The kids are screaming, the dog is barking, the washing machine is spinning, the dishwasher is humming, the TV is on, the ipad is beeping and I feel myself getting more and more irritated as I try to put my tired baby back to sleep for the fifth time today…
I start thinking thoughts like:
I start reciting the Serenity Prayer…"God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and the wisdom to know the difference."
And here is what God and I came up with:
1. If possible…STOP THE SOUND!
And there you have it! Silence! Well, relative silence!
Notice how you can now relax more, breathe more deeply, hear yourself think a little straighter…
2. MASK THE SOUND
If you can’t get rid of the kids or TV won’t turn off…try masking the irritating sound by:
3. IF YOU CAN’T BEAT ‘EM JOIN ‘EM!!
The kids are banging saucepans…
The kids are singing the same song over and over and over again…
The lawnmower is going for it next door…
The dog is barking (again)…
The 3 year old is winging…
The kids are laughing and being super silly in the back of the car…
You know…the typical sounds you hear in your everyday life as a mother…
If you can’t stop or mask the noise for whatever reason here’s what you can do!
Make that crazy sound that is driving you nuts! Use your voice and copy the annoying sound you hear! Go on! GO FOR IT!
Not only will you feel better but your kids (who are just being kids after all) haven’t been shamed again for expressing themselves.
4. The Ultimate Solution – BECOME TRANSPARENT
If you can’t stop the sound, mask the sound, or make a sound, what a great opportunity you now have to practice transparency!
Eckhart Tolle writes in The Power of Now,
“Feel yourself become transparent, as it were, without the solidity of a material body. Now allow the noise to pass right through you. It is no longer hitting a solid “wall” inside you. Practice with little things first. The car alarm, the dog barking (a good one for me!!), the children screaming (another good one for me!!). Instead of having a wall of resistance inside you that gets constantly and painfully hit by things that “should not be happening” let everything pass through you.”
Similar to number 3 but you don’t have to laugh your head off or be a lawnmower which doesn’t work too well if you happen to be in a public place! This exercise is a great spiritual practice. Put a Zen monk in a room full of screaming kids and see how enlightened he really is! Mothers are SO privileged in this way. We don’t need to meditate for hours (we can’t anyway!)…all we need is to learn to be present with ‘what is’ whether that is hearing kids playing, wiping babies bottoms, cleaning up spew, feeding baby in the middle of the night…again, pushing the 2 year old on the swing for half an hour, preparing the tenth meal for the day etc etc…
Practice being transparent with sound as it presents itself in each moment and you’ll reach “enlightenment” in no time!!
So, there you go! My 4 cents worth on coping with our sometimes incredibly noisy world! Try these out and please share with me your experiences! Let me know if you find other ways to cope with those sounds that “grate” on you!
Types of Routines
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.
Your baby was musical before he/she was even born…so were you! Here are some tips on how to nurture their natural musical gifts.
1. Acknowledge their natural musicality
Notice and imitate your baby and toddler’s sounds. If they babble, you babble back. If they bang a box with their hands squealing with delight, copy them. If they bop up and down to music, bop with them! If they want to spend time blowing raspberries on you belly – let them! Entering their sound world encourages them to express themselves, which naturally leads to speaking, singing and playing instruments.
Sing to your baby before they are born. Sing them to sleep after they are born. As they become more aware of things around them, like the moon, the dog, the cat, bananas, flowers and so on, sing nursery rhymes or made up songs about them. Sing for your own enjoyment in the kitchen, in the car, in the shower. Let them see YOU singing and loving it!
When you play your favourite music place your baby in your sling if you have one or carry him/her on your hip and GO FOR IT! Your baby will love the movement combined with the rhythms they can hear. Dancing is fun and energising and therefore a beautiful way to bond with your child. If you are feeling tired, overwhelmed, depressed or frustrated this is the perfect time to get up and dance. You and your baby will experience directly the power of music as you transform into a more present, happier state of being.
4. Play an Instrument
Choose a simple instrument such as a drum, ukulele, Gasong Drum, native american flute. dream harp or crystal singing bowl. These are ALL easy to play and great ways to express yourself musically. If you want to go a step further learn the piano – I always recommend the Simply Music program – or another instrument you may have always wanted to play. It’s NEVER too late to learn! This will have a profound impact on your child’s musical confidence as they will see YOU expressing yourself musically. Playing music will then be “normal” in their mind. By the way, there is no need to be a concert pianist or expert drummer…all that is necessary is that you play an instrument for the sheer enjoyment of creating music!
5. Listen to Music
Listen to music in the kitchen as you cook, in the loungeroom to relax, when you are putting baby to sleep, in the car. Vary the music so your child has the experience of hearing the smorgesbord of music that has been created in this world so far – classical, rock, blues, indian, country and western, new age… Make sure it is music YOU enjoy. At the same time notice what reactions your baby has to the different music. What do they like? If they are content and happy they like it. If they start to squirm and cry try something different. The main idea is that listening to music is a part of your daily life.
When YOU enjoy singing, dancing, playing and listening to music your baby will naturally grow into a child and adult who uses music to express themselves and enrich their everyday lives.
Nicole Lloyd B(Mus) is a mother of four girls and creator of SoundBirth. Here she shares her experiences using sound before, during and after the birth and anything else about sound or birth that she feels like writing about!