I have always cringed when people used to ask me after I’d had a baby, “Have you found a routine yet?” I used to wonder, “Are you talking about a routine that I have imposed on the baby or a natural routine where I am following the baby’s rhythm?” Hmm… I was never one for rigid bedtime or feeding routines for a number of reasons but mainly because it just didn’t feel right. I believe and I have experienced for myself four times now that baby’s find their own natural rhythm just like any baby animal does. I learnt to let go and trust that my babies would let me know when they were hungry or tired and as they let me know I learnt to meet their needs quickly and from a loving space. Every family finds their own way through parenting and uses “routine” in different ways to different degrees. Whatever works for both parents and baby is the best. By the way, you know if it is best for baby if the s/he is content, peaceful, happy most of the time. If the baby is crying it is an indication that you, the parent needs to try something different or the baby is experiencing physical discomfort.
So how does music fit into all of this? Like I said, I never forced my kids to go to sleep or feed at certain times or play happily on their tummies for 20 mins a day…but I did use music as a tool to help them move into sleep or stay playing for longer periods so I could make dinner or wash the dishes. Every time they heard the “sleep” music they would associate this with mummy, boobies, warm, cozy, rocking, feeling relaxed…sleep! Whenever we did a nappy change I sang “Der Glumph went the little green frog one day” and they would smile and most importantly let me change their nappy without screaming their head off!. When they were playing on the mat I would put on “Mozart for Babies” by Don Campbell and they would play contently for a much longer period than if there was no music. The best example was when my last daughter screamed in the car I would put on her “sleeping” music and she would stop crying immediately and sometimes fall asleep! I wasn’t holding her and she couldn’t see me but the familiar music was enough to trigger those feelings of being safe and secure and sleepy…and she would settle down.
The “Music Method”
ANYONE can use music in this way as a tool to assist in finding that natural rhythm in your lives together. This “method” doesn’t involve crying babies, feelings of guilt or stress when babies aren’t doing what you think they “should” be doing…all it involves is playing a piece of music or singing a song as you flow through your daily activities. It’s free, it’s nurturing, it makes YOU feel good and is a way of building a connected loving relationship with your child.
However you choose to do the “routine” thing in your family, music will assist you and you baby to move through your daily lives with more grace and ease.
Types of Music
Here are some more ideas of when you can use music to assist with routines:
Bath music, go to sleep music, car music, nappy change music, playing music, cleaning-up music (older kids), feeding music.
I’d love to hear when you have used music in your families and how it has served you.