This post was written as a submission to the monthly All About Parenting Blog Carnival hosted at About.com. This month's theme is music and submissions are due March 3rd.
The topic of this month's carnival inspired me to write a post on how you can integrate music in day to day parenting. Not just because it is fun, or educational, or beneficial to your child - even though music ticks all those boxes - but as a parenting tool.
The right music can have a significant calming effect, which can be extremely useful for babies who need to de-stress in the evening, or for older kids to be able to let go and fall asleep, as transitioning to sleep, where they have to let go of control, can be very scary. It can also be a way for you to relax when you are getting stressed out. Listening to some relaxing music together can ease away the dark mood and make you more attuned to each other. You can also sing some lullabies or gentle songs to soothe yourself or your child.
Have some music ready when you travel, wether it is by car or any other means of transportation (plain, train, bus...). Music gives your child something to focus on and makes the trajectory seem less long and more fun. You can all sing together. You can opt to keep a special CD or playlist handy for traveling purposes only, to give your child something to look forward to when on the road.
When traveling in group (or on public transportation), music can offer your child a way to escape the noise and business.
You can also keep a certain song - or several - to announce your arrival. Put it on a couple of minutes before your destination is reached and your children won't have to ask if it's "still far now" and will know the time is there to get ready for whatever it is you're about to do. When I was a child, an old Joe Dassin cassette was used only once yearly, about half an hour before we would arrive to the camping spot we spent our summers at. It would wake us if we were sleeping, and the whole family would join in singing and getting excited over the upcoming holidays. Putting on that cassette announced the end of a 12 hour drive and the beginning of vacation. (The image is from Amazon, if you click on it and buy the CD, I will get a teeny tiny incentive)
Get it out of your system
Face it. Parenting can be hard at times... Being a kid can be hard at times. There are these moments where you just can't find a way out.
Music can offer you a way out and end the stress that has been building up. Put on your favorite rock or pop or whatever it is that gets the stress out of your body and jump, dance, sing at the top of your lungs. Your child will most likely join in. Getting physical and letting out the emotions will air out the lot of you.
Music is a great way to transfer your child from one activity to the other. It is used in a lot of collective care facilities. You can use existing songs or make one up.
Songs can announce bath time, bedtime or help you clean up.
Establishing a musical routine can help overcome resistance to transition.
A lot of nursery rhymes also lend themselves to physical activities you can do with several kids together. Make up a silly dance.
You can even decide to do a full blown dance lesson with your kids. The steps don't have to be extremely technical. Just make it up as you go. Step sideways, clap your hands, jump up, turn... Be creative.
Hope you enjoyed the ideas, if you can think of anything else, or you and your family use music as a parenting tool too, please share in the comments below.