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How to respond to tantrums

Dear Tunester,

This is a post I wish I had read when my babies were toddlers. Tantrums can be relentless, and I might be a therapist and all but my fuse can be short as anyone’s when it comes to a screaming toddler who won’t put on a coat in the dead of winter when we need to leave the house NOW.

I hope that when the tantrum tornado hits, keeping these three types in mind will help you figure out your game plan. Often the most torturous part of our baby’s tantrum is our own conflict about how to react.

Here are the three types of tantrums your toddler might be having, and how to handle each kind:

3 Types of Toddler Tantrums:

 

  1. Can’t Express Needs

This happens when your toddler has a basic need – to eat, sleep, drink, change diaper, but doesn’t know how to express it. Not only that, they’re at the point where the need has overwhelmed them – they’re overtired, starving, or uncomfortable.

 

How to handle it: 

  1. Empathize with what’s going on. “I see that you’re tired and hungry. Your stomach must be growling!”
  2. Try to give them what they need.

In an ideal world we’d preempt these situations and not get to the point where our babies are tired and hungry. But after 13 years of parenting I can say I miss the mark at least once a day. Don’t beat yourself up. There are also plenty of times when you’re on it, you’ve packed the perfect snacks and your baby napped exactly when planned. But we don’t hear about it when that happens.

The takeaway here is that when your baby is tantruming because of basic needs, try to satisfy their needs asap.

 

2. Power Play

Power play tantrums happen when your toddler pushes against a limit you’ve set. It might be a safety limit, like touching an outlet, holding scissors, or getting into the carseat, or it might be a boundary you need to keep for other reasons, like not going outside before dinner, or not having another cookie. Either way, its a rule you’ve instated and think is important.

 

How to handle it: 

  1. Empathize with their anger – “I know you don’t want to be in the car seat right now and that you’d rather play.”
  2. And then HOLD YOUR GROUND – “…but it’s my job to keep you safe and that means sitting in a carseat.” Sticking to your limit is not only important for your baby’s safety but it also gives your baby the feeling of security they need. They want to know that your limits are dependable and that they don’t have too much power over you.

 

That said, every now and then we’re in a situation when we realize we might have made a mistake with a particular limit. That’s ok! Let yourself be flexible and pivot if need be, just not most of the time 🙂

The takeaway here is that once you’ve set a limit, try to stick with it. You’ll thank me years from now.

 

3. Impossible Demands 

This one is unique to toddler land – It’s when you give your toddler their sippy cup but they wanted the other cup, and you give them the other cup but they wanted the bottle! With the Impossible Demands tantrum you can’t win. There is no rational way out of these tantrums. Your baby simply needs to emote. They are overwhelmed and most likely can’t be pleased by an action you take.

 

How to handle it: 

  1. Make sure your baby is safe.
  2. Show them that you are there for them if they need you.
  3. Allow them the space they need to express their range of emotions unless it is harming them or someone else in which case you intervene and set a limit.
  4. Be sure to take care of your own needs. These tantrums can be very stressful for parents. Know that the storm will pass.

The takeaway here is to truly let your baby have their tantrum and express their emotions. Being a baby is hard. Being human is hard. Hell, I want to have a tantrum all the time. Give them space to do so.

 

Dear Tunester, I personally found that keeping these three types in mind helped me figure out what to do when my own babies were in the eye of the storm. I hope it helps you too.

One of my favorite podcasts for dealing with this stage is Unruffled by Janet Lansbury. If you haven’t already, I highly recommend emulating her approach and calming style when it comes to dealing with toddlers. 

For more info on how to deal with tantrums, especially type #1, check out this post.

Ok dear Tunie that’s it for today. Let me know if this was helpful! COMMENT below and tell me which type of tantrum your toddler had today.

 

Have a friend who’s been grappling with tantrums? Send them this post and tell them to sign up for more weekly goodies below.

Love Letter to the Modern Father

Dear Tunie,

A couple of weeks ago, my husband was quarantined with our youngest in the bedroom. Apparently we’re doing the ‘rona in stages. During that week I missed him terribly.

When he travels for work, I rally. I turn into power mom and get it all done. The kids are in bed with time to spare and dinner even gets stepped up a notch. But because that week he was home, only quarantined, I still felt a lingering expectation that he would do the dishes after the kids went down like he normally does.

Weeks like those make me realize how much of an equal partner he is in all of this kid rearing business.

Fathers are different these days than they were during our parents’ generation. They’re not the only ones bringing home the bacon and we’re not the only ones changing diapers. Beyond the daily tasks that they take on, they’re also more open to learning from and delighting in their children. 

In many ways, fathers are simply parents. We expect them to love our children unconditionally, support them and guide them, and help with all of the endless to-do list involved in raising kids, just as moms do.

On the other hand, they’re men. And history is changing before our eyes. Our generation is shifting how fathers behave with their kids. Corporations now give fathers paternity leave because they share the burden of diaper changing and 2am feedings, and because they deserve a chance to bond with the baby just as much as the mama does.

And yet there’s still a ways to go.

Today’s post is a love letter to the modern father who is finding their way to be simply parents, not necessarily fathers.

One day maybe we won’t even have holidays specifically celebrating Mothers or Fathers rather days celebrating all Parents, regardless of their titles and pronouns.

But for now, as we live through the transition, let’s honor the dads who are changing the construct of parenthood by being present, open to learning from their kids how to be a better parent, and are willing to take on half of the load.

Here’s a poem I wrote to the dads we love. I’ll be posting a video version today on Instagram too.

 

Love Letter to the Modern Father

You sit at the basketball game dying to coach but are careful not to squash,
You doze with the baby on the couch but wake up for a 3am feed
You play games while dinner is being made and automatically do the dishes after,
You  encourage them to try again but give a long hug when they just can’t,
You’re stern when needed but soften to console
You laugh when your child surprises you and when they’re angry you teach them how to talk it through.
You’re not afraid to show vulnerability but are unshakable in your desire to protect.
You encourage your child to ask and admit when you don’t know.
You’re a jungle gym to jump on and a cocoon to hide in.
You’re stern when boundaries need to be kept but flexible when rules need to be broken.
You let your child find their way but gently guide when needed.
You encourage your child to jump and hold your arms out if they need you to catch,
You strive to be a good dad and know that it often means being a good partner
You vow to be different from your father but also choose when to be the same,

We see you. 

We know you’re changing history.

 

Need tips on how to rekindle the romance with your partner/modern father? Check out this post.

 

Know someone who’s celebrating a modern father this week? Send them this post and tell them to sign up for more goodies.

 

 

Parents, are you Ok?

Dear Tunesters,

How are you doing? It’s not an easy time to be parents. A pandemic, a shooting, a formula shortage, a war, all on top of what is already an extremely challenging time. It’s always hard to parent babies. But these days it feels like the walls are caving in.

After I had my daughter I had a phase when I would see something in the corner of my eye, like a piece of fuzz or a shadow, and I’d spring out of my seat feeling my heart painfully quicken. I was so on edge. 

Turns out, it was normal. It was my primal brain geared up to fiercely protect my baby. It’s the same instinct the bird has as she sits on her nest watching for threats, or the octopus as she feeds her offspring with one eye out for sharks.

In our section-couched carpeted modern world there are usually no animals threatening to attack our baby and there’s less of a need for us to be on guard in that way. But with everything going on your natural protective stress hormones might be working overtime, keepng you in a hieghtened state of fight or flight. I know I feel it.

So today I want to offer you a few strategies to deal with the intensity of the moment.

  1. Acknowledge Your Mama Bear.
    Notice your fierce protective hormones Does your belly feel a bit tighter these days? Is your chest a bit heavier? Do you find your head or eyes darting to your sides to see what’s there? If you do, it’s normal. Just take notice.
  2. Focus on the Micro.
    When we feel overwhelmed by things beyond our reach and control, the best remedy is to focus on what IS ok, what IS going right, and what we DO have. Ask yourself – in this very moment, am I ok? Is my baby ok? Most likely the answer will is yes. Now be HERE. Use the techniques we use in class. Focus on how it feels to touch your baby, notice their smell, their sounds, and even their taste. Narrow down your vision to what is right in front of you and through that you’ll expand your vision and experience.
  3. BOND.
    You know what reduces our stress level and the stress level of your baby? Connection. Find more moments to hold your baby. Let your baby hold you back. Bonding is the key to our happiness, our soothing and healing.
  4. Use a Mantra.
    Last month my son was having some medical issues that had me worrying all night long. The only thing that got me through it was a mantra I said over and over – He’s going to be ok, I’m going to be ok, it’s going to be ok. I even wrote this little ditty about it (I post my latest ditties to Instagram HERE.)
  5. It’s OK, not You’re OK.
    Here’s one last tip to use with your babies and others around you. When people tell you what they’re going through most of the time they don’t need you to fix it rather for you to listen and acknowledge. Your kids might be feeling heightened intensity right now too. And that’s on top of all the feelings their body is learning to process just by being babies. Next time they fall, cry, tantrum, whine, try not to say “You’re Ok” because sometimes they’re not and it can feel negating. They’re hurt or sad or angry. What you can say is “It’s Ok.” Because it’s ok for them to have all the feelings they have.

So dear parents, I want to say to you – It’s ok. It’s ok to not to be ok, it’s ok to have all the feelings you might be having. It’s also ok to be ok despite everything going on in the world. You’re carrying an awful lot right now. You’re doing everything you can to be the best parent you can and it shows. 

And at the same time, notice what is OK right at this very moment. And as you do it, you might even want to sing it like I did.

What have you been doing to get through the stress of these days? COMMENT below and let us know.

Do you have a friend who might need to hear that It’s Ok? Send her this post and tell her to sign up for more weekly tips.

 

Music in the womb means less crying after birth!

Dear Parents in Tune – We talk a lot about how to connect with your baby once they are in your arms. This week, let’s spend some time talking about tuning in to them BEFORE they arrive into your arms. Specifically, let’s see how music in the womb can effect your baby once they’re born. 

This is for all your friends out there who are staring at their belly wondering – will a baby actually come out of my body?? It’s for any of you who are pregnant with your first, second, third, or eighth baby. 

Remember how it felt when you were pregnant for the first time? You had all the time in the world to feel the changes in your body. Every new centimeter was noticed and measured, every bit of heaviness meant a slower step, hunger was tended to and nausea was acupunctured. 

With any pregnancy following, there is no time for that. Discomfort must be tolerated and we plod on, dealing with our toddlers as best we can. But no matter what number you’re on, everyone can benefit from taking a pause and tuning in before the shit hits the fan (and seeps through the onesie).  

And what should you do in that pause? Two things- 

  • Tune in to the changes in your body.
  • Connect to your fetus.

 

Let’s talk body:

 It can feel very scary and exciting for your body to be changing so drastically. I remember the moment I realized I couldn’t suck in my stomach as I walked into a party trying hard to feel my best (before letting it all hang out by the end of the party.)

Here’s a reminder – Take the time to run your hand compassionately over areas that are changing. Allow your body to do the work of growing a human inside you with all the beauty and discomfort that comes with it.

 

Now let’s see how you can connect to your fetus. Why? Because the more you feel connected to your fetus now the more you will once they arrive in your arms. And it just so happens that MUSIC is a direct phone line straight to your little nugget.

 

4 ways to use music to connect to your baby during pregnancy

 

Play music you love for your baby. 

Until about 30 years ago, we didn’t know how much the fetus could hear.  We now know that by 16 weeks, they can hear sounds outside of the womb. A 2013 article shows that babies at birth and at four months old noticed changes in the melodies that were played to them in utero. 

So take the time to put something on that makes you feel GOOD. It can be that song your teenage self jammed to or your wedding song. It could just be “Groove Thang” – don’t judge it! Just play it. There is a good chance your baby will remember that music on the outside.

 

Sing! Even early on.

Did you know that singing to your baby in utero can have an affect on their behavior post birth? This 2017 study published in “Women & Birth” showed that babies who were sung to in utero cried less after they were born!

That’s a pretty good reason to do it. Not only that, When you sing, your body relaxes and vibrates and it’s like an internal massage that affects everything on the inside, as well. 

Where to start? Find some time during your day to take in deep breaths and use your lowest voice. 

Put your hand on your chest and see if you can make it vibrate even more. Let all of your breath come out as you sing so that you take in deep breaths in between phrases. This is called vocal toning. You are using your voice to align with your vocal vibration. 

 

Start to search for your lullaby. 

Once the baby is here, you are going to want to have a lullaby prepared. Your lullaby will be KEY to helping your baby fall asleep and helping you create a dependable sleep routine. I didn’t have one ready to go and I wish I did.  It is so nice to start singing your lullaby from day 1.

And if you start to sing your lullaby while you are pregnant, your baby will become familiar with it and it will work even better.

 

Tune in to the sounds within your body. 

This means sitting still and quiet and tuning in to your heartbeat. This 2015 study showed that pre-term babies who listened to recordings of their mothers heartbeat and recordings of their mother singing had improved neural processes. So tune in with your baby!

 

Connecting with your fetus now means taking your first step toward bonding once they’re here. And as you know, that is crucial for your baby’s well being and your own.

I know, it’s almost impossible while you hae a toddler or more to run after at the same time. But if you can, take a few moments a day especially in the last month of pregnancy to connect. Your body will probably start telling you to turn inward, to start slowing down, go out less, do less things, and LISTEN, and SING. 

 

Did you pick out your lullaby while pregnant (unlike me)? How did you find it? Comment below. 

Have a pregnant friend? Forward them these 4 ways to connect and eliminate one of many Google searches

The baby is already here and you need sleep help ASAP? Check out this post for some tried and true strategies that I’ve collected over my many years of work with parents and babies.

My daughter wasn’t musical…here’s what happened

Dear Tunester,

Today we’re going to talk about whether your child can develop musical talent or if it’s hopless if they weren’t born with it.

My son came out of my belly singing. He could follow a tune by the time he was a year old. My second was the same and seemed to have a knack for rhythm. My daughter, however, was NOT. 

What?! We thought. How could it be that our child isn’t musical?! How will we harmonize on road trips?

But it was undeniable. When she sang it sounded sort of monotone, as if her voice was cutting corners and moving only slightly higher or lower from her speaking voice.

We wondered – could she hear the difference in notes but wasn’t putting in the effort to match them? Or maybe she couldn’t hear the contours of the melody and was singing what she heard?

Was she simply not born with the music gene? We hadn’t changed our behavior from one kid to the next as far as we knew. In fact, if anything, we sang even more because of the other two.

The question this week is this: Is musical talent innate or not? And – Can musical talent be learned? 

Many parents who don’t feel musical wonder about this question. I remember a couple in one of my classes saying – we’re not musical and can’t sing. Is it hopeless for our baby?

Let’s dive into the research and see what we can find. 

Is musical talent innate or can it be learned?

 

First of all, we’re ALL MUSICAL, especially your baby

Music is innate for ALL humans. We all respond to rhythm, melody,  and pitch and have always done so through history. Here’s how we know.

Research shows that infants are born with a wide range of musical capacities. For instance, they prefer listening to music that is harmonic rather than dissonant, they can recognize the omission of a downbeat in a simple rhythm, and they prefer bouncing to the rhythm of the song they are hearing rather than out of rhythm. They also have a memory for music that is stored long term.

 

What about musical talent? Is that innate too?

 

The short answer is yes. But that’s not the full answer. 

The growing consensus among scientists seems to be that people are born with varying degrees of musical sensitivity and proclivity. 

But that’s just the beginning. It all comes down to who STICKS with it.

It’s true that those who are born with a greater aptitude toward music may have an easier time learning how to play an instrument or how to sing. That ease and comfort may encourage them to continue.

But ALL kids can get to the same point if they put the work in. We now know how plastic the brain is. This study showed that with long term and repeated rehearsal of a musical instrument we can alter the brain’s gray matter.

Think of it like a marathon – imagine all kids standing at the start line. They are all about to run the same track. The kids born with musical sensitivity are given a head start. For them, playing an instrument will be easier at first. But throughout the race, some may drop out and some may persevere. And it doesn’t always have to do with musical talent. It may even be more related to GRIT (to learn more about that check out this post.)

 

So what is the biggest factor in my baby becoming musical?

The fact is, whether your baby learns and sticks with music largely depends on YOU. 

This study of 257 children showed that the successful music learners were the ones with musically involved parents. 

Why?  Because musical development is a result of genes interacting with environmental stimulation.

I’ve got the proof to go with all this. Let’s go back to my daughter.

We’ve been working hard with her. When I sing to her I accentuate the melody and her brothers sometimes do too. A few months ago we were singing You Are My Sunshine and she had the rhythm down but wasn’t matching the pitches of the melody.

When she didn’t make it to a note of the song I’d repeat that note with gusto a few times patiently letting her try it.  Eventually, she started catching on. And then she started singing full melodies on key!

The other day she sang Somewhere Over the Rainbow and was able to sing all the hard notes on her own.

It all came down to the fact that we kept rooting her on in the marathon, no matter where she started and how far she had to go.

Now, she can run on her own and she’s in line with all the other marathon runners.

 

So what should you do to give your baby the nurture to compliment their nature?

 

  1. Keep making music – singing, drumming, playing instruments together. The more you do it the more your baby will associate music with fun and togetherness and will start to develop that head start that the musically talented had.
  2. Listen to music – lots of it. In the car, at home, sing with it, dance to it. Let music be a part of your baby’s every fiber. And if you’re looking for easy to sing along to music, listen to mine

 

So how about you dear Tunie? Do you feel musical? Are you concerned that your baby might not end up musical if you aren’t? COMMENT below and let us know.

 

Do you have a friend who’s always been afraid to sing at the campfire and is now wondering about whether her baby will to? Send her this post and tell her to sign up for more Tuesday Tune ins.

How to teach your child to listen to their inner voice

Dear Tunesters,

Today’s topic is about teaching our kids what we often wish we knew how to do ourselves – listen to our intuition. In this post you’ll get some examples of listening to your inner voice and a quick but powerful exercise for teaching your kids how to locate that voice when they’re in a bind.

So many times life throws us an opportunity or a situation that might feel benign or even exciting on the surface, but  doesn’t feel quite aligned with where we’re at.

Here’s an examples: A couple of years ago, when I started working on my online course, I spoke to someone who offered to pay for the production of my next album. Making an album costs A LOT. My head said YEEEESSSS!

But my stomach said Nooooooooo.

I sat with it for a while and realized that I needed to turn him down. It just didn’t feel like the right time. I had to trust that my intuition was guiding me in the right direction and that when I was ready to make an album I would have the opportunity I needed.

That was an instance when I was able to listen to my inner voice but there are so many times when I just can’t seem to hear it.

One of our jobs as parents is to help our kids exercise their intuition muscle so that it will be easier for them to make the right decisions  throughout their lives. Don’t we wish someone had done the same for us? 

So how do we do it?

Basically we need to help our kids distinguish between the voice that speaks out of intuition and the one that speaks out of FEAR.

To do this I turned to some of the current smart, creative, motivated and accomplished women who teach us how to be true to ourselves,  like Elizabeth Gilbert, Luvvie Ajayi Jones, Glennon Doyle, Brene Brown and Marie Forleo.

They teach that the inner voice is steady and calm. We may ignore it sometimes but it is unwavering. It has a quiet confident nature to it.

On the other hand the voice that contradicts our inner voice speaks for our ego. It compares, it’s more aware of scarcity, and it tends to be chattier and quicker. The voice of our ego often has us talking to everyone about our indecision. But in those conversations we’re often hoping that our friend or family member will give voice to the intuition we’re ignoring.

An inner guiding system to teaching our kids to listen to their intuition:

1. Bring awareness to the issue

We tell them that sometimes we know what’s right for us, but it’s hard to listen to that voice. It happens when a friend is making fun of someone and we don’t want to join, or when we are drawn to doing something that we know could be too dangerous. 

2. Give examples

We ask if they have ever felt this conflict. We point out situations in which they might have felt it. Maybe we’ve even observed situations like this for them in real time.

Here’s an example:

The other day I picked up my daughter from a playdate. On the way home she said: “I feel strange.” 

I asked her why and after some prodding she said that something her friend did made her feel uncomfortable (cue the mother freaking out.)

She said that at times her girlfriend became too aggressive in their play and physically hurt my daughter. For instance this happened when she was holding my daughters hand she bent it back too far. My daughter said that she didn’t think her friend meant to hurt her. 

I told my daughter that next time she was with this friend she could tell how she felt. We talked about how to do that. 

But after that I told her something that our generation might not have been told enough:

“You know what feels right and what doesn’t feel right. Always listen to your body and your feelings. If something makes you feel uncomfortable, listen to that voice. You know best”

 

3. Teach them this quick test

This is inspired from Marie Forleo’s “Everything is Figureoutable. I’ve tailored it to fit our kids. I’ve actually used it a bunch of times myself.

  1. Take a moment to think about the situation, opportunity, decision. 
  2. Get still. Take deep breaths.
  3. Ask yourself: When I think about going with a decision, or doing an activity, does it make me:
    •  Feel more relaxed and breathe easier, feel some joy, light heartedness, anticipation, and feel more expansive?
      That’s the calm inner voice.
    • Feel heavier in my chest and make my stomach feel tight, dread, anxiety, feel more contractive?
      It’s a No Go.
  4. Notice how your body feels as you think about each option.

Of course there are moments in which fear is constructive and even imperative for our safety. In those moments we may feel dread and anxiety and will still need to listen to our fear. But those instances aside, we can teach our kids the process above for day to day decisions that might have them confused.

The more they learn to do this now, the more they’ll be practiced by the time they are adults and decisions get even harder..

But parents, there is a risk to listening to our inner voice that we need to tell our kids about top,

The more we do, the more VISIBLE we might be. Meaning, we might go against what others want us to be or do. And that means losing some fans. For instance, if my daughter tells her friend how she feels her friend might not take it well. 

Part of teaching our kids to be in touch with their truth is teaching them that we can’t win them all, but that the cost of going against our truth is often higher than the cost of going against someone else’s.

 

Want a tip on getting your baby to sleep? Check out this post.

Have a friend who needs a weekly parenting boost? Send her this post and tell her to sign up so she’ll get the next one right into her inbox.

 

A trip around the world through DRUMMING

Dear Tunester,

Today let’s take a trip around the world with your baby through DRUMMING.

When I was in my 20s I traveled to Cuba twice. The first time I went with my brother. With wide eyes we took in the polarities of Cuba. The culture was rich with music, food, architecture, energy, and at the same time ridden with poverty. The people had so much passion and joy and even the tiniest baby seemed born with their hips swaying in perfect time with the Cuban ryhthm.

A year later I went back intent on absorbing more of the music. I found a drumming teacher and together we struggled to teach my body how to hear and play the Cuban polyrhythms born out of the perfect marriage of African and Spanish music. I did as well as a “Gringa” could do and I certainly had the desire but it wasn’t in my blood like the kids born into it.

Today, dear Tunie, you may be fantasizing about getting on a plane and going somewhere exotic but this is the next best thing. Let’s take a trip to exotic countries rich with culture through DRUMMING.

Those who have taken my older classes know that Module 3 of Baby in Tune is all about learning music and rhythms from different parts of the world.

Why do a drum circle?

  1. It makes us feel in sync with each other and that is powerful!
  2. It helps us release energy – we all need that right now.
  3. It teaches your baby language!! The syncopation of rhythm teaches your baby patterns of speech.

Why use music from different places in the world?

 

To hold on to your baby’s edge

Your baby is actually much more attuned to rhythms than you. While you might have conditioned your ears to be adept at certain rhythms, the ones often used in your vutlreu. Your baby is born with the ability to discern all rhythms. Studies show that babies could detect changes made to a balkan beat when adults couldn’t. By continuing to expose them to rhythms from all over the world you are developing all parts of your baby’s rhythm hearing brain.

To Change it up!

As you listen to the playlist you’ll hear that each song has a different energy. Some sound festive, some ominous, some romantic, and some frenetic. Some might make you want to get up and dance and some will surely make you want to drum. Music is the best way to shift your energy when you’re at home with your baby.

To be Introduced to Other Cultures

We often introduce our babies to different cultures through food but music is often a portal to really feeling and understanding a culture. When we were on our road trip last year we would arrive at a place and immediately play songs that were created in that place. It helped us connect to the area. Playing music from different countries will complement the books you read from different cultures, the food you eat, etc.

 

To make this very easy for you, I’ve prepared a songlist for you to use.

All you have to do is grab these things:

  1. Drums if you have them.
  2. Boxes, pillows or other things to drum on.
  3. Shakers, maracas, other traditional instruments you might have.

Your baby’s reaction can give you so much insight into who they are and what excites them. 

As you play these songs and drum with your baby,  ask yourself these questions:

Which rhythms made your baby light up and become more alert?
Do they start to move their body? Jump? Sway?
Does it seem like they feel the rhythm in their body?
Which type of rhythm do they seem to respond to most?

Here’s your playlist! Let’s travel across the world!.

This playlist includes:

(Can you tell I have a soft spot for Cuban music?)

Ubukhto Bethu – South Africa
Dale al yale/rumbata – Cuba
Calypso/trinidad and Tobago Sweet Tassa – Trinidad and Tobago
Tal Nasukh/ Anindo Chaterjee – India
Danse De La Grande Case – West Africa
Cool Tabla – India
Cherokee Indian drumming – Cherokee, US
Taiko drums – Japan
Chinese Thunder Drums – China
Kaleidescope  – Brazi
Egyptian dumbek belly dance – Egypt
Bata Repertoire for Egungun – West Africa
Mambo (afro-cuban) – Cuba
Babalu ayeo / Jesus Alejandro – Cuba
Djembe Drums – West Africa
Konkoba – universal african dance and drum ensemble – America
Water come a me eye / Mark Davis – Jamaica
Ma teodora – Cuba
Pepe-didim, Pepe / Mustapha Tettey Addy – Ghana
Koy Drums of Haiti – Haiti
Abdul Khalil Ensemble – Egypt
Tillirkotissa – Greece
Apache Indian Drums – Sedona, US

For more on how to increase your baby’s language through drumming, check out this post.

 

Do you have a friend who is dying to travel but isn’t getting on a plane anytime soon? Send her this post and tell her to sign up for more Tuesday Tune Ins below.

 

How to help your baby through new situations

Today we’re going to talk about how your baby learns to feel about new situations and people. I call it the Quick Glance.

Have you ever noticed that when you encounter a new situation or a new person your baby quickly looks over at you? Just like a cub in the wild, your baby is trying to ascertain  – Is this person a threat? Are we in danger? Are we running? Are we staying? 

Sometimes your baby glances over at you so quickly you barely notice it. And in that instant they gather all the information they need.

Psychologists call this Social Referencing. I like to call it the “Quick Glance.”

The Quick Glance is when your baby tries to understand your emotional state through your facial expression, vocal tone, and body language, in order to form their own response toward other people or events in their environment.

The “Visual Cliff” study is a perfect illustration of this.

In this study, babies between 9-12 months are brought into the lab and put on a table with borders. At the midway point the table has a visible drop that is covered by plexiglass so it looks like it drops, but it doesn’t. A toy is placed at the other end of the plexiglass.

So what do the babies do? They want to reach the toy, But when they approached the plexiglass with the visible drop, they hesitate and freeze. And then they quickly look over at their mother.

They search her face to find signs – is she relaxed? Smiling? Nervous? Tense? And they only keep moving forward when they’re satisfied that their mother is calm.

Your baby is expert at picking up your subtle cues. The thing is, often we’re not even aware of our facial expressions and body language. And sometimes we feel one thing but try to convey another – like meeting someone you feel uncomfortable with but smiling during the interaction. 

Your baby is watching it all.

 

So what can we do to help our babies with their Quick Glance?

 

  1. Own It.
    Simply being aware of the fact that your baby is seeking out your cues will make you be more careful about what you are conveying to your baby.
  2. Be Consistent.
    This one is a tough one – your baby is confused by inconsistency. When you smile on the outside but are feeling tense on the inside, or when you feel ambivalent, your baby has a hard time discerning how to make sense of the situation. We can’t always do this, but try to sync your behavior with your expression (if only we could all do this all the time.)
  3. Calm Down
    Especially when your baby is doing new things, like trying new food, climbing up to the slide, learning how to crawl or walk, etc, they are going to look to you for reassurance. Keep your face relaxed and your expression open and positive. The best way to do this is daily meditation, even if it’s only for a few minutes a day.

Here are some extra tips for relaxing your face:

  1. Pick up the corners of your mouth ever so slightly.
  2. Massage your forehead moving to your temples.
  3. Massage your jaw (we hold so much tension there!)
  4. Massage behind your ears
  5. Meditate! A few minutes a day relaxes your face for the rest of the day.

Want to learn more about the Quick Glance and other ways you and your baby communicate? Check out my FREE masterclass called The Biggest Mistake New Parents Make.

Does your friend want to know more about how to communicate and connect with her baby? Send her this Tuesday Tune In and tell her to sign up for more below.

Join our outdoor and Zoom classes to learn more tips about how to help your baby.

 

 

How to increase language through DRUMMING

Dear Tunester,

Today you’re going to get a short lesson on drumming with your baby so you BOTH get smarter.

Studies show that when you engage in drumming with your baby, it helps them develop language!

The reason is that language is extremely rhythmic.

For instance, when we speak we syncopate words without even realizing it. Think of how you say “It’s fun to drum”. The rhythm goes – ba paa ba paa. There’s a short beat and then a longer one, and then another short beat and a longer one.

If you said it like a robot – ‘It’s fun to drum” ba ba ba ba, it wouldn’t be syncopated. But we naturally syncopate speech.

When you engage in rhythm with your baby they get a chance to practice this.

Another reason to do these exercises below? They’re soothing for your baby. Try these when your baby is feeling a little fussy. You might be surprised to find that your baby becomes alert and still while you’re drumming.

To do this exercise with your baby you don’t need to be a drummer or know how to play fancy rhythms. You really only need to know a few simple techniques that I’m about to teach you.

Short lesson in time signatures and syncopation:

(be sure to head to my Instagram page to see a video of all this illustrated.)

The rock beat rhythm

Most rock/pop/folk songs use the 4/4 time signature. 

4/4 means that the beat will go like this – 1,2,3,4, 1,2,3,4…

For instance, think of Bohemian Rhapsody. You can probably coun 1t,2,3,4 as you listen to it.

 

The lullaby rhythm

3/4 time signature is a waltz. It’s got a swinging feel to it. With this beat you would count to three each measure – 1,2,3, 1,2,3.

Think of the song Rockabye Baby. You can probably count along as you hear it – 1,2,3, 1,2,3

 

The beat in BETWEEN

All this means is the beat in between the numbers we mentioned above – 1 AND 2 AND 3 AND 4.

 

Most important – SYNCOPATION

Syncopation is when you accent the off beats. Or, stated another way, it’s when you leave out certain beats and accentuate others.

 

Let’s do it!

First – clap to a beat – 1, 2, 3, 4. Keep going…

Now as you’re clapping say 1, and 2, and 3, and 4. Keep going…

Now, clap ONLY on 1, and, 3, and.

Now clap ONLY on 1, and, 3, 4.

And now dear parents, keep playing with this. It’s all about experimenting with different rhythms and having fun. 

If you’d like some help and inspiration, come to a Baby inTune class! Spring classes are blooming. Check the schedule here.

 

As you know, the more you have fun with music the more your baby will too.

 

Do you have a friend who’s ready to take her baby’s language to the next level? Send her this blog and tell her to sign up for more Tuesday Tune Ins.

 

How did it go with your baby? COMMENT below and let me know.

6 fresh music activities to do with your baby

Dear Tunester,

today you’re going to get six fresh baby music activities. Let’s do this!

If someone asked you – 

How important is music in your day to day life with your baby, which of these would you answer?

  1. Its what gets me through the day.
  2. Once in a while I’ll put something on but I’m not a singer.
  3. I would love to do more, I just need to know how and what.
  4. Music? I totally forgot about that.

What was your answer? Email me and let me know!

Last year I put this survey out into the ether and 1368 parents answered it. I found out something amazing.

 

44% of you said its what gets you through the day!

WOW! (You can check out the graph at the end of the post to see the exact breakdown.)

I guess we’re on to something with Baby in Tune.

33% of you said you’d love to do more but need to know HOW and WHAT.

And that’s what I’m here for, my friend.

 

Today you’re going to get some new HOWs and WHATs to do with your baby. 

 

You may be stuck at home because of Covid or simply hiding from the cold. Whatever the reason, you probably need some fresh activities to do ASAP. So let’s do this.

 

6 fresh music activities to do with your baby TODAY:

 

Pre talkers:

Activity #1 – BODY LOVE

Touch your baby’s body parts and sing a simple song about them. You can use a melody that exists or come up with your own. Doesn’t have to win a Grammy!

For instance, if you want to use a melody that exists – for instance, to the tune of “This Land is Your Land,” – I love your belly, I love your nose, I love your eyes, I love your thighs…”

Make sure you touch and squeeze each part you’re singing about.

Want to see a Body Love song I just wrote with my daughter? Find it on my Instagram page.

 

Activity #2 – BABY LANGUAGE

Sing a song using only ta ta ta or ba ba ba. Use a melody from an existing song or make one up! Those of you who take my classes know that we always do a song like this after doing rhythm with the shakers.

As you sing this song, bounce your baby to the rhythm. You’ll see their delight in hearing their own sounds in sync with your rhythm.

 

Activity #3 – MODERN DANCER

Put on a song that you love and that makes you feel strong emotions. You know what I mean, that song from highschool or the one that always makes you cry a little, not because you’re sad, but because it brings out all the feels.

Lie down next to your baby and raise your arms and legs, and move them to the music so your baby can watch you. Imagine you’re a modern dancer in a show. Let your baby see your legs up, your feet rolling around, your hands in the air!

 

Talkers and Walkers:

 

Activity #1 – LEAVE THE BLANKS

Sing a song that your baby knows and leave out words every now and then for them to fill in. For instance – “You are my sunshine, my only sunshine. You make me ____”.

Or, even better, make up a song by switching off lines. Your baby sings a line they make up and then you sing a line. This will probably be easier for your baby to do than you think. Doesn’t have to be complicated! A two word line is all you need.

 

Activity #2 – ALVIN AILEY DANCER

Put on a fun song and move around as if you are an Alvin Ailey dancer. As my daughter says, think of it as “gymnastics and ballet put together.” Go wild! Let your body lead. And then – as your baby starts to pick up on it, let your baby lead.

Here’s some inspiration. I love this video of professional dancers following their baby’s lead.

 

Activity #3 – FREEZE DANCE

Who says we can only do this at parties? Make the party happen in your home! It’s so easy these days with music playing from our phones. Play a song your baby loves and teach them how to stop every time the music stops. Your baby will LOVE this. I guarantee it.

 

Let’s get back to the stats.

 

77% of you said that music is VERY IMPORTANT to your day to day life with your baby!

That’s great news. Now all you need to do is experiment with these baby music activities and keep the music flowing.

For even more ideas – come join us in class or check out our online class. You can also check out this post which has a bunch of other ideas.

Do you have a friend who’s pulling her hair out right about now and needs some fresh activity ideas to do with her baby? Send her this post and tell her to sign up for more.

Please Make Mistakes!!

Dear Tunester,

Do you know what makes your baby’s brain grow? It’s surprising. Read on…

If you follow me on Instagram you know that I’m a bit addicted to podcasts. I listen to them in the car, on a run and while cleaning the bathroom. My favorite these days is called Huberman Lab. It’s a show that teaches how our brain controls behavior and health and how we can improve upon it.

In a recent episode he talked about what makes for brain plasticity. Meaning, what triggers the brain to change and grow.

You know what it is? It’s not reading something, meditating, or doing something consistently. 

It’s MAKING MISTAKES.

 

Today I want to encourage you to let your baby make mistakes, and for YOU to make mistakes. Not only that, I want you to make plenty of mistakes in front of your baby.

Huberman says that “errors are how our nervous system is cued…that something isn’t going right, and therefore certain neurochemicals are deployed that signal the neural circuits that they have to change.”

Basically, making mistakes sends a signal to our nervous system that something isn’t working and needs to CHANGE. And it does!!

 

Why is this important for us as parents? For two reasons:

First of all, because your baby is going to make millions of mistakes along the way. Every time they learn something new it will come with some mistakes. And you, my friend may want to help them out so they avoid the mistake you see coming.

I’m here to say – DON’T. Let them make mistakes. They need to for their neural growth.

The second reason is that as you know your baby is constantly watching YOU. So just as important as letting your baby make mistakes is letting yourself make mistakes. Not only that, I want to encourage you to do it in front of them.

The thing is, humans don’t like feeling frustration. But the ones who learn persevere through challenges do very well. It’s what psychologists call Grit.

Your baby is actually born with much more frustration tolerance than you are. They don’t have years of judgment piled on. Most of the time, they are quite willing to try something over and over. Then they may take a break, and then go back to it.

It’s US who often find it hard to tolerate. 

Here are a few scenarios for you to take into your week:

  1. Your baby is trying to get up on their knees but they keep falling.
    Your baby’s brain is growing!
  2. Your baby is trying to turn pages in their board book but they can only do two or three at a time and they keep trying.
    Their brain is growing!
  3. Your baby is trying to learn how to stand but keeps falling down.
    Their brain is growing!
  4. Your baby keeps trying to put the circle toy into the square spot.
    Their brain is growing!
  5. Your baby is trying to bring the spoon to their mouth but the food ends up on the table.
    Their brain is growing!

 

This week, dear Tunie, see if you can change your perspective on your baby’s and your own mistakes. See them as GROWTH OPPORTUNITIES instead of failures.

Want more inspiration for letting your baby try and try again? Check out this blog post.

What mistakes can you celebrate your baby doing this week? COMMENT below and let us know.

Have a friend who could use some mistake encouragement? Send them this post and tell them to sign up for more of the Tuesday Tune In below.

 

The magic toy you’ve been neglecting

Dear Tunester,

Did you know that balls are one of the best toys for your baby? Here’s why… 

You know I’m all about connection right? Helping you find joyful and peaceful moments during your day to bond with your baby.

Well today let’s talk about a much neglected toy in your home that can actually be a connection-maker/brain-enhancer/ body-developer.

Know what it is? BALLS. 

Here’s what playing with balls can do for your baby:

  1. Develop their physical skills.
  2. Develop awareness of their surroundings.
  3. Develop their social skills.
  4. Develop language skills.

Wow! In the words of my friend Mindy from one of our favorite podcasts “Wow in the World,” that’s Bonker Balls!

There are so many ways to play with balls that your baby will surely learn when they are school age. But playing with balls can start as early as now and will have much of the same benefits.

 

Ball Activity to do With Your Baby:

Roll a ball between you and your baby, or around your baby while singing the song below.

Pre-Sitting Babies:

Roll the ball around your baby, bringing it close to them and then close to you.

Sitting and Standing Babies:

Sit with your legs open creating an enclosed rolling area and roll the ball back and forth to each other.

 

Have a few balls around in case your baby wants to explore the texture and shape of the ball through their mouth.

 

Benefits of playing ball with this song:

 

Gross and fine motor skills:

Let’s start with the simple act of rolling. When you give your baby balls of different sizes they learn how to manipulate large and small objects. They use their fingers to push and pick up a small ball, which develops their fine motor skills, and they use their full arms and sometimes whole body to pick up and roll larger balls. That develops their gross motor skills.

 

Develops hand-eye coordination

This one seems like a no brainer – moving an object entails hand eye coordination. But there is another aspect to this. When you play together with a ball with your baby, you are both focusing on the movement of the object. And this is crucial. Studies show when your baby develops the ability to look and manipulate an object, they elicit YOUR joint attention to that object. And that, dear Tunie, elicits joint play=CONNECTION.

 

Spacial awareness

Simply rolling and throwing a ball develops spacial awareness because it teaches them concepts of direction, distance and location. 

 

Object Permanence

It was once thought that object permanence develops at 8 months but now we know that it actually starts to develop around 4-7 months. Basically it is your baby’s ability to know that something exists even when it disappears. Playing games to help your baby understand this is great for their development. And a ball, that comes and goes, is a perfect toy for the job.

 

Language Skills

If you are using the song below while you roll the ball back and forth then you are teaching your baby your name and their name. The ball is acting like a pointer, explaining to your baby that that when the ball is near them you say their name, and when it is near you you sing your name. By using the space you are illustrating the idea of labels to your baby.

 

Social Skills

This game is so simple and yet teaches your baby so much. It is the beginning of teaching them the concept of sharing. By having a joint toy that is being passed back and forth you are teaching your baby that it is ok to release it because it wil come back to them,.

 

Connection and Bonding

Simply by taking at moment to have a joint focus with your baby while doing something playful and open ended, you are engaging in some high quality bonding time 🙂

 

Looking for more musical activities to do with your baby to get through the winter? Try these.

 

Ok Tunie, go forth and play ball! And let me know how it goes.

 

Do you have a friend who needs some more fun in their day with their baby? Send them this post and tell them to sign up for more.

Your Parent Superpower – TRAUMA

The other day at therapy I was talking about the work I do, helping parents connect to their baby, and my therapist said – 

 “That’s what you wanted as a baby but didn’t”.

And I realized she was right.

At the risk of pulling out that tiny violin playing the “poor me” song, I can say that much of what I teach you all, and what I work hard to give me kids, is what I needed as a kid but didn’t always get.

I also had an undeniably wonderful childhood. But the fact is that we all have trauma on some level. It’s inevitable. Our babies will also end up on that therapy couch no matter how mindful we are with our parenting. 

Why do we all end up with trauma on some level?

Because harmful patterns and behaviors are passed down through generations. Sometimes they’re so ingrained that any other behavior seems odd to us.

Sometimes these patterns become obstacles that we can’t seem to overcome no matter how hard we try, like the friend we keep around despite feeling hurt after every time we see them.

Home feels like home – familiar and comfortable – no matter how harmful it is sometimes.

But every now and then, when we put in the work to understand our traumas and what left us feeling abandoned, neglected, or distressed as children, we’re able to make magic happen.

It’s precisely what was most traumatic for us that might just turn into your parenting super power.

 

 

If you can take the time to figure out what your trauma is and where it came from, you may be able push against it, soften, and turn to the world with a burning desire to correct your experience.

How would that look? It would be you acknoledging your trauma and noticing your harmful patterns. Sometimes they’ll spill out with your kids and then the work is in the repair.

When we can bravely say to our kids – “I’m sorry, I screwed up,” we give them a chance to heal and in the process we heal ourselves.

And when all the stars align, the world will benefit from your scar. And your children will feel your passion to make sure they don’t have the same issue.

They may have others, but not that one 🙂

And then that very trauma that left us wide eyed, in a corner, waiting for a hug, will turn into your unique parenting super power that noone else has as strongly as you.

Your biggest job, besides keeping your baby safe, is to mind your inner state so that you can turn your traumas around, turn them into love for your baby, and then dear parent – get the hell out of their way and let them be who they are 🙂

Let’s go out and use our superpowers!!

 

Do you see your trauma as your parenting superpower? Comment below and let me know!

Do you have a friend who needs to know about her superpower? Send her this post and tell her to sign up for future Tuesday Tune Ins.

How to alter your voice

Dear Tunester, 

Today I’m going to explain the importance of your voice for your baby, and how you can alter your voice to be more effective.

As a kid I had a raspy voice. When I sang with my cousins it was clear that they had the “prettier” voices – smooth, light, clear. Mine was a lawn mower.

As I got older I grew to like my voice, or at least fully accept it, and how it always sounded like a whisper, as if I was always telling a secret.

Your voice is our invisible calling card. Its a huge part of how you communicate with your baby. And yet, it’s an aspect of ourselves we don’t often think about.

We tend to focus on clothing, behavior, and facial expressions when we talk about someone’s personality. But studies show that we listen to the sound and tone of voices twice as much as what’s being said.

Your voice communicates your feelings, temperament and identity. 

 

Men tend to feel how poignantly intertwined their voice is with their identity when they go through puberty. Suddenly, songs they once sung seem too high, and people respond differently to them on the phone. Women’s voices often become lower as they age or after they give birth. Joni Mitchell is a perfect example of this. 

When this happens, it can take a while for the identity to catch up to the new voice.

It’s the reason recent science has developed new ways to provide those who need a mechanical voice with one that will be more nuanced and specific to who they are. Now, a 6 year old girl doesn’t need to have the “Perfect Paul” (Stephen Hawkings) or the “Beautiful Better” (Siri) which used to be all that existed.

 

Now let’s think about your baby. Your baby is ONLY listening to the tone of your voice. It is paramount to how you are communicating with your baby. 

With a little awareness and intention, you can alter your voice to be more effective with your baby so that you convey exactly what you want to convey.

 

Here are some exercises to alter your voice in order to be more effective in your communication with your baby:

 

1. Gain Awareness
Often we’re not aware of how our voice sounds to our kids, not only because we’re used to it but because it sounds lower in our heads than outside in the world.
Recording your voice when you are speaking can give you great insight.  We often think we know but it can surprise you.
Part of this exercise is not to judge! You’re just listening curiously.

 

2. Travel in Your Body
Your voice can change vastly simply focusing on different areas in your body as you speak. We sometimes experiment with this in our classes. Try speaking from your diaphragm, from your throat, or from your nose. See how your tone and energy change. This awareness can help you be more intentional with your baby.

For instance, when I record songs, I usually imagine that my mouth is on my belly. It helps me sing from a deeper place.

 

3. Embody Others
This one might be the most effective of all the techniques I use when working to alter my voice, especially when it comes to speaking to your baby in stressful situations. Conjure up a voice that you WISH you had, or someone with a voice you admire, and imagine that you have their voice. Let your entire tone, cadence and melody change to be that person.
I actually do this a lot when I am singing a song at home or at the mic. I imagine I am someone else who I think would sound perfect singing my song – Sara Bareilles, Sam Cooke, Ed Sheeran, and I sing like they would. It often gets me out of overthinking it and into a more calm place.

 

4. Stay Hydrated
The singers among you know this. Keeping your voice hydrated is paramount to keeping it healthy and flexible. Lots of water, tea, and a humidifier can help make your voice feel stronger and calmer.

 

Last Tip:

Skip the voice

Sometimes your body language and facial expressions can say it all. If you are feeling overwhelmed and know that you won’t be able to control your voice, try using your body language instead. 

For instance open your body to a hug or to convey warmth. Or do what I often do when I’m pissed  – simply use THE LOOK.

 

For a great way yo use your voice to SOOTHE your baby check out this post.

 

So, dear Tunester, do you wish you could alter your voice a bit? Or just be more aware of what you are conveying to your baby? COMMENT below and let us know!

 

Do you have a friend who would love to try some of these excercises? Send her this post and tell her to sign up for future Tuesday Tune-Ins.

 

To hear new songs and find out how these tips look in action, follow us on Instagram at Baby in Tune.

 

The best way to read a book to your baby

Dear Tunie,

This week is all about making your book-reading to your baby the best it can be.

Why read books to your baby? The research is very clear – It is extremely beneficial.  Here’s why:

Cognitive: Reading books to your baby develops their language and communication skills. It also develops their ability to think symbolically – a picture = word= thing in reality.

Emotional: Books show pictures of characters with expressions. When you read to your baby you help them make sense of these emotions.

Social: This is the most important one. Book reading is an activity you both do together. You are both focused together and are sharing in an experience. Even better when there is physical closeness as you read the book together.

But HOW you read a book to your baby will have a huge effect on whether your baby is getting the full benefits.

As usual, music plays a big part in your baby’s learning from books. So does your sense of playfulness, Zen, acting skills, and preschool teacher instincts.

Here are some ways to up your book-reading game.

 

How to read your baby books for the most coginitve, social and emotional development:

 

  1. Sing it
    Babies learn language through melody. Books are like a song. Notice how you probably sing song the books you’ve been reading over and over to your baby. That’s great! Accentuate the song, let your baby learn the song. Eventually they will be able to read the book to because they remember the song of it.
  2. Let go
    Does your little baby move forward, backward and skip pages? That’s ok! For your baby things are not linear, that’s something we teach them as they grow. For now, they’re simply enjoying the physicality of the book, the pictures and being with you. Eventually they will want to read from beginning to end. If they’re not there yet, let it go. Enjoy your baby’s refreshing perspective that ther is no end game. That’s our own thing.
  3. Take your time
    Let your baby point to things. What’s more important to your baby than finishing the book is interacting with you. They love the joint attention on something together. They want to show you what you see so you can join in their perspective.
  4. Be the characters
    As you start to get into character books, even something like Goodnight Moon, get into character! Use voices, make it interesting. Through your acting your baby will start to understand the idea that the pictures in the book represent beings with stories.
  5. Show Emotions
    As the characters start to have more complicated emotions, like sadness, anger, disappointment, be the actor you always dreamed about being! Your baby is learning a lot about emotions by watching you pretend.
  6. Leave blanks
    As your baby gets older start asking questions – What’s that? Or let them fill in the end of a sentence they know. Why might they know the last word? Because its like a song!

 

This week I’ll be demonstrating all this on my Instagram channel. Come join me!

 

Dear Tunester, what is your baby’s favorite book? COMMENT below so we can share them with each other.

Do you have a friend who needs some book reading inspiration? Send them this post.

 

Tell them to sign up for the Tuesday Tune In to get more useful tips right to her inbox.

3 minutes is all you need

Dear Tunester,

Today I offer you a 3 minute activity that will increase your baby’s well being and will be enjoyable for you both. Its a win win. Let’s get to it.

2022 has begun! 

Remember how last week we talked about the only parenting resolution you need to have?

It was doing what you actually ENJOY with your baby. And believe it or not, that’s what will benefit your baby’s cognitive, emotional and social development the most.

Today I want to give you an idea for exactly HOW to enjoy your time with your baby.

And the surprising part – You need to do almost nothing.

 

Over the years I’ve learned that one of the biggest reasons you come to our classes and read my blog is to learn how to be more present with your baby.

When we do it right we find the joy that we are craving amidst the exhaustion and endless diaper changes.

So in this first week of 2022 I want to give you a very simple exercise to do TODAY.

It only takes 3 minutes and the reward is HUGE.

It’s unrealistic to think you can (or should) be present with your baby all day. Impossible! You’ve got a million things to do, you haven’t slept a full night in weeks (months?), you need YOU time, and being with a baby is not always interesting or fun.

But if you can find 3 minutes a day to put all your to-dos on the shelf and be with your baby fully, you’ll feel like you won at your day.

 

3 minute activity to ENJOY your baby

 

(i’ll also be posting a short video guiding you through this on Instagram so be sure to follow me there.)

1. Pick the right time

Find a moment when your baby is content – they aren’t hungry or tired, rather they’re perfectly happy to play and explore.

2. Get into position

Try to have your gaze next to theirs. Are they lying down on the floor? Get down on the floor with them. Are they sitting? Sit low so your head is in line with theirs. Are they walking around? Crouch down to their level.

3. Be curious

Your main questions should be – How does the world look and feel for my baby? The answer lies in your asking many questions – What is my baby looking at? Are they holding something? Are they moving around? What is their path? Are they gazing out the window? At what? Are they looking at you? Are they exploring a toy? 

4. Notice your baby’s preferences

Get even more curious about your baby’s interests – Ask yourself specifics like -what part of the toy do they want to explore? What exactly draws their attention outside? Is it the movement of the leaves? What sound just pulled their attention away? 

5. Experience with your baby

When your baby plays with a toy, or looks around, they seem as if they are in a state of flow. They are completely focused on a task, they are working to understand.

Let yourself get lost in their investigation of the world. Let them teach you how to truly examine something that you may have taken for granted for years.

Now notice how it feels for you. 

So many parents in our classes tell us that when they do this they realize how relaxing it is, how enjoyable it is for them.

And your baby loves having your attention with them too. You’ll find that they will play for much longer than if you were sitting next to them on your phone. 

 

So how can we go into 2022 with enjoyment AND our baby’s well being at the top of our list?

Find 3 minutes a day to let your baby lead you in their exploration.

 

Have a friend who needs a tip on how to focus less on the technical stuff of caring for a baby, and focus more on connection and enjoyment? Send them this post.

Tell them to sign up for future posts below:

 

Yes! Please send me the Tuesday Tune-In!

The best way to handle family ‘baby experts’

Dear Tunester,

Despite the pandemic putting a damper on our holidays once again (we hate you Omicron), many of you will be seeing family in the next two weeks. And that can be heartwarming and helpful. But it can also drive a tired mama INSANE.

 

Why? Because our family possesses the unbridled power to expose and push our buttons. Like the Joker to Superman, they have the ability to unearth insecurities and stoke resentment that has been dormant for years. 

 

And here you are, with your Lois Lane baby.  She might give you confidence, but she also makes you that much more vulnerable. 

 

 

How does the kryptonite look? Like this:

“Are you SURE your baby needs to go to sleep right now?

“Did the baby eat enough? Seems like he needs more.”

“Oh she can stay up just a little bit longer to be with her grandma.”

“When you were a baby we just fed you when you were hungry we didn’t notice the times or the amount.”

 

In your sleep deprived, already confused, hormonal state, that doesn’t go down very well, ESPECIALLY when it comes from the emperor Joker – The In-Laws.

 

Don’t worry Superman. Here are 2 ways to go into the holidays stronger than ever and make sure Lois is protected.

 

2 ways to handle unsolicited advice from family:

 

1. Use yourself as a gauge:

Right when your family is passing the baby around one too many times, or when they insist the baby isn’t tired and wants to keep playing, or when they are criticizing your hard-earned routine, use yourself as a gauge for what your baby is feeling.

 

The easiest way to get thrown off is to say – maybe it’s just me. Maybe the baby is fine with all this. 

 

That might be true. But at this stage, while your baby is little, you are very connected to their needs and often even have the same needs. For instance,

 

If you are feeling overstimulated, most likely your baby is too.

If you are feeling tired, most likely your baby is too.

If you need to get away and feed in a quiet spot, most likely your baby does too.

 

Use that superpower!

Your protective energy is fierce right now for a reason. Use it. That means trusting your instincts and not second guessing them in order to make a family member happy.

 

How would that look? 

If you are feeling slightly overstimulated, tired, anxious, foggy, simply say:

“I think the baby needs to go nurse right now. We’ll be back in a bit.”

“I need to go change her diaper. She likes being in a quiet space for that.”

“I’m going to take him on a walk so he can fall asleep. He;s tired.”

 

2. Give a compliment.

Here’s the thing. Your family members give you advice because they want to be involved. They (usually) genuinely want to help. They may even want to correct wrongs they feel they did when they were parents.  

 

But times have changed, science has taught us new ways to parent, and more importantly, you have a different style from your family members.

 

But instead of trying to fight back, or silently stewing and leaving the weekend resentful and annoyed, what if you gave a compliment?

 

This is a practice I first learned from this video about bullying and fell in love with it. It’s a great one to teach your kids too.

 

It would look like this:

 

Them – “When you were a baby we just fed you when you were hungry. We didn’t notice the times or the amount.”

You – “You made sure I was fed and rested.”

 

Them – “Awe don’t put the baby to sleep now. Let me just hold her for longer.”

You – “She loves being with you. I am so glad she has this connection with you.”

 

Here’s the important part – leave out the BUT. You don’t need it. Just let your compliment sit, give it a minute, and THEN take the baby quietly to another room for some down time.

 

The heartbreaking part of it all

 

Your family, and especially your parents, need the same thing you:

To know they’re good parents.

 

They love your baby more than anyone else besides you and want to be near them. They also want to correct their wrongs and showcase their rights. 

 

And what do you need dear Tunie? – to know that they think YOU’RE a good parent. For them to say they’re proud of who you’ve become.

 

Let’s go into this holiday season like Superman – knowing your strengths, acknowledging your weakness, fiercely protecting Lois, and trusting your super-senses to know what’s best for you both.

 

Do you have a fellow supermama who is heading for kryptonite and needs to hear this? Send them this post and tell them to sign up for more in the form below.

 

Do you think you can actually give a compliment instead of stew with resentment? COMMENT below and let me know.

 

(For more on how to handle the family panel of judges read this post.)

 

Yes! Please send me the Tuesday Tune-In!

3 Holiday Music Activities to do With Your Baby

Dear Tunester,

 

Today I’m going to give you 3 holiday music activities to do with your baby including a brand new ditty and a holiday playlist! Let’s do this.

 

When you look back on your favorite holiday memories, what was going on? Where were you? Were you eating? What were you doing? Who were you with? 

 

When we ask this question in class we often get the same answer. You tell us that many of the memories revolve around MUSIC – Listening in the kitchen, singing in church or around the tree, dancing at a holiday party, or pulling out the ol’ Christmas CDs.

 

Here’s why – music brings us TOGETHER. The rhythm makes us feel in sync with each other and melody makes us feel emotionally aligned. 

 

Those who have taken our classes know that we use both of these elements, rhythm and melody, in order to soothe your baby.

 

Now that YOU are the parents you are also the tradition makers for your kids. It’s your job to bring in the music and singing that will stay in your kids’ memories and make the holiday season memorable.

 

Ok so now let’s get to it.

 

3 Holiday Music Activities To Do With Your Baby

 

Try this little ditty

When my babies were babies, I didn’t sleep either. Not one of them were good sleepers. But somehow no matter how crappy the night went, by morning, I forgave them completely (my song Forgive is all about that.)


I remember the feeling of going to get them from the crib in the morning. It kind of felt like I was a kid runing to discover a present. And I realized that every day felt a little bit like Christmas morning. 

 

I wrote this little ditty for you this holiday season. I hope you and your baby love it.


Make a Christmas tune your own.

We’ve all heard songs like Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer so many times we barely register them playing in CVS. That’s exactly why they’re a great melody to use for your holiday ditties at home. 

 

This season, see if you can take some of those melodies and make them your own. This will not only be fun but I assure you it will also help your baby be more cooperative. 

 

For starters, let’s try the tune of We Wish You a Merry Christmas. Because it is a repetitive melody, it’s perfect for swapping in your own words. Here’s an example of what I mean:

 

Now let’s go and change your diaper

Now let’s go and change your diaper

Now let’s go and change your diaper

And you’ll be so clean.

Or – cus you’re stinky but sweet. Or whatever!

 

Or to the tune of Jingle Bells:

Time for bath 

Time for bath

Let’s get in the tub

Let’s take off your dirty clothes

And give you a good scrub

 

Most important – Unleash your silly side!

 

It’s Time to Dance!

You know I love introducing you to the Kindie music out there that you may not know and that I really believe you’ll love. AND I believe wholeheartedly that dancing can get you through your toughest moments with your baby.

 

So here’s a playlist of songs I love for this season. I’m imagining you putting it on and dancing around the house  with your babe. The image is making me smile 🙂 

 

(I’m also imagining you a minute later with a fussy baby that won’t go to sleep. I know. There’s no perfect.)

You can find the playlist HERE.

 

So dear twinkly Tunesters, let’s start filling your home with some music this season. Let’s start making traditions your baby will remember forever.

 

Do you have a friend with a baby who needs some ideas for how to bring music into their home? Send them this post. Tell them to sign up for more.

Yes! Please send me the Tuesday Tune-In!

3 ways my husband and I revive the romance

Dear Tunester,

There are two things that can beat a marriage to a pulp:

  1. Babies
  2. Covid

Since you know exactly what I’m talking about, let’s just call out the highlights.


With the baby – Utter exhaustion, running on empty, and zero self care are not food for romance. Neither is the “Who Sleeps More” debate. I wrote about that here.

 

Beyond that, eroticism is in the diaper bin. Why? Because you are constantly touching, kissing, petting, and practically making out with someone other than your partner – namely, your baby. 

 

And then there’s Covid – Add social distancing to already extreme baby isolation. 

 

Why is isolation a marriage killer? Because in order to feel sexy and desirable we need to be in touch with the best parts of ourselves. And we do that by looking into the mirrors around us. Not actual mirrors, but human ones. 

 

The people we choose to have around help us understand who we are and who we want to become. When we only have our partner around as we did during the last two years, it’s like wearing the same outfit for weeks. Eventually you don’t even glance in the mirror to see how it looks anymore.

 

Once we stop seeing ourselves through the eyes of others we stop feeling special. Sexy, interesting, and so does our partner. It’s a feedback loop.

 

These last two years have been challenging for my marriage. My husband is the best teammate I could imagine and I didn’t want to be stuck in a pandemic with anyone else, but I often felt like romance was a distant memory.

 

I got into bed at night hoping we didn’t have to confront the decision of whether we go hunting for our attraction. What if we didn’t find it?

 

Have you felt that way this year? I got many comments and DMs on my Instagram page this week when I posted this so if you do, know that you’re not alone. And I’m right there with you.

 

So today I’d like to share the 3 things we’ve found to be helpful in rekindling our joint Menorah, or lighting up that inner Christmas tree.

 

CAVEAT – you may not be ready for this. You may still be swimming in nipple butter and butt paste and and can’t even fathom reconnecting right now with your partner.


If that’s the case, that’s ok!! It can take a loooooooooong time before you can even imagine putting your hand on your partner’s thigh while you watch Netflix.

But in case you’re ready and just need a little push, here goes.

 

3 Ways My Husband and I Revive the Romance

 

1. We go away without the kids.


This works like magic. We’ve been in such bad places over the years that I haven’t even wanted to spend time alone with my husband. But a weekend without the kids ALWAYS works. It helps us reset and remember what we like about each other. It takes time so I think two nights is the minimum.

Obviously to make it happen you need cooperative grandparents or a great nanny. I know those are a luxury and luckily, here in Israel, we finally have the grandparents with us.

Keep in mind – you might feel bad about leaving the kids for a weekend. But this could literally save your marriage as it has mine. That’s much more important for your kids than missing you for a couple days.

 

2. We go do something we’re each good at.

 

Esther Perel is the guru on maintaining erotisicm in monogamy. Her shtick is that in order for there to be attraction there needs to be DISTANCE. Not physical distance, but emotional distance. She says that the only way to see our partner (and ourselves) with perspective and added mystery is when we see them in their element.

Think back to when you were first dating your partner. What were they doing that made you feel a jolt of attraction? Were they in nature? Dancing? Singing? Bowling? Cooking? Skiing? I bet it was when they were doing something they’re good at. And at that moment you saw them in their confidence and vitality. And they, in turn, saw it in your eyes and felt it too. The Mirror. 

My husband becomes alive and confident when he is in nature climbing up a mountain.  In those moments I can see the animal in him and it undoes the boring familiarity of “who’s picking up the kids” a bit.

This past weekend we went away and made sure to take a couple hikes through canyons. Once again, I saw him in his element.

So if you’re looking to dig yourself out of Desire Diaper Doom, go do that thing you’re good at and love and let your partner witness it, and vice versa. Let yourself be taken away in order to bring you back together.

 

3. We bring more people around us.


We tend to be with our partners when we’re our most tired and sloppy. We save our energy for the rest of the world and our partner gets the unbuttoned catatonic couch version of us. That’s good for refueling but not great for romance.

It’s cold and it’s Omicron but if you can manage to be with people who make you feel more YOU do it as much as possible. Especially those people who remind you of your humor, talents, interests, etc. We need other mirrors besides our partner to remind us who we are.

This past year I desperately felt the lack of having people around us. We were traveling the US and weren’t really coming into contact with anyone else. The phone calls were important but they weren’t quite enough. I needed to meet with friends and new people in order to remind myself who I was. Now we are able to do that a lot more and it makes a big difference in my feeling of identity.

 

So dear Tunester, what have you done that helps you rekindle the romance with your partner? We’d love to hear. Please COMMENT below.

 

Do you have a friend who feels like nothing can melt the glacier between them and their partner? Send them this post and tell them they should sign up for more weekly ways to make life with babies a bit easier and more fun.

 

Yes! Please send me the Tuesday Tune-In!

The Utimate Fussy Baby Playlist

Dear Tunester,

It’s the witching hour. You’re so tired you’re practically bumbing into walls, your baby is fussy even though you’ve gone through the “what could be wrong?” checklist and can’t find a reason, you’re watching the door just waiting for relief to step in so you can STEP AWAY.

 

And your baby is still FUSSY.

 

I can’t come to your home and give you relief but I can help in another way. This week I’d like to give you a playlist for exactly those moments. With winter on its way, you might be spending a lot more time indoors, which means you could have more of these.

 

The playlist that will not only be enjoyable to listen to but will actually HELP you soothe.

 

When I was in your shoes I wanted someone to just do things for me – wash the bottles, make dinner, call the electrician, so that I could focus on my baby (and resting.)

 

So I’ve done it for you. I’ve made the playlist that hopefully will save you during the witching hour which always gets so much worse as it gets colder outside.

 

The musical process of soothing a baby

 

This playlist is going to take you from rhythm, to reggae, to vocals, to guitar, to soft piano, and hopefully to sleep.

 

When I was recording Soothing on Hello My Baby I remember my producer saying – are you sure you want it to be this fast if it’s a soothing song? 

 

But he didn’t have kids. He didn’t know that when we soothe we bounce fairly quickly. And having a good bouncy beat to do that to is key.

 

So here’s your musical journey. Feel free to comment below and let me know which songs to take out or which you’d like me to add. This is a work in progress.

 

The Fussy Baby Playlist:

Click here to go straight to your playlist.

  1. Your playlist starts with “Cry To Me”, a mid tempo swinging song that hopefully reminds you of Dirty Dancing and makes your hips sway as you bounce your baby around the house.
  2. Babies love Reggae. It has to do with the accentuated upbeat. Think 1, and, 2, and, 3, and, 4 . Rock songs put the stress on the downbeats (1,2,3,4). Reggae stresses the AND which adds bounce. The second song on this playlist is one of the sweetest reggae songs out there by Marley the king – “Three Little Birds“.
  3. I’m in a Taylor Swift mood. Aren’t we all these days? The third song is called “You Need to Calm Down“. Its got a groove with a tempo that takes it down a bit from the songs before.
  4. Parents often tell me that their baby listens closely to the voices of other babies on my song “Ah Ah“. It’s also got an upbeat tempo that is still good for dancing/bouncing.
  5. The next song is “New Soul“. In case your baby hasn’t calmed yet I’m hoping this one will remind you how new your baby is to the world and how much they have to work to get used to it. That could make anybody fussy!
  6. We transition to taking it down a bit with the guitar of Paul Simon on “St. Judy’s Comet“. It’s a beautiful lullaby with a medium tempo. Paul Simon has a way of begging his kid to sleep that makes you feel like you’re not alone.
  7. Babies love to hear our voice. At this point in the playlist I transition you both to songs that are vocals heavy. “Mr. Sandman” is the perfect blend of bounce and harmonious vocals.
  8. My “Soothing” song to start bringing it home.
  9. You Were Born” is one of those gorgeous timeless songs that takes you somewhere else. I hope that at this point your baby’s eyes are starting to droop and you have a chance to sit and reflect. You’re doing great, mama and papa.
  10. In case your baby needs more voice, more love, and gentleness here’s my friend Frances England making her magic with “Little By Little”.
  11. Didn’t Leave Nobody But The Baby” is the lullaby of all lullabies. Is your baby calm yet? I hope so.
  12. To help your baby drift off with a slight smile at the corners of their mouth and make you both feel like you’re falling into a cloud, here’s my friend Kira Willey with “How to Be a Cloud.”
  13. For good measure I added my “Sleep” song here.

Click here to go straight to your playlist.

 

Need another excellent tip on how to get through the Witching Hour? Click here.

 

So how did it go? Did the playlist work? Let me know which songs did and which didn’t. COMMENT below.

 

And most importantly, if you have a friend who is heading into winter with their little baby and you want to send them some help during fussy moments, share this post with them.

 

And tell them to sign up for more just like this by adding their name to the list.

Yes! Please send me the Tuesday Tune-In!

To sleep train or not to sleep train?

Dearest Tunesters, today’s topic is one that I know you think about ALL the time – SLEEP.

 

Believe me, I was right there with you. I was blessed with three terrible sleepers. Apparently there are miracle babies out there who sleep through the night from the get-go. I didn’t get one of those.

 

I obsessed about sleep and how to get it with each of my babies. I read the books, I googled, I spoke to specialists, I experimented with methods, and I obsessed some more.

 

If you’ve got a baby who doesn’t sleep well, most likely you’re wondering two things:

 

  1. Should I sleep train or not?
  2. (And if so,) What method should I use?

 

Here’s my answer to these questions which is based on my experience as a mom, my professional experience with you all for the last 10 years, and some of the latest research.

 

The THRESHOLD theory

 

What I’ve realized is this: We all have a different threshold as to how little sleep we can tolerate in those first years with our baby.

 

Some reach their threshold in the first months. They realize that they can’t be good parents unless they get more sleep. Perhaps they are also working, perhaps they have other kids at home, maybe they are single parents, or maybe they’ve noticed that the lack of sleep is having an affect not only on their physical well being but on their emotional health.

 

I was in that category with my second. I reached my threshold quite early.

 

Some reach their threshold later in the first year. Although they absolutely want to sleep more, they aren’t ready to take extreme measures to make that happen right away. They want to ride it out a bit more and see if the baby will find a sleep pattern on their own.

 

I was in that category with my first. I reached my threshold at around 8 months (he did not find a sleep pattern on his own ?).

 

Some reach their threshold a lot later. They’ve made some peace with the idea that they won’t be getting 7 unobstructed hours of sleep for a while. They can handle the exhaustion and have found ways to maintain their own health despite it.

 

Are you wondering what camp you’re in? Don’t stress. Google won’t have the answer for you. Your friends won’t have the answer for you.

 

When you reach your threshold depends on many factors including your home situation, your health, how much help you have, and your baby’s temperament.

 

But here’s the important part –

When you hit your threshold, YOU’LL KNOW. 

 

You’ll feel compelled to take action and it won’t even be a question. You will no longer be asking anyone who will listen – “should I or shouldn’t I?”

 

And that means that until you hit your threshold, you can relax. You don’t need to obsess about it any longer. If you’re going back and forth about it, it means what for whatever reason you simply are not ready.

 

So give yourself a break. You’re job is simply to listen to that voice inside you that says – not yet, or NOW.

 

Here’s what I want to scream from the rooftops – 

 

  1. There is no conclusive evidence on the best time to sleep train. 
  2. No matter when you take action to help your baby sleep through the night, it’s going to be HARD.

 

There is no RIGHT TIME to do it other than your own gauge.

 

And then the only question that remains is: Which method?

 

The fact is that no matter which sleep training method you decide on, it’s not going to be fun. Your baby will fight back whether they are 4 months or 2 years old and it will break your heart at any stage. There is no evidence that one method works better or is better for your baby. It comes down to you using the method that feels right for YOU and your family.

 

So to recap – 

  1. Noticing when you reach your threshold is key. It’s what makes you a good parent. It means you’re noticing what you need in order to be available for your baby.

  2. Until you get there, lay off the obsessing. Let yourself enjoy this time with your baby,  even the wake ups. With my third I fully surrendered to feeding through the night in a way I didn’t with my first two.
  3. Once you are ready to sleep train pick a method that feels right. They are basically variations on the same method ranging from more hard core to less hard core.  Unfortunately no matter which you choose, it’s going to be hard on everyone.

 

Whether you are planning on training or not, this post might help get more sleep you in the meantime and put good practices into place.

 

So what do you think dear Tunester? Do you agree with my Threshold Theory? COMMENT below and let me know.

 

Do you have a friend who is drowning in articles trying to figure out what to do? Send them this post and tell them to sign up for more.

 

Yes! Please send me the Tuesday Tune-In!

How to teach your baby a song

Hi Tunester,

 

This week you are going to conduct a science experiment with your baby. Let’s see if they can learn a song in a week.

 

Think it’s possible? I do too.

 

The tools we’re going to use to make this happen are repetition, gestures, and connection.

 

REPETITION:

Your baby is constantly looking out for patterns.  They compute a repetition and remember it. After they see something happen twice they already expect it to happen a third time.  Repetition is a major key in your baby’s learning.

Songs take that a step even further. Because they always repeat the same way (as opposed to speech,) they are much easier for your baby to learn.

 

GESTURES:

Songs alone allow your baby to learn through their auditory sense. Adding gestures to a song allows your baby to learn through visual, tactile and kinesthetic modalities as well. 

 

CONNECTION:

Your baby doesn’t necessarily need connection in order to learn. Little scientists, they are absorbing new information all the time regardless of your presence. However, adding connection, the feeling that you are both having fun together while you sing, will make your baby associate the song with pleasure, and that will increase their memory for it.

 

Sound good?  Here’s what you’re going to do – 

 

  1. Pick a song with hand gestures. Even better if there is some touching involved.
    You can use my songs, like Bikeride, Galloping Horse, Flying Hands, Rocking in the Boat, New Words.) Or an old fave like Itsy Bitsy, Open Shut Them, Head Shoulders Knees and Toes.
  2. Sing it every day, twice through in the morning and twice through in the afternoon. These songs are literally 15 seconds long so this may sound like a lot but its not. You can even do it first thing in the morning and right before your bedtime routine.
  3. Accentuate the words, go big with the hand gesture, let your voice go with the melody, really go for it. This is key. Your baby learns through dynamics. Show them highs and lows in your gestures and with your voice.
  4. Look into your baby’s eyes. Let this be a moment of connection. As you are singing, enjoy your moment together. Even if they are little and aren’t smiling yet, know that your baby is watching you and listening to you intently. And if they are on the move, do it during a moment when they are steady, like when they’re in the highchair.

That’s it!

Now – how will you know if you’re baby LEARNED the song?

 

If they are old enough, they may start singing with you and doing the gestures with you. Please do comment below when/if this happens. Even better, post and tag me in a video of your baby singing the song along with you.

 

If they haven’t started gesturring yet, the telltale sign will be what they do right as you start to sing. If they immediately start smiling, kicking, looking into your eyes, then you know they’ve learned the song and are expecting the rest.

 

Sound good? Let’s do this experiment!

Comment below and let me know what song you’ll be doing with your baby this week.

 

Have a friend who just had a baby who might like to join our experiment? Send them this post! And tell them they should sign up to receive more just like it.

 

 

Yes! Please send me the Tuesday Tune-In!

How to raise a morning person

Today’s tip is a simple reminder. Your baby is learning how to be in the world by watching YOU.  Let’s talk mornings.

 

You know how some people naturally wake up with a smile? And some wake up feeling like the sunlight is an annoying imposition?

 

I have a feeling you’d like your baby to be in the first category. You want them to grow into someone who wakes up with a bounce, ready to tackle the day with energy.

 

The good news is that you have a say in that.

 

It’s true that temperament, personality and circumstance  play a part. But how we wake up has a lot to do with habit. We get used to behaving in certain ways, and our behavior is often a reflection of those around us.

 

So here’s what I’m proposing…

 

Despite the fact that you had to wake up to your baby 17 times last night, and that you never actually got out the door because your baby had a blowout just as you were stepping out and by the time you got them changed all over again it was raining, and that your to do list is longer than a Kmart receipt…

 

Greet your baby in the morning with a smile.

 

(And for extra credit add a song, which will do so much more. Here’s a post about that.)

 

I know. That’s easier said than done. 

 

When your exhaustion level is so far beyond another cup of coffee and you start your morning fantasizing about a nap, smiling in the morning feels like the uncomfortable halloween costume your mother made and you can’t stand wearing.

 

But there’s a lot at stake here. If you manage to do this your baby learns something they will take with them for the rest of their lives:

 

That it’s up to us to start the day out right no matter what came before it. And often all it takes is raising the corners of our mouths and greeting those around us with a wink.

 

Obviously, sometimes we just can’t smile. We’re too overwhelmed. Life feels too heavy, too dark.

 

But I’m talking about those days when we just need a bit of a nudge.

 

Morning is an opportunity for a reset. You get to emotionally start over.

 

And your sweet baby is eagerly waiting for you like a super fan at a Harry Styles concert. All they want is for you to come to them. Your mere presence makes them happy!

 

So on those days when you just don’t feel like smiling, take a breath, move a slower, remember that your morning smile teaches your baby so much more than what they see in that very moment.

 

And here’s the best part – when you smile at your baby in the morning they’re going to smile back even bigger, and that smile is going to give you a boost, and then its a neverending feedback loop. 

 

Until the meltdown. Or the blowout. But no matter what the day brings you had your morning smiles 🙂

 

So what do you think – are you cursing me right now for even assuming you might be able to smile when you’re so darn exhausted? Or is this something you try to do with your baby? Comment below and let me know.

 

Do you know someone who needs a short and sweet weekly tip? Send them this one and tell them to sign up for more.

 

Yes! Please send me the Tuesday Tune-In!

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.

___________________

 

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.

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!

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!

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? 

 

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!

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

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.

 

Do you have a friend who could use a dose of Baby in Tune each week? Send them this post to sign up.

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.

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!

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 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.

 

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!

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!

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.

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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.

 

 

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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What makes for an expert parent?

I’m really excited about this Tuesday Tune In, friends. It’s about parents taking a page from sailors in order to figure out what makes for an expert parent. It was inspired by something a yoga instructor said in class this week. (Ok. It was Chase Connolly from my favorite studio.) I’ve been thinking about it ever since. And you will be, too.

He said, “Joy is technical.”

I said, “Huh?” (from my downdog.)

He gave the example of a sailor being caught in a storm. If the sailor is new and unskilled, then a storm could be a terrifying and traumatizing experience. However, if the sailor is an expert and has years of experience, then getting stuck in a storm might be exhilarating and maybe even a joyful challenge.

It made me think of parenting. I wondered: What makes for an expert parent? Is it the technique we gain from experience or is it something else?

Expert sailors (and parents) have learned their technique:

  • which bucket (bottle)to use
  • how to hold the wheel (baby) in the correct position
  • where the lifejackets (pacifiers) are hidden
  • when to fiddle with the rudder (humidifer)
  • how to tie a knot (cloth diaper)

But more than that, expert sailors (and parents) are defined by their EMOTIONAL technique. It’s not just about finding solutions, rather it’s about finding a state of mind. The expert does not get crazed by the storm.

Deep in a moment of crisis she knows to say to herself- I will get through this and it will be ok. Partly this comes from experience. She has learned that the storm will blow over and peace will follow.

But partly it is the work of cultivating a deep sense of confidence. It takes some effort to truly believe that everything will be ok. That is the work of the expert parent.

In moments of storm the expert parent says: “I am taking care of this baby and I love this baby. My baby might be frightened but I am not because know I will figure it out. If she cries, it’s ok.”

Why is this so important? Because our baby needs us to believe it too.

 

So parents, here are some strategies for weathering the storm with grace:

  1. Take a breath. Maybe two.
  2. You may need to walk away for a minute knowing that it is for the best in the long run.
  3. You may need to tune in to what YOU need at that moment in order to know what your baby needs. maybe it’s a walk outside. Maybe it’s a song.
  4. Ask for help when you need it.
  5. Know that the storm will pass.

It is not necessarily working to overcome the storm rather to accept it. It is part of sailing. It’s part of parenting. We can’t always make it go away. We do our best to help and we have the confidence that eventually it will pass. The sun will peek out from the clouds and there will be a sunset and a glass of wine waiting.

These are my strategies but I want to hear yours. Let’s brainSTORM on this. Please share below in the comments.

Now let’s look at it from another perspective – the passenger’s.  As a passenger on the expert sailor’s boat we might feel frightened, but our fear would be contained by our skipper. We would have confidence that it would all be okay. On the novice sailor’s boat, it would be quite a shocking experience to be watching them frantically trying to troubleshoot – raising the sail, bringing down the sail, fiddling with the rudder, throwing things off the boat, etc.

Our babies need us to convey confidence that the storm will pass.

They register our trials and errors and our distress. Although they might feel scared, panicked, or confused, they trust us and need us to contain their anxiety.

So back to joy and technique – We may never fully feel that we have accrued enough technique to parent expertly. But we can work to cultivate confidence that the storm will pass. And that will open us up to experiencing all the joys that come with it.

 

How do you weather the storms? COMMENT below and let me know. Do you take a breath or two? Do you take a break yourself or turn to music?

Know a novice sailor or an expert one? Share this Tuesday Tune-In. We’re all making our way across this ocean together. Forward this email to all the sailors (parents) out there!

2 steps to feeling closer to your partner

Hello dear In Tune Parents,

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

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

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

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

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

How to Intimately Reconnect with your Partner:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

All for now,
Love Vered

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

3 ways to get your baby drumming

Friends – It’s Tuesday Tune-In time.

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

Ok. Here we go.

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

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

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

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

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

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

THREE WAYS TO START A FAMILY DRUM CIRCLE

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

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

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

If your baby isn’t sitting and drumming on their own yet, you can drum right by their ears and give them a stereo rhythm coming from both sides. You’ll see how your baby immediately becomes interested. In fact, it is a good trick to do when your baby is a little fussy. Often a beat by their ears can snap them out of it.

This song Galloping Horse was created to start rhythm with our babies. It also includes a bunch of hand gestures parents in my classes said their babies love.

2. Pick an area of the world you’d like to visit with your drumming.
Good options are: Africa, Cuba, Middle East, the Caribbean, India or others. Somewhere pique your interest?

Now, look up “African drumming.” Once you find a song that inspires you, you and your baby can drum along to that song. It’s pretty fun to jam along with music that you’re listening to. Especially drumming.

Recently in my classes we traveled into Asia through Japan and China. Taiko drumming, from Japan, is often accompanied by choreographed dance. And Chinese drumming can sometimes be lyrical and tell a story.

Although our classes are comprised of babies and parents who often don’t consider themselves musical, after we listen to music from a particular culture there is a distinct feeling to each drum circle that is clearly inspired by the music we just heard.

3. Listen very closely to the sounds people around you are making.
This reminds me of a game my kids play where they see how high a number they can count to. Each person says one number spontaneously, without designating an order.

If you’ve ever done this, then you know that the exercise sharpens your focus on being in the moment. It makes you stand in a group and look around with anticipation, wondering when the others will say a number and when there will be space for you to call one out. Most of all, it perks up your ears.

The best kinds of drum circles are like that. When each person listens very closely to the music and the sounds that others are making. The idea is to really be on the edge of your seat anticipating and excited by where your sound will fit into the sound of the group. It can feel pretty profound.

This drum circle may sound different than what you are used to. It may not have a steady beat, rather it may have a loose more spontaneous feel to it, like a conversation.

As way to truly converse through music, try mirroring your baby’s beats and vocalizations with your beats and voice as well.

If for just a few minutes a day we can take a moment to listen closely to the sounds around us – the sounds our baby is making, and our response to those sounds – we may just tell a story with our music.

(Feeling like a metaphor for life and parenting again?)

Just remember: The more you get into it, the more you will enjoy it. So let go of inhibitions. And know that, in order to do that, you need to play for much longer than you would think.  So start and don’t stop until the story you’re telling comes to a close.

What have your drumming experiences been like? I’d love to hear about it in the COMMENTS section.

Did you drop in to a drum circle in college, on a trip or in a recent baby/me class? I want to know. Write a comment!

Who else needs baby/me activity inspo? Share this Tuesday Tune-In. I know the days can be long. Share this fun and emotionally connecting activity with a friend by clicking Forward!

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Yes! Please send me more of the Tuesday Tune-In!

A quick way to feel present with your baby

Good, good morning to you – moms, dads, grandparents, and caregivers.

It’s time for The Tuesday Tune In. This week, I’m telling you one super-quick, super-easy way to be present with your children.

You know that moment when our babies or kids ask us to do something “one more time”? I know you do.

We all love their desire for more Together Time – but in that moment we can pass on the opportunity. Often it’s because it’s nearing the end of the day and we’re too worn out. Or we see that little bit more as just TOO MUCH right then.

Or – if you’re like me – you’re just so ready for the fast-approaching Me Time.

So, you’ve probably already guessed what I’m going to tell you to try this week:

Push yourself to do that thing ONE MORE TIME.

For my kids, it’s an extra hug after bedtime kisses.

Have you ever seen a horse nearing the stable after a long walk? That’s when the horse’s walking turns into a trot because they know they’re almost home.

At 7:55pm, I feel me-time becoming a reality and I start to gallop home. And it’s right when I reach the stable when the kids each ask for one more hug.

For your child it might be asking for you to rock them one more time, to walk the curb like a balance beam one more time or to sing a chorus one more time.

I say, for the next week, Let’s see what happens when we push ourselves to give in for those two extra minutes – whether it’s the extra hug, the detour or the added rocking.

One of my biggest struggles as a parent is to do all of the things I do every day (career, errands, tasks, social life) and also find a way to be fully present with my kids.

I’ve found that this is one simple shift in my behavior that changes everything.

One day recently I went back and lied down with my daughter in her bed for a moment and I gave her a long, delicious hug. I let my tasks go. The emails would wait. The mess would still be there. And I gave in to two minutes of being fully present with her.

Later I realized that it was the best part of my day.

How did I realize the power of “one more time”?
I wrote the extra hug in my Five Minute Journal.

A couple weeks ago, I sent out an email about a practice called The Five Minute Journal by Tim Ferriss. (Read that full post here.)

I noticed that at the end of the day, when I was writing my list of amazing things that happened that day, I would consistently write about the extra hug. And then the next day when I was writing my list of what would make the day great I started to put down the extra hug. Because: Why wouldn’t I make my day amazing?

So try it. See if it makes your day amazing, too.

What’s your child’s “one more thing”? Comment and let me know.
One last dance-off? One last tickle fight? It’s different for every child. I want to know yours. Drop me a line here.

Glad you read this Tuesday Tune-In? Share it – one more time!
Quick. Now. Before you’re ready to move on to Me time! Forward to a friend, you good samaritan.

Do you have a friend with a baby who needs sleep asap? Send them the Easy-Bedtime Lullaby Kit.

One trick to feeling good about your singing

Hi, tuned-in moms and dads,

This week in the Tuesday Tune In, I want to offer you a strategy for feeling good about your singing voice especially when singing with your baby.

You might be surprised to hear: Whenever I sit down at the microphone to record vocals for an album, I have a mini freak-out. I’ve never thought of myself as a great singer. What I really wanted since I was a kid was to be able to sing like Mariah Carey or Beyonce or other singers who seemed to have endless flexibility in their vocals. I hope you’re not reading this thinking – “Oh please. She has a beautiful voice.”

Because that’s my point:
Everyone feels insecure when they sing. (Even those who make a career out of it.)

If you haven’t grown up singing in your home or with your family or friends, then it probably feels even more uncomfortable and scary.

So, I’m going to give you a strategy.

Here’s a method that I use when I’m singing at the mic. I’m hoping it will help you when you are singing to your baby. Because here’s the thing: Your baby wants to hear you sing. More than Paul McCartney, more than Aretha. Your baby wants to hear YOU.

The trick to STOP JUDGING and START LOVING your singing voice:

1. Relax your voice by taking in a deep breath before each phrase.

This is important because if your body tenses, then your voice will immediately feel constricted. Once that happens, our brains recognize the discord and we judge ourselves from the get-go.

2. Hear your voice as if it is coming from outside of you.

As you are singing try to hear your voice as if someone else is singing to you. This is the hard part and the incredible part. You might need to close your eyes as you do this but if you manage to do it, even for a minute, you may feel soothed by your own voice. Instead of judging it, you may enjoy it. This is because we are much less judgemental of others than we are of ourselves.

This technique is a bit easier in a group when you can focus on everyone else’s voice instead of your own. We do this alot in our classes. When shifting our focus to the voices around us we notice that our own voice tends to be more in pitch, more relaxed, and seems to find its place among the other voices in an effortless way.

I learned this while recording my albums. My biggest task in the studio was to get out of my own head. If I didn’t, I could feel my inner dialogue getting the best of me just a few words in. My voice felt and sounded constricted and didn’t seem to flow. If someone could’ve record my thoughts during those few words, they would probably have seen a quick moving list of comments – “You sound terrible,” “You shouldn’t be singing this song,” “That note was off,” “Your jaws is not relaxed,” “Sara Bareilles sounds much better” or, “No one will want to hear this.”.

That voice can be SO loud. And while we all have a version of it, some hear it louder than others.

I know this from years of doing classes and singing with parents. Many don’t feel comfortable singing in a group or, if they do, they will be sure to sing under their breath so no one can hear.

There’s a good reason for that. Singing is not like talking. Speaking often comes from an intellectual place. But singing bypasses our intellect and comes directly from an emotional place. That feels vulnerable no matter who you are.

But that is what makes singing so powerful.

Tonight as you are singing a lullaby to your baby, try it. It’s a mindfulness exercise and it’s not simple but it’s worth it. Why not let you AND your baby be soothed by your voice?

How comfortable are you with your voice?
Have you overcome insecurities while singng? How?
I want to hear!! Email and let me know.

So many parents in my groups feel insecure about singing. Your stories can help them overcome their anxiety.

Love this Tuesday Tune-In? Share it with a mom friend or dad friend. The ones who sang at your wedding and the ones who won’t even karaoke. Forward away.

Love Vered

Sleeping Much? I didn’t think so.

Download the FREE Easy-Bedtime Lullaby Cheat Sheet now

Article in Scary Mommy!

Hello dear parents!

How cool is this? Scary Mommy published my article about getting siblings to stop fighting. I’d love to hear what you think. Also, has the album been helping at all? My hope is that it helps to raise some awareness in your family as to dynamics, challenges, and just feeling like we are not alone.

“Usually the fights have to do with sharing. Sharing a toy, a friend, a cousin, a food. And they do want those things, but below the surface, that’s not really what they are fighting over. They are competing for the love and attention of us parents. They want to know – do you love me the most? Do you think I’m the most special of all your kids? Am I unique and special?”

https://www.scarymommy.com/how-i-got-my-kids-to-stop-fighting/

NEW ALBUM IS OUT!!

Hi everyone,
I am so excited to announce that my new album has been released to the world. It has been a year of HARD WORK. Seriously, doing my classes, training a new therapist, recording an album, launching a Kickstarter, and oh yeah, raising three kids, has been alot this year. But now I am at the other side of it all and can take a deep breath in.

The album is all about SIBLINGS. The Kickstarter campaign really explains where I was coming from with this one. Click here to see the video. This album was made with all of your help. I could not have done it without you.

It is already getting great press and airplay. But most importantly, I am hoping you all like it. Recently I received an email from a fan that made me feel like all of my hard work is worth it:

“The songs from the new album are beautiful and brought me to tears sometimes. Most of all, I was able to reflect on how much your class has meant to R and I during this profoundly important year and as my little lady is about to turn one! Thank you for what you do. I think yesterday was a testament to everyone around that you are meant to do the work that you do and to touch the lives of all of us in an awe-inspiring way.”

You can now purchase the album on Itunes, Amazon, or anywhere else. Please do check in and tell me if/which songs resonate with you.

Lots of love,
Vered

For the NON-CHEF (/working+distracted+couldn’t be bothered/parent)

I am not a chef. I admire and envy those people who feel so utterly comfortable in the kitchen. Usually it is because they have been watching their mother (father?) cooking in the kitchen since they were kids. There was no scene like that in my house. My parents both worked a lot and I was a typical 80s key kid. Once we moved to Israel when I was 11 I remember making my own chocolate spread sandwiches for school and throwing together dinners that were usually omelet, toast, cream cheese.
My mother did have two or three meals that she made. As did her mother, as do I. For years I have been trying to expand on those and maybe this year will be the year. But for now I thought I would post a sample week’s menu as we start the school season. The thing is, if it were just my husband and I we would probably eat odds and ends from the fridge every night. But we have to feed these children balanced, healthy meals goddamit.

Spaghetti. Yum.
Spaghetti. Yum.

This menu is for my fellow NON-CHEFS. Those of you who regularly use things like salad spinners, graters, mincers, and food processors need not read on. Unless you want to feel good about your cooking abilities and chuckle about mine.

My hope is that you will post your weekly menus in the comments too. I need more suggestions and I imagine others do too. Meals that are quick and easy with very few ingredients are the ones I go for. Also, I don’t do meals that need any earlier prep time. That is reserved solely for dinner parties in which I want to impress friends.

You might read these and think – my kid would never eat that. Well sometimes mine don’t either. But I insist on saying to them – this is what is for dinner. if you don’t like it then don’t eat. I do allow for a banana or apple at any meal even if it is not on the table.

7 Meals that Can be Done FAST

1. Meat Sauce Spaghetti

  • In a skillet fry the meat (I use organic farm raised shredded beef. no need to add oil)
  • Drain fat
  • In a pot fry onions, add red peppers,
  • Add tomato sauce from a can (I use the ones that are only tomato sauce without added seasoning) and maybe a small can of tomato paste to add thickness, and meat.
  • Boil spaghetti

2. Taco/Burritos

  • Soft tacos (my kids like whole wheat tortillas. they aren’t really tacos at all but are bien enough)
  • Refried beans – sometimes not even heated
  • Rice – depends how much time you have. White for fast, I like brown, farro if I am feeling daring enough to trick the kids into thinking it’s rice
  • Avocado slices
  • Maybe cheese maybe salsa
  • Sauteed onions and peppers if I am feeling fancy

After making two meals I usually need a rest.

"Tacos" rolled in a soft tortilla and roasted veggies.
“Tacos” rolled in a soft tortilla and roasted veggies.

3. Frozen Pizza

  • We like Amy’s gluten free with spinach. It is very crunchy and tasty and although the kids are not gluten free I am.

4. Fish or chicken cutlets

This is really the most time intensive. It might be easier and faster to bake the fish or chicken but my kids like this.

  • Two plates – one with beaten eggs, one with almond meal (or other bread crumb). Put fish first in egg, then in crumbs (till covered).
  • Fry in skillet till golden. I use coconut oil because it comes out yummy.

(You can tell I am not a chef by how I am writing all these out. But I DO know they like to say the word “golden” a whole lot.)

  • Roast veggies – this is an easy staple for many meals. I often cut up whatever veggies we have (sweet potato, kale, brocolli, cauliflower, beets, onions, zuchini), put them in a baking pan, mush them around with olive and salt and throw the in the oven. Sometimes the kids nibble on it sometimes they don’t touch it. I love it.

5. Sushi Order-In (I realize this should not go on a recipe list but I want to put it out there that I allow myself a night of ordering in. Sometimes it is even cheaper than the other option.)

We all agree that this is the best meal of all - ordering in
We all agree that this is the best meal of all – ordering in

6. Stir Fry Chicken

  • Cut chicken breast into small pieces.
  • Cut carrots and celery and whatever else into small pieces
  • Fry onions, then chicken for a while. Throw in veggies.
  • Make rice

Kids usually eat the chicken pieces without the veggies. I eat the veggies.

7. Weekend meals usually consist of lots of smoothies and sandwiches, and french toast for dinner

Please post your easy meals! Help out a fellow non-chef.

Helping Them Connect the Dots

My 4 year old did something terrible and unthinkable. He choked his 1.5 year old sister, enough to make her cough. He has pushed her before, grabbed from her, or given her a too-hard hug. But this felt alot different.

I was terrified, mortified, and so angry. After making sure she was ok I sent him to his room. I needed to collect myself as much as I felt he did. My thoughts raced – how could he do this? what made him do it? my mind fast-forwarded: am I raising a murderer? a psychopath? I felt fear and shame. Have I failed as a mother? Sometimes all it takes is one moment like this for me to doubt all of the intentional parenting I pour my energy into.

So I took a breath and went into his room. I impressed upon him the gravity of what he had done. By my initial reaction he already knew it was serious. He was shaken and scared because he did not truly mean to put her in danger. In fact I don’t even think he meant to hurt her a lot. I think he wanted to throw her off her course. Not that his behavior was excusable. But he did not understand the full affect that strangling can have.

Next I asked – what made you do that?
As a therapist I know that is not a great question to ask. Usually, if someone can articulate why they did something terrible they probably wouldn’t have done it in the first place. But in my state it was all I could bring myself to ask.

“You!” he said. “What do you mean me?” I said, “I did not tell you to do that!” I was still so angry that I couldn’t hear what he was trying to tell me. He changed the subject a few times while I kept asking my non-therapeutic question “but please tell me – why did you do that?” And finally he said “you got dressed!”

I stopped and took a moment to follow the sequence of events as he had experienced them and it dawned on me. Once I had connected the dots for myself I did it for him (slowly and with emphasis):

“You were angry when I told you we were going out tonight. You and I played ball but then you got upset because I stopped the game and went to get dressed. I came back to play and you got even more upset when I had to change my outfit. You were angry at me for leaving you tonight and for leaving the game. And then you hurt your sister who is smaller and can’t hurt you back. But maybe you really wanted to hurt me. You were feeling so angry at me.”

When I finished he took a big breath. I always know I’ve reached them when they sigh big.

Last year I attended a conference at Zero to Three, where practitioners from all over the country who work in early childhood come to learn about the latest research and methods. I was particularly struck by the presentations of Dr. Alicia Lieberman and Dr. Chandra Ghosh Ippen, both of whom research the affect of psychotherapy on children who have undergone trauma. My biggest takeaway from it was the idea of helping children create a narrative of their experience. Ghosh Ippen calls it creating a “conjoint trauma narrative” and Lieberman calls it “giving expression to the traumatic experience.” It is the idea that even young babies need to eventually reconstruct the experience in order to understand it. This along with very loving, consistent, and attuned therapy can help a child overcome post traumatic symptoms.

Thankfully my children have not experienced severe trauma. However, when I returned from the conference and tried a similar technique on my kids for small injuries I found that it had a pretty magical effect. Especially when I paired it with the idea I learned from Dr. Serena Wieder, who talked about understanding and helping children through emotional dysregulation. For instance, when my baby was in the bath and hit her head on the spout she immediately started crying and splashing the water, holding her hands out to come out. She was dysregulated and her body reacted by putting her in a heightened state of “I want out!”

I don’t always catch the moment before something like this happens, and often my attention is only called when the crying starts. But this time I had caught the lead-up. I pointed to the spout and said to my one year old “you hit your head on the spout and got an ‘owey’ (I demonstrated by hitting my head. “and it hurts and you want to come out.” She absorbed the narrative and even recreated it in her own words with pantomime, hitting her head and pointing to the spout. She sighed, and kept playing happily in the bath.

I started helping my kids “connect the dots” in other situations when they got emotionally dysregulated. I recounted what had happened prior, marking events or triggers that I thought had led up to it. Sometimes it was in the span of 3 minutes, sometimes a few hours. This is basically what psychotherapy aims to do as well, often with a much larger span of time (childhood, adolescence, etc.)

Back to my son and the strangling. The most appalling part of the story is him as the perpetrator, not the victim. However it was his feeling of powerlessness and frustration that led him to act on his anger. They were not traumatic events per se but events that slowly led him to emotional dysregulation.

I am not saying that my son’s actions were forgivable because I can understand where his anger came from. But my hope is that if I can help him connect the dots when he gets upset and escalates enough times, he will eventually be able to do it on his own in real time and will be able to control his aggressive impulses.

I ended the conversation with giving him an alternate route: “next time you can say ‘mama! I am feeling angry that you are leaving and are not playing with me. I feel like I want to do something mean to someone. Please help me!”

If nothing else, our conversation was therapeutic for us both. Mama needed to connect the dots too, so that I wouldn’t dump all of my parenting mistakes into one moment and in my mind have them lead to a future psychopath who wreaks havoc.

On a side note, this year I will be presenting my own methods at the Zero to Three conference.I can only hope that at least one practitioner/parent will walk away with a new tool, or a deeper understanding of how to help make our lives with our kids more loving and peaceful.

How I Survived an 11 Hour Flight On My Own With 3 Kids and Other Musings

Not sure how I got myself into it. A day flight, with three kids, on my own, including a 1.5 year old lap-baby. Is this what hell looks like?

Let’s back up. I spent a great month in Israel. Grandparents galore! And we did it right this time – the boys went to camp and the baby went to daycare. So they got their Israeliness (Alona says oy oy oy alot now) and I got a break during the morning. It was hot. But surprisingly, New York feels even hotter than Israel was. We did spend alot of time at the pool and the beach.

This time around I was struck by how alive Israeli’s are. Maybe it has something to do with living under the threat of war as a normal state of being. Here, we are just getting used to the idea that terror attacks can infiltrate the western world. Israelis were born into that reality.

It can make a person close down emotionally, deaden inside in order not to feel constantly overwhelmed. And for some people in Israel it does. But I also sensed the opposite. I felt a carpe diem quality that propels them to live strong, hard, fun, and edgy. The parties are intense. The protests are everywhere. And what struck me most of all, was the flirty nature of Israelis. Flirting happens at the deli, at a restaurant, at the playground. “You mean you don’t flirt with the dads at the playground?” My friend asked. I was appalled. Hell no! I completely close off that part of me when I am in ‘mom mode’. Flirt with another woman’s husband? Lord have mercy! “But,” she said “It is part of being alive. We are sexual beings. It is possible to be playful without acting on it.” I have to mull that one over.
I have been feeling hopeless and helpless about the state of America and the world and this attitude was a refreshing way to cope with it all.

Back to the flight. Here are the things I feel were crucial to getting through hell on wings. None of these are going to surprise you but it is good to have a list.

1. Duh. Screens. I had the kindle, the ipad, another ipad, the laptop, and the screens on the chairs to save my ass. The boys watched for 11 hours straight. Every program or movie I ever said no to. Time limits null and void. I even downloaded some Elmo for Alona who has not had any official screen time yet. She LOVES the videos of Elmos singing with celebs. (25 minutes down. 10.35 to go.)

2. Snacks. You can’t bring enough. Puffs, crackers, lollipops (for the ears), fruit, sandwiches (if they don’t like the plane meal), water bottles, nuts, bars, all of it.

3. Sticker books. Each of the boys had one (mindcraft for the older and this one which I love for the younger.) Alona had a book of Sesame Street stickers which gave me a good half hour. Yes, I was counting my time in half hour segments. I could happily watch my movie while absent mindedly helping her extract stickers.

4. Painters tape. This is a simple trick I pass on to anyone who is having trouble with wiggly-baby diaper changes. It is endless fun. Tear off a piece, it gets stuck on their fingers, on their body, keep tearing and sticking. Long pieces, short pieces.

5. Markers and notebook. We colored alot. Baby on a swing, baby waving hello, baby with an elephant. She especially enjoyed opening markers, using them for a second, closing them back and putting them in the box. I enjoyed it a little less when I had to bend over in our close quarters constantly searching for the lost cap.

6. A rolling suitcase as a carry on. To put all those screens and snacks in. This is in addition to the smaller backpack of absolutely essentials that go under the chair.

7. Now we are heading into emotional stuff. Resignation. That there will be segments of rest but basically it will be non-stop work. We walked up and down the aisles ALOT. We made friends with every baby and every grown up who didn’t give us a dirty look. And it was important that I was resigned to doing it. I expected it.

8. This is also obvious, but don’t forget the carrier. That is where they will finally fall asleep when there is 45 minutes to go. Right before the stewardess comes and says babies can’t be in a carrier for landing. Noooooo!!

9. Mental preparation for the older kids. I prepared them for the fact that I will not be going with them to the bathroom every time, that there might be a line so they should go BEFORE they can no longer hold it, and that they will probably have to climb over me. They whined but they went to those tiny closets without me.

All in all the day flight was refreshing in a way. I am used to night flights in which I do similar stuff but am also exhausted and dying to sleep. This time at least I was up for the fight.

Any tricks you use for flights? let me know. I have many more in my future.

photo (15)

Creativity

For the last few months I have been thinking a lot about creativity. Mostly because I’ve had a hard time connecting to my own. Not to say that it has ever been that easy for me. It’s always been a struggle on some level. But this last year has felt especially dry.
I know I am not alone in this. Most people who have ever had a creative endeavor, which is to say everyone, have had periods of resistance. Creativity needs space and time and that is something that I, along with all of my fellow parents of little ones, do not have. Diving into that necessary place of experiment and playfulness seems almost impossible when I need to be goal driven so much of the time to get through that ever lasting list; pick up a kid, make a meal, clean the house, run a bath.
In addition, artistic creativity entails going inward to a non-social place where I am alone with my feelings. That doesn’t happen often in this house. But more than that, for me making art involves facing a pretty dark place, an existential one, in which I connect to the extreme sadness but also joy of being human.
Kim Brooks’ article “A Portrait of an Artist as a Young Mom,” in New York Magazine, lays out the struggles of being an artist and parent so eloquently and tragically. She writes: “the point of art is to unsettle, to question, to disturb what is comfortable and safe. And that shouldn’t be anyone’s goal as a parent.” Yes. “People make art,” she says, “for exactly the opposite reason they make families.”

Keeping up with this blog is a perfect illustration of where my creativity has been in the last year. I have an idea for a blog almost daily. I start writing them in my head and get excited about sharing them with you all (all 4 of you?). But I don’t follow through. I get home and am tired, or need to make dinner, or answer emails, or most often – have already poo poo’ed the idea in my head.
Because the universal enemy to artistic creation, whether an artist or not, is self doubt. Will anyone care? How will this make me look to others? Is it too self indulgent? Is it worth my time or anyone else’s time? On that topic I recommend Brene’ Brown’s TED talk on vulnerability in which she talks about vulnerability being the birthplace of creativity. It is a touching and inspiring account of her own avoidance of vulnerability and the growth that followed her facing it.

So – I found myself with a hundred beginnings of songs that were never followed through, and twenty blog post beginnings that I never finished. Coming up with the ideas is not my problem. It is working through that vulnerability, allowing myself to retreat into a lonely place, giving myself time away from my list, and most of all making myself sweat through it.

I did some work – I meditated a bit (I recommend the app Headspace for anyone interested in meditating but feeling resistance). I attended a meeting with strangers to talk about what it means to be creative. I attended other social gatherings relating to art that I dragged myself to but ended up feeling very inspired by. And then I did the best thing of all – I asked a few of my colleague friends if they wanted to join me in a creative lab in which we MUST write and present a song a week.

When it comes down to it, it isn’t about producing the perfect song or blog post, it is about producing. My friends hold me accountable and I finish a song even if I think it is crap (which have been most of them so far.) But I feel good. I am reminded of why I do art and put myself out there this way – it feels like I unload a little weight every time a song is realized to its completion. Not only that, it gives me the strength to finally go ahead and write a blog post in its entirety.

The screen we call Grandma

I know this looks familiar. Our kids have a pretty strong relationship with this screen that is both touching and heartbreaking.
Every day I ask myself why I live so far away from my parents. I know so many of us do. In my case my parents live in Israel, and a life there at the moment feels complicated and intense in a way that we are not prepared to endure. Our careers are going well here and the kids have a good life with endless events and activities.
But I don’t have to watch every single drama out there to know what truly matters most: Love. Family.
And yet the years seem to move on and my oldest son is already 6 years old. He sees his grandparents twice a year (luckily they come to visit us) but it is not enough. I fantasize about weekly get togethers, Friday night dinners, a babysitting night, a brunch.
I crave seeing the way my parents gaze at my kids on a regular basis. Their love for the grandkids seems so pure and wise, without any difficult emotions that sometimes can accompany the feeling of love. My own vision of my kids can sometimes be clouded by exhaustion, anger, disappointment, ego. Seeing my kids through my mothers eyes reminds me of the beauty of it all right when I forget.

I have lived far away from my parents for the past 20 years but it was only when I had kids that I suddenly missed them desperately. It was precisely at the moment in which I became a mom that I relaxed into the role of being my parents’ baby. Until then I fought it.

So for Mothers Day I am offering you a free download of my song ‘Grandparents’ HERE. This song does not come close to conveying everything I feel about this topic. But the last line hints at the crux of it all – “And me, well I sure could use that hug too.”

Mom (and dad), we miss you. Happy grandmothers day. You are a grand mother.photo 2

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