I read, a lot. Maybe obsessively. I read about well balanced, organic, GMO free, kid friendly meals. And ideal sleep environments without sleep crutches that provoke 12 hrs of uninterrupted sleep. And how to take road trips without offering digital devices (who does this?). You get it, I am literally a literate idiot. Maybe I should stop reading and take care of my kids. I digress…
But throughout my past 3.576 years as a parent, for all that I’ve read about: regimes and routines, eating and feeding, herbal vs RX etc, I’ve come across very little about music and the super powers it contains as it pertains to parenting.
So Let’s Discuss:
Have you ever gotten into your car mad as a box of frogs to hear Dave Matthew’s “Crash Into Me” blaring from the speakers? The anger fades away and you’re taken to an open field smelling of fresh cut grass, spilled Budweiser beer, and a waft of cigarette smoke. You can almost feel your boyfriend’s arm around your neck, pungent with the aroma of his attempt at wearing cologne for the occasion. You’ve completely forgotten about all the world’s problems (read: the fact that you’re covered in toddler piss and bananas) and you’re Hot-Tub-Time-Machined back to the days when nothing outside of that music laced embrace matters.
Alright, towel off, it’s time to get back to parenting. The power of music, my friends, is stronger than any drug (over the counter) and more effective, in many cases, than a 10 minute time out. It’s free, easy, and always available. So do away with expensive activities, counting to 3, and endless bribes, and tap into tunes. Music can help you in just about stickiest of sticky kid situations and/or become an everyday prop in child rearing.
Y’all, music actually stimulates your brain and releases endorphins (equate this to sugar and hugs). It’s a perfect collaboration of science (predictive rhythmic beats working certain parts of the brain) and emotion (an upbeat song that makes baby happy, therefore stop crying) working together.
Putting Music to Work:
From the time both of my babies were fresh out of the womb, I wasn’t exactly sure how to communicate with them. After hearing a recording of my “baby voice,” I realized that I had to stop that sound stat, so I started signing. I went with whatever popped into my head or seemed appropriate at the time. In my experience a parent’s voice mixed with a melody (regardless of how tone deaf you may be), makes babies (now kids) light up and/or calm down depending on the situation.
Nightly we head to the swing set in the backyard and prior to flying high in the sky, my daughter picks her Pandora station of choice, depending on her mood. We frequent Jack Johnson, Bob Marley, and Dixie Chicks. If she’s feeling royal, ball music it is. Often, with a smile she asks, “Mom, you think the neighbors hear our music and are jealous of our awesome party?” Free, amazing entertainment, create a lifetime of memories at what feels like the bash of the year!
When car meltdowns occur, we belt out a tune. With my daughter, we learned that nothing soothed quite like a good bout of “Wheels on the Bus.” In fact, we became so dependent on this melody that my husband and I would have full conversations to the tune of it – “The chicken in the freezer needs to thaw, needs to thaw, needs to thaw, the chicken in the freezer needs to thaw in time for dinner”…
I also use music to signify wake up. My daughter gets “Good Morning Beautiful” written by Steve Holy, performed by yours truly, and my son gets a homemade ditty “good morning, good morning, good morning I love you, good morning to you!” Both have come to wake with a smile (usually).
But the pure gold happens as the sun starts to set… Much like the book, bath, bed routine that everyone swears by, I end our triple B’s with an S for song (very good), the same song every time I put baby down. This signifies bedtime. My son rubs his eyes and starts to yawn one verse into my butchered version of “Goodnight” by the Laurie Berker Band. Hey Pavlov, I think you’re on to something…
Lastly, I’ve got my big guns go-to song. Everyone needs one of these for the inevitable meltdown. It should be your kid’s favorite song in the whole wide world. One that will make them stop in their tracks and relax. For us it’s a “Black Bird” jam session. If necessary I sing it but if I can get to the Sarah McLachlan version fast enough, she trumps all. If only a pharma company could ball that up into a cotton candy flavored chewable…
Moral of this story, do music, not drugs.