about a year.
    You may sleep-train, co-sleep, or go with the flow. But no matter what you do your baby will have periods of sleeping through the night and periods of hourly wake ups for the entire first year.
    I fought it like Rocky Balboa with the first two. By the third I accepted it and we were a happier family for it.
  3. Creating good habits with your baby is important.
    Even if your schedule is loose, a morning routine, a sleep routine, and feeding routine will be anchors for years to come. And when the time is right those practices will help you slip into a more consistent schedule like a boss.
     
  4. The MOST IMPORTANT  thing to focus on is your connection with your baby.
    Forget all the noise around you about the latest gear, the conflicting internet articles, your MIL telling you you’re doing it wrong. What matters MOST is your bond. Foster it naturally and tenderly. You’ll know you’re doing it right when it FEELS right.
     
  5. It’s all in the BORING moments.
    The magic happens when your baby is simply looking around the room, or playing with yarn in the rug, or searching for your hair as they nurse, or crinkling a dry leaf outside. That’s the stuff. Not the instagrammable moments.
    In fact, do yourself a favor and catch THOSE moments on video. You’ll want them later. I so wish I had more of those.
     
  6. Focus on the time you are WITH your baby, not on the moments you’re not.
    Let the guilt go. Give your full attention to the moments you are with your baby – the diaper changes, bedtime routine, bathtime, middle of the night feedings. If you can be fully present for those then you’re ahead of the game.
     
  7. Model self-care from day one.
    Teach your baby that you’re a better mom when you take care of yourself. Make it a priority to take distance when you need it, go for a solo walk, meet a friend, read a book. And do it unapologetically, because it benefits your baby as much as it benefits you.
     
  8. Make every effort to meet other parents with babies your baby’s age.
    Go to classes with them, go for a walk in the park, go for a smoothie. You need the support. But more than that, this is one of those periods in your life when you are primed to make Best Friends. It’s like roommates in college. Going through it together will make you blood sisters for life.
     
  9. Know that there is NO RIGHT WAY.
    Parenting is about trial and error, taking a deep breath trying something and then trying something else. What worked yesterday won’t work today anymore. And that’s ok.

 

I don’t want to sound cocky here but you know what I wish? I wish there had been a Baby in Tune class when I had my first baby. I would have learned this stuff there. I would have found my best mama friend. I would have learned how to develop good habits with my baby and how to deepen our connection.

But alas, I didn’t have it. So I created the class because I wanted YOU to have it. 

 

On that note – we have new classes starting!! Some are in person in NY and some are on Zoom with me. I’d so love to see you there. Sign up for those here.

 

Also – have you ever wanted to lead baby classes? Or learn more about what it takes? My Baby Class Formula FREE Training starts TOMORROW!!

Join the Facebook group HERE.

 

5 September Survival Steps

Raise your hand if you’re feeling super stressed these days 🙋‍♀️🙋🙋‍♂️

 

Me too. That’s because we’ve got the perfect ingredients for a Stress Pot Pie: 

 

SEPTEMBER. Always a stressful month. You barely have time to wash off your sunscreen before you feel the energy of the school year starting and workplaces kicking into action.

 

BABY (and toddler?) No amount of coffee can offset the sleepless nights and method-googling frenzy, no gym class compares to the incessant picking up of baby, carseat and stroller, no remote island comes close to the isolation and cut off from friends feeling.

 

Now for the main ingredient – COVID.

 

Ratchet all that up with endless uncertainty and worry, with foreboding news and fear of anyone breathing too close to you, with no ability to plan for more than a week in advance.

 

What a combo! 😩

 

So this week I want to offer a few strategies to deal with the pie that’s knotting u your belly, weighing on your shoulders, and sitting just above your eyebrows.

 

I made this list because I needed it myself. Although I don’t have a baby, my family just relocated to Israel for the year and I’m having some of the same sleepless nights, physical exhaustion and intensity that you are  (you can read all about it here.) 

 

No one solution works, but maybe there’s something here that you can add to your mix:

 

  1. Name your fears.

Did you see that Mr. Rogers movie with Tom Hanks? In it there is a quote from Mr. Rogers that has been my motto ever since: “If it’s mentionable, it’s manageable.”

 

These days It’s impossible not to be carrying around a huge load of fear on our shoulders. COVID is scary and there is so much unknown. Also, so much is out of our control (which may make you buckle down on trying to control things related to Baby.)

 

In the spirit of Mr. Rogers I have been finding it helpful to just name my fears and put them out there. No need to hide them.

 

Think of your fears like a gas swirling inside you. When you name them and say them periodically it puts the gas in a jar with a lid on it.

 

Here are some of mine. Feel free to add your own:

 

I may get Covid

My kids may get Covid

My parents may get Covid

A friend may get Covid

The kids may need to do remote learning

If that happens I won’t have time to work

The kids might not learn a thing on Zoom

The kids may fight more because they’ll be home

Covid may be around forever

People may keep dying from COVID

Poorer countries may not be able to get the vaccine

And the list goes on…

 

Contrary to superstition, saying our fears out loud doesn’t make them come true. It just gives them a name and contains them so they don’t take over our minds.

 

2. Don’t try to confirm your fears

 

Have you ever noticed that when we fear something we tend to look for signs that our fears are confirmed? Of course we don’t want bad things to happen, but the anticipation of them is sometimes even more unbearable than the thing itself.

 

We search for bad news in the paper, we wait to hear that COVID is spreading in the schools, we expect to hear that a friend’s family got COVID or that a new variant has arrived.

 

It’s as if we’re driven but the desire to say – “I knew it!” Just so we won’t be living in the uncertainty of it any longer.

 

So next time you notice yourself doing that, see if you can tone it down a bit. These next two points might help with that.

 

3. Acknowledge some powerlessness

 

In my kids’ school here in Israel there is a different approach to COVID than I’m used to from NY. They don’t wear masks. The parents (who are mostly vaccinated,)  just don’t see the point (my thoughts on this here.)  After raising some havoc I realized it’s a cultural issue that I can’t combat on my own. 

 

This virus has put a magnifying glass to our dependence on our social networks. We are at the mercy of friends, family, colleagues, teachers, their friends, their colleagues, on and on. Every person’s actions affect another.

 

Aargh!! It’s crazy making, anger inducing, all night obsessable, punch the wall causing.

 

So we do what we can to make a change toward what we think is right, but then we need to acknowledge the boundaries of our power and ACCEPT it.

 

4. Focus on Certainties

 

These days we can’t buy tickets a year in advance like we used to. Even making dinner plans for next week seems risque.

 

What we can do is take off our long distance glasses and focus on what is right in front of us.

 

Acceptance means a constant surveying of what THIS MOMENT looks like. What you have now and see around you – those are certainties. 

 

What is your baby doing right at this moment? How does their expression look? Are they moving their hands? Do you hear birds? Do you feel the sun on your skin? Is there a slight breeze on your cheek?

 

And perhaps most importantly – what does your breath feel like? What does your stomach feel like as you breathe? How about your forehead? ears? hands?

 

5. To get out of Defcon 1, imagine steps to Defcon 2

 

Don’t you love when people tell you not to forget about self care right after you’ve had a baby? How can you even think about going to a yoga class or steaming broccoli when you slept two hours last night, had goldfish for breakfast, and may shower next week if you’re lucky?

 

You can’t get out of a state of emergency when you’re not in a minimal state of comfort. 

 

This last month in Israel I’ve been in Defcon 1. I can always tell I’m there when my phone is the last thing I look at before bed and the first thing when I wake up. Forget yoga, meditation, journaling, and playing music. Unless the yoga is for my pinky which is sore from the phone resting on it.

 

If you’re in that place THAT’S OK.

 

There is no point in self-flagellation. Let this voice go- why am I spending hours scrolling? Why does that mom have it so together and I don’t? Why can’t I get it together?

 

Here’s how you bring it down a notch to defcon 2 – IMAGINE what the first step would look like for you. For me it looked like putting the phone a bit further away from my bed when I went to sleep so I wouldn’t comfortably reach for it in the morning.

 

For you that might be pulling some yoga pants out from the back of your closet or asking around about a postpartum yoga class. And then you let that sit.

 

It takes time to dig yourself out of defcon. Simply imagining what a step toward self care would look like is an affective first step. It might be weeks of imagining before you actually put those yoga pants on.

 

Do you want some support in finding your way toward self care? A Baby in Tune class is the perfect means. It’s enrichment for your baby and therapy for you.

 

So how are you dealing with the uncertainty of it all? Comment below and tell us what you’d add to this list. We need to support each other!

 

Do you have a friend who may need to hear this in order to get through this week? Send them this link:

 

Yes! Please send me the Tuesday Tune-In!

A surprising way to socialize your baby

Dear Tunester,

 

Are you feeling like a turtle coming out of your isolated shell these days? Although we’ve been waiting for the world to open back up for a year now, peeking our heads out into the social world may not be as easy as we thought.

 

And what about your baby?

 

During this past year so many of you have wondered what effect social distancing will have on your baby’s social development (here’s a a post I wrote in answer to that question.)

 

Now that we’re heading out into the world a bit more, you may be wondering: How is my baby going to take it? Will they be overwhelmed? Excited? Scared?

 

Today’s blog is all about  a surprising way to get your baby back into the social groove. 

 

It all comes down to being in SYNC.

 

A fascinating study found when babies felt in sync with someone else it predicted social behavior like helping someone else having trouble.

 

Sound interesting? Here’s the experiment in the study:

 

Researcher A holds a baby (about 1 year old) in a carrier facing outward and dances to the rhythm of the music on the speakers. Researcher B stands in front of the baby. With some of the babies she bounces to the rhythm of the music, and with others she dances a bit faster or slower. 

 

After the dancing researcher B goes to play with the baby.

What happens next is the surprising part – 

 

During the play she drops something and pretends she can’t reach it. The babies who she had bounced in sync with were much more likely to help her and pick up the item she dropped.

 

What? Why? How does the dancing affect social behavior?

 

It turns out that being in sync with others rhythmically creates BONDS. It affects our attachment.

 

Wow! This is big news!

 

Being social, helping someone, feeling connected to someone, is not just a function of personality and experience, rather of FEELING IN SYNC with them.

 

This is good news for COVID babies.

 

After a year of feeling like your baby may not know how to connect with others – grandparents, friends, peers, teachers, here is a simple way to make it happen!

 

Not only that, this reserach study shows that being a good dancer helped with survival. Our prehistoric ancestors who could dance well with others and be in sync with them had an evolutionary advantage. Dancing helped them bond and communicate which made them more likely to be helped by the community. Which is why we’ve developed into a sprecies of good dancers (some better than others)

 

So dear parents, first of all, relax. Your baby is going socialize. In fact, they haven’t missed a beat 🙂

 

In addition, here are some ways you can use this info to step up the beat and inspire your baby’s connection with others:

 

1. Dance with the grandparents!

Your baby may have never met their grandparents in person. What better way to get them in sync and socialize through movement and not just through words and facial expressions than with dancing? Get that dance party started! The grandparents may appreciate it too.

 

2. Ramp up your mirroring!

Are you feeling out of sync with your baby? We all get consumed by work, family, friends, politics, or just scrolling sometimes. Next time you pick up your head and notice you’ve been on your own island try this out. Mirror your baby’s movements. Do what they do. Maybe turn on music to make it even more enjoyable. See if you both start to feel more in sync with each other.

 

3. Come to a Baby in Tune class!

We are about to start OUTDOOR IN-PERSON classes!!!! In NY that is. It’s the perfect place to dance and sing with other babies and feel a whole lot of in sync with each other.

Check out website to see the schedule. And if YOU’D like to host a class in your outdoor space, let us know! You’ll get the class for free.


You’re not in NY? No worries! I’m still doing remote classes. Come join us! Sing with us! Dance with us! Do our baby chat time. 

And today you can enter to win a full FREE semester. Go to my Instagram to find out how to enter.

 

As parents, we try so hard to teach our kids to be prosocial – to be kind, to help others. But the thing is, they are from the start.

All they need is to feel a little more in sync with each other so that they feel comfortable picking up someone’s toy when it falls down.

 

Are you taking baby steps to socialize your baby? COMMENT below and let us know what you’re doing.

 

Do you have a friend who needs to hear how easy it is to get your baby connecting with new friends? Send this to them!

 

Yes! Please send me the Tuesday Tune-In!

How we decode Airbnb listings

Dear Tunester,
Are you planning on going on a trip soon? Maybe you’re ready to venture out and rent a place now that the sun is peeking out from the COVID cloud?

Well, I’m here to help.

As you know, my family is on a year long road trip this year. And along with learning how to carry only the essentials (like 3 basketballs,) how to homeschool three kids without losing it altogether, and how to cook pasta in a motel bathroom, we’ve also gained an expertise – decoding Airbnb listings.

On our trip, so much of our happiness comes down to the places we rent. We’re seeing some spectacular sites, but we spend most of our time hanging/working/schooling at home. Which means that the lodging can be a make or break.

In this last month alone we’ve slept in 8 different places. That’s a lot of opportunity for break.

To save you from heartbreaking dissapointment as you walk into the vacation home you’ve been pining over for more than a year, and to give you a glimpse into our exhilerating at times and also hairpullingly exasperating trip, here is a lodging dictionary to get you through your listing sifting.

The takeaway – don’t always trust what they say…


Lodging Terms Decoded:

  • “Cozy”  =  Tiny
  • “Rustic”  =  Run Down
  • “Character”  =  Old
  • “Modern”  =  Empty
  • “Roomy”  =  Small
  • “Quiet Hotel Room”  =  Nobody wants it
  • “Comfortable”  =  Overly Used
  • “Basic”  =  One Pot, No Shampoo
  • “Quaint”  = Hasn’t been renovated since the 50s
  • “Resort”  =  Hotel
  • “Conveniently Located Near Train Station”  =  You’ll hear that train whistle All. Night. Long.
  • “Homey Touches”  =  Fake Plants
  • “Remote”  =  In the Middle of F*cking Nowhere

 

Now I’ll illustrate these terms for you by using them in sentences.

(This excerpt is taken from my travel blog. Feel free to read more about our highs and lows HERE and to sign up for updates.)

 

After we left Arizona we headed to the coast with a stop along the way in Borrego Springs, CA. There we stayed at what has become our back up for when Airbnb fails us in some way (price, availability, appeal) – Time Share “Resorts”.

We actually love these “Resorts”. Airbnbs are demanding! In order for us to get a 5 star review, which we need to continue this lifestyle, moving day from an Airbnb is a 4 hour marathon of –  Scour! Strip the beds! Take out the trash! Wipe surfaces! Pick up the beads, balloons, feathers, game pieces, markers, shells, and other tiny things that kids leave in their wake.

When we stay in hotels, we don’t need their reviews, so we can leave it presentable, but not sparkling.

Not only that, “Resorts” have a pool. If you ask my daughter what her all time favorite places on the trip have been so far, she won’t say Yellowstone, the Grand Canyon, or Bryce, she’ll name the places that had a pool and/or foosball.

The most amazing canyons and mountains? Who cares! They want a pool.

From there we drove to the coast of San Diego where we had an emotional reunion with the ocean. We’ve driven from the Atlantic to the Pacific, and the ocean is where my heart lies.

We arrived to a “Cozy” Airbnb that we had signed onto for two weeks. The minute we arrived to the narrow three story townhouse with one room per floor my heart sank. It was tiny even by New Yorker standards. Not only that, the neighborhood was packed TIGHT with homes side by side with narrow alleys between them.

After high fiving my neighbor through the kitchen window the next morning, I took my smoothie to the beach. By the time the kids had done surfing lessons and I spent afternoons riding the house bike around the bay and by the ocean, we were in love with Mission Bay.

“Cozy” living room in San Diego.

 

On our way to a surfing lesson through the cute alley.

San Diego reminded us a lot of Israel. A beautiful city on the sea. And Mission Bay felt like Jaffa with its tiny alleys that people decorated with plants and sculptures.

When our two weeks were over we reluctantly said goodbye to San Diego and confronted the reality that our money wasn’t worth much in Cali. I had bargained “Cozy” down, and had a lot of trouble trying to find another place by the beach. So as you can imagine, I didn’t arrive to our next “Resort” with the most positive attitude.

Ramona is a small suburban farm town nestled in the hills of CA. We mistakenly chose a “Quiet” room at first but transferred from the Batcave to a sunnier second floor room the next day.

They had bikes for rent and as I huffed up and down the hills passing views of mountains and farms, I fell in love with the new place. Plus, there was a pool…

Steep climbs up mean steep rides down.

Are you starting to sense a pattern here? 

After spending a magical weekend in LA with friends and family we felt a strong pull back to the coast. We wondered – Is it really completely out of our budget? Can’t we make it work?

And that led us to trying the “Roomy” one bedroom.

While Tsuri worked in the bedroom during the day, the kids and I crammed into the “Comfortable” living room with springs sticking out of the couch to do school and work.

I didn’t win any mom of the year awards for my performance that week. I realized that’s where I draw the line. I can homeschool them all day and I can pack and unpack endlessly. But I need a room to escape to.

(I did manage to do a show for the Jewish Museum in the middle of that living room with a green screen though  -superhero mom moment.)

“Roomy” one bedroom in Carpinteria.

Even though I counted down the days to leaving that place, I fully enjoyed my morning smoothies on the beach and wasn’t ready to leave the ocean. We spent the weekend driving up the coast and staying in “Quaint” motels with lots of “Character”.

In these places we all cram into one room but its only for a night so we come with different expectations. A clean working shower is the bar, not always met.

Me teaching a class on Saturday morning
What you see
What’s actually behind me

 

We knew our next move was to head inland where we belonged. The only house we could find in our budget was “Remote” and “Basic” but we went for it.

This is how that drive went – The vineyards! The pastures! The cows! The rolling hills! So beautiful! Wow we’re still driving. And driving… Now things are getting more and more desolate. Now we’re passing dilapidated homes, and now the kids are asking -”Why are there so many broken down trucks next to the homes?”

By the time we finally rolled into the driveway I had imagined a full horror scene and wanted to turn around and leave. It didn’t help that the sign at the end of the driveway said, I kid you not –

“No Trespassing – We’re Tired of Hiding the Bodies.”

The wifi network was called “stayout.” So.

The welcoming sign on the “Remote” house.

Once again, the next day came around and made everything better. The kids played basketball with a view, my husband and daughter made a fire, and I had my own room to escape to. I wasn’t panic-calling my family anymore.

Bball with a view

 

So dear traveler, I hope you took notes. It’s crucial to be able to decode descriptions on the listings. Next time I may tell you about decoding the photos too.

But keep in mind – you might have the same pattern I do. You might go into MOST places and hate them at first. But when the sun rises and you’re having your smoothie outside, you might just see the light and be happy to call it your new “Home” for a little while.

 

It all looks better in the morning. “Home” is wherever we are together.

7 tips for skipping the sleep competition with your partner

Today’s post is all about that awful (and often secret) competition we have with our partners once we have a baby to take care of. I call it: Who Sleeps More”.

 

You know what I mean.

 

I’m talking about the darkest part of ourselves that gets unleashed when we are thrown into a stressful situation. I’m talking about the competition you actually don’t want to win.

 

Remember when your biggest disagreements with your partner were about where to eat brunch, whose friends to see on a particular weekend, or how often to see the in-laws? 

 

You were the master of your own schedules. You went to the gym when you wanted, slept late when you needed, and parted ways to take care of yourselves and fill your individual needs.

 

And then came baby, and then came a pandemic (or the other way around.) And all of that free time dissipated into the air like steam off a pot of boiling water, slowly reducing to nothing but BURN. 

 

So what do you do? You go into survival mode. You do what needs to be done and hope your partner is doing the same. You try to get through the day without having a nervous breakdown or keeling over in exhaustion.

 

Having a baby during a pandemic (or anytime) is kind of like being thrown on a desert island with no food, no water, no way out, with a stranger you’ve never met before (that would be your partner). Oh, and you have to survive AND stay friends??

 

You are both so spent. Forget the island, you’re drowning. And when a precious sleep opportunity becomes available you inevitably ask – who needs it more?

 

It’s dangerous territory, that question, because what It’s really asking is – whose time is more important, or whose “work” is more important? And that scratches at the archaic roles that men and women used to have in society.

 

Despite the evolving we’ve all done it can still be so easy to slip into the roles of generations passed- mom minds the baby, dad makes the money.

 

After I had my first baby I remember waiting at home with the baby on my hip and the meal in the oven literally watching the door for my husband to come home.

 

I’m not just talking about women and men. The two mom or two dad families in my classes report that they have a similar dynamic  -there is a “mom” role, the one who spends more time with the baby, and there is the “dad” role, the one who spends more time at work and takes less ownership over the baby.

 

We’re smart enough to know now that whether you’re clocking in hours on conference calls or are spending your day trying to get your baby to nap, it’s EXHAUSTING. 

 

In fact, spending a full day with a baby is often a lot more taxing, physically strenuous and mind numbing than any other job. Not only that, your boss is RELENTLESS. They are demanding and refuse to give you breaks so you can eat lunch or shower. And forget about a raise. 

 

So what becomes of the sunny eggs benedict-eating duo?

 

The dreadful competition. Who does more? Who works harder? Who cleans more? Who soothes more? Who plays more? Who goes to the gym more? Who sees friends more?

And the mother of them all:

 

WHO DESERVES MORE SLEEP?

 

Once we’ve hit that point, there is no way back. There is no mistaking it. We are parents. We are in this. We will make mistakes. And we need to work TOGETHER.

 

So in the spirit of Valentine’s day, here are:

 

7 Tips for Skipping the Sleep Competition

 

1. Recognize that this is par for the course. We are the children of baby boomers who set the stage for equality of roles in a marital partnership. Now it is our job to figure it out. Paternal roles is one of the topics that comes up most in my classes. Most couples, if not all, deal with it in some way. So you’re not alone, and your marriage is not doomed. But there is some adjusting that needs to be done and it will take a little while to figure it out.

 

2. Divide and conquer. Some couples are able to have a silent agreement on who does what, but most need to lay it out clearly. For the tasks that repeat, like making lunch for the kids, cooking dinner, cleaning up dinner, straightening up the house, laundry or washing the bottles, DELEGATE ahead of time. It’s comforting to know that one of you owns the job. The other can take it off their list.

 

3. Communicate CLEARLY. The thing about the “who sleeps more” conversation is that it doesn’t communicate what we actually need and want. Instead of saying,  “I really need to take a nap right now, can you take over for an hour?” We say – “Are you going out for a run AGAIN?” and we hope our partner will understand the subtext. It won’t happen. They’re drowning too. So instead of letting the resentment build, state what you want and need. It may be granted, it may not. Either way, you were clear about it which will usually yield the best results.

 

4. Encourage INITIATIVE. The main complaint I hear in my classes is that one of the partners doesn’t take initiative with baby-caring tasks. Assuming you have the simple tasks divided, the next step is encouraging  initiative with positive feedback. But be sure to address the root of the action. Instead of saying “thank you for washing the dishes,” which never feels right because -of course the other should do the dishes too, Say -”thank you for noticing the dishes needed to be done and taking initiative to do it”. THAT’S the behavior you want to encourage. Give some props for that and it will be repeated.

 

5.  LISTEN. When your partner finishes their day exhausted  and wants to vent, try to find space to listen, even if you are exhausted  as well. Listening to each other without judgment will remind you that you are both drowning.

 

6. Get HELP. It isn’t easy, especially during a pandemic. Find someone who can relieve you. Even better, find someone who can relieve you both so you can hang out together.

 

7. REMEMBER that it won’t last forever. It’s easy to get so stuck in the daily grind or the diaper, rinse, repeat process that we forget the most important thing: this period will pass. You will not be fighting over sleep forever. And once you are both sleeping well, all of the other tasks will fall into place much more easily.

 

That’s it for today dear Tunie. I hope this brings you one step closer to celebrating Valentines Day with your partner. Hopefully your day will include a lot of sleep.

 

So how about you –  Do you have the “who deserves more sleep” compention with your partner? How do you handle it? Comment below and let us know!

 

This baby CRIES every time she hears this song 😥

Dear Tunester,

Did you know that your tone of voice can have a direct impact on your baby’s emotional state?

I’m going to show you a video that illustrates this in a surprising way. But first, let’s talk TONE.

 

Tell me if this has ever happened to you – You meet someone new and something about the tone of their voice or the musicality of how they speak makes you feel uneasy. You find yourself clawing for an escape or an alibi.

 

Maybe you also have a distant aunt who yell/speaks in a high pitched voice about the rugellah? (Or maybe it’s just me?)

 

So what is tone? It’s the way the air flows through our vocal chords. It is the COLOR of our voice. And Intonation is the MELODY in our voice.

 

Our babies don’t speak our language yet, so all of the information they are getting is through our tone, intonation, and rhythm (the syncopation that naturally occurs in our words and sentences.)

 

Those of you who have taken Baby in Tune classes know that we spend quite a bit of time learning how to make your tone of voice more resonant and more soothing for your baby. 

 

We do this in a few ways:

  1. By taking deep breaths between phrases.
  2. By using the muscles at the bottom of our abdomen.
  3. By making the voice deeper and creating more vibration.
  4. By relaxing other parts of the body like shoulders, neck, hips.
  5. By letting the jaw fall open. 

 

Try this tonight: As you are singing your lullaby notice how your body feels. Try taking in deeper breaths from the bottom of your lungs, filling the sides as well. Relax your jaw, relax your shoulders. See if you feel a difference as you are singing. See if your body relaxes and if your baby calms more easily.

 

When we sing or speak without the support of our breath and abdomen we tend to feel tense, especially in our throat. And when that happens it doesn’t matter how many times we cycle through Twinkle Twinkle, our baby isn’t going to feel soothed.

 

There are research studies like this one or this one illustrating how babies listen closely and respond to tone. 

 

But I also had my three subjects at home. In this video you’ll see something surprising that happened with my daughter when she was two months old. 

 

It all began when I started singing a silly ditty I had made up:

 

“I could watch your eyebrows all day…”

 

I know. There’s a reason it never made it onto an album. But go with me because what happened next was the surprising part.

 

I started to sing an improvised melody with the vowel sounds Ah and Oo.

 

As she listened my daughter increasingly got VERY sad. She seemed to be responding directly to the shift in the music.

 

I wanted to be sure her mood shifts had to do with the music and not something else so I went back and forth between the eyebrow song and the haunting melody.

 

I was shocked to find that each time I sang the haunting melody my daughter’s lower lip jutted out, her eyes got red and wet, and her eyebrows went down. She was about to cry!

 

Elton John can only dream about such an attentive and responsive audience!

 

I was so intrigued by her response. Her mood seemed to shift as a result of the shift in the music:

 

So here’s what we can learn from this video and what I’m hoping you’ll take away from today’s post:

 

  1. Our babies are listening to our tone, melody, rhythm very closely.
  2. They are so sensitive to the EMOTION we convey in our tone.
  3. We can change our tone to make them feel more calm, more soothed and happier.
  4. Just as our baby is watching us closely, we can watch them closely and learn their preferences and behaviors.

 

I’d love to hear your thoughts on the video. How do you interpret my daughter’s reactions? Obviously this is not a controlled science experiment so interpretation is up for grabs. Let me know!

 

Also, have you noticed your baby’s preferences for certain songs? Tone? Rhythm? Please COMMENT below and let me know.

 

Do you have a friend who would be interested in learning about how to make her tone, intonation and rhythm more soothing for her baby? Forward this post to her and tell her to join a Baby in Tune class ASAP!

 

Yes! Please send me the Tuesday Tune-In!

How 2020 changed my life

Dear Tunester,

When I asked my girlfriends if we were getting together for our traditional laugh/cry year in review over wine, they thought I was joking. 

Are we really going to analyze our goals from last year, and see how they panned out? Are we actually going to plan new ones for this year? 

I say – YES. 

This year trampled over us like a toddler over their sibling’s intricate lego creation. All those tiny pieces laboriously assembled were broken apart in an instant.

But for me, this year has also been as monumential as it was disastrous.

And since Baby in Tune wouldn’t exist without you, I’d love to share it with you.

 

Here’s where I was this time last year. It’s comical:

I had just finished a 4 hour meeting with my business managers in which we’d strategized the hell out of 2020.

Ha. So many plans.

In addition, I had spent two months training no less than FIVE new instructors who would be leading groups in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens.

I was working with a new web developer, a copyeditor, and vendors who were printing new flyers and swag.

I’d just launched a brand new online course that I had worked on for most of the year. 

Baby in Tune was about to become the Bugaboo of music classes! (At least, in my mind.) My entrepreneur self was leading the way with conviction.

 

And then – BOOM. 

 

Two days before the city closed down we went remote. Since we were one of the first to do it we actually received complaints. But soon everyone was on board and we all became so very acquainted with the concepts of quarantine and Zoom meetings.

Baby in Tune is one of MANY small businesses that suffered this year and I’ve had my share of tearful nights. But despite the challenges I’ve been pretty lucky.

So I don’t want to count my woes here. Instead, in the entrepreneurial spirit of my peppy female business mentors, let’s look at the many ways Baby in Tune, and I, have kept GROWING despite it all.

 

My 2020 in review – lessons learned, new roads taken.

 

  • I realized Baby in Tune classes work remotely.

It’s something I’d been wondering about for years. The business had been born and raised in NYC and it felt as if it was the only place it could live.  Which meant it was the only place I could live! COVID helped me realize that Baby in Tune can thrive without physical boundaries, and that’s been liberating for this mama.

 

  • I trained 5 instructors from around the world remotely.

Last year I trained 5 instructors in my kitchen and I was sure face to face over chocolate and popcorn was the only way. This year I did it remotely and it worked just as well. Not only that, the locations of the trainees ranged from Singapore, to LA, to Nashville. How exciting is that? I can now offer it worldwide and spread the Baby in Tune love (can we brand a bar of chocolate with that?).

Side note: Two of my trainees were moms who had taken BIT classes with their baby. It’s been so gratifying to see their transformation from exhausted and overwhelmed parent of a baby (as we’ve all been,) to empowered instructors who will surely touch other parents deeply.

 

  • I improved the online course

Not running around doing 15 classes a week gave me time to think more deeply about the mission of Baby in Tune. As you know, our classes go far beyond Twinkle Twinkle, and even beyond pure music. This year I tweaked the course to revolve more clearly around the main theme of Baby in Tune – helping parents learn their baby’s language.

 

  • With your help, we’ve created villages

More than ever, it was important that you find your village this year.  I mean, you were stuck at home, isolated, lonely, and bored. And that’s on TOP of the normal isolation and blues that we feel as new parents.  Despite the awkward muting and unmuting we found ways to feel natural laughing about not showering all week, crying about how the baby rolled off the bed right next to us, and letting each other know that we’ve been there. You showed up to class ready to support others and feel supported and it worked. 

 

  • I found a balance between work and play

A year ago I was a different kind of entrepreneur. I worked until the computer slid off my thighs and my eyeslids fell shut. I always had a never ending to-do list, I listened to business podcasts in my free time, and I got A LOT done. These days I let things go. You’ve probably noticed that you don’t always get a weekly Tuesday Tune In. Sometimes you even get it on a Wednesday (like today!). Who cares? Not me anymore. COVID knocked the overachiever out of me and showed me I have no control anyway. Pass the Haagen Dazs. Let’s watch Schitt’s Creek.

 

  • I went on a trip I’ve wanted to go on for a long time.

Remember the blog in which I wrote about COVID being an accelerator? Well, for me it turned my “someday we’re going to travel as a family” into “should I take the guitar AND the ukulele?” I’ve wanted to travel forever but haven’t been able to put the puzzle pieces together. How will we make a living? What about school? What about my business? COVID answered all of those questions for me. It said – now is the time. And I listened. These days my favorite moments are the 4 hour drives to our new destination – the kids safe in the back, all of our belongings with us, and the unknown ahead. I feel utterly grateful for the opportunity I’ve been given to follow our nose to the next destination. 

 

 

  • I started a travel blog

Did I just say I’m not an overachiever anymore? Well, now I have two blogs I am keeping up with. They’re both very different. One is for you all. My guiding principle with this one is that if it isn’t of value to you then there is no point. The travel blog is different. In large part it’s to keep anyone interested up to date on our whereabouts, especially my mom (do you want to stay up to date on my family’s road trip? Come join the list!). But it’s also for me. I know I’ll want a record of this time and a blog is my way of keeping a journal that holds me accountable. Who knows? Maybe one day It’ll turn into something else…

 

  • I’ve written new songs. 

With everything going on I’ve actually been creative this year. I think it had to do with me relaxing on the flow charts a bit. With my inner entrepreneur on break my musican self had some space to breathe. I’ve learned a bunch of covers and have written songs from the road. It’s refreshing to write with no pressure. I don’t expect the songs to turn into albums (do those still exist anymore?), I am not gearing the songs toward a specific market, I’m just noodling. The best place to hear those are on my travel Instagram account

 

 

So there you have it dear Tunie. Without a doubt I’ve been one of the more fortunate during COVID.  I’m very lucky that my husband’s job stayed a constant.  I meant that even during my sleepless nights regarding my business, I knew our family would be ok. So many did not have that luxury; they lost jobs, were sick, or lost loved ones.

 

So before I write off this year as a bust, I wanted to acknowledge that with your help, it actually paved the way toward directions I had only dreamed about prior.

 

Thank you all for joining me on this journey. Thank you for continuing to sing, learn, share, laugh and cry with me.

 

So what about you dear Tunie? Has this year pointed you in new directions? Has it trampled over all of your plans and you’re still picking up the pieces? Comment and let me know.

 

Wishing you a very warm new year full of plans that get broken only to point you in a better direction.

Love,

Vered

 

Has 2020 made you a better parent?

Dear Tunester,

 

2020 felt a lot like 6th grade did for me.

 

We had just moved to Israel. In the midst of my awkward, pimpled youth, swinging violently from overconfident to wanting to bury myself deep in a hole, I found myself in a completely foreign country. I didn’t speak the language, the kids were tougher and meaner, and the only thing they seemed to like about me  were my Reeboks. And that wore off quickly.

 

It was a painful year in which I desperately wanted an invisibility cloak. In fact, I would have taken a COVID mask if you’d offered it. I felt uncomfortable through and through and just wanted to hide. The ground had been pulled out from under me and I grasped to recover.

 

In many ways, that year defined me. I developed empathy for immigrants, insecurities that often  serve me (and sometimes don’t), and confidence that I can adapt to new situations.

 

I don’t remember 4th, 5th, 7th or 8th grade as much, but I remember 6th grade vividly. It was traumatic. And that’s also what made it so pivotal in my life.

 

To put it plainly, this year has sucked. We’re all dying to Gloria Gaynor 2020 to the curb -“Go! walk out the door! Just turn around now, ’cause you’re not welcome anymore…”

 

But the truth is, we’ll be looking back on it for the rest of our lives. We’ll be asking each other where we were, how we got through it. We’ll continue to process our trauma just like we talk about 9/11. 

 

This year was a collectively defining moment in all of our lives, on a personal and global level. We’ve changed as a result. And no matter how much we want to put it behind us, it’s going to stay with us. 

 

So maybe instead of saying a quick sayonara, we can be more mindful of the baggage we’re walking out with. Some of it will just add weight to our already heavy load. But I think there’s more there that needs to be unpacked.  I think we may have grown as parents too.

 

First, a little kvetching. Here’s some of why this year can kiss our ass:

 

1. It’s kept us up at night thinking about the thousands of people who have died from COVID. And worse, the people they’ve left behind.

 

2. It’s put so many of us out of work, and as we kiss our kids goodnight, many of us have wondered how we’ll make ends meet, or pay this month’s bills. 

 

3. It’s distanced us from our fellow humans. We cringe when people walk too close to us now. We do a double-take  when actors on Netflix shows walk into a room without a mask, even though it wasn’t even filmed during the pandemic.

 

4. It’s made parenting so very hard. We’ve turned into full-time teachers, chefs, housekeepers without a minute away from the kids. For those with babies, it’s meant nonstop damage control, constantly one minute away from a glass bowl shattering on the floor.

 

5. It’s put marriages and partnerships to the ultimate test. Gone is the allure, the leg-shaving, even changing clothes sometimes. We’ve forgotten to curb annoying habits. After 10 months of endless togetherness, we just let it all hang out.

 

6. It’s turned us into doom-scrollers. We’ve spent hours and hours on our phones, yearning for some social connection, desperately waiting for a sign that this nightmare is over. And as our heads have been deep in our screens, our kids have been watching us.

 

I could go on…

 

But like 6th grade, this year has also made us who we are. We’ve grown as parents:

 

1. After 24/7 parenting, we’ve discovered a level of intimacy with our kids that goes beyond the Nose Frida in the middle of the night. 

 

2. We’ve found energy to play one more round of hide-and-seek or build one more lego truck together.

 

3. We’ve become more relaxed parents. We don’t obsess about screen time anymore. We don’t spend endless hours Googling the perfect cry it out technique because we know there isn’t one.

 

4. We let ourselves just BE a lot more. We let our kids just be too. If they want to build a fort with every single pillow in the house, so be it.

 

5. We’ve come to realize how precious life is and how insignificant the small battles are. We let them go. What’s the point? 

 

6. We’ve realized what DOES matter. The extra hug before bed, the spontaneous singing together, the giggles we find when we relax our body and let our kids love us the way they do.

 

7. We’ve learned that there is no point denying ourselves of things that we once did. If we want a Christmas tree but we are Jews, we get a Christmas tree, goddammit!  

 

8. We’ve become more flexible. We had to be. We couldn’t fight the changes in the world and we had to adjust. 

 

9. We’ve learned what is unshakable – our love for our kids, for our family, for our fellow humans.

 

 

What do you think, have we become better parents?  I want to hear your take on it.

 

As we rush into 2021 we have the opportunity to decide what we’ll take with us. In a year’s time when we are all (hopefully) vaccinated and unmasked, will we bounce right back to our pre-COVID ways? What will we take with us from this unique period of time?

 

This is a year that will define  us. We will remember it forever. And because of all the trials and challenges it brought us, it’s a year that has changed us, as parents, as family members, as humans. So who will we be once we remove our masks? 

 

Your Family Zoom Reimagined…

Dear Tunester,

I’m in the back of a brown Buick station wagon gazing out at the endless wheat fields outside my window. Did I have a seat belt on? Probably not. We’re on a road trip and it’s my dad’s turn to pick the music. Willie Nelson is crooning and I’m rolling my eyes. Another hour until I get to listen to the Muppet Show for the 56th time. 

 

Now I’m on a road trip with my own kids traveling to the same Bryce and Zion playing that same Stardust album. I appreciate his nonchalant delivery and elegant productions but it’s more than that. My eyes tear while I listen to it.

 

I wonder – am I so moved because these songs encapsulate this journey, from child to mother, from one side of the US to the other? Or is it the music itself that I can now appreciate as an adult?

 

Probably both. Willie Nelson is Willie Nelson. AND my father instilled in me a connection to this music. He felt it strongly and he passed it down.

 

Now it’s my kids in the back asking- “do we have to hear that again?”

 

Wait till they’re older…

 

Music collapses time. It brings the past viscerally into the present. Because it’s stored in a different region of our brain than memories, it activates parts of our brain that bring back our sense-memory of an experience.

 

Have you ever heard a song from your childhood and feel like you are back on a swing with your cousin, or at that party in highschool with your friend, or in the delivery room with your new baby? Music brings back memories with all five senses. Suddenly we can smell the salty ocean, taste that margarita, feel the brand new skin of our baby.

 

Why do I bring this up now? Because this is the time to tap into this.

 

We’re in that magical time between the holidays that brings anticipation, excitement, and an unwinding of the year. And boy do we need it this year.

 

But this time it’s very different. We aren’t gathering, and that really sucks. But as always with Covid, there is a silver lining.

 

Because of the physical distance from our families we’re left to remember past years and cherish what we once took for granted. Have you been thinking back to last Christmas when everyone woke up together? Or a few years ago when your family sang Haunuka songs together?

 

We have more time to ponder what we really want holidays to look like for our young families. We can take a moment to recall the traditions that run in our family, be intentional about continuing the good ones, resurrecting others, and tossing some out completely.

 

This year is the perfect time to tap into our collective family musical memory for three reasons: 

 

  1. Our memories are being evoked.
  2. We’re feeling more emotional this year.
  3. You’re building your young family. 

 

So I’ve been thinking…what if we use our awkward and contrived Zoom family get-togethers to explore the traditions of our family more deeply?

 

Have you ever asked your grandma or parent what music was sung to them when they were little? Or what songs they remember their parents singing at the holidays?

 

NOW is the time to conjure up these memories. Every moment that goes by is an opportunity for the older generation to forget. I don’t know about you but my “mom brain” is here to stay. My memory is about as useful as a Momaroo. So I can’t imagine what memories are still rattling around in our parents’ heads. We have to get to them asap!

 

For this year’s family Zoom get together I propose you take some time to explore your family playbook, remember your family traditions, and bring the past into your baby’s future. 

 

You know I wouldn’t suggest this if I didn’t try it myself. This morning my cousins, aunt, mother and I got together on Zoom and reminisced about the music passed down through the generations of our family.

 

I found out that most of their family music memories weren’t from holidays rather from singing in the car. My grandfather had a knack for remembering (or making up, we’ll never know,) silly nonsensical songs that are etched into our memories like graffiti on a camp bunk bed.

 

I also found out that my cousin in law’s family sings Christmas carols together before their meal while drinking eggnog. And the best part? They have a playbook with all the lyrics! 

 

So this year let’s make sticky lemonade out of rotten lemons and work on creating our family’s playbook. 

 

Instead of letting that one family member monopolize your Zoom call while everyone else feels awkward, or only talking about what the kids are up to, why not seize the moment and have a conversation that will impact your baby’s future and holidays to come?

 

I’ve got a new offering for people who would like me to facilitate this exciting meeting (email me if you want to get more details on that.) But I want to give you a starter kit of questions to bring to your family.

 

Caution – as always when we dive into memories, this could bring up some STUFF. Along with the fuzzy images of family may also come the harsher ones. You or other family members may feel emotional during the conversation. That’s OK. Tread lightly. Go as far as your collective memory will allow without people spiraling into a dark place. Or, if you can, go there and come back together through song.

 

Here are some questions that you can ask your parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents and cousins, and siblings in your family Zoom meeting:

 

  1. What songs were sung to you when you were a baby/kid?
  2. What songs do you remember being played when you were a kid?
  3. When you think of holidays with your family when you were a kid, what is a song you think of most?
  4. What are your favorite holiday traditions that you used to do with your parents and family?
  5. What traditions did you want to make sure to pass on to us?

 

And questions for you and your partner:

  1. What songs do we want to bring to our baby’s holiday experience?
  2. What family traditions do we want to pass on?
  3. What family traditions do we want to toss?

 

I would love to know what you think about this idea, if you’ll do it, and how it goes when you do. Please COMMENT below.

 

And if you’d like to book a one time family session with me, I can’t wait. Email me here: info@babyintune.com.

 

Do you have a friend who needs some encouragement this holiday season? Send them this blog and tell them to sign up for more:

 

Yes! Please send me the Tuesday Tune-In!

This is how we’ll win this election

Hi Tunies,

Let’s take a breath together. It’s election day. A really important one. And on top of that we’re living through a f*cking pandemic. And on top of that you’ve got your kids home. All the time.

 

Are your nerves running high? Have you been stress-munching on that leftover halloween candy? Me too.

 

So first- Let’s breathe. Seriously. Do it.

 

And as we change a diaper, made a puree, fill a bath, warm a bottle, let’s breathe.

 

Here’s what we know – No matter what happens today and this week, our job as parents is to continue to love our babies. We care so much about this election precisely because we love our babies so much.

 

We want them to grow into a world where there is respect for each other no matter what race, ethnicity, gender identities, religion, or country of origin.

 

It’s heartbreaking that the chasm in this country feels increasingly irreparable. It’s not the world we want for our babies.

 

So today as we bite our nails, doom scroll through our feeds and eat just one more Twix bar, let’s strain to understand the other side. That’s all we can do at this point.

 

Yesterday my family was on the shuttle in Zion National Park. Everyone was wearing a mask except for one woman sitting right in front of us.

 

I politely asked her if she didn’t mind putting on her mask. Her partner was wearing one, so it didn’t seem like an outrageous request.( Plus the fact that a simple piece of fabric on our faces SAVES LIVES.)

 

When she didn’t answer I said it louder. She and her partner kept their gaze ahead and just ignored me completely. And I sat seething.

 

We’ll come back to the end of this story in a second. For now, let’s understand what was going on for each of us.

 

Without fully knowing her perspective I can assume we have some major differences in our fundamental guiding dichotomies. 

 

Here’s what I mean. Before setting out on our road trip this year I was lucky to have stumbled onto a podcast episode that would help me understand people I might encounter along the way outside of my comfy liberal Brooklyn bubble.

 

In it, Lee Hartley Carter explains the differences in thinking between Democrats and Republicans. According to her, it’s the distinction in primary values that prevents us from being able to understand each other. Both sides see the world in two very different dichotomies.

 

Democrats see the world in terms of HARM vs CARE. For them, caring means ensuring social justice, healthcare for all, equal rights in the workforce, LGBTQ rights, anti-racism, regulations for climate control, etc. For Democrats, if you are not driven by the CARE for your fellow human, then you are essentially condoning HARM. 

 

Does that resonate? 

 

Meanwhile, Republicans most often see the world in terms of LIBERTY vs. OPPRESSION. For them, the utmost priority is to insure their private human rights. Regulations they don’t agree with will be seen as OPPRESSION, threatening their right to decide for themselves. Guns, masks, curfews, quarantine, health care for all, taxes, affirmative action, communism, laws against fracking, etc – they all go against LIBERTY and freedom in their minds. 

 

This paradigm makes sense to me. I can understand the Trump supporters I know through this lens. And I can see how they don’t understand my view. We’ve all grown up with certain dichotomies, and we’ve become so accustomed to them that another point of view feels  literally impossible.

 

But as parents we have no choice. Not only that, we’re experts. We do it with our babies and kids all the time. We stretch ourselves to see the world through their eyes, understand their perspective, empathise with their challenges, no matter how uncomfortable it is. And when our kid can’t possibly wear the blue socks because they “hurt” and we need to scour the house for the orange socks when we’re already 10 minutes late, we have no choice but to take a breath, put our anxiety aside, and empathise with our baby’s experience.

 

It’s not easy. Especially if, like me, your HARM alarm is on HIGH. But I don’t see any other way.

 

So back to the bus. As she was getting off the shuttle the woman put her mask on.

 

I couldn’t take it any longer: “So NOW you put on your mask?”

 

She replied: “If you’re so worried maybe you shouldn’t be out in public.”

 

And I answered: “It’s just about caring for your fellow human.”

 

And there it was. I was seeing the situation through my HARM/CARE lens. She was seeing the situation through her LIBERTY/OPPRESSION lens.

 

And both of us felt completely RIGHT in our views.

 

I don’t know what this week will bring. But I do know that we’re parents, godammit. There’s no way we’re not going to do all we can to make the world a place where love reigns.

 

What do you think? Is it possible to bridge the great divide? I’d love to hear your thoughts. COMMENT below.

 

Do you have a friend who’s got one hand on a bottle, one hand in the M&M bag, and eyes on the developing election? Send them this reminder to take a breath. Tell them to sign up for more.

Yes! Please send me the Tuesday Tune-In!

The secret to writing a GOOD song with your baby

Dear Tunester,

When we first started mapping out our year-long road trip, there was one place I felt we had to go despite the fact that it would mean a dip south before we head north – Nashville.

 

On our way there we prepared. We listened to John Denver as we went through the Blue Ridge Mountains, and Johnny Cash, Patsy Cline, Willie Nelson and Tammy Wynette through Tennessee.

 

We also listened to a podcast episode by Malcolm Gladwell in which he breaks down why he thinks country music makes us cry MORE than pop music. The secret ingredient, he says, is that the writers of country music aren’t afraid to sing about heavy topics. And when they do, they aren’t afraid to be specific

 

They don’t just sing about suicide, divorce, murder, addiction, and betrayal. They do it by painting a DETAILED personal picture.

 

For instance check out this opening lyric by Kris Krisstoferson: 

“Busted flat in Baton Rouge, headin’ for a train / Feelin’ nearly faded as my jeans”

We can almost see the guy sitting at the station.

 

Or how about these lyrics by Bobby Braddock in a song Gladwell talks about in the episode:

“He kept her picture on his wall, went half-crazy now and then
He still loved her through it all, hoping she’d come back again
Kept some letters by his bed dated nineteen sixty-two
He had underlined in red every single “I love you””

Again, the lyrics are almost cinematic. And the reason we can see the picture so clearly is because of the details – the year, the underlined letters.

 

Gladwell compares the top country songs of all time to the top rock and roll songs which are not nearly as sad or specific. The saddest song on the list is “the tracks of my tears,” which is about a guy at a party who’s feeling sad. There’s no suicide, murder or divorce in those songs, just the general heartbreak.

 

 

 

Where am I going with all this? I think we can learn from it.

 

Those of you who have taken my class have already been in a songwriting workshop. You know that as parents of babies you are only a short step away from writing a song with your baby. The way you naturally speak to your baby is already so melodic. All that’s missing is some repetition, and voila! It’s a song!

 

(if you haven’t taken the class yet you’ll be shocked to find out how easy writing a song with your baby is. Come try it!) 

 

But let’s take our songwriting skills a step further today by borrowing a page from country music.

 

I wonder if we can do two these things when we write our next ditty with our baby:

 

  1. Let the emotions flow. I am talking all of it. You’re feeling frustrated? Put it in the song. You’re feeling sad? Put it in the song. Feeling angry at your baby? Sing it, baby.

 

  1. Let’s be specific. Talk about the birth mark on your baby’s left cheek, or about the way your baby says the word Banana, or about the color of their poop. Paint a portrait of YOUR baby, and of YOUR relationship.

 

When I started writing songs in my 20s I quickly came to the same conclusion Gladwell does. I realized that the more personal songs were, the more universal they felt.

 

That became my mantra. I didn’t want to write general lines like “you make me feel sad,” I wanted to create a distinct picture with details. And every time I manage to do that (I’m not saying it’s easy), it surprises me how people actually DO identify. 

 

Take this song for instance. Maybe the only song in the world with the word “computer” in it?

 

“When you go to sleep I go on the computer
and just for a moment I am something other than a mom.
On the weekends I try to go to a yoga class if by some miracle
I’m Something other than a mom” 

 

When I wrote that song I felt like I was the only one on the computer trying to feel like ME again. Or desperately racing away to go to a yoga class, on the way brushing my hand across my belly trying to feel for the body that was once there. But every time I sing this song in class, I pick up my head to find someone crying.

 

Now, I’m not saying you’re setting off to write the next country hit or Madison Square Garden anthem. But I am saying this:

 

If you give it a go, and try to write a song using details that only you, your baby, and your partner know, you may just come out with your own private masterpiece. It may be the song that lives on in the lore of your family, The song your son sings to his friends at college to illustrate how silly his folks were, and the song that your daughter sings lovingly to her baby, as she gets inspired to write her own.

 

And now, I’ll move this oven hot computer off my thighs, I’ll forgive myself for having had a lot more extra bites of that salted caramel ice cream, I’ll put on my mom cape, and read three SEPARATE books to three kids because they can’t all goddam agree on one.

 

See? Details 🙂

 

So what do you think? Will you try it? COMMENT and let us know if you’re inspired to croon about your baby’s freckle.

 

Do you have a friend who needs some inspiration for her next baby ditty? Send her this post! And tell her to sign up for more.

Yes! Please send me the Tuesday Tune-In!

Tantrums – It all comes down to THIS.

Dear Tunester,

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

 

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

 

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

 

Today I want to talk about TANTRUMS.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

FOOD. SLEEP.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Whew.

 

Food and sleep. Just like infants. 

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

FOOD. SLEEP.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 
 

Yes! Please send me the Tuesday Tune-In!

6 ways to ease your kids’ transition into fall

Here we are squeezing out the final drops of summer as the sun sets on this season.Can you almost hear John Travolta and Olivia Newton John singing “Those summer, niiiiiiiiiiiihiiiiiiiiights?”

So…now what?

Now we transition.

In past years, I’ve written blogs during this time about going back to school, picking up our routine again, rediscovering our own freedom.

Traditionally this was a time of stress, sure, but also of celebration! Parents would wipe away their first-day tears and then break out in dance on their way home or off to work.

Things are obviously so different this time around. Yes, it’s back-to-school season, but it’s nothing like the picture-perfect parade to school: new backpacks on new, freshly cut hair, leaves beginning to drop from the trees. It feels more like a procession of overgrown COVID curls, walking the plank off into a sea of the unknown.

If you’ve got school-age kids, you are probably feeling a mix of elation by the possibility that the kids may actually leave the house for two days, along with terror of the possibility of them hobnobbing closely with a million other kids, no matter HOW many regulations are put into place.

If you’ve got a baby, you’re probably staying up at night weighing your options— do you keep the baby home all day while you work, or do you send them to a daycare with other possibly Corona-bearing babies?Or should you bring in a nanny who might have to travel on the potentially COVID-y subway to and from your house?

Sure, we have options, but none of them look great from here.

But in all the unknowns, there are two things we do know:

  1. Our time is up. No more debating or hemming and hawing—the transition is HERE.
  2. We’ll put one foot in front of the otherand figure it out as we go.

We all know our kids crave some routine. They seem to fall in line when we manage to hold it together. In the past, school helped out with that. This year, it’s on us. And although we can also cut ourselves A LOT of slack in this regard, it will also help to go into this unprecedented year with a game plan.

 

To help you get through this week, here are 5 ways to help your kids and babies feel some semblance of what September is supposed to look like:

 

1. Music is your friend. USE IT.

I can ‘t stress this enough. Music is powerful, especially when it comes to calming us and setting routines.

During these next few weeks, use music in these two ways:

To reset routines. Round up your bath time music, your bedtime music, your feeding music. Pull out all the stops. Go full-force . It WILL help you reclaim your routine that might have slipped during summer. Here is a post with more ideas about this and why it works.

To calm everyone down. Precisely in those moments when you feel overloaded, when the kids are bouncing off the walls, when you can’t hear another conflicting message from the DOE, put on a song that will put you all in a good place. Maybe that’s a dance song, maybe it’s classical music, maybe it’s Raffi.

 

2. Organize the house a bit.

A cluttered space can easily make for a cluttered mind. I’m not saying you need to do a deep clean. But if you have 5 minutes, make a corner for your kid that says “In this spot we think, we create, we respect our surroundings.” Nothing too complicated. Just a clean corner that invites a new page and makes you feel a little peaceful when you look at it.

For your baby, create a “YES area”—a space where everything is allowed and they won’t get into trouble for touching things. A place where they can do their own exploring independently without you needing to monitor their every move or worrying about them getting hurt.

 

3. Reclaim your bedtime routine

Summer lovin’ throws off all evening routines. Trust me, it happened in my home big time. But it’s time to put actual bedtimes back into place. You know what that means? Beyond knowing what time that will be, it means starting the wind down process waaaaaay earlier than you’d think. The trick to keeping to your bedtime routine is giving yourself and your babies/kids enough time to wind down.

For instance, in our home, summer hours have pushed the kids’ bedtime to 9pm. I am going to do my damndest to move that back at least a half hour this fall. But that means that by 8pm they need to already be IN BED. Once they are in bed they read books, ask for a million things, chat and complain. It usually takes them a half hour to do all that no matter how much I try to minimize it. That means that my reading to them needs to start as early as 7:30, at least until we have this established. (Even as I write this, I’m rolling my eyes at my own suggestion.)

But we CAN do this, people. It takes effort but we know it’s worth it—for their sake and for ours.

 

4. Schedule playdates

This year, since we are deciding on friend pods ahead of time, it will help to schedule these meetings for the week. That will take a HUGE load off us when our kids ask for it daily. It will also ease our own scheduling hell and give your kids something to look forward to. Find two days a week that your kid will have playdates with their one or two friends.

Try to keep to set times at least for the first month or so. That way you’ll be able to say, “Tomorrow you have your playdate with Katie!,” which will be something positive for them to focus on, especially during the tough transition time.

 

5. Schedule FaceTime with grandparents

During the summer we did this whenever it felt right. If you’re like us, it probably happened about twice a week with each set. But as we head into the fall things will be a bit more chaotic. We’ll have more to do while our kids might have less to do.

It will help to think of meetings with the grandparents as after-school activities or even school meetings that they do once a week. For instance, my mother reads with my daughter, my mother in law does art with her. If we can get something set on a schedule, I know that my daughter, the grandparents and I will feel much more relaxed knowing the plan.

I want to be able to say, “It’s grandma Wednesday!”

 

6. Plan your weekly meals

I know you might hate me for even saying this. But if you can actually do some meal-planning, it can take a huge load off. Note: I am not talking about anything gourmet. In our home we’ve got 5-7 meals that we rotate between anyway, so why not have designated nights for them so that the kids can latch onto it and expect it. They love knowing what we’ll be eating ahead of time. I love not thinking about it, and it helps a lot with the shopping too.

At our home our weekly meal plan looks like this:

Monday: Ziti night
Tuesday: Taco night
Wednesday: Spaghetti night
Thursday: Chicken/fish night
Friday: Soup and salad night
Saturday: Leftovers
Sunday: Omelette
Get out of jail free card: Takeout night, for when I just can’t.

For lunches, since my kids will be home all the time, I’ll have a few options which they need to either make for themselves or help with heavily. Those are:

Turkey sandwich
Cream cheese sandwich
Quesadilla
Fake nuggets
Mac and cheese
Nutella sandwich

So there you have it. You now know the full extent of my culinary abilities. What’s your weekly meal plan?

 

Let’s do this, parents. It’s a strange new school year with all unknowns ahead of us. Our kids may be home with us for the entire year, they may be at daycare/school for a few weeks only or they may be there for a while. (Or, if you’re my family, they will be in the car with you 24/7.)

Regardless, the tiniest bit of routine will save us right now and be the perfect antidote to TRANSITIONITIS and whatever else this crazy time tries to throw at us.

 

Do you have a strategy for dealing with this year’s extreme case of Transitionitis? Comment below and let me know what it is. I could use some help myself.

 

Do you have a friend who is biting her nails as she heads into a precacrious fall season? Send her this. Tell her there is more help to come if she signs up for the Tuesday Tune In.

 

Yes! Please send me the Tuesday Tune-In!

We’re actually doing it

Dear Tunester family.

We’re actually doing it.

The thing we’ve been thinking about for years: Traveling long-term.

 

For years we’ve talked the idea into the ground, analyzing over and over when the best time would be to do it. Do we go when the eldest is in 7th? Before the youngest enters school? When the middle child is in 5th? When my husband is ready to get a new job? When I ditch this career and finally invent the massage pad I have in mind? 

 

What’s the best time to extract ourselves from the path that feels “normal” and surrender fully to the unknown?

 

As it turns out, it’s NOW.

 

Remember when I wrote about the Coronator Accelerator? The idea that the COVID pandemic can accelerate processes? 

 

Well, my husband and I could easily have continued on for years weighing the pros and cons, until next thing you know, we’d find ourselves waving our eldest off to high school murmuring: “we should have done it.”

 

For us, our moment has arrived to do this, and we are seizing it.  Carpe travel!

 

Lots of people are moving out of the city these days, and for the most part, I think they are similar to us; they’ve been talking about it for years and just needed a kick in the butt.

Last NY dinner at Frankie Spuntino’s in the hood

 

There are many reasons for us to hate—nay—despise the Coronavirus. But in this odd instance, I’m actually saying “Thank you Coronavirus, for making us get a move on our dreams for the future.” Because…why the hell wait??

 

Have you been feeling the same about your plans? Have you had ideas rattling around in your head that seem to be creeping up more forcefully now? Along with the tragedy of it, we’ve been handed a gift: the reminder that our time is so very precious. Whatever it is we want to do, it must happen NOW.

 

Not to say that getting to this decision was easy— it was a process. We went from imagining life in Arizona (my husband often works there), to San Francisco (family), to Israel (family), and finally—as you might guess— to Westchester. We REALLY explored the latter. We spent days looking at houses, applied to a school, got financial aid, practically bought the trampoline for the yard. And, besides the fact that the houses are way overpriced these days and were far beyond our budget, it just didn’t feel right.

 

Then we got a twinkle in our eye and started thinking,  “Maybe we don’t even need a home right now. Is it time for us to finally walk our walk?”

 

The fears rushed in: Can the kids handle not having a traditional school setting? Can I (since it will mostly fall on me)? Will it be ok for them not to have their friends around for the year? Will we be able to work from the road? How will we stay COVID-safe? And most of all:  Will the kids drive us, and each other, to utter insanity???

Final jaunt at the playground around the corner.

 

Throughout the year, I’ll be sharing the answers to these questions as we go. I’m starting a new blog for this exact purpose. To get the updates, be sure to put your email in the sign up below. You’ll still get the Baby in Tune blog, but this one will be different. It will be a personal family journal with some funny (and likely, crazy) stories as well as some insights and teachable moments.

 

For now, I’ll try to answer some of the FAQs we’ve gotten most: 

 

1. Are you renting an RV?

Not at the moment. We decided it was too risky regarding the WIFI. We will be depending on the internet for work and school so we can’t mess around. But we’ll probably rent one for a month at some point. I’ll let you know how that goes and if indeed RV living is the Corona dream.

 

2. So what’s your plan?

At the moment we are thinking we’ll Airbnb for a couple of weeks at a time in each location. We’ll sanitize, set up shop, do school, work, and explore. Then move on.

 

3. How will you get around?

We’re getting a new car with a third row. Anything is a step up from the beat up Outback we’ve been driving. The real question is, do we go SUV or full blown MINIVAN? My husband tells me the guitar takes up alot of space. Maybe we leave a kid out instead? I’ll let you know how that shakes out.

 

4. Where will you be going?

We don’t quite know yet. We’ve got a basic outline: Yellowstone Park by the end of September before it gets too cold. Then, we’ll tool around and hit the west coast by December/January. Along the way we’ll make social distance visits with friends and family. And then…

 

5. What about school?

Hmmm. Does anyone have a clue?

We decided to take ourselves out of the maddening back and forth and lean in to remote learning. We’ll be putting our kids in an all online school called Laurel Springs. 

Pros – they’ve been doing online learning for 20 years. They know how. 

Cons – it’s ALL asynchronous learning (pre-recorded videos and assignments). Will it keep the attention of the kids? Maybe not.

 

6. How will you work and homeschool at the same time?

I don’t f*cking know. But at least we’ve all been down this road before last year. It sucked, but we did it. I am imagining lots of ups and downs. Lots of tantrums. By the kids too.

 

7. What about Baby in Tune?

My other baby. I’m not letting her go. These last six months have shown me that online classes really are possible. In fact, they are lovely and supportive, and moving and meaningful. I’ll be continuing those.

I am also launching an online teacher training that will be starting Sept 21. Know anyone who might want to join? Let them know. Here’s the link for more info.

 

8. When do you leave? 

About a week after Labor day. 

 

Want to follow along with our adventure and see whether it was a fabulous or terrible idea? Or Both?

Put your email below. I’ll need some pen pals.  

Travel in Tune with Vered

 




Phone down, summer back. Let’s do this!

You guys—I need to detox, and I need your help.

 

I’m doom-scrolling at 6am, grabbing for the phone at every single lull, stopping tasks mid-way to give myself an “Instagram break”, and worst of all—flipping through my boring feed while my kids are right in front of me. 

 

Are you in this boat? If so, read on.

 

I don’t know about you, but my addiction has gotten SO MUCH WORSE since our old “friend” Corona stopped by. I’m ashamed by how many times I reach for my phone knowing full well that I just checked it a few minutes ago and found NOTHING interesting before either. 

 

But I’m not just talking about social media. My compulsion has grown for the news too. Never before have I actually RUN OUT of news articles to glance through on the NYT app. Sigh. It’s bad. And I can bet I’m not alone in this.

 

Assuming we know, more or less, at this point why this isn’t great for us (see: increases anxiety, lowers self esteem, makes us feel lonely) let’s look at why this isn’t great for our kids. For me at least, that is an even bigger motivator to kick this habit.

 

And then I’ve got a game plan. You might not know this about me but I’m a Challenge Girl. I love to do hard things by setting specific and doable goals for myself. And I especially love it when others join me for the ride. That’s key, actually. 

 

If you want to head straight to the challenge and skip the WHY then click on the link at the bottom of the post.

 

If you’re here for the info, let’s look at the effect our phone use has on our babies and kids.

 

As we talked about in last week’s post, the first three years of our baby’s life is the time to lay the foundation for empathy, self esteem, and emotional development.

 

So much of our baby’s social development happens through mirroring. If I set up a secret camera into your home, I would probably catch hundreds of micro-mirroring moments that you do with your baby without even realizing. You mirror their gestures, facial expressions and sounds, and they do the same back to you. 

 

And what do they see a lot of the time? Us, head bent down, enthralled  at a device that must be pretty darn interesting. And then they see it again, and again and again. And soon enough, they want to mimic our behavior and do it too. 

 

But the issue goes even deeper than just monkey see, monkey do. Through mirroring, our babies understand who they are, how to behave, and how to connect with others. When they are upset, they look to us to show them how to regulate their emotions and they eventually internalize our response. When they encounter others, they look to us to understand when they are in danger and when they are safe.

 

For instance, when a stranger comes up to your baby and leans over the stroller, your baby quickly glances over to you to determine how they should feel about the stranger. If they see your face tense up slightly, they feel that way too. If they see you fully relaxed and peaceful, they understand that the stranger is not a risk. 

 

Neurological connections are being made every time your baby looks to you to gather information about themselves and the world. And, they do it constantly. In fact, our babies actually look at us 70-80% of the time. That’s A TON

 

But here’s the catch: when they glance over at us and they see us staring at the phone, it’s confusing for them. 

 

Why? Imagine this scenario: You’re at the playground, your kid does a thing— jumps off the rock, slides down the pole, climbs up the slide, swings a little higher—and then glances over at you for acknowledgement. 

 

But you’re not looking back. Your head is down staring at the phone. 

 

At that moment, they don’t see themselves reflected back. They don’t see the loving witness that helps them develop self-esteem and self-efficacy. 

 

We might actually look up for a minute and give a little smile, but it is incongruous with what is happening because we don’t get the full picture, and because we are distracted and spacey.

 

Do you want to SEE this in action? Here is a research study by Dr. Tronick that really brings home the point. Check out what happens to these babies when they feel their mother is not appropriately engaged and mirroring their effect.

 

 

Here’s another illustration from the study.

 

These babies will do anything they can to get their parent’s  reaction to be more natural. They may use  charm, surprise, alarm (ie. a fake cough). If all that fails, they WHINE. Yup, we know that whine all too well. In an extreme case in which the parent is mostly disengaged, the baby eventually gives up 🙁

 

I’m not saying you need to be their loving witness every minute of the day. I’m saying we can do better and we know it. 

 

And us? Well, we already know what the phone does to us. But in case you need a refresher, it can make us feel isolated, depressed or stressed. It can eat away at our self confidence and infects us with self-doubt like a trip back to our high school days.

 

But worst of all? It is a TIME SUCK. An hour and a half later, we realize we’ve only really seen one thing that was truly interesting. And that same hour and a half will be the one you long  for the next day while you are with your kids thinking about how you didn’t get that one important thing done.

 

It’s summer. We want to be with our kids and have some carefree fun. That means not wasting our precious time on the f*cking phone.

 

So, who’s with me?

 

I’ve put together a well-thought-out 8 day challenge that I think is totally doable. It’s not going to be easy, but if we do it together, we can get to the other side and feel much better.

 

First step: Join the FB group for this challenge. There I’ll be explaining each step and how to do it. We’ll also be supporting each other. Lord knows I, for one, will need it.

Here’s how the challenge will look. It starts easier and gets harder:

 

Phone Down 8-Day Challenge

  1. Define accounts and sites that make you smile
  2. Categorize accounts you follow 
  3. Log your go-to times of day
  4. Delete accounts that make you frown
  5. Six feet away (from bed)
  6. Song for phone 3 times
  7. One hour a day
  8. Scrap the app after each use

 

Join the Facebook group here to join us for this challenge and kick our habit.

 

In the words of Glennon Doyle, whose books I LOVE but whose SM posts don’t hit me nearly the same way and just waste my time: WE CAN DO HARD THINGS.

 

Let’s go. Join me for the Phone Down Challenge.

 

*This podcast episode of 3 in 30 inspired some of the ideas in this post

How to nurture social development while social distancing

 

So here we are, almost 6 months in. That’s six months sans  popcorn and martinis with the girls, emotional downloads with parents at the playground, and surprise run-ins at the cafe. Our social lives have moved to a rectangle screen and 6-feet-apart hang-outs  with a select few.

 

And then there’s our kids’ social life. That’s where it hurts the most. My daughter just made a new friend on the beach. They did that adorable shy “want to play with me?” and started jumping waves together, but the other girl kept inching closer and closer and my daughter kept shooting me concerned looks, knowing she wasn’t supposed to get too close to her new friend. Oy. 

 

But it’s not just the positive experiences our kids are missing. The kid-to-kid altercations are just as important; fighting over the bucket in the sandbox, being hit over the head with a shaker in music class (of course, that never happens…).

 

You may find yourself wondering, How is social distancing affecting my  baby/toddler? Will they end up being hermits for the rest of their lives? Will they have any social skills whatsoever? Will they have ANY friends? (sob, sob)

 

These are all VERY valid questions. After hearing your concerns about this for the last couple months, I decided it was time to break it down and see what the experts say. Obviously we are in unprecedented territory. But I did my best to sew odds and ends together to understand what’s going on and come up with a game plan. So let’s dive in.

 

First of all, when does social development begin?

 

Right from the start. Infants are attuned to social and emotional stimulation and newborns appear more interested in stimuli that resembles faces, meaning they are interested in people.

 

At 6 months, infants communicate intentionally to others through smiling, touching and babbling. By the end of their first year of life, they’re ready to interact a bit with another baby and play side by side with the same toy.

 

In the second year of life babies start to show even more social development. They can move and speak, which means they can coordinate their behavior with another play partner, they can imitate each other, learn from each other, and start to alternate roles in play.

They also want to help others, and sometimes show aggressive behavior with peers. 

 

What skills does my baby need to develop in order to have peer relations?

 

These are some basic skills our babies need to learn in order to start making friends: Put their attention toward the same object as their peer; regulate emotions; control impulses; imitate a friend’s actions; understand cause-and-effect relationships (ie, if I hit him, he’ll be upset and won’t want to play with me); and be able to express themselves with language.

 

How do they learn these skills?

 

Some of it is simply by just growing up. But a lot of it has to do with OUR relationship with them. Your responsive caregiving helps them learn how to regulate emotions, develop a sense of predictability, and respond to their social environment. In fact, your relationship is so important that the level of your attachment with your baby is an indicator of  how good their relationship will be with peers.

How do we affect attachment? That’s all the good stuff I teach in our classes: being nurturing, consistent, attuned. Our babies need to have somewhat predictable interactions and they need us to be engaged with emotional sensitivity.

 

Got it. Our relationship is important.

But what about peers? Is having friends early in life important?

 

Yes. Kids who had friends early on were shown to have better social lives as kids and as adults. Toddlers who were able to engage in complex play with peers were better at dealing with other children later in school. Also, having friends in early childhood reduces the risk of developing psychological problems later in childhood.

 

What about siblings? Is that considered being social?

 

Yes. Sibling relationships are a special kind of peer relationship, more intimate and likely to last longer than any other relationship in one’s lifetime. They provide an important context for the development of children’s understanding of others’ worlds, emotions, thoughts, intentions and beliefs. But the other side of the coin is that frequent sibling conflicts during childhood are associated with poor adjustment later in life, including violent tendencies.

(Don’t worry mama, some fighting is totally normal and even helpful. Our job is to help them learn how to repair after so they know how to do that later on too.)

 

Ok, so our kids need friends. Does that mean that babies who go to daycare in the first three years have better social development?


Well, let’s look at the ol’ daycare versus home care debate to figure this out:

 

The National Institute for Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) did a huge study comparing types of childcare for babies. They concluded that what matters most is not the TYPE of care—whether nanny, parent, daycare, or other—but rather what’s happening at HOME. The children who experience warmth, responsiveness, and the right kinds of stimulation at home had the best social, cognitive, and emotional development regardless of whether they went to daycare or not.

 

Meaning, for our babies to develop socially it is much more important that the child be responded to warmly and with interest and have frequent back-and-forth interactions during the day with their parents. These kinds of parent-child interactions predict a child’s development far more than childcare factors do.

 

Ok so they don’t need to be at daycare, but they DO need friends.

But do they need MANY friends? And NEW friends?

 

Let’s consider this study that showed that when toddlers have stable friendships, they are able to increase the complexity in their social interaction. That means, when our kids have a buddy, they are more apt  to work stuff out, learn how to cooperate, learn how to share, and learn what happens when they don’t or when they get aggressive.

 

So is that the ticket? At least during our ‘Rona days?

 

Yup. It’s not about quantity, rather quality. It’s about giving your kid one or two GOOD friends, rather than insisting that merely seeing many other babies at the playspace is crucial to their development. Yes, there are benefits to that as we discussed—particularly having the opportunity to mimic and learn from others. But that can also happen with their primary good buddy.

 

So let’s recap: 

What are the two important factors regarding my baby’s social development?

 

  1. Their relationship with you at home
  2. Having stable relationships with friends (but can just be with one or two close friends!)

 

That’s great news. We can do that!

Here is a list of ways to make it happen:

 

Make a friend Pod:

You know how the school kids are making learning pods for this year? Consider making  your own kids’ social pod. Find one or two families that you trust when it comes to COVID exposure and agree to have social meetings for the kids once or twice a week. Allow your kids to engage and play. And that means all of it. Let them push and pull over a toy they both want, let them cooperate on building a tower, and even let them learn some impulse control by hitting or being hit (with you intervening when needed.) Of course, this is all based on your own comfort level and some guidelines will probably need to be agreed upon by all families in order to maintain safety as best as possible. 

 

When I set out to write this piece I emailed one of my mentors, Tovah Klein (Director, Barnard College Center for Toddler Development,) and asked her what she thought parents of toddlers should be doing in order to help with social development. Here’s her response: 

 

“Best to find one other family for the young toddlers to have some social contact and not worry about them being physically close when they are together.  A little socialization goes a long way!”

 

Here’s another important tidbit from her that touches on building independence, forming a healthy attachment, and relying on others:

 

“They also need to practice being away from mommy or daddy– so mommy goes out, even for a walk, says good-bye, and then lets toddler know when she is back.  Daddy the same. Gentle practice with separation is a step toward socializing with others.”

 

Help your child develop social skills at home:

The California Department of Education has a great resource on social-emotional development for babies and toddlers. They lay out the foundations necessary for our kids to develop social skills. Using their list, here are some things you can do at home:

 

  • Teach your child how to express emotion

Research shows that the ability to express positive and negative emotions plays a significant role in their social development. It is especially important for them to be able to express positive emotions. They appeal to social partners and enable relationships to form. 

 

  • Model empathy

As we mentioned earlier, our babies are naturally social creatures who mimic others. When they see us caring for others or experience our nurturance to them they mimic our behavior. You can also help them understand your emotions and the feelings of others so that they can understand someone else’s perspective.

 

  • Show them emotion regulation

This study shows that children’s ability to regulate their emotions factors in to how well they are liked by peers and how peers perceive their social skills.Here’s two ways to help them with this: One is through modeling. This is a hard one, especially these days when tensions are high. But if we can manage to show our kids that even in very stressful situations we are able to regulate our own emotions they learn that behavior as well. We can also support our babies’ emotion regulation by taking care to minimize their exposure to excessive stress or over-stimulation.

 

  • Assist in developing impulse control

This one has a lot to do with our babies just growing up, understanding social expectations, and being able to express themselves better. But we can help them along by teaching them how to deal with the frustration of waiting for needs to be met, inhibiting potentially hurtful behavior, and making safety rules very clear. Having a peer to practice cooperation and sharing with will offer natural opportunities to practice impulse control, so get that pod together if that feels like the right choice for you.

 

  • Support social understanding

This one has to do with our babies understanding what to expect from others, how to engage in back-and-forth social interactions, and which social scripts are to be used for which social situations. The good news? This has a lot to do with you. Recent research suggests that infants’ and toddlers’ social understanding is related to how often they experience adult communication about the thoughts and emotions of others. So talk to them about feelings—your own, theirs, and those around you.

 

 

So there you have it. All is not lost. In fact, we have all these cool new ways to ensure it’s not. And despite this strange isolated-and-yet-together time, we can make sure that by the time our babies get to their 40th birthday, they’ll have good friends around them and be well-adjusted, happy adults, ready to take on anything. After all, they’ll be able to say they survived “The Covid Era,” right?

 

Whew! That was alot of info. You still with me? Great. Then you probably have a comment about all this. I want to hear it! Please put it in the box below.

 

Also, do you have a friend who has been obsessing about their kid’s lonely future because they’re stuck at home now? Send them this to give them ideas on what to do. You can also tell them to sign up for future excellent info by putting their info in below.

 

Yes! Please send me the Tuesday Tune-In!

The Coronator Accelerator

Corona Corona, 

You’re like a bulldozer. 

So much disaster 

Everything moves faster

 

Here’s the gist. I know that your days may be moving at snail speed because maybe  you’ve got your kid hanging off of you at all times, but today I want to talk about how things are also moving so much faster. A catastrophe like COVID comes along and our walk becomes a RUN. 

 

But… who has time to loll around anyway?

 

Let’s take our social system for instance. We’ve been snoozing through social equality in this country for the past 75 years. We needed a wake up call. And it came fast and mighty.

 

Now take a look at your own life. The questions you’ve been saving for middle of the night wake ups and then brush aside in the morning have probably risen to the surface, kind of like the muck that’s been trudged up from the Gowanus near my place.

 

All signs and variations seem to point to  this question: How do I want to live my life?

 

Suddenly there is no clear path. There is zero roadmap for what we are experiencing. Together and apart we need to invent our next steps as we go.

 

And there are a myriad of unknowns.

 

All the things that were once a given – adult goes to work, kid goes to school, nanny watches baby, friends play together, have turned into question marks. 

 

I mean shit’s so bad I bet you’ve wondered if you were going to put together your own school pod this year. WHAT? Are we all suddenly principals and educators?

 

And what about Barbados? Who’s on their way there as we speak? Because the Coronator has all of us who’ve  been fantasizing about moving out of the city on a fast highway to the burbs, while suburbians are moving out to farms, and all the rest who never intended to move are suddenly clutching their sofas wondering if they’re missing the boat.

 

Why is this happening? Two reasons: 1. Our psyche is less cluttered with distractions, and 2.,  Life intensifies when there is danger.

 

During the last few months, I unintentionally read stories of people who lived in or escaped captivity. I re-read the Diary of Anne Frank, Educated, Circe, Lilac Girls. The other night I added to that list and watched the movie: “Room”. If you haven’t seen it, it’s the story of a woman who is held hostage for 7 years in a man’s shed. Two years in, she has a baby and raises him in the “Room.”

 

(**Spoiler Alert ** if you haven’t seen it and don’t know the story I am about to give something away but it’s in all of the previews so you probably know. It’s worth watching for the process. It’s not a plot type of movie)

 

When they finally escape the son is overwhelmed by how much space there is in the world. He says: 

There’s so much of “place” in the world. There’s less time because the time has to be spread extra thin over all the places, like butter.”

 

For those of us who have been lucky enough to stay healthy during this pandemic, the main issue we’ve grappled with is the walls closing in on us. Moving around less, not seeing friends, kids staying home. I don’t have to tell you.

 

But what that leaves us with is more time. We’ve reduced the rush from place to place and we freed ourselves for other processes to happen. Do you remember how much time we wasted moseying into Anthropologie and checking out that shirt we didn’t actually want? Or spending hours carting our kids to and fro places? Or coming home exhausted from the day’s marathon vegging for the rest of the day?

 

But there’s another piece. Do you remember how you felt 6 months before having a baby? I don’t know about you but I got more done in those 6 months than I had in all of my adult years before that. I went into overdrive each time I was pregnant with the feeling that my life (at least as I knew it) was about to end.

 

And I know I’m not alone. We move to new apartments, we get cars, we find our dream job, we take on mammoth projects and actually get them done. The three albums I made? Two of them were while I was pregnant. (here’s a video about how I actually made an album without being pregnant too.)

 

When we feel imminent danger or transition we are so much more aware that life is fleeting and precious. There’s no time to waste living in a place you don’t want to live, or doing a job that isn’t fulfilling, or staying in an unhealthy relationship.

 

Basically, our bucket list is in full force. And that list is staring us down with no other competing distractions to let us off the hook.

 

Here’s the good news. It’s exhilarating. It’s living. It’s not acquiescing to a situation that we might have continued in for years with our morning coffee and daily complaints.

 

One thing’s for sure: This year and maybe the next few years to come are going to take a big amount of flexibility.

 

But we got this. we can create our own map. And maybe it will even be what a little voice within us thought was just a dream and didn’t dare yell out during the day, only at night.

 

At this point,  anything’s possible.

 

So tell me- Is your bucket list calling you? Mine is. I hope to share some of my big moves in the next month or so. Are you making big moves? Are you asking big questions? Please let us know.

 

Do you have a friend who just bought chickens for her farm? Send her this post to let her know she’s not crazy.

 

Yes! Please send me the Tuesday Tune-In!

The ultimate family road trip playlist

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.

 

HAPPY SUMMER!!

  

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.

Yes! Please send me the Tuesday Tune-In!

What parenting a baby teaches us about joining the anti-racism movement

Dear Tunester,

 

I’ve been going back and forth all week on whether to write this post, and, if so, how to do it. There are so many voices we need to be listening to right now. I keep asking myself, “Who am I to add one more? And what if I say something wrong?” 

 

And then I realized, that’s part of the WORK ahead of us; to bumble through this, learn what we need to correct, and be willing to have the conversations to get us there. So I want to put it out there right away: If there is anything in this post that is offensive to anyone, please do write back. Tell me where I went off course. I want to learn.

 

I’ve been hearing a term these days that I resonate with: The Imperfect Ally. To me, it means having our intentions in the right place, wanting to work toward social justice and anti-racism, but also being completely aware that we don’t know exactly how to do that. 

 

It may take time to learn, but we are in this for the long haul. Many have reminded us, “It’s a marathon, not a sprint.”

 

It is going to take a while for us to unlearn ways that feel normal; the mistreatment of people of color (whether unintentional or not) ingrained in our system, the exercising of white privilege daily. And beyond the cerebral understanding, the major shift will have to be cellular, in our bodies. We hold generations of presumptions. Shedding those habits will be painful and will take time.

 

There are plenty of actions to be taken now. I know you’ve probably got a list of them . But this post is about the action in the inaction.

 

Do you all remember the exercise we did in class called Passively Present? We challenged ourselves to be fully present with the experience of our baby. We got down to their level, laid in their position, and let them lead the play. From the outside it didn’t look like we were doing much. But what we were doing actually demanded a lot of effort—we were pushing ourselves to stay fully PRESENT with our baby’s experience. We put our own to do lists, desires, and distractions aside, and we followed our baby’s exploration.

 

There is a step that needs to happen in order to do this anti-racism thing right that cannot be rushed.

 

The other night I was in bed with my husband and we played out the cliche man/woman dynamic. I told him about something that was troubling me and he immediately went into offering solutions. My body tensed, I wanted to turn away and shut down. I didn’t want ideas for action. I needed him to acknowledge my sadness. I wanted to express my dark feelings and know that he saw my pain.

 

We are in a moment in our history when we need to fully absorb the Black voices around us and acknowledge the experience they’ve had in our country for generations. We need to be Passively Present to their experience. It demands our active listening and it takes effort to do so.

 

And you know what might creep up while we try to do that? Our good friend GUILT. And that may cloud our ability to listen.

 

For the White readers here, and that means most (I’m hoping  to change that,) you might be feeling like me. I’m coming to terms, not just with opening my eyes to reality, but more than that, to realizing that I DID see what was happening before but that it was comfortable for me not to change things. In fact, I’ve come to see almost every choice I make as one of privilege. 

 

But guilt is not a productive feeling. It makes us act impulsively. We want to demonstrate, to ourselves or to others, that we are good

 

But guys, as I said earlier, we’re in this for the long haul. There is no need to burn out, fueled on guilt. Our intention, collectively, is not just to change things for our neighbor, although that is a great start, but for our kids’ generation and their kids’ generation.

 

Guilt shifts the conversation away from the victim. So how do we break out of it? We go back to being passively present. We absorb the words and the emotions of black speakers, writers and leaders. And we allow for our own response, in our bodies, to happen without covering them over with shoulds and shouldn’ts (aka guilt.)

 

Many of you have been saying in class that you are feeling distressed about what is going on in the streets. You want to join the effort, but you are busy taking care of a baby.

 

That’s ok. You won’t be in this survival phase forever with your baby. You will once again have the mind space and physical space to head out into a protest or to join local activist groups if you choose. But for now, there’s also work to be done from home. 

 

I’ve never been an early adopter. I know this about myself. It is going to take me some time to figure out exactly how I can create change with my own hands. At the moment, I have my eye on putting my efforts into the elections this year. 

 

Meanwhile, I’ve got work to do. I need to feel the sadness of my Black neighbors, the anger that the young Black leaders I watch on IG are expressing. I need to cry, shake, meditate, take deep breaths, and let the work happen in my body as well. I need to acknowledge my fear of losing certain comforts in order to gain humanity. I need to sit with my sadness of having let down my fellow humans.

 

And when I feel compelled to add my voice to the conversation, I’ll do so, knowing that I will make tons of mistakes, but I’ll listen and learn as I go. That’s the work.

 

Here is a list of some of the voices I have been listening to and feeling with. These are on IG:

@soniareneetaylor

@Whitneyrmcguire

@privtoprog

@brandonkgood

@laurenwesleywilson

@professor_crunk

@austinchanning

@osopepatrisse

@ericacourdae

@luvvie

@taranajaneen

@rachel.cargle

 

So tell me. Do you think I’m right on this? Should we take a moment to fully FEEL or is it just a way to avoid the action that must be taken? COMMENT below and let me know your stance.

 

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Yes! Please send me the Tuesday Tune-In!

How to talk to your kids about race? Start with a song

Dear Tunester,

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.

How to break out of the quarantine rut

Dear QuaranTunie,

Did anyone else’s week go by in a flash? Could May possibly be almost done? Is it Tuesday already??

This month feels so different from March and April which moved like a snaaaaaaiiiil. 

 

You know why? It has to do with newness and sameness, novelty and monotony. Let’s look back.

 

In March the crisis hit us in the face. We spent all of our energy and time coming to terms with the seismic shift in the world, the horror of it, the extreme upheaval in our lives.

 

April followed along after. We were still absorbing, buying masks, furiously scrolling through the news, anxiously trying to figure out the million educational apps sent by teachers, worrying about grandparents, cooking 17 meals a day, figuring out how to survive our day to day.

 

By the time  May hit we were used to the sitch. Not that we liked it, but we settled in. Stopped fighting it. We bought a few more boxes of mac and cheese and found places to order in from, we said f*ck it- my kid figuring out how to navigate Netflix like a pro counts as learning how to read, we accepted that we weren’t going to be the best parents during home stay, nor the best employees at our work. 

 

We found some sort of routine in the chaotic lack of routine or maybe we just fully surrendered. And slowly, days started to look the same. 

 

So here we are. We don’t see many new people (or many people at all), we don’t have many new experiences, we don’t go to many new places. We have  fallen into the humdrums of it. (Of course, those of us who are in the trenches of this crisis are having  a completely different experience).

 

And that’s when time flies by. When we don’t have newness, when there is nothing unordinary in our day, when we don’t encounter surprises along the way or have events to mark the time. 

 

Remember when we had mini new moments all throughout our day? A shy glance at a stranger at the supermarket after we made the peppers come tumbling down. A clever comment we made to a new mom friend at pick up. A presentation we kicked out of the park after sweating it out the night before.

 

In their book “The Power of Moments,” Chip and Dan Heath find that  we tend to remember ‘defining moments’; moments which are surprising, meaningful and extraordinary. When we have these moments we feel as if time is moving more slowly.

 

Think back to a time in your life when a lot of new things were happening—your first year of high school, a backpacking trip, your first months  of being a parent. I bet if we had met during that time you wouldn’t be saying “It’s Tuesday again?” Because then  every day was packed with new challenges and surprises.

 

Home stay means we aren’t having many new experiences that don’t involve our kids. Don’t get me wrong, those are PLENTY and are extremely fulfilling. 

 

But I’m here to push us to find some more this week.

 

According to the Heath brothers, these  are some elements that make for memorable and defining moments:

 

  1. Boost your sensory appeal. This week, buy some flowers for your home. Turn up the music, light some candles, tickle your senses.
  2. Raise the stakes. Push yourself to do a presentation you’ve been putting off. Play a game you’re scared to lose, set a deadline for yourself that you know is a big challenge.
  3. Break the script. Do something that surprises your spouse. Hell, do something that surprises yourself. Buy him/her a gift, create a surprise of some sort, or simply say something you don’t normally share.
  4. Find connection. Create synchronized meaningful moments with others. This one is harder to do in quarantine, but not impossible. (Baby in Tune is all about helping you do exactly this.)

 

This week in our classes, I gave you homework to find moments like these and you came up with some ideas for how you would do this. One of you said you would run outside after not running for a while, another said you would try to bake something new, another said you would take the family on a trip.

 

So now I’m giving you the homework too. Let’s find ways to make this week memorable. Let’s bust out of the quarantine humdrums and change it up. You might not be able to try jumping out of a plane at the moment but I bet you can find a risk to take this week.

 

And I want to offer one way I can help you do this: Last week I told you how to write your very own quarantine song. This week I’m giving away 8 FREE sessions to a family who wants to write a song with me. I’m just feeling it. It will hit a lot of those points the Heath brothers mention: sensory, connection, breaking the script. 

 

And it’s a win win. I get to break out of my quarantine blues too and connect with you all.

 

If you’re interested email me at vered@babyintune.com

 

So let’s do this. Let’s flip the script on quarantine and take back some of the power. Who’s with me?

 

Can you think of a way to stretch yourself this week and do something that makes you sweat a tiny bit? Share with us! We’d love to get some ideas. Comment below.

 

Do you have a friend who could use some coaxing out of the humdrums? Send them this post and tell them to sign up for the Tuesday Tune In.

 

Yes! Please send me the Tuesday Tune-In!

How to write your family quarantine song

Dear Quaran-tunie,

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 info@babyintune.com 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.

 

Yes! Please send me the Tuesday Tune-In!

How to get through this? You’ve done it before

Does anyone else feel like all the cards have been thrown into air and you have no idea how they’ll land?

 

I mean, suddenly ALL the questions are top of mind.

 

On a broad level I’m talking about things like “Will the economy ever recover? And “Will life as we knew it – fights, restaurants, and events, and SUMMER – ever resume?

 

But even more so, I am talking about the fact that this crisis has made me question EVERYTHING on a personal level too. All of the questions that I normally push to the back of my mind have surfaced big time:

 

Like “Do we want to stay in the city or make a break for the ‘burbs?” And “What do I really want to be when I grow up?” And, the one I hate most, “Does THAT person have it figured out?”

 

Whoa. 

 

What a time. What a pause. What a weight dropped upon us.

 

And, what an opportunity.

 

Working remotely and having our kids “schooling” remotely has given us all the feeling that we can go ANYWHERE. 

 

Woohoo! We can go anywhere! 

Oh shit, we can go anywhere.

 

This is a problem born out of priviledge, no doubt. It is hard to complain about too many options. But the fact is that sometimes limitations can be more comforting.

 

These days it feels like we are all operating at a steady simmer of unease, confusion, and overwhelm. There are so many unknowns and the rules that we normally live by keep changing. 

 

But here’s the thing: You know how to get through this. In fact, you’ve done it before. You’ve had these same questions arise with a lot of the same confusion, lack of control, and overwhelm. 

 

And it took a while, but you made it through to the other side.

 

Do you know when that was? When you had your first baby.  

 

Let’s go back even further. Remember before you had a baby when you thought you knew exactly what you wanted your life to look like? (That was so cute!) You wanted an exciting place to live, some adventure, some times to remember . You had ambitions and you worked to achieve them.

 

And then came baby. And everything was called into question.

 

Like – what is truly important to me? Is it this job that I’ve been working so hard to excel at or is it staying home with baby? Where should I raise this baby? Near the grandparents I’ve spent the last 10 years distancing from? And who am I again? What happened to the  laid back cool girl, and who is this micro-manager who has surfaced?

 

Remember that? Well, there’s something you did then that we can learn from now:

 

You gave it time. 

 

You realized you had to put aside looking for answers in order to care for the baby. And, as the strain of those first months lifted you revisited the questions slowly and cautiously. 

 

You didn’t rush it. You knew you were still fragile and tender. You knew you were very similar to the baby who needed a whole lot of patience, cuddles, and soft singing.

 

You lived with the questions for a while and you slowly let the images of your next steps appear to you on their own. It wasn’t something you could solve right away. You had to live with the fear of simply not knowing.

 

It might have been painful. It might have brought a period of depression and hopelessness. It certainly brought a newfound respect for a long shower, a full night of sleep, and some eggs florentine on a Saturday morning, back when you called 12pm morning.

 

But your life was changed forever. And eventually your priorities felt more clear, you felt more human, more alive, more connected to every child, every parent, and every being out there.

 

You did it then, and you can do it again now.

 

The trick here, as it was then, is to find the courage to sit in the questions. To really cozy in to this deep pillowy seat of unknowns and breathe deeply.

 

One difference, which may be a bit comforting, is that we’re all having this baby together. You don’t need to look far to find your mama tribe and ask about the baby’s color of poop, you just need to hop on Zoom.

 

This week I listened to the latest episode of the podcast “On Being.” In it, Krista Tippet talks to Davendra Banhart about Pema Chodron’s book “When Things Fall Apart.” 

 

Since then, I’ve been reading every sentence of the book as if it is an instruction manual for this time. Here’s an excerpt  from  this beautiful book:

 

“Anyone who stands on the edge of the unknown, fully in the present without reference point, experiences groundlessness. That’s when our understanding goes deeper, when we find that the present moment is a pretty vulnerable place and that this can be completely unnerving and completely tender at the same time.”

 

So guys, let’s sit with this together. Let’s accept the unknown and the groundlessness with the knowledge that it will lead us to a more beautiful place.

 

“What we’re talking about is getting to know fear, becoming familiar with fear and looking it right in the eye – not as a way to solve problems, but as a complete undoing of old ways of seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, and thinking.”

 

How are you dealing with all the questions? Or maybe you don’t have them? We want to know! Comment below.

 

Do you have a friend who needs to know they’re not the only one tossing and turning in their sleep?  Send them this blog. Tell them to sign up for more.

 

 

Yes! Please send me the Tuesday Tune-In!

Getting your kid to love Facetime with grandparents

Dear tunies,

It’s looking like this new reality of Zoom grandpa hugs and Facetime grandma kisses is going to last a while. But the problem is, our kids are kind of over it. So this week, let’s talk about something that’s become essential to our living these days—how to keep our little ones engaged with family members on the screen.

 

Here’s the thing. When quarantine started, we rushed to the computers. Hell, we were on a Facetime high for those first few weeks. We met with friends on Zoom left and right, the kids were excited to have extra time with the grandparents. It actually even felt a little better than normal; we were connecting with our loved ones even more than usual. 

 

And then the energy tanked. The kids crawled away or hid from the screen. They got tired of it and we understood. And that meant disappointed grandparents, some who even took it a littler personally. And It was a loss for us too. We came to rely on those convos as the next best thing to a babysitter. We could do the dishes, straighten up, or even take a work call as they were happening. Plus we loved them for helping maintain the connection between our kids and loved ones. 

 

So before we figure out how we can breathe new life into our kids’ relationship with extended family through the screen, let’s talk about why our kids might not be fans of connecting through video.

 

Why your kids are not a fan of Facetime

 

The obvious reason is that there is no substitute for the actual snuggles and kisses that relatives give. Kids need tactile stimulation. We all do. Not being able to curl up into grandpa’s lap for a story is a huge loss.

 

But there’s more to it.

 

Connecting visually through the screen can be confusing. When we are face to face with someone we learn to pick up on many tiny cues constantly happening: a twitch around the mouth, a slight smile in the eyes, a face slightly turned away, the body leaning in, the eyebrows in a slight scowl. These cues are extremely subtle and we react to them just as unconsciously as they were expressed.

Facetime eliminates a lot of those extra cues because the picture isn’t clear enough, there’s often a delay, and because we don’t see the full body. We have much less information to go on and that means it is harder to connect.

 

Not only that, the technical issues of video chatting make our emotional experience tiring. A recent New York Times article explained that because the image we are watching is out of sync with the speech, delayed, or frozen for a second, “we perceive it as a prediction error that needs to be fixed…we’re having to do more work because aspects of our predictions are not being confirmed, and that can get exhausting.” (Paula Niedenthal, professor or psychology at the University of Wisconsin.) 

 

Meaning, we aren’t able to make a logical match between the speech and the picture. We need to fill in the gaps to make sense of the emotion expressed. And that’s alot of work.

 

Why it’s worth it nonetheless

 

That said, the benefits of Facetime with grandparents, especially right now, outweigh the costs. Our kids (and us) need connection. They’ve got us at home all the time now but they also see us working more than ever, on our computers, cleaning, etc. Having family members who are exclusively focused on them repairs that a bit.

 

Also, believe it or not, this type of screen time is not only NOT harmful, it is beneficial. The American Academy of Pediatrics say that interactive facetime with a relative (or in a music class!!) is in a different category than normal screen time. It makes all the difference when your baby is fully engaged and when each side is reacting to each other.

 

So we know why it may be challenging, and we know why it’s worth fighting for nonetheless. So now let’s talk a few tips and tricks so your kids don’t go on hating them. Facetime that is, not the grandparents. 

 

So here are a few tips that YOU’VE told me have worked for you. 

 

1. Story Time 

No matter what age the child, this is a winner strategy. The family members can read board books and story books to the little ones and chapter books to the older kids. My daughter’s interest in grandma screen time was reignited when grandma started reading Charlotte’s Web. Now she is excited to tune in.

 

2. Lunch Date

Lots of parents have told me that their babies and kids are happier talking to family members when it’s over a meal. The kids are busy with the food and have something tactile to work on. The grandparents can tell them a story, just hang out, or have their own meal at the same time.

 

3. Facetime Song

I’m sure you’re not surprised to see this on the list. That’s  because it works! Ask your family members to have a hello song, and goodbye song, songs that help structure the call. If they can throw in some hand gestures and movement songs, even better.

 

4. Busy Bee 

Before you make the call, set your kid up with an engaging activity – drawing, play dough, cutting, painting, building, sticking, whatever. That way your kid can be busy with something they love and the grandparents can chime in and feel like they are involved. 

My daughter’s other grandmother is very crafty. She’s been leading them in art projects over the screen.

 

5. Puppet Play

Looking at 2D faces is not that interesting. You know what is? PUPPETS. The kids in my classes love when we do our puppets songs. They add color, fun, and imagination. Even the disengaged babies seem to tune in during the puppet song. Here is one of the songs we do in class. Send this to the grandparents. Send them a puppet in the mail. It’s super simple and is sure to be a hit. 

My daughter joined me on this one… a fave of hers too.

 

6. Bubble Bash

It’s never the wrong time for bubbles. Someone just mentioned this in one of my classes today and I love it. So simple. Have grandma grab a bottle of bubbles. That will definitely make the screen more interesting. And to make the party even more spectacular, you can blow bubbles on your side too.

 

7. Peace Out

Sometimes our kids get turned off by an activity that they feel they can’t get out of. Your daughter might have had a great time talking to grandma last week but it went on longer than she could handle. She ended up being tired of it and didn’t know how to end it. To avoid this, decide on a sign, gesture, word, song, that your kid uses to say “I’m done”. They don’t always know how to say it and that could be part of their hesitation. Give them a way to get out of it elegantly.

 

8. Ipad is best

When possible, use an ipad instead of a computer or phone – this is just a technical adjustment. The phone is too small and also trains our kids to stare at our phones (like we do all day). Better to avoid that. The computer has way too many enticing buttons on it. I’m sure you’ve already experienced that issue and are still trying to find that file that’s now vanished from your desktop.

 

 

The main gist of all of these is this: Take the focus off the screen in and of itself.

Have the grandparents bring in an activity or set your kid up with an activity. That way they can share in the experience. 

 

But there’s something important we need to remember:

This is going to go in phases. It is natural for our kids to be very into something for a while and then tired of it the next. We go through the same phases ourselves! It means that grandparents and family members need to accept this and not take it personally.

 

Mostly they know this and accept all push and pull their grandchild hits them with. But these times are different. Right now the older generation may be feeling scared, threatened, lonely and emotional. Connection to the grandkids is mostly everything.

 

You know what else they need right now? You guys. 

 

So even if your kids aren’t in the mood to connect with family members right now, you can make the effort to do so. Chances are, you need it just as much as they do.

 

In fact, that’s how I ended this song called “Grandparents.” I realized it was really me who needed the hug most of all.

 

 

Do you have  other tricks you use to get your kids excited about Skyping with the family? COMMENT below and let us know! We need your tips!

 

Do you have a friend who needs a Facetime cheerleader? Send them this post. Have them join our Tune-iverse.

 

 

Yes! Please send me the Tuesday Tune-In!

How to get siblings to get along – Part 2

Hi Tunester, 

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.”

For an easy game to play in order to make this happen try this.

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.

 

7. Educate

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. 

 

Thursday May 7 8:15pm

Thursday  May 14th 8:15pm

 

Click here to register.

 

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.”

 

10 ways to help your kids get along – Part 1

Before we dive into an info-packed Tune In, I wanted to let you know I’ll be doing a special individualized workshop for parents on sibling challenges. See below for details on how to register. It’s limited to 10 so act fast if you’d like to join.

 

Now let’s talk siblings.

 

Having kids home all day means that they have no other social outlet other than each other. No after-school soccer game to get out their competitive ya ya’s, no class-time scuffle to practice making up with a friend, and no recess Lord of the Flies action to figure out who gets the conch. now it’s just the SIBLINGS. All. Day. Long.

 

And while they seem to be in a never-ending boxing match, we teeter between joining them in the ring, coaching from the corner, and leaving the stadium altogether.

 

This topic is complicated, so I broke it down in two parts. Part 1 is all about IF, WHEN and HOW to intervene.

 

But one thing before we get started. Let’s be real. The stuff I’m about to say sounds great on paper. But pulling it off can be near impossible. Especially right now when we’re pushed to our limits. These are ways of thinking about the sibling dynamics. It’s going to be a lifelong journey to try to be Cuomo-calm with our kids. But every tiny step helps. Ok let’s do this.

 

1. First – Relax. You’re doing fine.
Keep your emotional level dooowwn. This is a biggie and we have to start here. When our kids fight we tend to go straight to a dark place – “I failed as a parent. My kids hate each other. They’re going to be axe murderers” (maybe that last one was just me?) But the thing is, ALL siblings fight. And we all have those same thoughts at some point.

It’s important to remind ourselves that we’re not bad parents and this is NORMAL; it has nothing to do with anything we did wrong. If we can remember this, we may be more able to accept it in the moment and not feel compelled to FIX. So especially these days tell yourself you’re a kick-ass parent because you are doing your very best. In fact, tell yourself it’s great your kids have an opportunity to learn how to handle competition and adversity. It’s going to help them when they run for president someday.

 

2. To intervene or NOT to intervene?
The million dollar question when our kids are fighting is IF and WHEN to intervene. It’s possible that living this constant conflict is the real reason our hair goes grey.

I find that there are three types of fights:

 

#1: The Lion Cub Fight:

Sometimes our kids just need to tussle. It often starts with a playful brush or a provocative jab. For instance, my middle son communicates through physical contact. When he feels distant from his brother or just plain bored he may provoke his brother to get a rise. Next thing you know they are actually fighting, not at all playing.

 

SOLUTION: In these moments of Lion Cub fighting, LET YOUR KIDS BE.

 

Tell them they can continue fighting but not in front of you because it upsets you to see it. Have them go into another room if they’d like to continue. More often than not, if you’re not a witness to it, they’ll lose interest. Part of the fun is seeing if it will get a rise out of us.
These fights are a general expression of the perpetual sibling wound: “you love the other more” and they are just waiting for us to intervene so we can settle it once and for all (Spoiler: it will never be settled. Our love is different for each).

In order to stay out of it, we need to accept that it is NORMAL and reduce our level of stress about it. (See #1)

One thing you could do is say – “This is starting out as play but I’m warning you now that someone might end up getting hurt.” Then it’s up to them. LET THEM BE. They won’t kill each other. If they hurt each other then they’ve learned for the next time.
I know it may feel like you’re walking out on Carole Baskin’s husband being fed to the tigers but trust me. It’s best for all.

 

#2: The Coveted Object:
You’ve seen it happen: an everyday object like a plate, stick, chair, suddenly becomes gold-plated. Both kids want it NOW. As you know, this fight is not necessarily about the object itself. It has more to do with possessing- “What you have looks good.” And then it takes a turn for the irrational. They want THE thing, and then another thing. It almost seems as if the kids want to experience a little scuffle.

 

#3: Helpless Rage:
This one happens when someone feels wronged and reacts quickly. A toy was taken, something hurtful was said. They resort to physical violence because they are SO MAD. And in that moment of feeling helpless, overwhelmed, angry and betrayed, they’re not the best communicators.

 

SOLUTION: In these last two scenarios, support but don’t solve.

 

Here are some guidelines:

 

3. Stop. Pause. Breathe—for US
When our kids quickly spiral into a full-on fight about a thing, our immediate desire is to FIX FAST. Just do anything for PEACE. At that moment we yell, we punish, we time-out, we go extreme. And when that happens, well it never ends well for anyone.

We need to stop, drop and roll. Or maybe just take a breath before responding. There is no rush, it just FEELS like there is. In fact, try to move in slow motion. If we go into it calmly the kids will feel it too.

 

4. Stop. Pause. Breathe—for our kids
When they’re IN it they can’t hear a thing. In their minds, whatever is going on is an emergency. Their underdeveloped prefrontal cortex makes them feel like they truly NEED that cookie, like they might NEVER get that doll back, or like they may have lost their spot on your lap FOREVER. Before we try to give them words to communicate, help them pause. You can say something like: “This is not how we solve conflict in our house.” You can have them both sit, go into different corners, or just breathe. Try to do this calmly, without putting blame on anyone. “Both of you are upset, you both contributed. If you are too upset we can talk about this later.”

 

5. Calmly Buffer
Especially with little ones, you can use your body or hand as a buffer between them. Calmly put your hand between the arm and mouth biting, or between the raised hand and the target. But stay chill, nonchalant. Try to make it look easy (Hey, fake it till’ ya make it). Having you as a calm buffer will take the edge off.
Your job here is not to end the conflict, rather to keep them safe. For all you care the conflict can grow. It is not your responsibility to stop it. You’re just there to keep them safe while they explore conflict.

 

6. DON’T Referee
Whether the clash is Helpless Rage or The Coveted Object, we are not there to conduct an interrogation or judge the details of the scene. It is a given that both sides feel wronged and both need to take responsibility (yes, not just the older one.)
If we get involved in the details the kids will inevitably feel that we’ve taken a side. And then the conflict won’t be about the Lego spaceship anymore but about who we love more.

 

7. DO Coach
Instead of refereeing, coach, especially before the match goes UFC level. Train them how to use words. When they come to you and say, “He took my ball and won’t give it back!” you can give your child words: “Tell him that you were playing with it, and it made you feel angry when he grabbed it.” Or: “Did you like that when he hit you? Tell him! Tell him to stop.” Or: “It sounds like you don’t want your sister touching the spaceship. Say, Can you please not touch that?” Instead of being their mouthpiece, teach them how to use their own words and their own voice. You know, so they can use it against you someday.

 

8. DO Validate emotions
Acknowledge the validity in both sides of the argument. We’re not solving, we’re just narrating what we see. But here’s the key – we’re doing it super matter of factly. Almost with curiosity. “Wow you both really want that, Maybe there is another way…”
And after the tussle we can help them connect the dots that led to it.
“You felt______ when he _______and he didn’t ________.
YOU felt _______and she didn’t ______”.
Since both sides are feeling injured, both are in desperate need of having their feelings heard.

 

9. Accept the Drama
There is going to be a kid on the ground yelling, running to their room, and crying in the corner. That just comes with the territory. It’s our job to accept it fully without trying to change anything. It’s natural, it’s normal, it’s part of the family landscape. Our kids are learning how to deal with frustration. That’s a lesson that we’re all still secretly trying to learn behind our Corona mask.

 

10. Connect before you correct
Only after our kids feel heard can we try to teach them how to manage this type of situation better in the future. “Next time he takes your doll you can say…” But before they feel validated they’ll still be caught up in the injustice they feel and you might as well be talking to their favorite lovey.

 

So let’s go over this again:

Lion Cub Fight > Don’t intervene

Coveted Object Fight > Don’t try to solve > Narrate nonchalantly > Accept the drama

Helpless Rage Fight > Pause > Don’t referee > Validate > Correct for next time

 

Putting them in these neat schemas makes it seem easy. But we all know it isn’t. In fact, I just read this piece to my 11 year old to get his opinion and at point #3 (Stop. Pause. Breathe- For us) he said – “Mama, you don’t do that!” And of course it’s true. Sometimes I don’t. Sometimes I am so overwhelmed by their aggression that I get sucked in and act rashly. But sometimes I manage to respond with patience and compassion for them and for ME.

 

We’re learning how to be parents as we go. We’re teaching each other and most of all, our kids are teaching us. Just being aware of these things is already a WIN.

 

Next week you’ll get PART 2 which has a whole slew of more important info.

 

Now, as you know sibling solutions are not a one-size-fits-all. Each dynamic is unique, each personality is unique. Which is why I have a new offering. Do you have a challenging sibling dynamic at home? (Right now, who doesn’t?)

 

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.

Wednesday April 29 8:15pm
Wednesday May 6th 8:15pm

Click here to register.

 

And please, help us out here—did you try any of these tactics this week? Did they work or did they lead you to another solution? Or did you just go hide in the bathroom for 10 minutes (we’ve all done it). Sharing is caring. COMMENT below.

6 Activity ideas for quarantine with a baby

Dear Tunester.

Do you have a baby 0-12 months old right now and are thinking—what the F**k? And HELPPP?

 

I mean, it’s hard enough to have kids of any age during this time. Mine won’t let me finish a thought without coming in to ask me to cut a rainbow, make a sandwich, play a game, or just to whine. 

 

Parenting during the Corona virus FEELS like that period of having a newborn for most of us. But you all actually HAVE one.

 

Which means, on top of  dealing with the insane reality we’re living in and being cooped up inside, you are just trying to figure out how to get through the day with no sleep, and a creature who needs tending to 24/7. 

 

So Tunie, I can’t do your laundry or babysit right now, but I can give you some ideas on what to do with your baby to feel more connected, more at ease, and help  you better speak your baby’s language. 

 

These 6 little gems will help you fill your day with giggles and restful naps. You might remember them from the Baby in Tune class. If you have taken it, use this as a refresher to help during those trying  days. 

 

1. The Mirroring Technique – Mirror your baby’s vocal sounds. Our babies register when we speak THEIR language. You can do this with older babies using instruments or vocals. This is the building block of connecting to your baby, making them feel heard and understood. If you’ve taken the class you remember how this technique can spur on a full back and forth conversation. In fact, this is usually the activity that gets dads feeling like – “yeah! we can hang!”

 

2. Passively Present Play – It takes focus to truly let your baby take the lead. Put aside your thinking self and join your baby with your sensing self. Try the exercise we did in class at home for at least 3 minutes each day. Get on the floor in the position your baby is in. Let your baby teach you how to be fully present and explore like a scientist.

 

3. Hand Gesture Songs – Your baby LOVES hand gesture songs. Remember the three types we talked about? 1. Just using hands, 2. Using hands + body, and 3. Using full body. Try these different types this week. Which ones does your baby like? (need a list? Email me.)

 

4. Rhythm Play – In our class we use rhythm in various ways. For this exercise, pat by their ears so they feel and hear the rhythm in stereo, and see if your baby becomes more alert or calm. Babies LOVE rhythm. Use the songs we did in class to drum on the rug or on pots and pans. Use dynamics (loud, soft, slow, fast), to keep your baby engaged.

 

5. The Songwriting Method – If you’ve taken a Baby in Tune class, hopefully you left feeling like anyone can write a good ditty, even the sleep-deprived parent. In fact, only you can write the PERFECT song for your baby. Using the steps we use in class it takes less than 5 minutes to write a whole song. Try to write your own each day. Go silly, go nonsensical, go poopy and pee-pee if you must. And when you remember the song you wrote the next day, that’s your hit.

 

6. Dance Party – Your baby loves to be in SYNC. And so do we! Dance parties are the perfect way. The best time to do it? Right when you can’t take it any longer. When you’ve been pushed to your limits and can’t change another diaper, bounce, shush, or sway for another second. Yup – around 5:00pm. Need a playlist? Here is mine.

 

Here’s the thing. Caring for a baby, especially right now when you can’t leave the house, is draining. It’s ok to sometimes feel angry at your baby for needing SO MUCH. It’s ok to not feel in love with your baby all the time and need some time alone. 

 

Activities like these can help us feel more in tune with our baby, and more attuned to our baby. When we start speaking our baby’s language through music, we start to understand our baby’s needs a whole lot more.

 

And that leads to more sleep, more peace, more joy, more snuggles, more smiles, more cooing, and less crying.

 

You know – that moment when you are both gazing into each other’s eyes and suddenly who cares if they woke you up every hour and a half? Connecting means shedding some of those indoor blues that we are all feeling right now.

 

And before doing these activities, try our “Three Breaths Technique” to bring you fully into the moment. Take in a breath and on every exhale think of something you are grateful for.

 

So let’s do this. Put the laundry pile aside, forget about the apple sauce crusted on the floor, put your phone in another room, and just be with your baby.

 

 

Do you know a parent of a baby who can’t sing Twinkle Twinkle one more time and needs some SOS activity help right NOW? Send them this.

 

AND – guys, I’ve got a big surprise coming to you THIS WEEK. Stay tuned.

 

COMMENT and let me know what your baby’s favorite activities are.

 

 
 

Yes! Please send me the Tuesday Tune-In!

The ONE thing you should be doing right now

Quarantunie, It’s week 4. Time to be real. 

 

We talked about some activities you could be doing. We talked about ways to feel more present with your baby.

 

But the fact is, the one thing you should be doing right now

IS NOTHING.

 

You know all of those art projects your crafty friend is posting? Screw them.

You know the muffins your baker friends are serially pulling out of the oven? NOPE.

The puppet shows your builder friends are constructing,

The apps your plugged-in friend is urging you to download,

Even the song your Broadway musical friend is writing with her baby.

Forget it. You don’t need to do any of it.

 

You know why?

Because your baby has all the enrichment they need just by being with you all day.

You are keeping your baby safe. Your baby is thriving. Your baby is doing great. 

They’re watching you work, clean, fold, cook, rest, smile, cry. And all of it enhances  their lives.

Maybe they’re even “helping” with the laundry? Kudos.

 

But Tunie, here’s what you DON’T need to be doing:

  1. Berating yourself for not staying on a schedule.
  2. Comparing yourself to your friends who are constructing castles out of cardboard or dolls out of towels.
  3. Feeling guilty for not wanting to play more with your baby.

 

You’re doing a lot, and you’re just trying to keep it together, and that is ENOUGH. Of course you don’t want to build one more magnet tile tower. Unless it has a bed inside it with a door you can close, that is.

 

And guys, do me a favor. I see that invisible whip in your hand that you use on yourself every time you hand your baby a screen. LAY OFF. 

 

Yes, our kids are watching WAY more screens these days.

No, it is not melting their brains. 

Yes, it is keeping you sane and that counts for a lot. Hey, it bought you a shower yesterday. That’s absolutely a win. 

And yes, this period will not last forever.

 

At a certain point things will go back to our normal.

 

We will return to our individual screen limits. We will monitor junk food more consistently. We will not constantly be on edge because we will have the alone time that we desperately need right now.

 

There will be an adjustment period but it will be done. This is not the new reality forever. And when we need to reconstruct our boundaries regarding food, screens, sleep, and behavior, we will.

 

But right now, give yourself a break.

 

You all were very real with me this week. I asked, – “What do you wish someone would say to you right now?” 

 

You said:

  • That my baby is ok. 
  • That my kid can eat more junk right now.
  • That my baby doesn’t need to reach every milestone exactly on target.

 

And most of all: 

  • That you can’t be 100% at both parenting AND working.

 

Haven’t you been telling your best friend exactly this?

 

Because right now we all look like Jimmy Fallon trying to host a show. And all we can do is laugh nervously through it and try to keep a smile.

 

But here’s the best part of this period despite all of your fears—you are giving your baby EXACTLY what they need and want: more time with you.

 

So before you go into the confession room to be punished for your sins, do THIS.

Take that glass of wine. Go take a seat on the couch. And congratulate yourself for being a kick- ass parent.

 

You have kept this boat afloat. Your baby barely feels the shit storm that is happening outside.

And that’s because you are doing a great job.

 

Hoorah.

 

 

Have you had a QuarantineWin today? Maybe a tiny little moment where you felt like you were crushing it, or even just not losing it? Help out a fellow Quarantunie by sharing here. 

 

Do you have a friend who hasn’t showered in days, had to meet with the VP while she changed a diaper and just put the ice-cream away in the pantry? Maybe she needs to hear this. Send her this post and tell her to sign up for the Tuesday Tune In here:

 

Yes! Please send me the Tuesday Tune-In!

6 tricks to win at being present during home-stay

Dear Tunie,

It’s day 1,298 of being home and your kids are driving you insane. I get it. But you’ve also told us in our classes that your kids are also what is keeping you SANE.

They are keeping you distracted from the news, busy with meal prep, frazzled with keeping them out of danger, occupied with keeping them clean, rested and calm.

And all of those tasks mean they are keeping you right here. In this moment.

We don’t have time to gaze out the window and zone out on what-ifs. We don’t have space to lie in bed staring at the ceiling wondering when this will end. We barely have time to shower for chrissake.

You are taking it day by day because that is all your baby allows you to do. So let’s let them teach us how to be fully present in this moment as they are.

Here are 6 ways to feel present with your baby amidst all the craziness going on right now.

1. Schedule time in your day to BE with your baby.
Whether you are working an outside job or not, you’ve got your hands full right now. But if we schedule time in our day when we plan to be fully present with our baby we might not fight it during the day. I bet you spend a lot of your day feeling guilty that you are not actually spending time with your baby. Especially now that you are with each other all day. But being near and being WITH is different. So now that we are all cooped up let’s pencil in some special time, even if it is just a few minutes a day.

2. Make a quarantine music video journal with them
We often think that taking pics or videos pulls us out the moment but I find that this activity brings you in. Lie on your bed together and take a selfie video of yourselves singing a song. Doesn’t matter which, you can even make one up. Try to do it every few days. Let the camera be witness to your present moment together. Doing so may invite your observer self to join which can add another layer to feeling present.

Here’s some inspiration. A video I made with my daughter.

 

3. Let your baby lead the play. You follow.
In this one you can relax. Your job is to just follow your baby around and surrender to their whims. Are they stopping to examine the remote control? Examine it with them. Are they grabbing at the play mat? Are they walking from room to room picking stuff up and throwing it down? Follow them. FIgure out what they are drawn to, what they want to touch, hold, and put in their mouth.

4. Put on music.
You guys. This just does the trick. It’s powerful. It brings us instantly into the moment. It takes us out of our thinking self and into our FEELING self. And that means we pause to explore through our senses. When we aren’t consumed with thoughts we open ourselves to the sounds, smells, sights, and textures around us. Remember that time you put aside to be with your baby? Enhance it with some good music in the background.

5. Pick up the corners of your mouth.
Simple enough, just shift the corners of your mouth into a slight Mona Lisa smile and notice if your ‘tude shifted a little along with it.

6. TOUCH your baby
Doing these remote classes has made me realize how much I normally touch your babies in class – on their toes, their head, their bellies. I’ve been missing it desperately and have really identified with grandparents everywhere who can’t right now. So touch your sweet babies for all of us. Hold their squishy sweet bodies close.  If you follow me on Instagram and Facebook you know I’ve written a song about this recently. I’m about done with it. Come find out how it ends up.

 

Here are two more ways Baby in Tune can help you feel more PRESENT, less guilty, more WITH, less near.

 

Remote classes:

We are now offering 6-packs to be used anytime within 6 weeks. You can come to one class a week or 5 a week. Your choice. Go here to sign up for a remote class a la carte or for a 6-pack at a reduced rate.

 

Free intro class:

This is for any of your friends who have never taken a Baby in Tune class before . This Friday at 11:00am I’ll be doing a FREE remote into class. They can sign up HERE.

 

So now tell us – did any of these bring you into the moment with your baby? Which one? What exactly were you doing? Be specific so we can jump into the moment with you. COMMENT BELOW.

 

Have a friend who could use some de-guilting? Send them this post and tell them to sign up for more.

 

Yes! Please send me the Tuesday Tune-In!

6 Original Quarantine Music Activities

“Hello, 911? Yes it’s an emergency. My kids and I are stuck inside the house. I’m about to lose my sh*t.
Why yes, I’d love some Emergency Music Entertainment ideas. Like, NOW? “

Let’s do this.

 

IDEA #1: The Human Piano

Set up pillows on the floor in a circle around your child. As you jump from pillow to pillow, sing a different note. Doesn’t matter if it is in one scale or not, aka in tune or on melody! Your baby will quickly catch on.

If your baby is not mobile yet she will watch with delight as you jump from one pillow to the next singing a song. If your kiddo is mobile, she will join your jumping immediately, no doubt.

Get jiggy with it. Challenge yourself to jump further and remember the note that is associated with each pillow. It just might entertain you as much as it will them!

Here’s some inspo to get you going. I love Bobby Mcferrin.

 

IDEA #2: Pots and pans band

Pull ‘em all out. Go ahead. This is not a time to worry about mess. We’ve got some entertainment to pull off here! Plus,  pots are pretty easy to put back once you’re done. Bring out the tupperware too while you’re at it.

And wooden spoons? Yep, them too. Do NOT take out the metal spoons because they’ll bust your ears and no one needs that.

Now, go nuts on your drums. Get tribal. Experiment with the sounds. Notice the different tones each pot and container has. And more than that, notice the sounds that different parts of the pot make. For instance, hitting the rim will sound different than hitting the side, or turning it over and hitting the bottom. Point this out to your child as you do it to help them learn.

The mere [not that chaotic] chaos of pots scattered around you both will be exciting for your baby.

Play like a Times Square subway master during rush hour. Bring down the house.

 

IDEA #3: Make up a song!

Here are two ways to try:

Body parts. This one is a no brainer. All of your kisses and squeezing of body parts lends itself to the lyrics already. In fact, you may have already written this one. But if not, go with a pattern. Say something about your baby’s thigh. Can be as simple as,“Here’s Jonah’s thigh!” Or “I can see your arm, it goes up and down.” And then go with it!

Do the same with all the other body parts you can think of. Bring in the limbs but also the smaller features like nose, ears, toes, etc.

Movement. I bet I can make a list of movements your baby likes to do: Run, jump, spin, crawl, roll, dance, squat and stand, sway upper body, and clap. Good list? Add your own and now let’s put them into a song. Doesn’t have to be complicated. In fact, the simpler the better. “Lucy likes to run run run! Run run run! Run run run! Lucy likes to jump jump jump! Jump jump jump….” you get the idea. At a loss for a tune? Use a simple one you know, like “Itsy Bitsy Spider.”

 

IDEA #4: Give the ball a voice

If you’ve taken our classes, you know that we love to play with balls in a musical way. We usually do it with the older babies, but musical ball play can work with all ages. In fact, today in class a mama said that her son’s first giggle came that day when she had thrown up a ball and caught it. He thought it was hysterical.

So what do you do? As you throw up a ball, make the sound effect of the ball. I have a feeling it is some sort of a high pitched “Whooooo!”
If you have different balls, you can make different sounds for each ball. And if your baby is older, you can pass it back and forth and both of you can make your sounds.

Ball play is so much more fun when the ball has a voice!

 

IDEA #5: Make up a dance

I admit it, I can’t help but be inspired by the Tic Toc dances teenagers are doing these days. So what do you do? Become the choreographer of your baby’s dreams.

Put on your favorite song and pretend you are a DJ on a cruise ship. Teach your baby the line dance of your favorite song. Make it up! Use the motions your baby knows how to do.

Hands up! Head bob! Tushie shake! Shoulder shimmy!
You know what? You and your baby may remember this dance forever and may just perform it at a family reunion in 25 years, ala Moira and David from Schitt’s Creek. (Google it. I promise it’s good.)

If you’ve got a baby, hold them as if they are your Frank Sinatra dancing across the room.

Got a toddler? Teach them your dance moves because YES, you DO think you can dance.

 

 

Two tricks to make this a success:

1-Dynamics
With all of these activities and all the musical activities you do with your baby, there is one important trick. Dynamics.
Dynamics can make the difference between your baby losing interest in a second and staying with you throughout.

If you’ve taken our classes you know we use dynamics all the time. What does it mean?

Sing loud, and then soft.
Go fast, and then slow.
Sing with a silly voice, and then your own voice.
Sing high, sing low.

 

2-Rhythm
Every time I do this in class, it astounds me how well it works. When your baby starts to lose interest, or the music becomes overwhelming, (or heck, you just need a breather!), come back to a steady rhythm. Patting on your thighs is sufficient. Bring it back to consistency. It works.

Hey, J-Lo and Shakira are two mamas who recently proved that in a major way.

 

So, did these ideas help you Tune in to a toddler about to combust? Or to a baby about to blow? COMMENT below and let me know.

Do you have any of your own musical fun ideas to get the wiggles out when you’re stuck indoors? Save a fellow parent in need and let us know below!

Most importantly – send this to that friend at home with a baby that you love best. Because sharing is caring.

 

Yes! Please send me the Tuesday Tune-In!

How to deal with our new reality

Dearest Tunester,

Here we are. A new reality. Our normal routine thrown out the window. So how do we deal with this?

Here are my two cents. At least for this week.

 

We take it day. By. Day.

It is so easy to slide into our fears. There are so many unknowns!
But worrying is an interesting thing. We worry to try to prevent something hard from happening in the future. But often we can’t control it, and meanwhile we may actually cause something hard to happen in the present – worry!!

What worry really does is distract us from what we are actually experiencing.

So let’s look around us and see what is happening TODAY.

And we’ll just go one step at a time.

 

We breathe.

Those of you in Baby in Tune classes know that I always do Three Breaths to get us into the present moment. This is such a simple technique and can make a difference in your day. It is just taking in three deep breaths and on every exhale thinking about something you are grateful for. Don’t plan it, just let whatever pops into your head come.

We are all feeling alot right now. Breathing deep can help us allow for all those feelings to exist. It’s ok. Let the feelings that are beyond words wash over you. Denying them is worse.

 

We find ways to lift us during the day.

It is so important to find your sunny windows during the day; Skyping with friends or relatives, finding some time to put everytihng aside and truly be present and play with your child, singing, stretching, jogging, reading, whatever it is.

And if you need us – we are here to add more lift to your day with your baby. We added a bunch of remote classes and they’ve been so fun and heartwarming so far. I love this community. We come together to sing. (Go to the classes page to register.)

 

We acknoledge the positives of the situation.

So many parents in our remote classes are telling us that the situation has brought them closer to their friends and community. I can say the same. Today I will be meeting with a bunch of YOU who I haven’t been able to sing with for a while because your baby started daycare or maybe aged out of my classes. I can’t tell you how excited I am to see you all again.

That is a HUGE plus for me.

Also, my kids have been joining me for some of the remote classes. It’s been so nice to sing these songs with my own babies again.

In addition, there are other benefits to this situation. While there will also be many tragedies due to Covid19, it is also making us reduce polution, reduce waste, care for each other, evaluate our health system, and even evaluate our educational system.

 

We truly take a pause.

This is an opportunity. We are being asked to slow down. To wash our hands of what we’ve been doing and go inward. Can we do it? It won’t be easy. We are used to moving fast, to having what we want at the tips of our fingers,

But I wonder if we can take some items out of our usual to-do list and allow for space? that is what is called upon us right now.

You guys, I sat for a whole hour today and did a puzzle with my kids. I don’t think I’ve EVER done that. I also played Risk with them in the morning (it confirmed my belief that it is the most evil game ever. A never ending sibling rivalry trap.) And in between I did a training for new Baby in Tune instructors and wrote a song.

So I worked, becuase I love working. But alot less than usual.

 

We care for each other.

We are so lucky to have the technology to connect remotely. We need to be practicing physical distancing. But we also have the tools to practice social inclusion. We can rely on each other more than ever as a community. Even if that means virtually.

And we can widen our circle of caring to those who need it desperately right now; Single parents,  parents who just gave birth and are experiencing even more acute post partum depression, parents who don’t have the resources to stock up on necessities, or don’t have computers to give their children access to remote learning.

 

We find some sort of routine to keep us sane.

I don’t mean having an excel sheet with an hour-to-hour plan. I mean having touchstones during your day. Breakfast, playtime, worktime, lunch, rest time, worktime, outdoor time, playtime, dinner, bedtime. That’s how it is shaping up more or less for us. How about you?

This is going to be our reality for a while. Give yourself time to find the anchors in your day so that you can reinforce them for you and your baby.

 

We keep in mind that we can get used to anything.

In a few weeks we won’t be as shocked by this new situation. We’ll be used to having the kids home all day and working from home will feel more normal.

Humans are so adaptive. We will find ways to mold our habits and benaviors to our new reality. We will make the best of it because that is what we do.

 

Before I leave you I want to invite you to how Baby in Tune can help you this week. I hope you will join us for one of these or many of these. We will be adding more to the schedule each week.

A la carte remote music classes!

Tuesday 10:00am (0-5 years)

Tuesday 12:30pm (0-7m)

Thursday 10:00am (0-5 years)

Thursday 12:30pm (0-7m)

Thursday 5:00pm (0-5 years)

Just go to the classes page to sign up. I can’t wait to sing with you.

 

Do you have friends who might want to join? Send them this post or the link to the classes page: www.babyintune.com/classes

How to relieve anxiety. And boy do we need it now.

First of all, let’s all take a deep breath.

 

There’s alot going on these days. We all seem to be teetering between-  “Omg the apocolypse!” and – “Eh it’s just the flu,”  about 10 times within an hour.

 

That takes a huge toll on our nervous system.

So today let’s see how music can help.

 

But first, a story.

 

I’m in monthly supervision with the Baby in Tune instructors and we’re having a tough conversation. 

 

We’re doing what we encourage YOU all to do in our groups – talk about your challenges openly and get support from each other.

 

Normally when we meet, besides talking about topics you all bring up, how to best lead a group discussion, and how we can improve on the music activities, we share our own insecurities and where they might get in the way of group leading.

 

The coversation was open and supportive, but it was also heavy and difficult. At a certain point we desperately needed an energy shift. We needed to release everything that had come up. 

 

So you know what we did? I bet you can guess.

 

Hell yeah. MUSIC.

 

I told the instructors about a group I had where one of the moms shared very upsetting news. After processing verbally, we turned to music to take us the rest of the way into supporting and soothing each other. 

 

The song I turn to in moments like that is “Peace like a River.” I’m not sure why, something about the simplicity of it, the predictable melody, the spiritual but not religious lyrics, does it for me.

 

It reminds me to breathe deeply, bring my focus back to my body, listen closely to the voices of others, and get out of my thinking brain and into my feeling body.

 

I asked the other instructors “What song does that for you?”

 

One mentioned “Landslide” and she sang it for us. Pause to imagine it. We didn’t even dare sing with her because we wanted to hear the calm and beauty of her voice.

 

Another said hers was “Let it Be.” This time we sang along, because we also felt the power of that song to bring us all together.

 

After a couple of songs we realized that the energy in the room had shifted COMPLETELY. We went from tension, insecurity, and anxiety, to connectedness. To feeling. To being fully in the moment and with each other.

 

So this week dear Tunesters, I’ve got two tips for you:

 

1. Share all of your fears and anxiety in our groups.  

That’s what they are there for. At this point you know that our classes are not just about singing The Itsy Bitsy Spider. And if you aren’t in our classes share with a friend or a relative.

As Tom Hanks recently said, quoting Mr. Rogers:

“If it is mentionable, it is manageable.”

But talking doesn’t get us there all the way.

 

2. When you start to feel overwhelmed, find your song.

When you are in the thick of a tough conversation, or find yourself talking about your challenges but not really feeling them, use a song. See if it can help you center, breathe into it, and feel that emotion even more. And if you’re not in a belt-out-loud appropriate place, sing it in your head. Or blast it on your headphones.

I bet you know how I would edit Mr. Rogers’ words just by listening to my music:

“If it’s singable, it’s manageable.”

 

We all have a song. Now find the one that makes you feel more powerful than the Coronavirus. 

 

Do you have a song that immediately calms you or your babe down (or, bonus points, BOTH of you)? Share with us and all the moms out there in need of a battle cry. 

 

Have you been singing Covid19 to the tune of “Come On Eileen?” If not it may be time to start.

 

Have a friend who needs to hear this? Send them the Tuesday Tune In so they can relieve their anxiety momentarily as well.

And tell them to sign up below so they can get more of these.

 

Family dating – the new frontier

In the last post we explored mom dating. But once the kids get a little older,  we are thrust back into the dating scene. This time, it’s Whole Family Dating.

 

Why Family Dating? Because it’s important. We all know the joy of having children can also take its toll on our social life. You know, as in meaningful contact/fun with people who don’t throw tantrums and care about something other than unicorns? It’s like free babysitting, where everyone can have fun AT THE SAME TIME. It’s almost too good to be true. 

 

Imagine the perfect date: You go to your friend’s house, they also have two kids, around the same age as yours. After 20 minutes, you exhale. Your kids’ initial shyness wears off, your youngest leaves your lap and your oldest accepts that the visit to a new home is going to last more than a few minutes and finds something to do.

 

By the end of dinner the kids are playing so hard together they actually don’t want to leave. You’ve been able to have a post-dinner glass of wine with your friends and everyone is pretty dang happy.

 

Never mind the shit show that is about to follow on the way home, or when you get home, trying to put over-tired over-stimulated and over-sugared kids to sleep. But that comes with the outing. Kind of like the way we accepted the nausea, headache, and regret we felt coming home from the bar with friends in our previous lives.

 

All in all, you feel like you just had a great date, and you find yourself fantasizing about more to come. 

 

Why was the date so good? Because there was a matching of all parts. All grown ups, all kids.

 

This, my friends, is the new frontier of dating—and it is so much more complicated than courting/dating that one person  was.

 

I mean, then, we only had to connect to each other. Now, there has to be an intricate meeting of all strands. Family needs to fit family. Everyone has to match! And holy shit, that’s not simple. It’s practically a probability nightmare!

 

And where does this dating lead to? Not to marriage obviously, but to the ULTIMATE GOAL way more coveted than that — THE. JOINT. FAMILY. VACATION. 

 

Now you readers out there with one kid might be reading this thinking “No problemo! If there isn’t a complete seal with each member of the family, my kid can sit on my lap, or they can play separately, or—the easiest option—they can watch a movie.”

 

But your kid will grow. And that just won’t be enough. Also, in order for the ULTIMATE GOAL to happen, there will need to be more chemistry than technology. Trust me.

 

The tricky part is this, your kid will not always get along with your favorite friends’ kid. It’s tragic when there’s no kid magic, but it happens. 

 

My eldest is an introvert. It’s not quite that he didn’t like the other kids at dinner parties, he just didn’t care for them. He felt no motivation to bond with new kids. He had his few good friends and that’s all he felt he needed. Done, end of story. For him…

 

For me, that was tough. I am (clearly) NOT an introvert. I need people, I like people, I want to be liked by people. I want to be invited back.

 

But my oldest son never brought me friends as my other two have, just by being more social.

 

And now I’ll share something even more personal: my husband is an introvert too.

 

What does this mean? Family dating rests primarily on my shoulders. It’s up to me to do the flirting and the scheduling. 

 

And then I need  to relinquish control on the rest.

 

So, because this blog is about giving you practical solutions to life’s complexities with kids and not just talking about them, here are some Tune-in Tips. 

  1. Flirting:
    This goes back to part 1 of this blog, about Mom Dating. Basically the gist is, be yourself. Don’t be afraid to be the imperfect, falling apart at the seams mom. Those are the ones we love.
  2. Scheduling:
    This actually tends to be much more challenging than it should be. My Israeli friends tell me that in Israel playdates and family gatherings are much more spontaneous. They happen daily without any pre-planning. I am not sure what it is about our culture that makes for effortful get togethers. We are all so busy, and our kids seem to be even busier. So with the scheduling, I think we need to take a page from our more laid-back mediteranean parent friends and try to have schedules that leave some wiggle room for more spontaneous meetings.
    Building on that: Are we afraid to throw out last-minute invitations? Do we feel we need to clean the house first? Prepare Pinterest-worthy snack plates? Newsflash: no one will judge you! I challenge you to throw out a spontaneous invitation, and please report back with the details.
  3. The Date:
    It’s taken me awhile to learn this, but my son has been my teacher. We just have to let go. If it is a match, it will happen. If it isn’t, it just won’t. You might be wondering, But what if we just continue to meet with the family? Eventually the kids will learn to get along, right? No. Or maybe. But it might take a ton of commitment on your part because you may have to deal with whiny kids for a fair part of it.
  4. Perseverance:
    Don’t give up after the first time. We have friends that we have invited for dinner but have never been invited back. Does that mean they didn’t match with us? Not necessarily! Who knows what they’ve got going on? With family dating, it can’t be tit for tat.
  5. Take It Down A Notch:
    The ultimate date is dinner or happy hour at a family’s home. But maybe you’re still wondering if there is a match. No problem. There are other less committal dates to be had: Cake and coffee, or meeting at the playground. 

 

Have you had an amazing family date where everyone matched? Where? What did you do? Or was it a disastrous date you’d like to have stricken from the records? Please comment below and hook up all the families in desperate need of a match! 

 

Also – do you have a friend who needs to learn the secrets of Family Dating? Or Mom Dating? Send them this blog! Tell them they can sign up for more Tuesdays Tune Ins below.

 

Yes! Please send me the Tuesday Tune-In!

It’s back to dating…

Ladies – You finally did it. You found the person you want to start a family with. Or maybe you even decided to do it on your own. It only took the first half of your life.

 

And what now? Dating again?

 

Yup. It’s Mom-dating time. 

 

You spent the first part of your life gearing up to this family thing and now your life has changed completely.  And now you to find new friends ASAP and get back into the field.

 

And it can be So. Much. Worse.

 

Because now you are hormonal, exhausted, lonely, bored, and oh so very NEEDY.

 

It hurts even to just write that. 

 

When I had my first baby I was a mess. Beyond the exhaustion, nursing went so awfully that at some point my mother said – “please just quit. You need to stop seeing your son as a predator.”

 

I was not quite dating material…

 

But let’s back up. Because the dating doesn’t start in those first months. That’s when we think we can just continue life as usual – going to brunch, seeing late music shows, going to friends’ parties with baby in tow.

 

I’m a cool mom!” you say to yourself. “I am still fun. I still do all the stuff I did before. And my baby is so chill! She just comes along for the ride!”

 

And then it hits hard.

 

The isolation. The loneliness. And if your other friends haven’t had babies yet, well then you’re on your own.

 

So what do we do? We mom date.

We go to classes, we hang at cafes, we chat on FB groups, and we put new found energy into finding our mom buddy.

 

We work so damn hard to conduct a conversation while seeming SUPER COOL about the fact that the baby just spit up on our sweater, won’t eat from the right side and the left side is dry, and we just left our phone in the cab along with our BRAIN.

 

We nonchalantly sit in the cafe across from our date going over our mental check-list:

  1. Did she lose it when the paci fell on the floor and someone stepped on it while walking by or did she laugh it off?
  2. Did she just make a funny joke about the face her baby made, but not in a way that makes it seem like she thinks her baby is overly SPECIAL in any way?
  3. Does she talk about anything OTHER than her baby but nothing too clever or referencing something we no longer are in touch with?
  4. Can we talk about sleep and how to get it without hearing about her last night down to the minute?
  5. Is she falling apart in front of our eyes and seems like a nice person but maybe in a month or so?


– or, the evil of all evils –

 

6. Does she seem like the PERFECT MOM?

 

Ugh. She’s got her shit together. She has the cute diaper bag. Somehow she looks fresh as a bunny and doesn’t look haggard or exhausted. Is that make up she is wearing? Are her NAILS F*CKING DONE??

 

Nope. She’s not the one.

 

You know why? Because there is no perfect mom. 

 

Here’s a secret. The perfect mom is the one you don’t know well. And that mom? She has her break down moments in the middle of the night alone, or on those twice daily conversations with her mom, or sobbing during SNL.

 

You know what YOU need for your friend?

 

The mom who isn’t afraid to say that it SUCKS. That it is hard, and that she has no clue what she is doing.

 

You need the mom who won’t judge you– who in fact will tell you what a great job you are doing even when you cry as you are telling her how hard it was to carry the groceries home while the baby shrieked and you had to pee so very desperately and knew you wouldn’t be able to for a good hour.

 

Here’s the real checklist you need when you go on your next mom date:

  1. Is she willing to be real, honest, vulnerable, supportive and IMPERFECT?

 

That’s your match mama. Now make sure that you are doing the same.

 

Have you gone on the perfect mom date recently? Or the mom date from hell? Let us know. Comment below.

 

Do you have a friend who needs to hear what her checklist should look like as she searches for her mama tribe? Send this email to her and tell her to sign up for the Tuesday Tune In for more.

And I’ll leave you with this: A pic of mama dating that went well as a result of Baby in Tune classes 🙂

Processed with VSCO with av4 preset

  

Yes! Please send me the Tuesday Tune-In!

How to get kids dressed & out the door? This song.

Deer petunias – It’s getting colder and that can only mean one thing: Layers. 

All the endless layers to put on your baby. I know how frustrating it is. 

 

First, you have to find all the pieces.

 I’m talking the socks, the gloves, the sweaters, the hats, the snow suits. 

 

Then, worst of all, you have to get them on your baby. 

 

Music can come to your rescue whether you’re rushing or have some time to do it (that never seems to happen). My advice? 

 

Have a song for getting your baby dressed.  

(spoiler alert: I made up a couple to inspire you.)

 

This is going to be the song that you sing during the entire process of putting all the layers on. You’ll keep singing it even through the tears and here’s why: 

 

Why You Need a Bundle-Up Song

  1. The more you sing your song as you’re getting your baby dressed, the more your baby will associate the song with this activity. Eventually, your baby will know that the song will end as does the dressing – and it always leads to going outside

 

  1. Singing the song will relax you and your baby through the process. If it’s a song that’s fun to sing, then you might even enjoy singing it and that will help turn the activity into a positive one. 

 

  1. If your song involves listing the clothing parts, it’ll help you remember them. And if you’re anything like me, then you’re probably forgetting a whole lot right about now. 

 

Now, what song are you going to sing? 

 

My strongest preference is for you to write one on your own. In my classes, we spend a session on songwriting so that the parents feel more comfortable to start writing songs on their own. 

 

You might already be writing little ditties about what you are doing with your baby. If you are, then the next time you start bundling your baby you can start to sing what you are doing. Try a few different melodies and eventually one will stick. 

 

Another option is to use something that’s already out there. It doesn’t have to be about getting dressed; it can be any song. Or you can use a song that exists and change the lyrics a little bit. For instance: “This is how we put on our socks, put on our socks, put on our socks.” 

 

And, to be a good sport, I just wrote 2 little ditties for you right now. Check them out here. They’re not going to win a Grammy but at least they’ll give you an idea for how simple it can be to write a short song that you can use. 

 

Admittedly: A short song that you will sing for possibly a not-short amount of time until the fingers and toes are sufficiently covered, insulated and secured. But you’ll thank me when you’re out catching snowflakes on your tongue – instead of still in a standoff next to the shoe rack.

 

What wintergear do you usually forget to put on? For me, it’s gloves. No matter how many times I try. COMMENT below and tell me how you do it. 

 

Been hearing bundling-up complaints from another mom or dad? Forward this to them because parents help parents get out of the house alive.

 

 

And if you’re still with me and want more, here is a vlog I did about getting out of the house with our babies.

 

4 secrets to enjoying songtime at home

Hi in-tune parents, 

 

Today, I’m going to let you in on some behind-the-scenes secrets – the things I do to make my music classes more enjoyable I’m hoping that you can use the same techniques with your babies when you play music with them. 

 

Being the leader requires extra energy and confidence. 

 

You know this is true when your babies look to you as an activity/meal leader. The same is true for leading them in how to engage with music

 

As you can imagine, some days I wake up in the morning and don’t feel like teaching classes. I would prefer to stay in my pajamas and be alone. Teaching takes a certain amount of energy and a comfort with being a focal point. It means I need to feel pretty good with myself when I do it. 

 

At this point, I’ve cultivated some tricks to help me get to where I need to be in class so that it is enjoyable for the parents and babies and for me. Invariably, even if I am not able to fully get there BEFORE class, I always leave feeling energized and gratified AFTER class. I consider myself very lucky in that regard.

 

So here we go. They are for teaching but I think you can use them with your baby, too:

 

4 Ways to Lead Musically

  1. Sing from the heart. 

I’ve found that when I dial in the singing in class (or anywhere really) you all don’t feel it and neither do I. But when I take deep breaths while I sing, put a slight smile on my face, and imagine that what I am singing is touching each one of you, I start to feel more grounded. 

So with your kid – fake it till you make it. Even if you are not enjoying playing music together at first, if you take deep breaths and put a smile on your face, eventually you will. Promise.

 

  1. Encourage your child to sing and play music from the heart. 

Once they’re old enough to know the difference between dialing it in and being invested, it really matters. . A big part of my job is making sure that not only I am I singing from the heart, but that YOU all are connecting to your voice, as well. I do this by leading you in deep breaths, choosing a song that I feel would help us connect at that moment, and taking a pause when needed. Often the pause is for myself, so that I can really bring my energy as I am asking you to bring yours. 

 

When we all sing together from a present and grounded place, we all feel it. In those moments, I imagine our voices swirling together in the middle of the circle.

Similarly, when we are drumming together I need to take a moment to ask you all to be fully present. When we can do that together, our music is more cohesive; we enjoy it so much more; and hour babies seem to feel it, too. I hope you’ll feel this way with your unified families’ voices, too. 

 

  1. Take Three Grateful Breaths. 

If you’ve taken classes with me before, you know that in most classes I have us take 3 Grateful Breaths. (I talked about this in one of my blog posts.  Click here to read what I’m talking about.) On every breath out, we think of something we are grateful for.

For me, I often think of music, my hearing so that I can hear all the baby sounds, the freedom to do what I love, and a thousand other things that come to mind in the moment. Try it before you sing with your child and see what comes to mind. It might surprise – and delight – you. 

 

  1. Open up with your child to fully connect. 

I can do these classes by sharing the material and curriculum. That would work and you’d probably get something out of it. But for my own sake, I love to connect with you all personally, too. I tend to have parents in my groups who are authentic, smart, funny, creative, and compassionate (I’m looking at you!).  I always feel very connected to the babies but even more than that to you all. I feel excited to see you, hear about your challenges and your joys of the week.

When you’re singing with your child, check in with them. See what’s making them feel good or feel bad. This connection will only enrich your musical moments together.

 

So yes, you need energy to lead songtime.

But, by doing the 4 things above, leading songtime can also connecting, energizing and incredibly enjoyable.

 

As you can see, it’s not too hard to find ways to make it enjoyable to teach my classes. It really has everything to do with you all. So thank you for singing from the heart, being present, taking in deep breaths, and connecting to me as I do to you. Since you’ve done it firsthand, I know you’ll have an easy time leading your own music sessions with your little singers. 

 

Do you have any rituals you do for songtime with your child? Stretching your bodies or warming up your voices? Comment below and I might just borrow it to use in my classes.

 

Have a friend who wants to sing more with his/her baby? Forward them this post and be their biggest cheerleader.  And then tell them to sign up below.

 

Yes! Please send me the Tuesday Tune-In!

Sleep and how to get it

Dear Tunesters, 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Tips to Better Sleep 

1.  A white-noise machine

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

 

2. A lovey

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

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

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

 

3. A lullaby

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

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

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

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

 

4. A bottle before bed

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

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

 

5. Baby talk 

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

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

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

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

 

6. Laying down only half asleep

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

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

 

7. Bedtime before overtired time

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

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

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

 

8. A long wind-down

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

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

 

9. A fade out 

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

But wait.

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

 

That’s all about getting your baby to sleep. 

Now what about keeping your baby asleep? 

 

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

And they can sign up for more below:

 

Yes! Please send me the Tuesday Tune-In!

My theme song for 2020

Dear tuned-in parents – I talk a lot about having songs for your baby to transition from one thing to another. Diaper to new diaper. Clothes to pajamas. Awake to asleep.

Well, today’s Tuesday Tune-in is about a song for YOU to transition – from this year to next year. 

 

Your theme song is powerful.

 

It can be an acknowledgement of where you are. 

Example: Sara Bareilles’ “She Used to be Mine.” There was a time a couple of years ago when this was my theme song. Looking back on that time, I see that I was mourning a part of myself. The song helped me reconnect through some sadness and kindness to myself. 

 

It can be a motivator to keep going. 

Example: “Eye of the Tiger,” the Rocky theme song. In my twenties, I dated a grunge rocker/ snowboarder. He brought me to his home state of Vermont to learn how to snowboard myself and let’s just say I fell. A lot. On my head. But what I did have was a theme song. Every time I fell, I took a moment to absorb the pain and frustration. Then I found myself getting back up while singing quietly to myself, “Rising up, back on my feet…”

 

It can be anything that makes you feel like your truest self. 

Theme songs have always gotten me going. Not to say that they’re always happy and upbeat.  But they’re always honest. They always act as a reminder of what I need to grow.

 

The amazing part is that most likely your theme song is already playing in your head – as you go to sleep, take a pause in your day, do something that energizes you or something that you dread. 

 

Our mind is like a jukebox with a playlist of its own. And every now and then one record keeps spinning because it is the one we need to hear.

 

For me, for the beginning of this year, two songs have been playing on repeat in my head. Interestingly, they seem contradictory. But dammit – so is life.

 

The first is an oldie, Otis Redding’s masterpiece – “Sitting on the Dock of the Bay”. It reminds me to take it slow, enjoy the breeze, notice the view, and breathe. I think this was actually spurred by one of my sweet students who requested that I play the song in class. Since then its been at the top of my mind and the tip of my tongue every time I pick up the guitar.

 

The second is by 2019’s queen of self-empowerment for women – Lizzo. Her song “Good as Hell” reminds me to locate that little often forgotten voice inside me screaming – “I am the shit!”

 

So dear Tunester, as you plunge into a new beginning, what’s your song? 

 

We don’t need to pick out our theme song for the whole year because it will change many times. 

 

I’m suggesting that we pick out our theme song for these next couple of months. The beginning of the year is a special time. We all feel just a little bit more motivated to do our best, to turn a new leaf, to start a project or to kick old habits. 

 

So your homework this week is fun homework. 

 

On your commute, at home with your babies or on the treadmill; search through new songs and old songs and see what resonates with you. 

 

Having a theme song is like having a friend that reaches out of hand and picks you up when you need it or makes your step a little bit bouncier when it drags. 

 

The best possible scenario is for us all to share our theme songs together. It’s like sharing the lullabies that we use with our babies. It gives us ideas and opens our mind to directions we haven’t thought of.

 

Please share it in the comments so that we can all get ideas.

 

These things are always more fun together. Forward this to your friends and tell them you’ll share yours if they share theirs.

 

 

Yes! Please send me the Tuesday Tune-In!

5 parenting resolutions you can actually keep

Here’s my challenge to you this year – 

 

What if we thought about resolutions a little bit differently? 

 

Instead of making changes in order to reach some grand goal we have in mind, what if we make small adjustments to our daily habits so that we can enjoy NOW even more?

 

Can we make a deal? Can our overarching theme for this year be to truly see and enjoy what is right in front of us? That is 2020 vision. 

 

So without further ado here are the 5 totally doable daily habits that will help you see (and feel) more clearly.

 

1. A morning hug. No matter how old your baby is, this one applies. Even in the frenzy of the morning, go to your child and share a delicious hug. It might be a standing hug with your baby in your arms or it might be a hug from behind if your kid is reading (like mine does in the morning), or it might be climbing into bed with them for a minute. Whatever position it is, take a breath in that hug. A full inhale and exhale. The exhale is the important part.
Your kid will start the day feeling held and loved. And you will start the day holding what is most precious to you.

 

2.  A song a day. When you are with your kids, play at least one song that makes you feel good. Share the music you love with your kids. Sing with it, dance with it, cook to it, fall asleep to it. Whatever you’re doing, take a moment to share one song a day that you really enjoy. See how it alters everyone’s mood and moment.

 

3. An activity you love. Do something you love doing in front of your kid/s each day – cooking, singing, playing piano, exercising, meditating, reading, knitting, painting, cleaning, writing. Whatever it is, try to find at least two minutes a day to let your kids see you doing it. You will reap the benefits of doing what you love and they will be inspired to find what they love, and maybe even do that same activity.

 

4. A bedtime hug. Right before you run out that door, take a moment to do a bedtime hug. This one is hard, I know. We want to start OUR time ASAP. And if your sleeping arrangements are like ours it isn’t always convenient to get that hug – one is on a bunk bed, one is in a nook.. But take a breath, pause for the hug. Inhale, exhale. Make it sweet. It may even be your favorite part of the day.

 

5. A helpful task. This one is especially for the older kids but you can start early – find one housekeeping task a day that your kids can help with. I know. This one isn’t quite in the joyful moment category. But if we have them do one thing a day, our day feels better, and eventually theirs will too. One is doable, and can make lasting change.

 

I like what Elizabeth Gilbert said this year. It’s nice to keep this in mind:

“You don’t have to have a New Years resolution.

You are not required to justify your existence on earth through constant improvement…

You don’t need to earn you right to be here by putting yourself to higher and higher standards.

You just get to be here.

You belong here.

You are loved on earth.”

 

That’s it for today dear Tunesters. 5 changes that are easy to make that will change your day for the better.

 

Now tell me – what are YOUR parenting resolutions for this year? Do you have more to add to this list? If so, COMMENT below. I’d love more ideas!

 

Have a friend who needs to put a new lens on 2020? Send her/him this to sign up for future ones too.

 

Yes! Please send me the Tuesday Tune-In!

The two things that made this year possible

As I prepare for our ski trip, ripping open packing tape on boxes to find fleece everything – pants, shirts, neck warmers, I have an image of last year’s ski trip.

 

I was on a ski lift with my brother in Maine and we were talking about my business. He said – “Why don’t you teach your class online too?”

 

Remember when he told me I should start a vlog like Casey Neistadt? I do. And I did.

 

Anywho, I’m about to get on that same ski lift and it’s making me think about all that’s gone down this year. I DID make that online course. But I also did SO MUCH MORE.

 

Cue the sentimental guitar music. It’s time to look back on 2019 for Baby in Tune.

 

You guys – the business has grown ALOT this year. And you know how that happened? You’ve all been by my side, and I’ve grown as an entrepreneur.

 

(At the bottom of this post I am going to list all the virtual mentors whose blogs and podcasts have inspired me to get to this point. They might inspire you too.)

 

And now, let’s take a look at what  we’ve done in 2019:

 

1. Learned more about what YOU need

I spent alot of time this year thinking deeply about issues you want solved, challenges that bring you down, and ways that Baby in Tune can ACTUALLY help. It was hard work and alot of good stuff came out of it:

  • A weekly blog that so many of you say you appreciate.
  • Better discussion and flow in class.
  • Helpful tools like Cheat Sheets and Playlists.
  • A Facebook group.
  • More useful Instagram and Facebook posts.

2. Created an online course

This was no small feat. 6 modules, 17 videos, and a whole lot of planning, writing, filming, preparing, and dreaming big. With the help of Paul Kaup, the videographer and editor, and all of YOU wonderful parents who participated in it, I think it came out pretty darn amazing. Here is a glimpse into the final video:


 

3. Trained 5 new Baby in Tune instructors

Training a big group like this just felt RIGHT. You know how every now and then you do something that uses all of your talents at once and it feels good? I have no doubt that I was meant to mentor in this way. Our training was rich with discussion, music, tweaking, learning, and a common goal of supporting you all in the best way we can.
 

 

4. Hired two new business managers

This has changed my life. It made me realize how much time I was spending on admin, customer service,  PR, and strategy, and how little time I had to do the stuff I am good at – build curriculum, write music, and plan future projects. I could only have done this by settling into the CEO/entrepreneur role enough to DELEGATE. Also, I found these two gems so it was a no brainer.

 

5. Performed at venues and birthdays

I love seeing you all at performances and I love sharing in your milestones. You can bet I always sing “One Day” at your parties. How can I not? I get sentimental. I also get a little teary when my kids perform with me at shows which they did quite a bit this year. Stay tuned for more of those in 2020.

 

6. Planned for 2020

What a pleasure to sit with two extremely talented women and delve into how we can make our classes better, what other services we can offer, how we can make our hosts feel more appreciated, and how we can support you all even more.

 

7. Dreamed big. And continue to dream big

I believe in what I do because I see the way you all respond to it. Just today someone said the Soothing song “saved her life.”  I also know how the instructors and I feel after each class – a little more present and elated – no matter what state we were in when we started it.
I had some really big ideas this year that we made a reality. So anything can happen in 2020…

 

Baby in Tune will continue to grow at light speed. All you need to do is sing, share, feel, support and dance with us and your babies.

 

And one more thing – tell us how we can be better. Tell us what you like the most and what we can tweak.  This is a great opportunity for you all to COMMENT below or write us a personal email with your ideas for this year.

 

Here’s to 2020. A year of connection and song.

 

Vered (and the Baby in Tune team.)

 

PS. Here are some of my virtual business mentors from this year. All have podcasts.

  1. Amy Porterfield
  2. Jenna Kutcher
  3. James Wedmore
  4. Rick Mulready
  5. Robert Miller
  6. Micheal Hyatt

Yes! Please send me the Tuesday Tune-In!

You are a tradition maker now

Dear tuned-in parents, 

December is here and I am feeling my usual inner conflict between loving the smell of pine trees and the sight of twinkly lights and my disdain for all the in-your-face sales. The festival of lights is definitely a time to celebrate together but it is also a time to go inward and reconnect with family.

 

We’ve been going deeper in our classes. Something in the air – and the darkness outside – makes me a little more emotional in groups. We’re taking extra deep breaths between songs and we’re sharing a little bit more deeply and authentically. We’ve been delving into exploring our feelings about family, our place in the family, the place of music in our family and memories and traditions. 

 

 

We’ve come to grips with one important fact: 

We are the grown-ups now. 

 

I know you don’t want to hear that. 

 

I still feel like a kid, too. But in the past it was up to someone else to continue traditions and family rituals. Now it’s our job

 

Along  with the responsibility of instigating and carrying through, we also have an opportunity here. 

 

We can continue or create whatever traditions we feel like. 

 

We can build on what worked In the past and nix what didn’t. 

 

Easier said than done, I know. Sometimes those old habits emerge even if we want to shed them.

 

The first step is to start to be more conscious about the family rituals and traditions that have existed until now. In the process, let’s realize our own potential to inspire and spurinstigate new ones.

 

4 Ways to Evaluate Holiday Traditions

  1. Think back to a time when you felt *most connected* to your family. 

What were you all doing? 

Maybe you were playing a board game? Maybe you were sitting around talking? Maybe you were having dinner? Or making dinner? Maybe you were dancing? Or maybe you were singing a song? 

 

When I think of moments that felt the most happy and free with my family they almost always involved music. We were singing in the car, singing while washing dishes, hanging a prayer together before a meal or dancing together. 

 

So what were yours? 

 

This is a really nice conversation to have with family members. Ask your siblings, cousins, parents. What were the times when they felt the family was most connected and happy together? 

 

That’s a good start in figuring out which traditions you are going to continue or create. 

 

  1. Think about moments that felt *least connected*.

We’ve all had a lot of those with our family. Spending time with our family can be so loaded. These are people who have seen us grow since we were babies and vice versa. It is almost impossible to break out of our childhood images. Right when we feel the most grown up is when our family can make us feel the most like a child. 

 

  1. Think about moments where you watched other families enjoy a connected moment. 

More often than not we idealize those moments but it doesn’t matter for this exercise. What matters is what we saw the family doing. What allowed them to come together? How are they engaging with each other? 

 

  1. Think about moments with your nuclear family and your baby. 

What are the moments you feel most connected? What are you doing? How are you engaging? 

 

Once you’ve thought this through you might realize that there is a common thread. Most likely the connection moments happened when you put aside the to-do list; expectations and disappointments and were able to be fully present in the moment. 

 

My point is: 

There’s a way to manufacture these types of moments. We don’t need to wait for them to happen. 

 

We can create them. Oftentimes, with music. 

 

The reason that music lends itself so well to these types of moments is because it helps us get out of our heads and into our bodies. And more than that, it’s a way for us to communicate emotionally, not intellectually. So singing together is a shortcut to doing all the things we are talking about above: Feeling connected, happy, togetherness and present. 

 

Before you go into your holiday celebration this year, take time to do these 4 exercises: 

  1. When did you feel most connected with your extended family in the past? 
  2. When did you feel least connected with your family? 
  3. When watching another family who seemed connected, what were they doing? 
  4. What were some moments you felt most connected to your nuclear family? 

 

Once you move through these prompts, you might have some ideas about how to bring a new energy to your extended family this holiday. 

 

But here’s the hard part: Because we tend to regress into our old ways and childhood selves it may be hard to bring new ideas to a group. Although I make my career out of it, I still found it really hard to pull out the guitar and ask everyone to sing a song before dinner last year. 

 

That’s said, I plan to do it again. Because it was a moment that I remember. I remember looking around at everyone’s faces while we were singing. People were swaying, leaning on each other, and most of all, weren’t thinking. 

 

Not to say that I didn’t get some objections. I did, and you can expect it, too. They might sound like this: 

“But we’re hungry!” 

“Here she comes with a new idea.” 

“Let’s do it later” 

“Can’t we all watch a movie together instead?” 

Or any other cynical comments you can think of. 

 

But our job is to create the traditions that we believe are good for our babies. 

 

So we need to push through the resistance, so that when it is our baby’s turn to do it, they won’t be up against as much cynicism. For them, it will be second nature to come together effortlessly in a way that makes family truly feel like family. 

 

That’s it you guys. We’re not the kids anymore. It’s time for us to be the grown ups.

 

Have you started a new tradition in your family? Comment below and share what it was and how it was received. We need all the inspiration we can to make way for new ideas with as few waves as possible. 

 

Know a parent who’s ditching the traditional ways? Forward them this post so they know we’re all looking for rituals that feel right – for us.

 

Tell them to sign up here for more words of wisdom:

Yes! Please send me the Tuesday Tune-In!

How to get through the Winter Witching Hour

Here it comes you guys – Winter is on its way. Evenings are getting darker and that means a lot more time at home with our babies. 

 

Let’s stay calm. We can get through this. 

 

Honestly, if it were just less sunlight on it’s own, then we could deal. But it feels like the last straw on top of already:

  • being bored out of your mind around 5pm 
  • Not sleeping and being basically half a human
  • Feeling your hormones rage high and low.
  • Watching your identity change completely from who you thought you once were

 

Sound familiar? 

 

And the worst side effect to having a baby in the winter? Watching that door like a hawk waiting for your partner to come home.  When I first realized I was doing that I was mortified. Where was the independent, creative, self-motivated, resourceful woman? What had become of me??

 

So how do we get through this? Just. Start. Dancing.

 

It might sound crazy that I think we can solve all of those things above by putting on a song and moving around. But you’re going to have to trust me on this one. 

 

I promise it’s easy. Find a song that you love dancing to. It doesn’t matter how embarrassing it is or how old it is or how uncool it is. It just has to be the song that gets you excited to move. Since you’re reading this now (before that 5pm low), think of what your song might be and put it in a playlist. Maybe even put three songs in that playlist. 

 

When the sun starts to set, scoop your baby up; put that song on; and go to town. Put all the tasks aside and just let your body move to the beat. 

 

Why exactly will dancing cure our woes?

  1. Music is an endorphin. It actually makes us happy. I know that you’ve experienced this in the past so I don’t need to elaborate. 

 

  1. Moving to the beat gets us out of our heads and into our body. And that gets us into the present moment. It alleviates spiraling into that go-to internal dialogue: “This sucks.” “I’m tired.” “Who am I?” “Where is he?” “What do I do?” “I’m SO tired…”

 

  1. Dancing is a workout. As you know, moving our body – even a little bit strenuously –  energizes us in the long run. It reduces stress and releases endorphins and physical tension.

 

  1. Dancing with our baby brings us in sync with each other. Babies love to dance and move to a rhythm. In fact, they do it on their own from a very early age. When we move them with us to the rhythm of the music, we are sinking up our breathing and our mood, all while holding them close. It’s the closest simulation of the womb. 

 

  1. A dance party is like a reset to your evening. Just try it. You’ll see that that mood that you were feeling a minute ago dissipates into nothing. You might even feel a moment of Celebration. You’ve got a lot to celebrate: You got through the day! 

 

So what’s your favorite dance-party song? The only thing we need to do now is share with each other and the longer our list, the better off we’ll be in that dark when we’re watching the door like a Stepford Wife waiting for her partner to save us. 

 

Instead, let’s save ourselves!

 

Comment below with your jam. Let’s make a “It’s 5pm and winter” playlist that’s 100 songs long. 

 

Have a friend who texts you around 5pm each day? They need this, too. Forward it to them now and have a long-distance dance party.

 

Tell them to sign up here for more words of wisdom:

Yes! Please send me the Tuesday Tune-In!

Parenting Mistakes Through the Eyes of an 8 Year Old

In today’s Tuesday Tune-In I’m going to give you the secret to parenting. 

It’s true. It makes all the difference. And if you ask your kids, they’ll say I’m right. It was actually my son who really drove this lesson home for me. A couple of years ago, he started writing a book that he called “Parenting Mistakes Through the Eyes of an 8 Year Old.”

Clearly, he had a whole book’s worth of material. 

 

That said, Lesson One was simple and important for us all to learn. Actually all the chapters came down to one main idea:

 

Be playful.

 

Or in his own words: “Parents need to be more silly, lighter about things.” When I asked him what he meant, he said, ”Let’s do a role play.” 

 

Example 1: Not Playful

He went to lie on the couch and told me to call him to go to the shower the way I normally do. I did, in a straightforward way,  and he said, “I don’t want to go.” And kept lying there. I said, “Please go to the shower so that we can have dinner.” He said, ”In a few minutes.”

 

Indeed, that was an annoyingly good illustration of how it normally goes.

 

Then he said, ”Okay, let’s try it again. This time, try to be more FUN about it. Find a way to turn it into a game.”

 

Example 2: Not Playful Enough

This time, I called him again with kind of a silly voice and did a silly dance along with it. 

 

He said, ”That’s not it. Try again.”  

 

(Side note: do the rest of you have parenting coaches at home or am I the only one? Is this retribution to me being a kind of a parenting coach?)

 

Example 3: Playful

Finally, I went over and said, ”I’m going to tickle you if you don’t get up right away and run into the shower. You better go quick!” Immediately, he started laughing. Then I tickled him and said, ”Let’s see if we can jump the whole way there.” He got up and started jumping.

 

That day, he reminded me of a lesson that we all need to keep in mind ALL of the time. Our kids want to play. They want to have fun with us. They want to be silly and they want US to be silly. And this is for ALL ages, from tiny babies to attitude tweens.

 

Here’s the thing.

 

Things tend to be very serious all the time in our very important worlds. We get caught up in day-to-day tasks that weigh down on us. Our kids see us working very hard to get things done – to feed them, bathe them, make sure they’re healthy, make sure we get our own stuff done, and put them to sleep. We can get pretty bogged down in a mode of checking things off of our list. 

 

So – We all need a reminder. And I am a girl who loves a challenge. 

 

I challenge you to be playful. 

 

See if you can turn small moments into a game and bring out your silly side whenever possible.

 

But there’s more to this. I’m not just suggesting to be silly. I’m recommending you to do it when you least want to. Right at that moment when your kid pushes back the most – when they are at their most intolerable, irrational and defiant.

 

It’s right at that moment – when WE may be our most tired, most frustrated, and most spent – that we need to remember this approach.

 

Here’s the scenario: You’re trying to get your toddler’s shoes on to get out the door. You’re late to wherever you’re going. Your child has already wanted to change outfits three times, has thrown tantrums over lunch and does NOT want to put on shoes.

 

You just want it to end. A part of you wants to force the damn shoes on the toddler and get going. But you also know that if you do that there are probably 3 more tantrums waiting around the corner.

 

You have no resources left. You feel depleted.

 

This is when I want you to dig even deeper and find that playful place within you. Find a way to be funny, to be silly, to turn it into a game, and to play.

 

I promise you that you will get out of the door so much faster than if you force it.

 

Now I want to hear from you. What are some ways that you turn a tough moment into a fun moment? Comment and don’t hold back because that is when we all need it the most.

 

Know a parent having a rough week? Forward this silly solution to them.

 

Finally, know a book publisher? Send me their info. I think this could be a huge hit . Seriously.

 

Here’s a way to get your friends on this list so they’ll have the secret to parenting too:

Yes! Please send me the Tuesday Tune-In!

Today’s Panel of Judges…Family!!

Dear Tunester Family,

My big online course launch is behind us and now we can focus on the next big thing: the holidays. And specifically, the feeling that our family judges our parenting choices

 

For those of you with a baby, this is a new frontier.
And for those of you with bigger kids – well, you know this is a thing.

 

Let us start with the much contested and very controversial Thanksgiving. I won’t go into all the pros and cons of it. I have a feeling you’ve done that work already. But I do want to delve into the most important stuff(ing) that might come up this weekend or in the holiday weeks to come. 

 

Even one sly comment at each gathering can make us feel defensive about how we choose to parent. Sometimes they don’t even need to say a word. We just feel it. (Is it all in our heads? Maybe.) But we must have heard the critique at some point – possibly growing up as kids. My point is that it was enough to make us feel that there is a critical thought behind the smile, even if it goes unsaid. Which is almost as intolerable. 

 

Why is this so torturous?

Because it awakens our own inner judge.

 

The problem with parenting is that there is no right way. We will forever try to find the key to the daughter who eats everything on her plate, the baby who sleeps through the night, the toddler who doesn’t have tantrums at the table, or the son who doesn’t curse at his mama (see prior post). But it just doesn’t exist. 

 

Our journey as parents is to continually DO OUR BEST.

When a family member questions our choices, that brings up all of our doubts.

And they are PLENTY.

 

We work so hard to understand our kids *and* we are also just children trying to understand ourselves. So when your toddler hits the floor in a mad tantrum, you cycle into your rolodex of what you could be doing better. And what you are doing wrong. When that family member comments on the fact that we are no longer nursing or nursing too long; putting the baby down too early or too late; being too lax or too firm; then something happens. Your inner judge comes to life – and it is ruthless.

 

So what do we do?

Tell your own inner judge to shut the front door.

 

Parents, I know you tune in. I know you are doing your best. Every. Single. Day. Sometimes you go to sleep wondering why you lost your temper so easily or why you didn’t allow that one thing, or why you couldn’t have just been a little more patient, more loving and more playful. And that is the work. 

 

I know you are doing your absolute best.

And more importantly, YOU know you are.

 

Remember this when you are with your family this weekend or in the month to come:

You love your baby deeply. You are working hard at this parenting thing and are doing pretty darn great. You have made decisions based on who YOU are and who your BABY is, and they are good decisions.

 

If you can truly sit with that, then the comments won’t touch you as deeply. Sure, it will be annoying. Nobody has the right to criticize anyone else. But it won’t be as triggering. Because their judge won’t be communicating directly with your inner judge. In fact, their outer judge will only be communicating with their inner judge, which we can’t do a thing about. 

 

You remember that. 

And for that snide commentor? Give them a compliment.

 

I’m dead serious. I got this idea from my daughter actually. The other day she was having a playdate. I overheard her friend say, “There is a girl in my class and she is so mean to me!” And my daughter said, “Give her a compliment!”

If you want to go above and beyond and want to communicate with their inner judge – give them a compliment.

Tell them you remember how well they parented, how they seem to really connect to your baby; how they seem to have great instincts.

 

This last instruction is not simple, I know. It would be pretty big of us if we could do this.

 

But maybe we can try. For the sake of a complicated holiday that reminds us to be better people.

 

So tell me – do you relate? Are you prepping your retorts for parenting “advice”?

 

Can you see yourself giving a compliment instead. I’d love to hear. COMMENT below.

 

Do you have a friend heading into a familial panel of judges? Help them get through it. Send them the link below so they can read this one and sign up for more.

 

Yes! Please send me the Tuesday Tune-In!

The real reason I don’t spend time with my baby

Dear Tunester – Today I want to talk about a topic that’s both painful and beautiful: Time. I’ve been thinking a lot about the phrase, “I don’t have time.” 

 

As in: “I don’t have time to spend time with my baby.” Or “I don’t have time to do music with my baby.” – I need to do laundry, work, dishes, shower, eat, feed, put to sleep, and a thousand other things.

 

I can’t help but wonder though: Is it true that we don’t have time? In many ways, absolutely. Taking care of a baby and kids is a FULL-TIME job. No doubt about it. But also … 

 

Is it possible that we use time as an excuse?

 

Let’s explore that for a minute. Are we avoiding hanging out with our kids in a meaningful way? Are we saying, “I don’t have time” but really meaning to say, “I don’t want to”?

 

Pause. 

 

I’m going to stop here for a minute and say that this blog post has been extremely hard for me to write. I’ve already spent more than 3 hours staring at the screen. And when that happens it is always an indication that this one is an issue that runs deep for me. So let’s continue but just know that I am right there with you if you are feeling it.

 

So – if time is an excuse to NOT hang out with our baby – why are we avoiding our baby?

 

Let’s explore some of the reasons that came up for me. I would love to hear yours in the comments below.

 

  1. It’s boring. Being with a baby or kid can be repetitive. One more time playing hide and seek; one more time jumping on the bed or tickling or singing that one song.
  2. It’s tiring. It’s a lot of physical work. Certainly for the first two years it’s all physical labor – picking them up, putting them down, dressing them, feeding them. Even after that it’s very tiring physically. Running around the playground, playing catch, throwing them around. One more push on that darn swing.
  3. It takes a different mindset and can feel isolating. There isn’t the shared understanding we have with grown-ups that allows us to tune out together in the same way or take things for granted in the same way. It is comforting to be with a grown-up who has a similar outlook merely because they’ve been in the world for a longer time. We are not surprised by the same things our kids are. (Side note: This same reason is also what makes hanging out with kids and babies so fantastically refreshing. They are surprised by things we already take for granted. We get an opportunity to experience even mundane things anew with them.)
  4. It involves self-sacrifice. Being with our babies and kids involves letting go of our own needs a bit. Although we strive to maintain our whole selves with them, their urgent needs take over. Kids are self centered and narcissistic and that is how they should be. But it means relinquishing ourselves a bit when we are with them.

 

It’s ok to feel these things. It’s ok to not want to be with our babies all the time. And it is important to explore all the reasons why. 

 

So we know why we DON”T want to hang out with them. 

 

And I know you know why we DO want to hang out with them. 

 

In fact, I’ve spent my career trying to put those feelings into song. It’s impossible to describe the joy that we receive as parents and we never even came close to before. That profound joy is amplified because we watch our kids grow so fast right in front of our eyes. With every new ability and new shoe size, we feel that we are mourning the bliss that came right before.

 

So this whole thing is tragic really. 

 

We want to be with them so badly. But we also don’t. 

 

It is unbearable and sublime all at once.

 

And that tension, and the fact that our babies are the ultimate reminder of time passing and the moments slipping through our fingers, makes it all too hard. 

 

So what do we do?

 

We do what we are doing here together. We acknowledge the difficulty. 

 

We forgive ourselves. We try to satisfy our need not to be bored, tired, isolated and sacrificed. We do this on our own or with friends and family. And then we go and sit with our time-lapsed capsules of joy.

 

What else are we saving our time for? What else is more important?

 

As my time in this career passes, I’ve realized that my mission – beyond helping you feel more confident as parents by giving new tools and techniques – is to remind you and myself that indeed we don’t have time and we’ll never have time. 

 

Time is not something we can have. What we do have is connection and touch, and feelings and breath. 

 

This is why I made The Baby in Tune Online Class (and all the classes). 

 

It isn’t about solving an urgent problem – although it helps you learn how to soothe baby, put him to sleep, and make your day wholly more fun.  More than that, it is about helping you feel, touch, breathe, and sing with your baby. It is about finding time to be with your baby fully.

 

Our babies ask us for one thing: Our time. 

 

That’s all they want. They want us to be with them.

 

So why is music the key to this conundrum?

 

 

Because it inherently brings us into the moment through FEELING, and BREATH, and being in SYNC, in a language that our baby understands and that we intuitively speak.

 

Let’s learn together how to do it in a way that feels just as nourishing for us as it is for them.

That’s what I am here to help you do.

 

Do you know someone who could use a step by step guide on how to BE with their baby in a way that is enjoyable and enriching for both? Send them to this link or buy them my brand new online class.

 

Do you know someone who really needs a weekly check in on all things parenthood and music? Send them the link below so they can join the Tuesday Tune In.

 

Do you resonate with the tragedy of wanting to be with your baby but also NOT wanting to be with your baby? Comment and let me know.

Yes! Please send me the Tuesday Tune-In!

I just did something awesome/crazy/scary

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

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

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

Now. Everyone. Can.

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

 

The Baby in Tune Online Class

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

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

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

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

WHY DID I DO THIS? Two reasons.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And it’s just a lot of good fun.

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

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

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

I feel like you get the drift.

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

And now. All this. And more to come!

 

Love,

Vered

I’m not a real musician

Today’s blog is about finding your musical creativity despite your limitations. You know, the self-diagnosed level of musical genius you do – or don’t – have.

Even more than that, today is about finding your musical creativity within and because of your limitations.

Many parents in my groups say that they are not musicians, that they don’t sing well, that they have a terrible voice, or that they can’t hold a note.

 

Here’s the thing: Your babies don’t care. And musicality is part nature – but it’s also part nurture. It can catch up with practice.

I know what it’s like to not think of yourself as a musician.

 

I’m not a musician if you ask me. I’m someone who brings music to families – my own and music in general, but I’ve got major imposter syndrome.

I feel this way partially because I got into music quite late.

I only picked up a guitar when I was 24 years old. I never got the classical training that others got in their childhood or the harmonic training that people got in college.

 

The truth is: I started to play guitar because I wanted to sing jazz songs. Okay, yea and because paying a jazz musician to accompany me was expensive.

And then I started to write songs because, well, jazz songs are really hard to play.

 

My music was born out of limitation.

That’s the secret to art in my opinion. All art and creativity are born out of some limitation. Creativity is making something out of what you’ve got. If we have too many options, then it’s overwhelming.

So it’s worthwhile to investigate what your limitations are and how you can play within them. Here are some common ones but ask yourself what your own limiting thoughts are. I bet they’ll come to you pretty easily.


Three Common Limitations

1. “I sing off key.” or “I can’t hold a note.”

If you feel you can’t sing in the melody of a song you may have heard songs sung off key growing up. Or, maybe more likely, you have not had enough practice doing it.

What’s required is to sing along with music – with others or alone, ALOT.

But you may have been told not to sing as a kid, which made you stop. Sadly, we often only need one person to tell us that we’re not a good singer to make us stop singing for good.

Either way, there’s a Snowball Effect. It just gets handed down through generations.

The kid becomes a parent and doesn’t sing to their kids and then those kids don’t get enough practice either.

Want to go a step further than singing along to Stevie Wonder? Get some singing lessons.

Sometimes it is about learning how to use certain muscles in our vocal cords so that we can match what we hear. Having someone else who can mirror back what we are singing in a supportive way can also help us become aware of the discrepancy between what our voice sounds like on the outside versus you’re hearing in our heads.

 

2. “I don’t have a good voice.”

Once again, this one has to do with what we were probably told as kids. Often it’s more related to the melody/key issue in the first limitation above.

But assuming you are singing on pitch and still believe you don’t have a good voice, then I give you all of these examples: Bob Dylan, Cyndi Lauper, Tina Turner, Elvis Costello, Bjork, Rickie Lee Jones, and ME.

My voice is a little raspy and always has been. When I was young I would sing with my cousin all the time. Her voice was smooth; she could hit all the high notes; and her singing seemed to flow like a cool stream of water.

Meanwhile, although I did have an ear for music and could sing harmonies, I got the message from those around me that my voice was not as pretty.

(In fact, when I remind my mother of this story now she cringes: When I was in sixth grade, I auditioned for a part in a musical. My mother suggested that I add some dance moves to my song because my voice “wasn’t my strong suit.”)

Here’s what I say to all of you who feel that your voice is not pretty – it’s exactly that “unprettiness” that makes it so unique. So please -continue singing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3. “I’m not a musician.”

Okay, so this is a big one and I’ve already told you that I feel the same way. The good news is that it can be liberating. Knowing that you are not a musician means that you will not be trying to outdo any of the music out there that you love. It means that you’ve given yourself a pass.

Now let’s use that pass.

To you I would say: Why not try to pick up a ukulele or a guitar? All you need is three chords to play most songs out there. Since you are ‘not a musician’ you will never need to play them very well. You only need to play them well enough to have fun.

 

Have you spotted your limitation? Now, use it. 

Get creative as if you only had a candle, a roll of tape and a hairbrush to make it out of a locked room, Macgyver style. You would probably figure it out and find your way.

Here’s how I use my limitation:

I write songs that are in my key and that I can sing easily. They don’t have a wide range, they don’t have fancy twists and turns.

I also write songs that are fairly easy to play. They don’t have a lot of chord changes. And, when I am inspired, I learn some fancier ways to play to push me to write a particular song.

I write lyrics that I can fully relate to – about my life, my feelings, what I imagine my kids to be feeling. I write about what I know.

 

How can you use your limitations? Assuming that most of you are not planning to become professional musicians our task today is not to dwell on whether you may have the talent that will bring you to Carnegie Hall.

Our task is to find just the right amount of musicality to bring to your baby that is inspired by your limitation.

When you say “I don’t have a nice voice” or “I can’t sing on key,” see if you can use that in your music with your baby.

Write songs that fit your “pitchless” voice perfectly.

Show your baby the uniqueness of your voice. Trust me. She will love it more than any Bob Dylan or Adele.

 

So now tell me – How do you get creative in singing with a limitation? Only sing folk music and not pitch-changing pop? Add your unique raspiness to a chorus? Comment here and share with all of us non-musicians.

Got a friend who’s definitely said one of these limiting statements? Send him/her this blog so they know they’re not alone. They can sign up for it here:

Yes! Please send me the Tuesday Tune-In!

What’s so good about music, anyway?

Dear tuned-in parents,

As you know, I’m sold on music as a way to communicate with our babies.

Let’s say I’m a 10 out 10.

This Tuesday Tune-in is for any of you who are floating around a 6 out of 10.

Basically this is for those of you who are saying: “I feel like my baby responds to music but how can I be sure that it is the most effective way to soothe, play, enrich, and communicate with my baby?”

Today, I want to break it down so you can see why I’m a 10 out of 10 all the way.

Let’s start with the research. If you know me, you know that my background in psychology makes me quite the research lover/nerd.

Studies show babies who hear music respond to it, notice its patterns, prefer to be in sync with it, like it more than spoken words, sleep better with it, feel soothed by it and increase their language development.

Now, don’t just take my word for it. Read on to see what happened when these studies were performed…

 

1. Babies respond to music even before they are born.

While you were pregnant, you may have read some blogs telling you to put music headphones on your belly because your baby was listening. How do they know that? Because studies like this one in 2013 have shown that little ones remember the music that was played for them in utero.

Their responses were shown through heightened alertness, lower heart rate and fewer movements when they heard the music again.

 

2. Musical patterns and changes can be detected by babies.

This study is so cool. Our babies are little maestors.

Neuro research has shown that newborns could detect when a downbeat was missing from a drum pattern. You can see this by the change in brain activity during this 2009 study.

It means that babies possess a cognitive skill called beat induction, a uniquely human trait that allows us to detect and follow rhythmic patterns.

 

3. It’s not just adults that like moving to the rhythm.

You can dance, but you wonder – can your baby?

You’ve seen her kicking her legs and you could have sworn it was to the beat. Well it turns out it was.

A 2014 study shows that our babies are listening closely to the music around them and that they have a preference for being in sync with what they hear.

Not only that, they can MODIFY their movements according to the beat. WOW!

Another take away from this one-  Your baby prefers to be in sync with the external rhythm. So when you are bouncing your baby, she prefers you to bounce to the rhythm of a song .

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4. Mama, dada: Don’t say it. Sing it.

Ever feel like your infant listens longer when you sing to her instead of speak to her?  This 2017 study proves you’re right.

It was performed with 6 to 10-month-olds and speculated that the reason might be that song holds more emotion and babies are aware of that.

I’d add that babies prefer to hear the voices that they heard in utero, which are yours.

 

4. Music helps babies sleep.

Preemie babies in the NICU who are given music interventions have been found to sleep better, according to this 2016 study.

 

5. Babies feel soothed by music.

I don’t have to tell you that this is significant. This is what we spend much of our days doing in different ways: Soothing baby.

This 2003 study shows that a mother’s singing to her babies has the power to regulate her babies emotions – to calm and soothe them.

 

6. Music makes us – babies and parents – happier.

This happens through the release of endorphins, both for the baby and us.

 

7. Playing & interacting with music improves language development.

Finally, studies like this 2012 one show that babies’ brains benefit from music lessons, even before they can walk and talk.

(And I know of a pretty great music lesson for babies you might want to try 🙂

 

So let’s recap.

  1. Our babies are born with a sensitivity to music. You could even say that music is innate. This is a uniquely human quality.
  2. Our babies can and prefer to be in sync with the music they hear. You could say but our babies are born with an ability and a love to dance to music.
  3. Our babies prefer hearing us sing rather than speak. This is matters If you are thinking about the best way to communicate with your baby it’s going to be through melody rather than speech.
  4. Our babies feel happier when they hear music.
  5. Our babies feel soothed when they are sung to.
  6. Our babies improve language development through music.

 

That’s why I’m a 10 out of 10 when it comes to my confidence in music being the best way to connect with your baby.

But that’s not all!

The benefits that apply to your baby with music also apply to you.

We also feel regulated when we hear music. It can make us feel happier as well as calmer. And you already know that a happier and calmer parent makes for a happier and calmer baby.

 

I’ll leave you with this quick visualization:

Imagine you were saying to your baby, “I love you, now go to sleep.”

Now imagine you’re singing it: ” I love you, now go to sleep.”

Be honest. Is the second version more emotional? More soothing? More connected to your baby?

 

If the answer is yes, then you know exactly you are on the right path. That a musical journey with your baby is a beautiful way forward.

Play devil’s advocate for me. Why else do you feel less than 10 out of 10 in using music to connect with your baby? Comment so I don’t think everyone thinks like me!

Know another research lover/nerd? Send them this post and make their data-filled days.
They can sign up for the Tuesday Tune In right here:

Yes! Please send me the Tuesday Tune-In!

Step one to a happy baby

Dear tuned-in parents, 

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

  1. How many hours of sleep are YOU getting?

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

Try not to make the same mistakes I made. 

 

  1. How KIND are you being to yourself? 

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

The Baby in Tune Bedtime Routine Quiz.

 

 

This song is magic

 

Dear in tune parent,

If you have taken my class you know the soothing song and probably use it quite a bit. It works, and you’ve told me it can be a life saver.

 

But today I’m  not talking about the soothing song to get you though the tough moments. This song is even more special than that. Read on, friend.

 

Here’s the scenario: Last weekend, we went on a camping trip with friends and family. A minor tragedy happened when a rock got thrown at my daughter’s face, right by her eye.

 

As you can imagine, she immediately turned into a puddle of tears. The blood, the shock, the pain, the fear. So we hugged, we examined we made sure no major harm was done. 

 

And right then, I knew I needed to pull out my most powerful soothing tool. It goes beyond the hugs and the kisses.

 

It’s probably obvious by now – knowing me – that it was a song. But not the one you think it was.

 

It’s NOT a soothing song.

 

It’s OUR SONG – a song that’s just for me and my child. 

 

You know that song for you and your partner that makes you melt and say “That’s our song!” You need one of those for you and your son or daughter. 

 

How to find YOUR SONG

 

To set up your most powerful soothing tool, choose a song that you associate with feeling happy and connected. For me and my daughter, it is “You Are My Sunshine.”

 

Find moments to sing it in which you are both content and present. Perhaps in the morning, during bath, as you are walking with the carrier or just playing on the floor. Sing the song often so that it encapsulates the joy of being together. 

 

That moment for us is in the shower. Since my daughter was a baby, I have been singing “You Are My Sunshine” to her as I hold her and she rests her head on my shoulder, while we feel the warm water hitting our heads and shoulders.

 

Those moments are precious to us both. We both feel relaxed and soothed by the water and feel connected and peaceful together.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The more you do this something magical will happen.

 

Since that song will be associated with PEACEFUL moments, it will be waiting to help you when you need to soothe your baby. 

 

It is your most powerful tool so use it sparingly.

 

I suggest using it only when you really need it so that it keeps its place in your hearts as a fully positive experience. If you use it for soothing too much, then it will turn into something else a bit.

 

BUT for those moments when you need it most, it will be waiting for you.

  

So back to our day by the lake. The reason the song worked to soothe her was not just because music is soothing and I was rocking her to the rhythm of the song.

 

Even more than that, it worked because we both associate that song with feeling happy, connected, calm, warm, and alone together in a bubble.

 

As I sang it to her by the lake, it elicited all of those feelings and that’s what truly soothed her.

 

Music has the power to tap into our deepest bonds — if we let it. 

 

So now tell me: What song makes you feel happy and connected? Do you already have YOUR song? If so, share which one it is! We need inspiration. COMMENT BELOW.

 

Now that you know how to find your song, what moments of the day do you plan to sing it to your child and strengthen your connection? COMMENT BELOW.

 

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

 

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

 

www.babyintune.com/quiz

 

 

Ready? Let’s tackle tantrums

Dear tuned-in parents,

To begin today’s Tuesday Tune-In, I want to tell you how my morning went. Spoiler: It has nothing to do with music and everything to do with tantrums – a parent’s least favorite sound.

Everything was normal to start. I gave the kids morning hugs – my eldest on the couch, my other son on the floor playing and my daughter in her bed. All was well.

And then something flipped.
Peaceful lapping waves raged into a storm and, yes, a tantrum was brewing.

Listen: Toddler tantrums are not all that different from school-age tantrums. They can look a bit different, with more reasoning available, but they take shape a lot like a toddler kicking and screaming on the floor.

The details are never the important part. Suffice it to say that my son was not getting what he wanted. And I was not prepared to budge in that particular moment. Yelling, door slamming, and aggression, too. And then he found a way to exert his ultimate control -A hunger strike.

So what do we do? Both with our toddlers and with our older kids?

Here’s the simple answer: We give them space to have the tantrum.

Pause for a moment. Let’s consider what this means. I don’t mean we watch them having the tantrum and wait for it to end while we boil inside. I mean we truly give them the space to express their emotions in the only way they can at that moment.

After we’ve tried to reason, emphasize and help; we need to accept.

It helps to remember that tantrums are appropriate.

Our kids are desperately trying to understand how much control they have and where the boundaries are.

They are looking to us to hold up limits so that they can feel safer. They want to know that not everything is possible and that we, their caregivers, will keep them safe.

I always think of the image of a pantomime.
You know how they walk around doing that move with their hands pretending there’s a glass wall. That’s what our babies are doing. Constantly asking: Is this where the wall is?

Parenting educator Janet Lansbury has a way to understand types of tantrums that really resonated with me.

She talks about three types of tantrums for toddlers in her work but I find it fully applicable to even my ten-year-old.

(Because you are all awesome you answered my call for pics of tantrums and delivered big time. So these three types will be accompanied by some real life visuals ala the Tune-iverse.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Three Types of Tantrums

1. Unarticulated Basic Needs

Overview: The toddler wants something like food water or sleep, but because he is not fully articulate and does not always know to ask for things, he gets to the point where it is too late and now he’s been pushed over the edge. He is too hungry or tired.

Response: In those moments, we empathise and try to give them what they need.

We could say something like: “Wow. I see that you were really hungry and it was hard for you to tell me that.”

I don’t know about you but my big kids definitely get to that point as well – and they can speak just fine.

In this situation, we can try to stay calm by reminding ourselves that it is totally natural for our kids to behave this way when they are in this state.

Of course, we can try to preempt it but every now and then we’ve got places to get to and other kids to tend to and we’re not always able to do that.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2. Unreasonable Wants

Overview: The toddler is in a tantrum where the demands are unreasonable. Perhaps the toddler is trying to break out of the tantrum but is not succeeding. That’s when your toddler wants a particular cup and when you bring it he throws it away and wants a different cup.

Response: In those moments, Lansbury suggests that we breathe and we take care of ourselves. We need to trust that the tantrum needs to happen right now. Our job during the tantrum is to keep our baby safe.

These storms pass when we allow them and when we don’t push back on it or try to fix it. Easier said than done I know.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3. Power Assertions

Overview: This is when we’re setting a limit or we’re saying no to something that we feel is important – whether it’s a safety, educational or health reason. (this is where I was at this morning.)

Response: We stick to our limits during these tantrums.

The important part is not to change our minds because we feel uncomfortable with the screaming and crying.

When we do that we can make them feel that their feelings scare us in some way. We give them the message that we will rescue them from these difficult feelings. In doing that, we teach them that if they push those down, then the boundary might move.

If we can keep our limits and show our children that it is ok to have feelings around it, then we teach them that we think they are safe there.

The bottom line with each of these types of tantrums?
We, as caregivers, need to know that is okay for kids to have them.

It’s okay for them to have difficult emotions. The more we can allow space for it without trying to fix it the more our children will know that it is perfectly safe to have those emotions.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So what happened with my son?

When I picked him up from school, he ran over and gave me a big hug. We embraced for a while.

I said, ”We didn’t get to say goodbye properly.” He said, ”I know. And I regretted it all day.” (Isn’t nice that he is old enough to say that? It is in your future!)

I told him that it is ok that he got angry at me. That I just wanted him to be safe.

We agreed that next time we would try to say goodbye in a nicer way no matter what, even if we are still angry and may need to continue to work it out later.

I told him the bottom line: ‘I love you so much no matter how angry you get, how many doors you slam, and despite the sandwich you left at home.

But let’s work on expressing your anger in a more productive way before you turn into the hulk.’

So you tell me – Do these types resonate with you? which one of them have you survived recently ?

Comment so we can all work through one of the toughest parts of parenting together.

Know anyone struggling with responding to tantrums? Send them this hunger-strike story so they feel less alone. Power to the parents.


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Your music is within you. Your baby wants to hear it.

Dear tunies,

Today’s post is a reminder to you that – even though it might not always seem this way – your music is within you. Now let’s figure out how to get it out.

Why? Because your baby wants to hear it. Pinky swear.

 

It might surprise you to hear this but I didn’t sing immediately with my first baby.  As someone who teaches parents how to use music with their babies, I imagine you think I sang with my baby from Day One.

Perhaps you imagine me as Julie Andrews, walking around the house dancing and smiling while caring for my calm baby.

 

Well, guess what? For a while after I had my first baby, I didn’t sing a note.

 

I distinctly remember sitting on the bed with two breast pumps attached to me, feeling tired, frustrated, irritable and like a milk machine. We had trouble with the latch, which meant that I did a lot of pumping and when I tried to feed I was in excruciating pain.

 

I remember looking over to see my husband giving our baby a bottle. He sang a sweet song while he did it rocking gently. When the baby was done drinking, my husband picked him up and sang as he walked around the house trying to get him to burp.

 

Here I was, reduced to the most basic bodily function (that barely functioned) while my husband seemed to be sitting on a private magical cloud with our baby.

 

It was the sweetest scene. And it pissed me off.

 

It took me a while for my music to come out of me with my baby.

 

It’s surprising, I know. But it’s true. So, if you haven’t found your music yet with your baby, then I know how you feel. And I have faith that you will. Even now, I lose my music with my kids every now and then. That’s when you can find me walking around doing tasks far away from rainbows and sparkles.

Sing With Me onesie (Baby in Tune)

 

So how do we find the music within us?

  1. Give it time.

As I watched my husband with my baby, I needed to know that I, too, would find my music with my son in my own time.

 

  1. Connect to music that holds the most emotion for YOU.

Usually, that’s music you heard when you were a little younger – whether it’s from college, high school, grade school or younger. The music that holds emotion for us will reconnect us to the music that’s within us.

 

  1. Start small and hum

Try humming softly to your baby. Maybe it’s a lullaby, a song that you love, or a song that you’re making up. Noone else needs to hear.

 

  1. Notice the effect it has on your baby.

One day, I found that every time I started to sing with my daughter she immediately started to sing along. Even if she didn’t know the song or the lyrics, she sang along with me as if she did. She just wanted to sing with me. She didn’t care what.

 

  1. Breathe deeply and use your full voice.

We try not to sing with that small insecure part of our voice that has listened to judgments from the past because that will make our body tense up even more. Now things are different. We have an unconditionally loving audience. Now we sing from our belly.

 

  1. Put on music during moments we would normally forget to enjoy.

Like washing dishes, making dinner, soothing our baby, or cleaning the house. You may already be putting music on during moments you love, like morning or bathtime. But we need to remember to locate our music during those moments that we go a little zombie, too. That will remind us that music enlivens us.

 

  1. Channel YOUR own inner Julie Andrews.

Try crooning in the shower or skipping to get a diaper while singing with a sly smile. Find the free and playful part of our voice because you’ll realize that now is the time not only to find your own music but to show your baby that she can find hers, too.

 

  1. Take music classes with your baby & be reminded to sing together.

We can learn how best to use our voice and which rhythms our baby responds to in class. In this space, it’s easy to watch your baby respond naturally to the music. (I won’t say which I think is best for this exact task…)

 

  1. Bring the music to your partner.

We imagine a day when the whole family will be sitting in the car singing a song together. Even though it’s in the future we can almost see it as a memory we cherish. Make it real by sharing your playlist with your partner today.

 

Believe me: You have inner music.  It’s there. For all of us. Even if sometimes it feels like it’s not. It’s not silly to try these one at a time. Enjoy the experiment and I think you’ll surprise yourself when you start to find your groove.

 

What brings out your inner music most for you? Is it when you’re cooking, showering, lullabying or something else? Comment and share your experience. Was it like mine or completely different?

 

Know a parent with inner music? That was a trick question: Everyone has it. But it may take a little nudge to find it. So send this post to them all!

 

 

Yes! Please send me more of the Tuesday Tune-In!


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What second-child guilt is really masking

Tunesters-

I’m going to say it right out: We didn’t give the second kid as much attention as we gave the first. But read on. I don’t think it’s such a bad thing.

 

For those of you who already have a second child, you might know this firsthand.

For those of you who are thinking about another baby (and are worried about exactly this), you are right to be concerned.

 

In our generation, we have babies pretty late in life. What that means is that we’ve had quite a bit of time in our lives to cultivate the alpha parts of our personality. We got used to being in control and having things done the way we want them. And then a baby comes along and we take it on like a project. We pour our energy into it in ways that our parents never did. And it’s not until the second comes along that we realize one big truth…

Our babies actually don’t need us to do much.

They need us to keep them healthy; create a loving environment for them to explore; and teach them how to be safe.

Figuring this out comes with a mild case of guilt.

 

We feel guilty that we haven’t given them as much as we did to our first. As we watch our second child thrive and surprise us with every song they sing, every scooter ride they conquer and every glass of water that they get all alone by pulling the chair to the sink; we torture ourselves that we didn’t give them enough attention.

 

But did our baby need us – or did we need to be needed?

 

What our guilt is masking is our surprise (again and again) at how little we are needed. It doesn’t feel good not to be needed and so we need to mourn that. Again and again.

 

Here’s how that guilt/surprise/mourning unfolded for me:

 

With my eldest, I convinced myself that I was extremely needed.

 

Tell me if this sounds familiar. With my first kid , I more or less followed the rules and so did my kid. As a baby, he had a schedule. As a toddler, he only ate healthy stuff and his pajama tops and bottoms always matched. I played with him on the rug for hours. I held on to certain structures and routines like they were a life vest thrown out to a drowning mama at sea. It was my way to make sense of the whole thing.

 

With my second, I couldn’t imagine how I would make it work.

 

I didn’t have the endless hours or the boundless patience. It wasn’t the same Mommy+Me life anymore. I couldn’t sit and watch him learn to roll – and then learn to get up on his knees and then learn to crawl and then walk. There was a toddler chanting “Mama” behind me.

 

Same thing when I would’ve wanted to sing to him – and play with him, teach him how to put wooden donuts on the stick. Seriously. I have a 5-minute video of my first struggling to get the red donut on the yellow thingy. Not only did I sit there filming it with more patience than Buddha, my friends and family watched it, too! (Lookout Netflix – it’s riveting.)

 

Let’s just say: I was used to putting all my energy into my first and in many ways I continued to do that. And the next thing I knew it, my second son started to roll, crawl, walk – and do so many things on his own.

 

That’s when I learned babies become independent – independently.

 

Your first teaches you a lot of things. A LOT. But your second teaches you different things:

He didn’t need me to show him how.

He didn’t fuss until I cheered him on.

He didn’t even wait until I was near him for each attempt at something new.

 

For all I knew, he sat alone and did those donuts until he had every one on. I don’t have a video to prove it but it definitely happened at some point. And I learned, with some guilt and some self work, that being needed gives me purpose but being their foundation gives them wings. And there’s nothing to feel guilty about when it comes to that.

Easy to say, right? How has second-child guilt manifested for you? Comment here whether it’s overcompensating on the weekends or taking it out on your workouts.

 

Know a friend thinking about a second? Or one dealing with attention-balancing act of having two? Forward them this blog because so they know every there’s something good to come of it.

 

And if you’re wondering whether I wrote a song about all this, in fact I did. It’s called Little Bird and is on my album about siblings – “Songs for Sisters and Brothers.”

 

Yes! Please send me more of the Tuesday Tune-In!

I bet I know your baby’s first word (& here’s why)

Hi, you! I see you doing the hard work of prioritizing tuning into your baby. With all the time you spend down on the floor with her gazing at her tiny lips and toes, you’ve probably cherished some of her tiny sounds, too. These tiny sounds turn into big babbles (and eventually, yes, demands for bananas or croissants).

That’s why I’ve dedicated this Tuesday Tune-In to taking a closer look at how babies learn to speak and what we can do to encourage it even more.

 

The short version? Add more music to your speech.

 

Now let’s figure out how to do that.

 

Breaking down language

Basically language is culturally agreed-upon sounds that symbolize concepts. An intricate part of these sounds is the syncopation and melody of them.

 

For instance: Think about how you say the word “computer.” We instinctively use this word all the time but we don’t think about all the musical elements but go into it. We put stress on the second syllable of the word. This creates a kind of melody. We start with a low note; we go up to a higher note; and we end on a note that is lower than the first. We also syncopate this word. Meaning we hold slightly longer on the middle syllable.

 

With our babies, we are even more musical with our speech.

 

It’s called parentese, baby.

Or motherese, depending on who you talk to. What is it? It’s how caregivers across cultures speak to their babies in a certain sing-songy speech that is reserved for their baby.

 

Don’t think you do it? Think again.

 

Parentese is a reality – even if we promised ourselves we would never use that high-pitched voice before we had kids, we still do it. That’s because when we use higher pitches in speech to our baby they become more alert and engaged. In fact, we often do it in the shape of a bell curve. We start lower go up higher and come back down. Think about how you might say “Hi” to your baby. It probably isn’t a deadpan “Hi.” It probably follows the shape mentioned above: “hiiiIIIiiii.”

 

Do you greet your partner when they come in the door like that? Hell no. But you do when you see your baby after not seeing her for a while.

 

Similarly, when we soothe our babies we are also sing-songy. Our voice tends to fall. It starts higher and goes slower. Think of how you say, “It’s okay.” Now think of that voice you use when you are pissed at your kid. That’s when we use a flat tone. Kind of robot like. As if to say, “I mean business kid.”

 

Words with melody are easier to learn

Speaking in our sing-songy way doesn’t only helps our babies be more engaged. It also helps our babies learn words faster than they might if we spoke to them the way we speak with other adults.

 

Case in point:  My daughter’s first word was “Diaper.” That’s because whenever I said it I always started low and ended on a higher note. Think of the “die” in a low voice, and the “per” in almost a squeaky voice. I didn’t do it intentionally.  It just came out that way every time I said “Should we go find your diaper?” or “Do we need to change your diaper?” it probably had a lot to do with the fact that I usually said it in the form of a question.

 

When she first said the word, she didn’t say it with the correct consonants. She first said it with the correct melody. In fact she even said, “ba ba?” I knew she was saying diaper because she used the same tones even if she didn’t use the same consonants.

 

My son’s first word was “Uh oh.” Same thing there. We tend to sing “Uh oh.” We start on a higher note and end on a lower note. It’s part of our language to sing that word.

 

Our babies, first and foremost, pick up on the musicality of language, according to a 2012 psychology report. There are a few reasons for this. First, it repeats in the the same way every time. Because we say “Uh oh” in the same melody each time, our babies can latch onto it and practice it. Second: Our babies are tuned in to dynamics. They are looking for contrast in melody and become more alert when we are more musical with our speech.

 

So what can we do to help our babies along with language acquisition? A few things:

 

 

How to encourage language acquisition

 

  1. Keep doing what you’re doing. And talking how you’re talking.

You are already speaking to your baby in a sing songy way without even realizing it. Now that you are aware of it, you can accentuate that even more. You can also feel proud that you are tuned in to what your baby needs from you.

 

  1. Reduce some of your sentences to one-or two-word sentences.

This will help your baby pick up on the melody of the words without complicating it with the whole sentence. For instance: You can say: “Eat food?” or just “Food?” when you are about to give your baby food  or “Stroller” when you are about to put them into the stroller.

 

  1. Use the same melody for certain words.

For many words, you are already doing this. Notice those. For some words you might be changing the melody of each time, see if you can decide on one melody and stick with it for a while. For instance, with the word “Bottle”.

 

 

This week, notice how your baby is tuned into music even when we think that there isn’t music involved. Like little musicians, their ears are picking up on subtle shifts in our melody.

 

See? You might already be singing much more than you think.

 

Tell me: Was your baby’s first word something you said a certain way? If your baby doesn’t talk yet, what word do you think might be their first based on how you say it? Comment below and let’s see what tops “Uh oh” and “Diaper”!

 

Know a parent who can’t help speak in parentese? Or one that swore not to? Send them both this blog! Tell them to sign up for more great tips below.

Yes! Please send me more of the Tuesday Tune-In!

When you feel distant from your kid, do THIS

Dear Tunester,

This week’s post is a super simple strategy for tuning in that you can try out immediately. Like right now. It’s fun; it’s easy; and it a superpower:

This game can repair a temporarily broken relationship with your child.

 

Every now and then I feel like one of my kids drifts away from me a bit. Sometimes it’s because he or she is going through a rough patch and is acting out more than usual. Other times it’s because the others needed more attention during that period. Or maybe it’s because I have been busier than normal and somehow that kid got lost in the shuffle.

 

For instance:
Currently, my eldest seems to be more aggressive with his siblings and more defiant toward me. Connecting with him is more of a struggle while connecting with the others comes more easily and more naturally at the moment.

Last month, it was my middle who seemed to constantly be on the edge of a tantrum. I found myself keeping my distance a bit from him, not wanting to set him off.

 

Our relationships with our kids ebb and flow just like the ones we have with our partners, friends and family members.

But when it comes to our kids, it’s up to US to notice the rift as quickly as we can and make an effort to repair it. That said, it’s not always easy to be the grown up.

When I am in this state, I need a jumpstart for the process of repair.

 

That’s when I play the “Why I Love You” Game.

It’s pretty simple. Ok, here goes:

  1. Say to your child, ”Let’s play a game. Let’s take turns saying to the other person why we love each other. I’ll start.”
  2. Say things that are very specific to your child’s personality. Use sentences that begin with “I love you because … “ or “I love how you …”.Examples:
      • “I love you because you laugh at little things that sometimes annoy me at first but then I see you laughing and I realize it is funny.”
      • “I love you because get very excited about what you are learning at school and you love to share it with me.”
      • “I love how you make up silly songs. They are so funny!”
      • “I love you because you try to find ways to help people around you.”
      • “I love you because you always give me the biggest warmest hugs before bed.”
      • “I love how you build things and you get so involved in your creations.”

Now imagine that you are in one of those difficult periods with your kid when it is harder to think of these positive things. Your rough patch is so rough right now that you can only think of reasons why he or she is driving you crazy. Don’t worry. It is ok. We have all been there at one point or another. It just means you have to look past the provocative behavior and pinpoint the charming ones.

Examples:

      • “I love how after you get very angry about something you always come back to me and find a way to give me a hug.”
      • “I love how when you feel overtired or overstimulated you know that you need to find time to be alone and read.”

 

What are they saying meanwhile? It doesn’t even matter.

They might even surprise you. They might be more perceptive than you think. They might just make your day with the reasons they love you.

Reminding each other of your love can be the first step toward reconciliation or reconnection.

In fact, we should all go around doing this to the people we love ALL THE TIME.

 

You know why I love you all?

I love you because you take the time to read what is important to me.
I love how you trust me to make music for your family.
And I love you because you share your most precious relationship with me – the one with your babies.

 

Have a thousand reasons you want to write down before you forget? Comment here with what you’ll tell your child tonight.

Have a friend who’s been in a rift with their child? Forward them this email and let them know sometimes a parent and child are only one game away from reconnecting.

How to reclaim your routine (Hint: music)

Dear Tunesters,

I hate to say it but it’s time for us to get back to work. The summer has been a blast. We can still taste sticky melted ice cream on our fingers, feel the salt in our hair and see the rosy glow on our cheeks.

As wonderful as it was, if you are like me, you are also saying “Thank goodness” for the return of our good-ole dependable routine. The kids go back to school and the hustle bustle reignites. It’s a new day. Now we find ways to create the structure once again. (Hopefully, with a few s’mores along the way, too.) Luckily there’s a way to do all this that works wonders and makes it pretty fun …

You guessed it: Music.

If you achieved the summer task of daily sunscreen on your child’s every appendage (it’s almost over!) then you can check these post-summer tasks off with the same finesse as finding a crumpled up sunhat at the bottom of the family tote with one hand while drinking iced tea with the other. See. I get it. Ok, here we go:

 

Post-Summer Task #1: Reclaim bedtime.

How do you do that? Let your lullaby work the magic. Use it for all naps and bedtime. This goes for very little babies and kids. I suggest you do it until your kid finally says no more. (For me, that happened around 8 years old.) If you’ve been in my classes, then you know that I highly encourage you all to use a consistent lullaby. The reason is: Our babies will eventually associate the sound of the lullaby with falling asleep.

Think of Pavlov’s dogs in Psychology 101. Do you remember? Pavlov rang the bells and the dogs came in ate. He rang again and the dogs ate. Eventually, he rang the bells and the dogs salivated at just the sound of the bell. They associated the sound with food.

That’s exactly how it is with our babies.

The more consistent you are with your lullaby, the more your baby will associate the song with falling asleep. It works. Many parents in my groups will tell you that their babies rub their eyes or yawn when they hear the lullaby. The song elicits a physical reaction. It also elicits a mental reaction: the baby hears the song and is more mentally prepared to be put to bed.

 

Post-Summer Task #2: Reclaim bathtime.

I know its been all over the place. You get home late. You skip it. You’ve done most of your showering during the day after pool or beach. But now it’s time to bring it back home. This could be before or after their dinner. In order to help you and baby structure bathtime, find your song. Similar to the lullaby, your song will help your baby prepare physically and mentally.

What song do you use? Maybe it’s my song “Bathtime”. Maybe it’s “Rubber Ducky” or “Splish Splash“. Or maybe it’s a song that you made up with your baby? Whatever it is, start to sing it as you are undressing your baby.

That way your baby will know that bathtime is around the corner. It won’t be as surprising when your baby is submerged in water. And, on top of that, it will help you start to mentally prepare, as well. The more you sing your song for bathtime, the more it will be associated with fun and play in the water.

Post-Summer Task #3: Reclaim morning.

This is a big one for me. During the summer, our mornings get smeared into the whole first part of the day. It’s lovely and relaxing but now that it’s time to be productive and get out the door early, I’m not quite prepared. For this, you can use music in two ways.

First, it is so nice to have a morning song with your baby. A good morning song will help your baby know that that it is morning as opposed to 3 a.m. Sing it as you are still in the dark room, as you are walking out into the light and the chaos.

Next, find a playlist that energizes you but is also somewhat gentle. Playing some morning tunes can really change the tone of our day.

 

Post-Summer Task #4: Prepare for the witching hour.

During the summer, we rolled with it. The witching hour happened and sometimes we were prepared and sometimes we weren’t. Sometimes the grandparents took the baby off our hands and sometimes we were able to put the baby to sleep in the stroller while we were out. Now it’s time to get back to business. If you know the witching hour is coming, then you’ll be ahead of the game. The best way to deal with it is to have a playlist for it.

Maybe even a few go-to songs. If you are at the winding-down phase, then you might need classical. If you are still working but are heading to wind-down, then you might want to play vocal jazz. In dinner-making phase? I always turn to Motown.

 

Here’s a perfect song for September

 

As you transition, be patient with yourself, ok? I never do this so I am telling myself this as much to me as I am to you.

It takes a minute for us to get back into the swing. I often jump into things full force and then have some pieces to pick up down the road.

My kids have different speeds than I do and they need me to help them ease into the transition, as well. They usually need much more support during September. In order to give them what they need, I need to be patient and almost think of the whole month as a ramp back into the swing. Yep, the whole month. After all, it’s still summer until the first day of fall on Sept. 23. Remember that when things are still murky and parent-teacher conferences have already happened. I know I will!

What other tasks do you do to get back in the swing of things? What rituals do you create to make routine feel fun? Comment below because we want to know.

Know any summer-loving freewheelers who never want the flex life to end? Help them ease back into the calendared life and send them this blog. It’s doable. I promise.

 

BONUS! I am leave you with some stellar September songs:

Agnes Obel – September Song

Sarah Vaughan – September Song

Earth Wind and Fire – September

  •  


Yes! Please send me more of the Tuesday Tune-In!

 

Your Labor Day Weekend survival guide

My Dear Tune-iverse,

Any plans to share a summer house with family or friends this weekend?

Our intentions are so well meaning when we make plans to get all our favorite people under one roof. Sure, there are differences in what people eat and don’t eat or what music they like or don’t – but the bigger adjustment is how to handle living with other families when you have completely different habits, routines and boundaries.

Do you ever think, “It’s too hard! We Just won’t go!”?

For me, that’s not an option. I love being with my family – as hard as it can sometimes be.

After many summers of grappling with other families’ routines and my own, I’ve figured a few ways to make the most our of shared summer living.

You see, every summer we spend a few weeks at my aunt’s beach house with my extended family. I especially love the joy that my kids get out of being with their cousins. For most of the day, we don’t even see the kids because they are playing together.

At full capacity, there are 17 kids and 15 adults. Eek! The house is big – but not that big. The kids sleep together in bunk beds and the grown-ups find their own corners. As you can imagine, meals are chaotic. We’ve found that the best (well, really the only) way is to feed the kids first and then send them to watch a movie while the grown-ups have a peaceful meal.

So here are some tips I’ve come up with over the years on how to make the most of shared summer living

 

1. FUN.
I won’t go into all my ideas here because you can find them in past blogs, But the point is, fun makes all the other conflict that might come up worth it. And my suggestion for fun? Make it musical. So to start check out this post that gives you 5 Musical Family Acitivities. My favorite is KARAOKE!! All you need to do is buy a simple microphone with a small speaker. That’s it! Becauese the rest can come from your laptop or computer or TV if it is hooked up to YouTube. Just type in Karaoke for your favorite songs.

 

2. Pick your battles.
When my first son was born and we would come to the beach house, Froot Loops seemed to me like the food of the devil. To that same thinking, the kitchen seemed to be made out of cakes and cookies alone and the other kids were on much different schedules then my own.

With the years, I’ve softened. Maybe I realized it was a losing battle but, more than that, I just realized it didn’t really matter. I learned to separate between the rules that we have at home and the rules that we have when we are with the family.

Not to say that everything goes smoothly. This year, I need to figure out my screen policy for the kids, who forever seem to be complaining that everyone else gets to watch more.

The bottom line is that I let go of many of our rules when I’m at the beach house. So they may eat less healthy, watch a bit more and go to sleep later. But what they gain is fun with their cousins, time on the beach, communal living and the stuff that makes up our best memories.

 

3. Let the kids work it out.
For the most part, we try to stay out of the kids’ conflicts. Even for the little ones, we believe that they can work it out. With family and close friends, that is an option that doesn’t exist on the playground.

There is a deep knowledge that we’re staying together no matter what. No matter how angry they get at each other, they will still be living with each other next summer and the summer after, etc. That is an important lesson for them. Of course, if the conflict is really challenging and they need us to intervene, we do.

 

4. Model the behavior.
It’s important to remember that the kids are watching us at all times. They’re watching how we handle our own family conflicts. They want to know how we deal with it when our boundaries are infiltrated.

When you’re living in a house with others, that can happen almost daily. It’s our job to show our kids but there’s a balance to strike between maintaining our boundaries and also softening them when we are in a particular situation like this.

 

5. Find your space.
For me, the most important thing to do on these weekends is to make sure I go on a nice long walk on my own. It keeps me grounded and reminds me of who I am. It is so easy to regress into old behaviors and thought patterns when we are with our family, both because we may be seen as the child we once were and because we revert to old dynamics.

The way to make sure that doesn’t happen is to take your space. For me, a walk by the ocean is the perfect cure.

 

6. Find Connection.

What keeps us coming back to be together are the moments of connection that we find with each other. But with a full house of people pulling in many directions that might not be an easy feat. It makes all the difference to grab a friend, sibling or a cousin for a quiet hang away from the chaos.

 

7. Turn on the music!

You’re making dinner, there’s tension in the air – who hates onions in their salad? who is gluten free? who is going to do all of these dishes? And you know what makes it all better?

Turn on the tunes. Sometimes we forget to do this simple move that changes everything.

Put on the music that will get everyone singing and moving their hips. Stevie Wonder? Queen? Beyonce? Figure out what it is for your family and go nuts.

8. Have gratitude.
This might be the most important one. The fact is this – Froot Loops or no Froot Loops – none of it matters.

What matters is that we get to share a living space with people we love and people who care about us and our kids.

During the year, we get caught in our own little bubbles. It’s no longer a village who takes care of our kids. Mostly, we somehow work it out on our own or with hired help. But these moments when we are able to feel the village are everything.

When you feel overwhelmed – like you just can’t make another meal, or fold another towel, or bend another rule – remember to breathe deep and think of what you are grateful for. It might just be the people around you.

IMG_5480

How about you – how do you deal with alot of different ways of doing things under one roof?

Do you stick to your ground? Do you give in on certain things? Which ones?

COMMENT below and let me know!

 

Do you have a friend who is spending this weekend with family in close quarters? Be a good friend. Send them this for some encouragement.
Yes! Please send me more of the Tuesday Tune-In!

You can’t stop time. But you can do this

Dear Tunester aka Parent in Tune,

In today’s Tuesday Tune-In, I’m going to share what we can do when we feel like time’s rushing by so fast and our babies are changing and growing in a way that’s equally exciting and heartbreaking.

I mean, I know time doesn’t go by fast when you’re not sleeping and you just want a good night’s rest, or when you’re stuck inside of the house during winter for One More Lonely Day with your baby and kids, or when you are sick and still need to take care of your kids.

But summer is just a nostalgic season. Everything about it feels like the sweetest ice cream cone that melts just too fast.

It makes me ever so acutely aware that my kids are growing. FAST.

 

I remember first feeling this when my eldest was a few months old. Already then, I knew that as difficult as that time was, I would one day look back on it and yearn for the simplicity of us lying side-by-side on the bed, quietly watching the way the sun moved across the wall.
Now again I notice it years later – looking back on the blur of early parenthood.
If you follow me on Instagram, you have probably noticed that I’ve got major baby fever. Partly It has to do with the fact that I’m aging out. My body is giving out one more primal plea to do what it was meant to do: procreate.
Believe me; I know what you’re thinking. You are so in it and you can’t imagine craving to hold a baby. I couldn’t believe it when my aunt said she wanted to take care of our baby for an afternoon. But here I am. My youngest is 4 and a half. She just got over the hump of being a toddler and doesn’t feel like a baby anymore. Her sentences are detailed and involved, she remembers more than I do about what we did or what we will be doing and she seems to be able to read my mind more than ever.
So here’s what I’ve come up with regarding what to do in these moment. But I want to hear your ideas in the comments.

What To Do When Baby is Growing at Lightspeed

  1. Breath deep.
    The only way to combat the feeling that time is moving too fast is to make sure that we are fully in the present. And in order to do that we need to breathe deep, and take a moment to be aware of our breath. And to bring it home for myself, while I’m breathing out I say something quietly to myself like- “I am with you.” It’s not because I don’t want to be with them but for some reason I’m just not always fully present.
  2. Say “Yes” at least 50% of the time.
    When you are at the playground and your son asks you to play basketball, at least half the time try to say, ”Yes.” And when you are at home and your daughter asks you to jump on the bed with her or play family, at least half the time try to say, “Yes.”Because, in the end, those moments will be the ones that you will remember. Those will also be your kids’ favorite moments of the day.We can’t do it all the time, but when you do try to really enjoy it. Be in the game. Make it interesting for yourself. Make it funny for yourself and for your child. It may only be a few minutes of play but if you do them with your entire self – body, mind, heart, they will be powerful moments.
  3. Play my song “One Day.”
    I wrote this song to capture this bittersweet feeling. Since then, even though my kids are older now, I get emotional every. single. time. I sing it. And it seems to hit the spot for others as well because there is always at least one other person who is tearful by the end of the song. Sometimes we need to validate the feeling. Let it be acknowledged for the pain and beauty it holds. I hope this song can do that for you, too.

mama looking at alona
Feel it.
Feel it all.
And know this: The more time I’m a parent, the more I realize that beyond the basic stuff like keeping our kids healthy and safe and creating an environment in which they can explore; our job is actually one more thing.

Our job as parents is for US to enjoy our children the most we possibly can.

We think that our job is more complicated than that. But the more we truly give ourselves to enjoyment with them, the more they get all the benefits we want them to have. So do your best to enjoy all of the fun moments, to create the fun moments, and even to enjoy all of the conflicted feelings that you might be having too.
Squeeze that moment for what it’s worth

And here’s the song to bring it home!

 

When you last felt the sting of time passing, where were you or what were you doing? Changing a diaper or watching graduation? Comment below with us all, who share in your grief and your glory.

 

Know someone who’s little one just had a growth spurt? Forward them this post and give them some ways to deal with the existential moment.

 

Yes! Please send me more of the Tuesday Tune-In!

What are your 3 things?

This Tuesday Tune-In is short and sweet – and the point of it is to hear from you at the end.

Recently, while listening to a podcast I love called “Magic Lessons,” I heard a quote that I’ve been thinking about a lot by playwright/performer Sarah Jones:

“What if joy is my only metric for success?”

Pause for a moment. Think about this. Why does success often mean something different for us?

If we said this quote to little kids who haven’t yet felt consumed by competition, then they would say, ”Duh.” For them, the sign of a good day is a fun day. They would give huge extra bonus points to a day if it involved giggles with us.

But what do we consider to be a sign of success? I’m not asking about happiness, rather success. It’s complicated for each of us. But often it has to do with money, freedom, acclaim, fame, property, nice things and nice vacations.

That said, I have a feeling that every single one of you just read that quote above and thought to yourself, “Yeah. That sounds much more accurate than any other concept of success.”

So let’s go with this idea for a moment and follow through. If JOY is our metric of success than what brings us joy?

Here’s the good news: Joy is moment to moment. It’s more of a short-term plan than actualizing something in the long term. Because, the thing is, we can’t possibly know what will bring us joy in a year. We can only try to figure out what will bring us joy right now.

I’ve told you before that the Five-Minute Journal has made me hone in on what makes me happy. [Here’s my post on how to practice it.] Looking back at my journals, I realize that three things consistently keep coming up for me when I put down on paper what would make my day better.

My 3 Joyful Things:
1. Smiling.
2. Laughing.
3. Singing.

These are the things that I need to remind myself to do daily, especially when I am low, in order to make my day great. I want to smile more to strangers. I want to laugh more with my children and with those around me. I want to sing and play music either by myself or with others.

It doesn’t mean that those are the only things that have come up for me. I’ve had days when I remind myself to hug my kids or husband more. There are days when I remind myself to meditate, speak to a friend or family member, go dancing or read a book.

No matter what though, these are the three simple things that come up again and again for me on my list. Coming up with what these are for me has been helpful. I can give myself a daily reminder of what I need to put some effort into in order to feel more joy during my day.

I just asked my eldest what his three things are and he said:

My Son’s 3 Joyful Things:
1. Read
2. Have fun
3. Learn

So I ask you: What are your 3 Joyful Things? I would SO LOVE to hear what come up with in the comments below! Please share.

Is one of your joyful things being a support to friends? Then you’ll get joy from forwarding a fellow parent this newsletter!

 

Yes! Please send me more of the Tuesday Tune-In!

The Mozart effect. Is it a thing?

Okay, in-tune parents – Today I’ll be your mythbuster.

Does the Mozart effect really work? Is classical music actually better for your babies? Will it make them geniuses?

I’m going to do my best to dive into this question. Plus, as a special bonus, I have been working on a classical music playlist that is perfect for your babies. Listen via the  link at the bottom.

So the short answer to the question above is: NO.

BUT listening to classical music has been linked to plenty of brain benefits, including one big one. Keep reading to find out what …

Here’s some background: In 1993, a research study by three university professors discovered that children showed improve spatial reasoning when doing a pencil-and-paper maze task while listening to Mozart. However, the study has since been debunked. Others have found that the study was incomplete and the results inconclusive. So it’s not clear if classical music can make us smarter and it’s certainly not clear if it has to do with Mozart. In fact, one of the counter studies showed a similar effect when people listened to the band Blur. They called it “the blur effect.” (This makes me wonder: Is there a “Vered effect”?)

 

To recap: Research studies show that listening to classical music:

… does *not* tie to IQ.

… does tie to other benefits.

Note: For the most part, these were not tested on babies but we can infer that some of the same benefits will affect babies as well.

 

So what’s the upside of listening to Mozart and the like?

 

  1. It’s calms us..

Listeners have benefited from lower blood pressure, lower stress levels and less depression, according to research published in the Journal of Behavioral Medicine (2000) and XYZ. (Add links/sources.)

 

  1. It makes us emotional. 

This one is a big one for us parents. If our focus is on attachment and on developing unauthentic and engaged relationship with our babies, perhaps listening to classical music can help us do that. So it’s worth looking at the results of this study, which showed that when listeners heard classical music in the background their writing was more emotionally vulnerable.

 

  1. It helps us fall asleep.

Before bedtime, classical music has been shown to encourage rest in a 2008 study on nursing students.

 

  1. It helps our memories.

College students were shown to remember their lecture material better when they listened to the lecture with classical music playing in the background, according to this 2012 study. Again, the problem here is that we don’t know how much the students would remember if they had listened to, say, my music.

 

  1. It improves concentration.

Both mood and concentration improved among radiologists of a 2009 study when they listened to Baroque music in their reading rooms.

 

But here’s the catch-

While the studies above found these results with Classical music, they did not control with other types of music.

This study did. They showed that listening to Classical music reduced stress after doing an arithmetic task more than silence or Jazz.

 

So should you be turning on Bach instead of Bieber to make your baby smarter? Or Vivaldi instead of Vered? There is not enough evidence to say.

But we do know this: Children who PLAY music have improved hearing sensitivity. 

Just last year, researchers published a study that showed that children who learned to play piano were much more able to detect the sounds of consonants, vowels and pitch. This makes sense because learning an instrument involves so many skills – note reading, understanding a language and translating it to our movements and to the mechanics of the instrument we are playing.

Classical music tends to have more complex chord progressions and chord structures so playing it develops this skill even more than other types of music.

 

So how do we make sense of this and put this all together?

The more you listen to classical music at home, the more you will be familiarizing your baby with this music, and the more your baby will grow to love it.

Eventually when they’re old enough to play an instrument they might even gravitate toward one of those pieces.

And PLAYING classical music is definitely beneficial.

 

Of course that doesn’t mean you should turn off your other types of music. Variety will only benefit your little maestros.

 

Here is a little playlist to get you started. Keep in mind that I have a soft spot for saddish piano pieces, lone cellos, and fast moving guitars.

 

So tell me – have you felt calmed/vulnerable/sleepy/focused after listening to classical music? Comment here if you’ve experienced the proven results of this musical genre firsthand.

 

Do you know a parent who’s on the fence about playing classical music for baby? Forward them this email for the science behind it all.

 

17 roadtrip games to keep the peace

It’s summer! Let’s go somewhere. Wait. The dreaded road trip. What will we do with all those hours in that small air-conditioned space?

 

Whether you are traveling to the beach, to the country, to your hometown, or cross-country destinations you’re going to need some go-to activities for those moments when everyone is getting antsy in the car. This is a problem even snacks cannot solve. Believe me. I’ve tried.

 

We personally haven’t given in to using screens on the road yet and my goal is to keep it that way. But that means we need to have a lot of tricks up our sleeves.

 

Today, I’m sharing this trick list with you.

 

Keep it handy for when you need it most. Not all of these are musical but many are. Let’s break them down into categories:

 

For Babies:

I’ll start with the tiniest passengers because most of you have one on board. There is nothing worse than being stuck on a congested highway with hours ahead and having a crying baby in the back seat. For these games I am going to assume you are not the driver and can give it your full attention.

 

    1. Peekaboo – Grab a towel, a lovey, piece of paper, anything. Peekaboo is a game that can delight for hours. As you are playing it, notice the musicality of the game. Notice how your voice rises at the top to signify a moment of surprise when you say “Peekaboo!” or “There she is!”
      (For a song to use with this game try mine here).

 

    1. Seat dancing – Babies love to dance and move to the rhythm. Put on your favorite dance song and move their legs and arms around to the beat. Bend their legs, straighten them, move their arms around. Part of what makes the carseat so unbearable is the constriction. So help them move.

 

  • Hand gesture songs – Those who have taken my class know the why and the how of hand gesture songs. But basically, use dynamics, make big gestures, think of dancing with your hands, use facial expressions for extra credit. (Bikeride is a fave amongst parents in my classes.)

 

 

  • Puppets – Grab a puppet or really anything – even a shoe can be a puppet – and bring it to life. In fact, it may be even more fascinating for babies to see inanimate objects that don’t obviously have a face come to life. Have your puppet sing a song, do a dance, talk to your baby, and best of all – play hide and seek with your baby.

 

 

  • Books – when your baby is on the verge of tears she needs you to bring out your full book-game. What does that look like? Bring out the voices, the gestures, the facial expressions, the melodic reading. Slow down when the Hungry Caterpillar is eating to count each and every plum slowly.

 

 

  • Painters Tape – did you see my post about surviving a flight with a baby? If not check it out for more tips that would apply here too. Especially the painters tape trick. All you need is a role of it. Tear it up into pieces. Put it along your baby’s chair. Let your baby take them on and off and play with the stickiness. (Best to do this when you are next to your baby so she won’t put the tape in her mouth.)

 

For the older ones:

Speaking Games

 

  1. 20 questions – Reminder: This is when you are thinking of a person place or thing and the others need to guess what you’re thinking about. They can only ask questions that have a Yes or No answer. It’s fun to play this with kids and try to guess family members, friends or movie characters. What’s great about this game is that it teaches kids how to go from thinking in general terms to increasingly specific ones.

 

  1. I spy – My four year old can play this one for hours. Every time I think we might have exhausted objects with colors in the car, she finds something new or we switch it to thinking about something with the first letter blank.

 

  1. Who am I – We play this game a lot at home when we can act it out . It’s basically speaking or acting like someone and having people guess who it is.

 

  1. The association game – This one is not quite a traditional game. There’s no end result but instead there’s a never-ending association game that can be fascinating. We started playing it when my daughter would say something like, “I’m thinking of … a car.” And my husband would respond, “ … and I’m thinking of wheels.” Then she would say, “ … and I’m thinking of the street.” So basically each person is just free associating with what the person said right before. The tricky part of this game is to truly go with associations to the last word said, not with the topic itself. For instance, the word street might remind me of gum if I’m thinking about sticky gum stuck to the street. That would be disconnected from the car theme that was going prior and might be a very unique association. It makes each person stay on their toes and truly react to the last thing said, not plan it ahead of time.

 

  1. Story in sentences – One person starts the story by saying a made up sentence. Then each person adds in their turn. Again, with this game, we need to relinquish our associations and accept the other ideas that people have and then build on them. This is a real Yes And game.

 

Musical games

  1. The singing game – I grew up playing this game with my cousins and I think it had a lot to do with me becoming a musician. It trained me to listen closely to lyrics and songwriting. The idea is that one person sings a song and the others need to start singing another song that shares a word from the first song. For instance, someone might sing “You Are My Sunshine” and another person would cut in and start to sing “Ain’t No Sunshine When She’s Gone.” Obviously transitional words like the or and don’t count. And when you get really good at it you can make the word “love” not count either to add an extra challenge. A song can’t be repeated.

 

  1. Car DJ – This one is not quite a game but it has passed many hours for us in the car. Each person gets to choose one song to play on the stereo and we go around and take turns. At this point, we all know the words to Sofia the First because my daughter always chooses the same song. You too may have an uber fan of an artist or songs at home. These days with streaming music, Car DJ is so easy to do. Every song is at our fingertips!

 

  1. Call and response songs – About a month ago, I did a post about doing music with the whole family and I added in some ideas for the car, as well. This was in that post, as well as other ideas that are not car specific. (You can see that post here.) There are a bunch of call-and-response songs out there similar to “Who stole the cookie from the cookie jar?”. Those songs get everyone singing along for a little while.

 

  1. Made-up songs – The other day I did this with my daughter in the car. It is similar to Story in Sentences but with a song. We each took turns making up a phrase. You can sing about what you see, where you’re going, how you feel or what you’re doing. You can use a melody that exists or make one up.

 

  1. Sound orchestra – This one was also on the list of musical activities to do with the whole family. With this game, someone will start making a sound repetitively – like tapping on their knees or clucking their tongued. Another person will join in layering their sound on top. And then the others will do this one by one. It’s fun to hear the tapestry that is created by all the sounds together.

 

  1. The quiet game – The game of all games. How does it still work with my big kids? Don’t ask questions. It just does. When the energy runs high and people are getting exhausted, it’s worth a shot to try this one. You probably remember it. You are just trying to be the quietest. The person who makes a sound first loses. This game has saved us many times. And each time I wonder when my luck will end and they will refuse to play. But, for now, I think they are just as thankful as I am at that moment to have some quiet.

 

For everyone

 

Stuff to listen to:

  1. Favorite ALBUMS – This might sound obvious but these days the album has been a little forgotten in favor of the single or the five most played songs at the top of the artist’s profile. It’s so nice to have the time to listen to a full album in the car. I put together a list of Kindie musicians who we love to listen to in another post so I’ll just mention a couple of albums here: Molly Ledford and Billy Kelly’s “Trees,” and an oldie but a goodie that has never been surpassed in my opinion – “Free to Be … You and Me”.

 

  1. Musicals – Musicals are so great for car rides because they tell a story through songs and they often take about an hour. Our favorites are “Hamilton,” “Mary Poppins,” “The Sound of Music,” “Annie,” and the Disney soundtracks, too.

 

  1. Stand up comedy – Once you have a 10 year old, you are in a different listening world and doors open up. On the other hand, I still have the littles in the car so I need to make sure everything is age appropriate. Stand-up comedy has been a new love of ours. My friend Billy Kelly (who is also a musician mentioned above) made a stand-up comedy album for kids. It’s really great and I wish there were more like this. We’ve managed to find some comics who are more or less appropriate for kids. We love Brian Regan although you may not agree with me on whether it’s fully appropriate. Nine years old seems to be the turning point for these types of jokes that can have more complex set-ups. My seven-year-old struggles to understand all of the nuances while my ten-year-old giggles throughout.

 

  1. Podcasts – I’ve developed a huge love for podcasts myself and they can also come in handy with the kids. Our favorite one to listen to is “Wow in the World” by NPR and the wonderful Mindy Thomas and Guy Raz. It seems to appeal to all the ages I’ve got in the car. It’s funny and educational. There are many more podcast for kids out there but I’m not a connoisseur. I would love to hear which ones you listen to with your family so that I can get more ideas.

 

  1. Switch it up – My final suggestion is to switch up your musical genres in the car. It changes the mood completely when you put on classical, jazz, acoustic, world music or any other. Since you’ve got your kids captive, you might as well expose them to the wonderful music in the world. We love listening to Bach, Beethoven and others in classical. And recently we have been listening to my brother in law Yotam Silberstein’s lovely new jazz album Future Memories.

 

With this list, your goal is to have your car ride be just as memorable (in a good way) as the destination itself.

 

And hey, this list is never finished – add to it! What are your road-trip tricks, podcasts and go-to games? COMMENT below with your faves.

 

Know someone embarking on a family roadtrip? Send this to them and get a big hug when they return. You’ll get one from me, too, clearly. They can sign up for more on the link below.

 

Yes! Please send me more of the Tuesday Tune-In!

THIS is what summer sounds like

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:

 

  1. 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.

 

  1. 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?

 

  1. 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.

Water splashing up
My daughter experiencing a natural splash park

 

  1. 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!

 

  1. 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?

 

  1. 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.

 

  1. 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.

Stop.

Pause.

Breath.

LISTEN.

 

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.

 

Tell them to sign up for it below.

 

 

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Summer: Keep your schedule or toss it?

Dear tune-iverse,

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

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

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

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

So I wonder –

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

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

The Very Scheduled Parent. Is this you?

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

Wild River Roller Coaster

 

And on the other extreme …

The Very Unscheduled Parent. Is this you?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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How to survive a flight with a baby

Dear parents – Let’s tune in.

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

Expectation setting:

  • 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.

Timing:

  • 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.

Dressing:

  • 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.

Packing:

  • 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:
    1. For younger babies – Nurse during take off and landing to make sure your baby is swallowing often which will relieve ear compression.
    2. 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.

Playing:

  • 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.
  • Water-marker books. These are genius.
  • 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.

Seating:

  • 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.

Bonus: Secrets

  • Music. Yes, I am biased but music has saved me many times on a flight. Here are some of the ways:
    1. 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.
    2. 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.
    3. 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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Your summer drive playlist for kids

Summer is upon us and that means two things:

1) spending a lot of time outside

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Your Kindie Playlist:

 

  1. The Verve Pipe

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

 

  1. Jon Samson/ CoCreative Music

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

 

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

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

 

  1. Dean Jones

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

 

  1. Lesley & the Flying Foxes

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

 

  1. Justin Roberts

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

 

  1. Elizabeth Mitchell

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

I hope you love it.

 

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

 

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

 

 

Holy shit, Schools out! All the feels.

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:

*Example A
Child: “I am sad to leave my friends.”
Parent: “Sometimes it is sad to leave friends we have been with for a while.”

*Example B
Child: “I won’t ever be able to win Student of the Day.”
Parent: “That sounds hard.”

Don’t: Start your sentence with BUT.

*Example A
Child: “I’m going to miss my teachers.”
Parent: “But you’ll see them again next year probably.”

*Example B
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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5 musical family activities

Dear tuned in parents,

Today is all about family fun.

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

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

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

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

Here are 5 activities that work for any age:

  1. Karaoke

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

 

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

 

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

 

  1. DJ in the car

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

  1. Dance parties

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

 

  1. Call-and-answer songs

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

 

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

 

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

 

  1. Sound orchestra

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

6 things I do to feel more present with my kids

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

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

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

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

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

Meanwhile what are they thinking about? Climbing the slide.

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

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

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

6 things I do to feel more present with my kids

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

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

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

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

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

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

For me, the answer is almost always: nothing.

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

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

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

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A surprising way to soothe your baby

Hello, tuned-in parents,

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

I had to use it just the other day.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Vocal holding does these things but with the voice.

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

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

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

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

How to try Vocal Holding:

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

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

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

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

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You don’t need to enrich your baby

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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The most important moment when putting baby to sleep

Tell me if you relate. You sing a lullaby; give your baby the last feed; and prepare everything for a perfect landing into the crib. Your baby is drowsy and he falls asleep instantly. You’re doing an internal happy dance because Me Time is just around the corner. You taper your song a bit and walk out.

Two minutes later? You guessed it. Your baby starts to cry. (This was basically the first year with my eldest.)

I realized that the only way to truly ease him into sleep was a technique musicians have been using forever …

So what is the most important moment when putting your baby to sleep?

The Fade Out

● Place your baby in his crib as you’re singing the lullaby
● Use your voice to fade out, aka to slowly get softer in volume
● Hold out the notes even longer.

It sounds simple but it does a few profound things:

 

For You
It slows us down. We’re so excited to be done and feel Netflix calling. The Fade Out forces us to take our time, slow down, and bring our energy level down in those last 10 or 20 seconds that you’re with your baby. If we truly slow down, then our baby does too.

It also forces us to be present. It’s almost impossible to fade out without being fully present while you’re doing it. It actually takes a lot of vocal control. Try it. In order to do it correctly, we need to put effort into slowly making our voice softer and that takes focus. It’s whatforces us to be mindful and present. Although freedom calls, our concentration keeps us in the moment.

 

For Baby
It eases the transition. Think about when you’re listening to an album on your headphones. Many of the songs fade out in order to ease us into the next song. The Fade Out that you will do with your own voice will help your baby transition from noise, togetherness, and excitement into sleep.

 

Here’s how you’ll know if your Fade Out is working:
If it’s making YOU tired and putting YOU to sleep, then it’s going to do the same for your baby.

I find that this is usually the gauge with all things baby. We can use ourselves as a litmus test to understand our baby’s state. What I mean is: If you are feeling overstimulated in a crowd, your baby probably is, too. If you are feeling tired, then your baby probably is, too. And if you are feeling sleepy as you listen to your own voice, then your baby probably is, too.

 

Think of your lullaby and The Fade Out as points of deep connection with your baby before the overnight separation. Some parents in my groups say that their baby even gets slightly more alert at the beginning of the lullaby. This is because they feel that it is a real moment of connection with you. For those babies start a bit earlier than you would normally.

Eventually all the babies will be soothed by the lullaby if you do it the right way – if you yourself are present, relaxed, and getting sleepy from your own voice.

 

So try it tonight. Slow the process down. Give yourself two extra minutes to do this. Close out your day with your baby with care and attention. I think you’ll find that both you and your baby will benefit from a well-executed Faaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaade
Ouuuuuuuttttttttt
ttttttttt.

 

Do you do a fade out? Or do you use another technique to seal the deal? I want to hear about it! Comment and let me know.

Does your baby seem most relaxed when you are? Comment and let me know.
Simultaneous naps? Simultaneous tantrums? Comment here and tell us how in sync you are.

Know a baby who cries out from the crib? Share this with their parents.
And tell them I know what it’s like!


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Two songs that changed my life

I’m on a bus in Croatia, pregnant with my first baby. Mountains to both sides and a good two hours ahead of me. I put my headphones on to listen to the album I had recorded before I left New York. I needed to listen objectively, as an outsider. I needed to be real with myself and figure out if a career as a singer-songwriter was in the cards for me or not. I was about to start a family and it was time for me to be a grown-up.

What did I decide?
That it wasn’t good enough.

This Tuesday Tune-In focuses on something that people don’t always talk about: Post-baby career reevaluation

So many parents in my groups feel confused and exasperated about their career once they have a baby. They don’t know if they want to go back to work, and if so when, and if not, what happens to the career that they spent 10 years building before having a baby. I should know. It happened to me.

Here’s what I learned:
Don’t rush to an answer about career pathing. Give it the time it needs.

Having a baby forces us to hone our value system and chisel our goals to the core, to the bare essentials. But it can take a year or two or even more. If we can allow for the questions, the confusion, and the feeling that the ground has fallen beneath our feet, I believe a clear path will emerge.

So back to the story.

I mourned my rockstar dream and eventually picked myself up and continued toward my other interests – psychology and therapy. I had my baby and 8 months later I began a Ph.D program in Clinical Psychology.

You may be asking yourselves – What the hell was she thinking? A graduate program with a new baby? And it’s true. The program entailed endless amounts of work and devotion. And, as you know, so did my baby.

I threw myself into both callings with all the energy I had. But there was a tiny voice that still whispered to me every now and then. You know which one. The singer-songwriter.

She didn’t go anywhere. And when she was ready, she presented herself to me through 2 songs that changed my life.

Song 1: “Don’t Leave Me”
In the midst of all the papers I was writing an old friend invited me to perform in a show. When I ran out of material, I asked the audience if they wanted to hear a ditty I had written to my son.

I sang the first verse and chorus of “Don’t Leave Me.” I didn’t have any more written and didn’t think I ever would. I thought I was done writing full songs. I considered it a jingle, a snippet that I blurted out to my baby one day.

A couple of friends from the psychology program were there and after the show they were enthusiastic about the song. They loved how it put a theory we had learned in school – “Rapproachement” – into a simple phrase and melody. They felt it said it all and could reach parents much more than any book. I went home thinking about it a little differently .

Song 2: “Sunday”
A month or so later, I went to see a music therapy colleague of mine, Jon Samson. I asked him to help me record five songs I had written a year earlier before that bus ride in Croatia. I felt I could move on more easily if I had a record of my final creations.

During a break Jon went upstairs and I continued noodling on the guitar in the studio. I softly sang another ditty I had written for my baby called “Sunday.” Again, I only had the first verse and chorus. To me, it wasn’t a real song.

From upstairs Jon yelled down, “Play that one again!” I did. And then he asked me to play it again, and again. He came downstairs and said that he wanted to record an album with me. But he didn’t want to do my grown-up songs. He wanted to make an album of the songs I had written for my baby.

And then what happened? Well, the rest is history.

I recorded an album with him called “Good Morning, My Love.” I realized that what I really wanted to do was help parents connect to their babies through music. I also realized that my prior meanderings came together in a way I could not have expected. Music therapy, psychology, the singer-songwriter, and the new mom.

Although I wanted to finish the PHD to the end, I also realized I couldn’t do it all. At that point, I was also pregnant with my second. Time was precious and I needed to focus solely on what I wanted to do most and shed the rest.

When I look back on that time, it’s astounding to me to think that I was going to give up on the singer-songwriter inside of me. I am thankful that I decided to play the two ditties for my friends. Their reactions inspired me to finish them, call them songs and share them with other parents. And that changed my life.

Having a baby motivates us to answer one of the most important questions:

What do you truly want to spend your time doing?

If you give yourself time, the answer will become obvious.

Have you reconsidered your career path post-baby? COMMENT below and let me know.
How did your inner voice show you the way forward and how long did it take? We’re all in this together.

Have friends trying to navigate careers after babies? Share this Tuesday Tune-In.
The best way to support the career of someone you love can just be letting them know you are there for them through the struggles and triumphs. Forward this email their way – sometimes it’s that simple.


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5 instruments for babies and kids

In this Tuesday Tune-In, I want to answer a question I get asked all the time: Which instruments are best to introduce to your baby?

As you know, I’m all about making music with your baby.  As you read this list, keep in mind that my intention is not only for you to buy these instruments and let your baby explore them but for you to have fun too.

If you do it right, these instruments will eventually have an association to togetherness and bonding with your baby.

Important note: As you go out to buy instruments for your baby and children, keep in mind that they need to sound somewhat good. Many of the toy instruments out there just don’t sound good. To me, those will not end up inspiring our babies to make music. Try to find instruments that inspire even you to sit and play with them.

As I say in my classes all the time: “The more our babies see us enjoying music and engaging in music, the more they will want to do it too.”

 

5 instruments I recommend for babies:

*I am not affiliated with any of these brands. They’re just instruments that I’ve found to be well made and sound decent.

 

  1. Drums:

As you know, I love drumming with little ones. If you’ve been in my classes for older babies, you know that we often dive into drum circles and learn drumming rhythms and styles from other cultures. For years, I’ve been looking for drums that don’t take up too much space and still sound good. I finally found them. These nested Frame Drums are perfect for pulling out and having a family drum circle and then being able to store them away.   

As another option, these Djembes sound great and store easily in different sizes.

 

  1. Harmonicas 

I love using harmonicas with babies and kids. Harmonicas are built in one key. So, if you are playing a song on the speakers or on the guitar, you can easily play a song in the key of your harmonica. When you buy it, check out what key it is in. It often says it on the harmonica itself.

It will take some time for your baby to learn how to blow into it. Keep showing them yourself, and have fun making music while you are doing so. Sometimes it helps to blow on their cheek and then blow into the harmonica in order to illustrate the concept of blowing.

As with anything, you can find extremely cheap harmonicas that are made poorly and don’t sound good. Try to find one that has somewhat of a good sound. These colorful, plastic Harmonicas can take a beating and have a decent sound. They will fall apart eventually but I’ve found that it takes a while.

 

  1. Shakers

This easy-to-hold instrument is so great to teach your baby rhythm. They fit in little hands and are a fun shape to put in little mouths. There are very cheap shakers out there that don’t sound great to me and can bust open, spreading small beads everywhere. Clearly, I avoid those. But I’ve found some that work perfectly.

These colorful plastic Shakers have a great sound and don’t fall apart easily. These fruit-shaped Shakers are fun and sound good, too – although it may be a bit confusing for your baby. If you are looking for slightly larger wooden shakers, you can find those as well. Often they don’t have as good of a sound but they are a little bit safer because they are larger and don’t fit in a mouth.

Note: All of these instruments will say 3+ on them. That doesn’t mean that your baby can’t use them, it just means that she/he should be supervised when they do.

 

  1. Glockenspiels

This is an arrangement of metal bars laid out in a scale (often in C) that sound like bells. It resembles a piano or small xylophone and is often the first instrument to be slapped onto a toy. If you’re going to get one, you’ll need to invest a little bit in one that sounds good. These can be so fun for babies to play with.

Again, most of them are not recommended for babies under three because they can be taken apart. But if you play with your baby and make sure she is not getting into trouble it should be fine.

I like this Glockenspiel set because you can use as bells separately and as a scale. If your child is older, there is this Glockenspiels with musical note boards, and this one. Both seem great although although I have not had the chance to try them yet.

 

  1. Uke

Once again, you can find some very cheap ukuleles out there and they sound pretty awful and fall apart in a day. I’m sure you’ve had that experience already. So it’s worth investing a bit more to get something that will last a bit longer. These first Ukuleles  come in all different colors, aren’t too expensive, sound good and are easy to tune.

 

So there is your list. I hope you feel inspired to expand your music corner at home.

Now, make me a promise: If you buy musical instruments for your baby, try not to just give them to her and hope that she becomes Mozart. Sit with her. Play with her. Make music with her. Let her feel the magic that comes from playing music together.

 

 

Which instrument have you tried and loved or hated? I want to hear your experience! COMMENT BELOW and let me know.

Something you got as a gift from a relative? Something that was an impulse buy? We learn from each other!

 

Who’s your most (or least) musical parent friend? Share this Tuesday Tune-In.

They want to read this, too. Send this their way and help them find their groove.

 


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One way to feel happier today

Hello, dear parents,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My happiness technique: 3 Grateful Breaths

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

One quick way to solve diaper changing

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here’s what I mean:

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

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

2. It can be a good time keeper.

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

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

Actually, you might you have a Diaper-hanging