Keen eyed readers may realise that this is not a new blog post - I used to blog regularly when my boys were young then stopped as they objected to being identifiable. But, this was one of the most popular blog posts I ever wrote and to be honest it is as valid today as it was back in 2011 and when I thought about rewriting it, it felt a bit like reinventing the wheel
Jellybeans HQ has not been it's usual noisy, happy place recently. Our youngest son is poorly with earache. He has been suffering since thursday when we went swimming and he got 'water in his ear'. We've been giving him the painkillers every two hours for what feels like years already and the nights have been awful for all of us - bringing back all those memories of having a small baby/toddler in the house who wouldn't sleep and as he is now 8, these are not memories we like revisiting very much! We've been to see the emergency Doctor but nothing is helping and every time he accidentally touches his ear, he demonstrates that he has inherited his mother's ability to 'belt it out'.
However, as I ran his bath last night, he crawled onto my lap and I instinctively gently began rocking him from side to side. He smiled and snuggled in closer, then I heard the words, I haven't heard for a long time, "sing love me mummy". I started singing 'his' song and I felt his whole body relax.
Singing to your baby and child is a natural, organic process, one which we, probably instinctively, remember from our own childhood. There in no right or wrong way to do it. As I always say in classes at Jellybeans Music, your baby/child thinks your voice is the most wonderful sound in the world because it is you, the person who loves them. Here are some of my favourite ways I've used music at home with my boys from babyhood onwards.
- Choose a song which will become your 'special' song to use in times of stress. Whenever the boys were ill as babies or fell over, comforting or just felt sad, I sang 'their' song. Having 3 children meant I had to think of 3 different songs but it was worth it as each child knew it was a special thing just between us. It doesn't have to be a lullaby but ideally should be gentle and soothing in feel and a song which you feel happy to croon in public if necessary. It doesn't even need to have words. It can be soothing just hearing repetitive notes. Stuck for inspiration? Why not experiment with 'Daisy, Daisy' or 'Skinnamarink' and take every opportunity to insert their name in to the lyrics .
- Have you got a 'Wake Up' song? When my eldest son was little, I always used to sing a song as I opened his curtains, giving him the auditory cue that the day had begun and continued it with the younger two. I sang a song from the film 'Singing in the Rain' and changed the words. Almost sixteen years later, I no longer open their curtains to wake them up but the song is still heard regularly in the house and is now sung by all of us.
- Don't forget tidying up music! New comers to class are always amazed at how well the children tidy up as soon as they hear the tidying up music. Unfortunately they rarely believe me that it is nothing to do with the actual music but it is the auditory cue that the children are responding to. The children very quickly learn to associate the activity of tidying up with the music so rarely have to be told to tidy up. This is an easy one to introduce into your home. Choose a piece of music you like (you are going to be hearing it a lot!) and tell your child that when they hear the music you are going to tidy up together. It will not work on the first attempt, it won't work on the second, but within a week, the activity and music will be linked but you must be consistent on this one and tidy up as well!
As always I'd love to know your thoughts and would love to know your favourite soothing songs or tidying up songs.
ps The words to our 'Wake Up' song are
"Good morning, good morning.
You've slept the whole night through
Good morning, good morning to you"
pps Jellybeans HQ tides up to the Kaiser Chiefs 'I predict a riot' which always works a treat in the morning to get shoes on ready for school!