It’s hard to believe that another school year has come and gone! As kids get ready to enjoy their summer vacation now is the perfect time to capture some of your children’s memories of the year-that-was by doing a little end-of-school interview. This is a great way to use the LifeTales app to help you record their thoughts, told in the way that only little kids can.
Remember: kids are notorious for giving one-word answers that don’t tell you much of anything. Make sure you’re asking open-ended questions to get them talking and keep your conversation going. Here are a few to get you started.
With Father’s Day right around the corner, now is the perfect time to sit down with the dad in your life and talk about him.
Not every dad is very forthcoming with stories about himself or his life. Why not take this opportunity to get him talking and record his answers with the LifeTales app? You can write them, record them, or even make a video of dad talking all about himself. Better still: have your kids do the interviewing!
Here are a few questions to get you (and dad!) started.
They go by many names: hospital bag, maternity bag, overnight bag, diaper bag. Whatever you call it, having a pre-packed bag of essential supplies ready to go whenever the Big Day arrives is key. You’ll be ready at a moment’s notice, and by packing in advance, you won’t risk forgetting anything.
Even if you’re not planning a hospital birth, it’s a good idea to have a hospital bag packed as you may need to go in unexpectedly. You should think about having your maternity bag packed by the time you are about 32 weeks pregnant (i.e., 8 months), as baby could arrive anytime after that. It’s a good idea to pack your bags together and double-check that each of you has everything you need.
Here’s the ultimate hospital bag checklist, mom-tested and approved, as well as mini-checklists of things for a hospital bag for baby and a bag for your partner to pack, too. Check with your hospital or birthing centre to see what items they provide, and you may be able to leave out some items below. If space is a concern in your maternity ward, you can pack a small labour bag as well as a separate hospital stay bag which you can leave in the car or which can be brought to you later.
For Hospital Stay
The simple fact is that no matter where you go there simply aren’t enough daycare spots. And that’s been the case for decades. Even in Quebec, known for its publicly funded $7-a-day daycare, there aren’t always enough spots in publicly funded care.
That’s why you hear crazy, panicked advice like: “You should have put your name on a waiting list when you two were still dating.”
So what’s a parent in need of childcare to do? Well, the good news is that you have options! So take a deep breath: everything’s going to be okay.
It’s true that if you want to put your child in a licensed, professional child care centre you’re going to be on a waitlist. There simply aren’t enough spots for everyone who wants to enroll their children. Some centres have waitlists that are hundreds of names long, with frantic parents calling nearly every day, begging to enroll their kids.
So, if you plan to use a daycare centre be prepared to play the long game, especially if you live in a big city where waitlists are long (sometimes hundreds of names long!)
Sign up at your preferred centre as soon as you can—even as soon as you know you’re expecting. waitlist times of 18 months to two years are not uncommon so give yourself as much lead time as possible.
Depending on when you hope to send your child to care be prepared to pay different rates based on their age. Centres tend to charge more for infants (up to 18 months), and toddlers (18–36 months), with prices dropping somewhat for children over three years old.
Waitlists rules are usually the same wherever you go:
It’s also a good idea to get waitlisted at more than one centre. Spots may open up sooner at different locations, and you may change your mind about your top choice after enrolling so its good to give yourself options.
Particularly if you expect to enroll more than one child in care over the long term it pays to enroll them at the same centre. Remember: siblings have priority over other applicants so that families can be kept together.
Even having an older sibling in after-school care or summer camp at your preferred centre may be enough to get your little one a spot.
And look around your personal network of connections and affiliations for other places your kids might have priority admission. Some employers, universities, and religious organizations like churches, synagogues, and mosques may offer child-care or preschool and give priority to people affiliated with them.
Okay, so what if like most of us you didn’t plan out your childcare strategy two years in advance? Don’t worry—you still have some great options.
There are great childcare companies that offer professional, fully licensed care out of private homes. These companies include training for staff, nutritious meal plans, and engaging interactive curricula for children that is comparable to what they would receive in a traditional childcare centre. Couple that with a low child-to-caregiver ratio and children may actually receive more hands-on, flexible, individualized care in a home-based daycare than they would receive in a centre.
In Ontario, for example, you can consider an organization like Wee Watch, that provides home-based care to children from infants to 12 years of age.
I know what you’re thinking: “A nanny? We can’t afford that!” But, when you consider what you pay monthly if you have more than one child in full-time care you’d be surprised how quickly a nanny becomes affordable (or is at least on par with the cost of other childcare).
Long available to only the very wealthy, in this era of expensive childcare and families with two working parents, a nanny has actually become a budget-wise option for the middle class, too.
There are a variety of nanny contracts available, including live-in, live-out, part-time, and even shared nannies, with several families chipping in to pay for nanny services.
And depending on the contract with your nanny, in addition to childcare, their duties can also include light household chores and meal prep for the family. This can be a real lifesaver to keep the house tidy and organized, and keep your family fed during the hectic work and school week.
Even if it’s not something you’d previously considered, a nanny may surprise you as the right solution for your situation.
Night terrors—fits of screaming, flailing, and intense fear and dread—are terrifying for children and parents alike.
While we’re used to soothing our children after the occasional nightmare, during a night terror a child’s fear is usually irrational and inconsolable, no matter what you try.
Almost 40 percent of children (as well as a small percentage of adults) will experience occasional sleep disturbances that qualify as ‘night terrors.’ The good news for kids is that—while frightening—sleep terrors aren’t usually dangerous and most children outgrow them in time. And the good news for parents is that there are a number of things you can do to help your kids until the terrors pass.
Night terrors are episodes of “screaming, intense fear and flailing while still asleep.” Episodes may last a few seconds or a few minutes and rarely last longer.
Unlike standard nightmares, in which the dreamer will wake up and may or may not recall details of the scary dream, a night terror involves someone who experiences a terrifying episode but remains asleep. Upon waking, the night terror sufferer generally doesn’t recall details.
Night terrors usually happen in the first third to first half of the night. The good news is that they generally don’t happen during nap time so kids can get some additional rest if they have the opportunity to nap during the day.
Night terrors generally happen between the ages of 4 and 12 and may be slightly more common among boys. A family history of night terrors or sleepwalking can also make a child more prone to experience them.
Night terrors may also be more common in children who are:
During a night terror, a child might:
After a few minutes, the child will simply calm down and go back to sleep. They are unlikely to remember any of this the next day.
While upsetting for parents and children alike, remember night terrors are generally harmless. The best way to deal with them is to wait patiently until they pass and make sure your child doesn’t hurt themselves if they’re thrashing or sleepwalking.
Don’t try to wake your child during a night terror. It rarely works, and children woken like this are likely to be confused and disoriented, and may take longer to go back to sleep.
If your child has night terrors you can help prevent them by:
One addition trick that can help if your child has a night terror around the same time every night is to try waking them up about 15–30 minutes before the night terror usually begins and see if that helps disrupt the occurrences of the terrors. This sleep stages chart may help you track the best time to wake your child.
Occasional sleep terrors aren’t a cause for concern, but you can mention them at a child’s regular doctor’s appointment.
With springtime well underway (well, in most places anyway) its time to get out of the house; time to stop being so cooped up and staring at screens all the time.
For children, especially, outdoor play is vitally important. According to Claire McCarthy, MD of the Harvard Medical School’s Harvard Health blog, outdoor play helps children with socialization, healthy risk-taking, and even helps them develop creativity and better executive functioning, like the ability to “plan, prioritize, troubleshoot, negotiate, and multitask.”
So how can you get outside and active with your kids this Spring? Here are five easy ways:
Spring is a great time for building a fun and engaging outdoor scavenger hunt for kids. The possibilities of what they could search for are endless: a tree budding, a bird building a nest, tulips and daffodils starting to bloom after a long winter sleep.
Give each child a picture checklist list of spring items they’re likely to find along your route and then just head out on a walk. Give out ink stamps or stickers for each item a child finds. The scavenger hunt will help kids not just enjoy the outdoors but really pay attention to the world around them.
Let’s face it: grown-ups love getting stamps in our passports. So why wouldn’t our kids love it, too?
The kids can make their own passport booklets from construction paper and you can fill them with pictures of local parks—both new ones and old favourites—as the ‘destination’ for their trips. Each week you can visit one or two parks, and as proof of their travels the kids get an ink stamp or a sticker in their passport as they cross a park off their list. It’s a great way to see the neighbourhood and visit parks you might not usually get to.
Not enough parks nearby? No problem! You can add in libraries, schoolyards, nature trails, or even just a stand of trees the kids can explore. Anything that gets them excited to be outside will work.
Just because we’re outside doesn’t mean we can’t still be learning, right? Combine the physical with the educational by building a Nature ABC Book!
Go for a nature walk, and with your phone or a camera let your kids identify and photograph items they find—one for each letter of the alphabet. See some ants? That’s A taken care of! See the bark on that tree? There’s your letter B!
The LifeTales app would be a great way to record these finds, in either still photos or videos. You can even include notes or voice recordings from you and your kids talking about what they found.
Getting the bicycle—with or without training wheels—out of the garage is a classic rite of a new Spring. Learning to ride is an important milestone for many children, a sign of their growing independence. The popularity of scooters has also grown in recent years, with two-wheeled versions available for older children, and more stable three-wheeled scooters for young children who are still working on balance and coordination.
They’ll be having so much fun they won’t even realize its good for them! (Just be sure to keep a few bandages around the house to deal with the inevitable skinned knees).
Make sure tires are pumped up, chains well oiled, and that properly fitted bike helmets are worn. A bell and reflectors are also good safety ideas.
The Canada Safety Council offers good tips on making sure your kids understand the rules of the road and how they can stay safe on a bike or scooter.
What could be more appealing to little kids than getting to play in the dirt? That’s why gardening is a perfect outdoor activity for children! It can help them learn about natural lifecycles, develop a taste for those dreaded vegetables, and even aid in their cognitive and motor skills development. Spring is the right time to start planting for a tasty harvest come summertime.
For results that will keep kids interested (and that will see them eating a little salad they grew as soon as possible) focus on fast-growing seeds. Think lettuce, radishes, and green onions (planted from tiny bulbs called sets). Kids can do their own planting, water and weed their own beds or containers, and harvest fruits and veggies they grew.
And don’t forget edible flowers! Nasturtiums, pansies, lemon marigold, and hollyhock are all colourful additions to a garden that are not only easy to grow, but whose petals make tasty additions to salads, edible decorations for cakes, and fun garnishes for a tall glass of lemonade.
It could be a dream family holiday, a summer road trip, or a weekend getaway with the kids. But have you thought of everything? What are you forgetting? Here are 22 dos and don’ts to help you have a happier, more relaxing family vacation.
DO be flexible
There’s no such thing as a perfect vacation, so let that idea go now. You’ll be happier in the long-run. And don’t beat yourself up if something doesn’t go to plan. There’s sure to be some other event or attraction right around the corner that you didn’t know about, and that can be just as exciting.
DO create an “adventure kit” for each child
Fill this with activities and snacks for the travel portions of your trip. You can even theme this to your destination. Make it a rule that the kids can’t open their kits until you’re underway—it will add to the excitement and anticipation for the trip to begin!
DO bring a night light
A strange hotel room can be scary for kids—and hard to navigate in the dark for adults, too! Help prevent bad dreams and stubbed toes: pack a night light.
DO carry zip-top bags and changes of clothes
For every kid. Even for teenagers. Spills and accidents and pukes happen. Don’t get caught short.
DO pack more than one phone charger
Because if you’re all taking pictures all day you’re all going to need a charge at the same time. Make sure if you are overseas that you also bring travel plug converters with you.
DO plan a variety of fun activities
Depending on your destination some activities may require advanced planning. And keep in mind the need to have a bunch of different activities planned that require different lengths of time and that suit different kinds of weather. Can’t go on that historic walking tour because its pouring cats-and-dogs outside? Maybe a trip to a museum or art gallery is in order instead!
DO plan on a slower pace
Especially if you are used to traveling without children, plan for a slower-than-expected pace for your days. You won’t get out of the hotel when you plan to. You won’t get to see and do as many things as you plan to. That’s par for the course with kiddos, so just roll with it. You’ll still have a good time. See point #1 above!
DO make local culture and history enjoyable for the kids
Bear in mind the distance you plan to cover in a day, and how little legs and feet might cope with a lot of walking or hiking. Dragging irritable children around because you’re trying to do too much will suck the fun out of the most exotic locale. Plan shorter excursions each day, and include ones that don’t require as much walking. For example, site-seeing bus tours can be really engaging for the whole family and they let you sit down while you see the city.
DO try the local delicacies
Talk to some locals and get recommendations for where they eat. You’ll get an authentic experience and you’ll likely pay less than at restaurants catering mostly to tourists. Encourage your kids to savour new flavours when you’re on vacation—but have some more familiar back-ups handy for picky eaters.
DO make time for yourself
If you’re traveling with another adult (or more) tag out once and a while. Split up and take the kids on your own for a bit to give your partner a break. They can return the favour later when you do some solo exploring of your own. Some holiday entertainment destinations offer a child-minding or babysitting service, so you might even have an opportunity for a real kid-free date night!
DO bring back some local toys or books
Local toys and books make wonderful souvenirs and will be one-of-a-kind keepsakes that you can’t just grab at some airport store.
DON’T pack everything you own
They will have stores where you’re going where you can pick up anything you forgot and can’t live without. I promise.
DON’T offend the locals
Whether you’re overseas or just in the next town over remember that you’re a guest where someone else lives. Don’t be that tourist. For more exotic locales know the important local customs you’ll be expected to follow. Try and learn a bit of the language if you can, and install a real-time translation app on your phone to help avoid misunderstandings.
DON’T expect the excitement levels to last all day
Everyone needs a little downtime, especially kids. Nap time is real. Take advantage of some downtime yourself while the kids sleep or chill out with a crafts project. Parents can get burnt out on travel, too!
DON’T force the kids to do everything with you
Many family-friendly resorts and hotels have kids’ clubs with age-appropriate activities to keep children entertained and occupied. Plan a day with some low-key activities and just let the kids be kids.
DON’T forget the sunscreen
Sunscreen. Wet wipes. Favourite toys. Passports. There are lots of little things to remember. Try writing out a list well in advance of your trip, or use one of the many online versions to help you remember all the odds-and-ends. Important: make sure you check with a local travel clinic whether your destination requires any travel vaccinations!
DON’T forget to keep a trip scrapbook
Encourage your kids to capture their memories of the day in a scrapbook. You can do this right before bed, with each child have a page or two of their own. They can write, draw, or paste in memories of the day (this is a great place to keep ticket stubs and all those event and attraction wristbands! See how many you can collect on the trip!) They can cut-and-paste in maps, postcards, stamps—you name it.
DON’T overdo it on social media
Live in the moment, not on your social media. Yes, you’ll be taking some incredible and adorable pics, and of course you want to share them. But limit your time on social to one or two times a day while you’re away. Or better yet: just post once before you go to bed and upload a mini-album of your day.
DON’T try to do too much
Pack too much into your agenda and you’ll spend your days rushing around and anxious about what you’re missing out on. Dial it back. Enjoy where you are and what you’re doing as you do it. Leave some room in your schedule to embrace the unexpected. And leave the #FOMO at home.
DON’T check in with work
Leave work at work. Enjoy your time away. Those emails will still be there waiting when you get home.
DON’T forget to drink enough water
Stay hydrated. You’ll feel better and will have more energy to explore if you’re drinking enough water. Depending on where you are in the world make sure you’re filling up from a trusted source of clean water.
DON’T forget frequent toilet breaks
And if you’re drinking enough water then don’t forget the need for restroom breaks whenever possible. Especially with young kids always insist they do a just-in-case pee before you head back out on the road, even if they went recently. Don’t trust that there’s a toilet at your next destination and get caught without one!
With the arrival of the first baby (a boy!) for the Duke and Duchess of Sussex—a.k.a. Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s—its time to start thinking about what little Baby Sussex might be named. British royalty tends to have a long list of given names (Harry has four, as does his older brother, William). But unlike other celebrities, names within the Royal Family tend toward the traditional and are usually drawn from a pool of names handed down from earlier generations of British and European royalty.
Harry and Meghan’s little boy can probably count on at least some of his names coming from the lists of most popular Royal baby names below. Whether you’re having a boy or a girl, these regal names should offer some inspiration for you, too.
Meaning: Noble, bright.
The most popular name for royal boys. Queen Victoria’s prince consort, Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, bore the name, as did their son, grandson, and two great-grandsons. Albert is also one of Prince Harry’s names.
Meaning: Tiller of the soil, farmer.
The second most popular royal boy’s name, Royal Georges share their name with St. George, patron saint of England, who legend says fought a fire-breathing dragon. There have been six kings of England named George and someday there will be a seventh—Will and Kate’s oldest son, George, who is third in line for the British throne.
Meaning: Full-grown, a man
There have been two English kings with this name, a father and son both in the 17th Century. Prince Charles, next in line for the throne, will make three. The name Charles (and variations) have been popular amongst European royals going all the way back to 800 AD and the first Holy Roman Emperor Charles the Great—better known as Charlemagne.
Meaning: Rich guard
While there have been lots of kings named Edward, the most famous has to be the most recent: King Edward VIII. He was king for less than a year, abdicating in 1936 to marry American divorcee, Wallis Simpson. If you count the earliest Edwards in English history—Edward the Confessor and Edward the Martyr, who ruled before 1066, then Edward wins as the most popular name for English monarchs.
Meaning: A follower of Christ
While there have been five royals whose name includes Christian, the most recent was Edward VIII—it was one of his seven (!) given names. Christian has also been a popular name amongst European royalty and came to Edward VIII through his great-grandfather, Christian IX of Denmark.
Meaning: Peaceful ruler
While there’s never been a King Frederick of England, the last four King Georges all had this name amongst their given names. Frederick has also been a popular royal name in Germanic countries, including Prussia and Denmark.
Meaning: Famous warrior
Prince William and his son, Prince George, both have Louis as a given name, and William and Kate’s youngest son’s first name is Louis. William got the name from the Queen’s beloved uncle, Earl Louis Mountbatten. The name has been even more popular in France, where there were an astonishing 20 kings with the name!
Meaning: Noble, courageous
Most famous for the legendary sixth century King Arthur, more recently George VI (the Queen’s father) and Prince Charles both count Arthur as one of their given names.
Meaning: Resolute protector
The popularity of this royal name goes all the way back to 1066 and William the Conqueror. There have been four King Williams, with our current Prince William slated to be number five someday (unless he decides to reign under one of his other three given names).
Meaning: Home ruler
This royal name is a bit fraught, given the last guy to have the name (Henry VIII) had a bad habit of executing his wives! William IV had Henry as a given name, as does Prince Harry—Henry is his actual first name.
Meaning: Victory, conquer
Considered an unusual name at the time of her ascension to the throne, it’s now hard to imagine a more thoroughly royal girl’s name than Victoria—maybe that’s why its the most popular royal girl’s name. Queen Victoria might have helped this along, however. She is widely believed to have encouraged (or perhaps insisted) that her descendants use the name.
Meaning: Wished-for child
One of the current Queen’s given names, Mary is also the name of several famous English Queens, including Mary I (the first woman to rule England in her own right), Mary, Queen of Scots (who took the throne at the age of just six days!), and Mary II (who wrested the crown from her father, James II, in what is known as the Glorious Revolution).
Meaning: Famous warrior
The most famous royal Louise was the Princess Louise Caroline Alberta, fourth daughter of Queen Victoria. A strong supporter of the arts and higher education and an early feminist, many features of the Canadian West are named in her honour (after her time spent in Canada when her husband was Governor General of Canada from 1878 to 1883. These include the province of Alberta, Mount Alberta, and the stunning Lake Louise, a glacial lake within Banff National Park.
Meaning: Defender of Mankind
Another of Queen Elizabeth’s given names, the first royal girl to be named Alexandra…was actually Queen Victoria! Named Alexandrina in honour of her godfather, Emperor Alexander I of Russia, it was only on taking the throne that young Alexandrina chose to be known as Victoria.
Meaning: Oath of God, or God is Satisfaction
The longest-serving British monarch, Queen Elizabeth II shares her name with another illustrious English Queen, Elizabeth I who reigned in the late 1500s and early 1600s. Also known as herself, whose full name is Elizabeth Alexandra Mary. Good Queen Bess, Elizabeth I was the last of the five Tudor monarchs.
Meaning: Noble, truth
Prince Philip’s mother was Princess Alice of Battenberg, who married Prince Andrew of Greece. The mother-in-law of Queen Elizabeth II, she famously stayed in Athens during the Second World War and sheltered Jewish refugees from the Nazis, for which she is recognized as “Righteous Among the Nations” by Yad Vashem.
The best-known Margaret in the Royal Family was Princess Margaret, Countess of Snowdon, the Queen’s younger sister.
Meaning: Free man, petite
The name Charlotte entered the Royal Family in the 18th Century when King George III married Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz. The most recent Charlotte is Princess Charlotte of Cambridge, the only daughter of Will and Kate. She is fourth in the line of succession to the British throne.
Meaning: Majestic, grand
Princess Augusta of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg married into the British Royal Family in the 18th Century. When her husband died, she was presumptive regent of Great Britain until her son came of age in 1756.
Meaning: Light, torch, bright
Princess Helena was the third daughter and fifth child of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. She was an active patron of charities, one of the founding members of the British Red Cross, and president of the Royal British Nurses’ Association.
Want to bring a little classical music in your home? It’s a great way to introduce your kids to music and a long history of artistic excellence.
But first, I humbly suggest you rethink the terminology.
When you think of classical music, you’re really thinking of concert music. Many of the pieces in the standard repertoire was composed by European men between roughly 1650 and 1900. It’s also usually played in formal spaces like concert halls (hence the name).
While this music is often referred to as “classical music,” that phrase is about as helpful as “real imitation margarine.” Why?
When we name something a “classic,” we’re connecting it with the ideals and restraint of ancient Greek art, which immediately rules out the great bulk of concert music. A lot of concert music, often as not, is filled with sturm und drang or angst and exaltation. It’s not exactly restrained.
So, concert music it is.
Concert music constitutes some of the greatest music humans have ever cooked up. As a musical art form, concert music informs, edifies, educates, entertains, inspires, and packs a toy shop’s worth of joy. Introduced at the right time, it has the power to stay with children for the rest of their lives.
One of the great truisms of modern parenting is that children are more likely to read if they are read to and if they see their parents reading.
The same is true with music. It’s incumbent upon parents to set an example by listening to concert music at home and in the car (the latter might require some negotiation, but it is my experience that it CAN BE DONE). Don’t be afraid of playing the same piece over and over again; familiarity breeds affection.
(Having said all this, don’t play one type of music to the exclusion of all others. The distinctions we have created between “concert music” and “rock ‘n’ roll”, and “jazz” and so forth are meaningless to children. They tend to just like music – all music – which is how it should be.)
It’s a fact of existence that kids love noise and parents detest it. Yet, I recommend that you invest in some decent percussion toys and encourage your kids to “play along” with recordings and videos. Better still, do it with them.
Picking up a drumstick will make you an active, not passive, participant in the musical process. It’s also a lot more fun than you might think.
Worried about “insulting” Bach or Mozart or Beethoven with your talents? Friends, they’re long dead and beyond insult. Besides, is playing along with a recording any more insulting than the disco arrangement of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony that was featured in Saturday Night Fever?
I rest my case.
There are dozens of kid-friendly story that model the role of concert music in modern life that are perfect for kids under six. My three-year-old son and five-year-old daughter love them.
Take your kids to experience music at local events. Many cities and towns hold children’s concerts or musical events geared for families.
Outdoor festival concerts are even better, since they allow kids to run around and move to the music. Try to listen to the pieces on the program beforehand. Music literacy is very similar to written literacy.
A little bit of preparation, even a tiny amount, can pay off big time in terms of intensifying the experience for your kids.
Bringing a piano into your home will increase
your children’s exposure to music.
Don’t assume your instrument has to be an 8’11¾” Steinway “D,” which has a list price of approximately $130,000. A little spinet will do.
Put the piano in a place where the kids can bang away without making the rest of the family crazy. When it’s time for lessons (I recommend you start at age 6 or 7), the piano will be an old friend and not a new torture device.
Speaking of lessons—you’re never too old to start. Mom, Dad, Grandma, Grandpa or Whomever should think about taking lessons and practicing together with the kids for a bonding experience like no other.
Don’t know much about pianos? It’s an instrument made out of wood, medal, leather and felt.
It breathes. It is real. Its mechanism follows the will of the player’s body.
An electric keyboard is made out of plastic and circuitry. It is not real. It does not breathe. In my opinion, they have no place in your home.
Would you love to bring concert music into your home? Not sure where to start?
Here are some wonderful performances of great works to get you going:
Dinner’s over. The table’s cleared and dishes are done. Now, there’s just one thing between you and an hour or two of peace. Bedtime, also known as The Witching Hour.
We all know how it’s supposed to go:
And that’s exactly when the stall tactics begin.
Finicky sleepers are enough to push anyone to their wits’ end. But who do you call?
Dead European composers!
Seriously. Listening to classical music at bedtime is a
surefire way to get your kids relaxed and ready for a good night’s sleep.
Music helps to calm, quiet, engage, distract and transport human beings of all ages to the drowsy state that is the gateway to a deep and restful sleep.
As a pianist, composer and PhD in music composition with four children of my own, here’s what I’ve learned through experimentation and hard experience.
When picking classical music for bedtime, the piece should have:
Before we get into particular recommendations, I want to note that many fine, well-meaning music lovers have made small fortunes writing about “The Mozart Effect,” “The Bach Effect,” and even “The Alternative Art-Punk Emo Hardcore Effect.”
Regardless of composer or period, these advocates promise that playing certain specific classical music to children, both in utero and post-birth, produces smarter, happier and well-rounded children.
Sadly, such promises are utter nonsense.
What works best for bedtime is instrumental music with a steady beat and a steady harmonic rhythm. While this definition eliminates most Emo Hardcore music, it does include the bulk of European instrumental music composed between roughly 1700 and 1800, and much of the instrumental music written to the late 1800s.
That block of time spans the High Baroque and Classical periods, including notable composers such as Johann Sebastian Bach and Wolfgang Mozart. But it also captures work from hundreds of other worthy composers, whose music will just as easily put your children to bed.
So rest easy that if my selections don’t work for your family, you could also choose music by:
any of their compositions will also improve your children’s SAT scores is a
conversation for another post.
Are you a believer in music as a gateway to better bedtimes? What kind of music plays well in your family? We’d love to hear about your journey. Drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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