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
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:
Flu season might be winding down in the northern hemisphere as we move into our spring and summer seasons, but it’s just picking up in the southern hemisphere with the onset of winter.
Global air travel also makes it easy for colds, flu, bronchitis, sore throats, and many sinus and ear infections to surface at home, school and our workplaces year-round.
So how should you keep your family safe?
Many people assume that getting sick means they need an antibiotic to get better.
In fact, taking antibiotics for colds and other viral illnesses not only won’t work, it has dangerous side effects—over time. Globally, overexposure to antibiotics is producing drug-resistant bacteria that don’t respond to antibiotics that may have worked in the past.
Increasingly, I find myself prescribing antibiotics in increasingly higher doses to help my patients recover when suffering from serious bacterial infections.
Antibiotic resistance is a widespread problem, and one that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the US call “one of the world’s most pressing public health problems.” With time, bacteria that were once highly responsive to antibiotics have become more and more resistant.
Among those that are becoming harder to treat are pneumococcal infections such as:
Although bacteria and viruses are both too small to be seen without a microscope, they’re as different as giraffes and goldfish.
Both types of infections are caused by microbes — bacteria and viruses, respectively — and spread by things such as coughing and sneezing, contact with infected people, especially through kissing and sex, contact with contaminated surfaces, food, and water, contact with infected creatures, including pets, livestock, and insects such as fleas and ticks.
But the infections are dissimilar in many other important respects, most of them due to the organisms’ structural differences and the way they respond to medications.
While viruses and bacteria can cause similar symptoms, concerns that suggest a serious infection may include:
Other symptoms, such as sore throats and swollen glands, are more generalized and may need an expert opinion to decide how best to proceed. They can occur with either bacterial or viral infections.
If your infection, sore throat, cough or flu-like illness is overwhelming and feels like the worst infection you can recall in some time, you should always go and get checked by your health care professional!
Another indicator that you need further attention is not seeing improvement or easing of your symptoms within a couple of days.
So what should you do? To increase your bacterial resistance and minimize your odds of getting sick, keep these tips in mind:
Ask your healthcare professional about over-the-counter treatment options that may help reduce your symptoms.
For colds like these, the advice you got from your parents is likely the best:
Did you have a memorable illness or cold as a child? How about your kids? We’d love to hear about your journey. Drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Do you have professional expertise of value to families? Would you like your expertise featured on our blog? Send your pitch to email@example.com. We can’t respond to all inquiries, but we’ll be in touch if there’s a fit.
By Alyson Schafer
I talk with a lot of parents. In these conversations, I’ve heard just about every myth about sibling birth order.
Put your hand up if you’re heard any of these misconceptions:
It’s easy to make assumptions like these about children and their sibling. While it’s true that siblings do affect a child’s family life, we don’t always put the impact in the right places.
Alfred Adler (1870-1937) was an Austrian medical doctor and psychotherapist known for his ideas about individual psychology and inferiority. He was also one of the first psychotherapists to think about families, children, birth order, and personality development.
Sometimes, people interpret Adler’s work to mean that a child’s birth number matters most (e.g., being born first or second or fifth). But that view oversimplifies what’s happening.
Have you heard the saying, “You can’t step into the same river twice?” Adler’s ideas about children and personality are similar. Each child’s birth changes the family in the same way that putting your foot in the water changes the river.
Adler was interested in how children change their family’s internal dynamics, and how their personalities changed in turn. There’s a lot more give an take than relying on the birth number allows.
Instead of their birth order in the family, the child plays a big role in deciding how they fit.
Somewhere during their first four or five years, children begin exploring the benefits and disadvantages of their role in the family. Some things they will accept, and some they will reject.
For example, consider a boy born into a family of girls.
So, while birth order may factor into this self-evaluation, the child decides on their role. Their subsequent decisions shape both them and their siblings.
This myth is entirely ungrounded. As any only child will tell you, siblings are not required for human happiness.
Only children are likely to:
But, a child’s response depends on the creative meaning they perceive. They might decide to fit in by acting like a mini adult. Or, they might feel intimated by the competent giants all around them and withdraw.
There’s nothing inherently good or bad about being an only child. Here are some common fears parents have, and a few ways to lessen those concerns:
What’s the flip side about myths for only children? That having a baby (or many babies) deprives your toddlers and older children of your attention.
It’s true that having more children increases the demands on parents’ time and attention. Like only children, first-born children experience constant attention from their parents during their first years at home. As a group, they tend to be well-behaved and focused on pleasing adults.
As new siblings enter the family dynamic, some children choose to define their roles in opposition to those their siblings hold. Here’s a few patterns you might see if:
If you spend time with children, you’ll notice they’re very interested in what other children do and say. Observing older children one way in which kids learn and differentiate themselves from each other.
You can expect children with older siblings to:
As many philosophers have noted, there’s no one way to be a family. As you bring more children into your household, here are some takeaway thoughts to keep in mind.
What was your sibling experience? How does it differ from your children’s experience? We’d love to hear about your journey. Drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Do you have professional expertise of value to families? Would you like your expertise featured on our blog? Send your pitch to email@example.com. We can’t respond to all inquiries, but we’ll be in touch if there’s a fit.
By Dr. Vivien Brown, MD
Eating is a powerful part of life. Think about your earliest childhood memories. Chances are, food—and the people who made it for you—plays a big part of those moments.
Yet, developing healthy food habits can be a great anxiety source for many parents. That’s particularly true if you’ve got a picky eater on your hands or your child’s suddenly changed their preferences.
How can this change help parents? Food guides, which reflect the best available scientific evidence at the time of their publication, offer insight into where to focus your energy in building healthy eating habits.
And the new guide’s got some great suggestions.
The biggest change to Canada’s Food guide is removing the old food groups: grains, milk products, fruit and vegetables, and meat and alternatives.
Instead, the new food guide encourages Canadians to think of each meal in terms of a plate divided into four sections.
Unsure what counts as a whole grain? John Berardi, PhD and co-founder of Toronto-based Precision Nutrition (PN), has an excellent overview to finding whole grains in your local markets.
And PN also has a useful visual system for estimating portions using your hand size when you’re on the run.
Canada’s new food guide goes further than just identifying healthy foods. If you want to build strong, lifelong eating habits, parents should also be mindful of how we eat.
Canada’s new food guide puts drinking water front and center in its recommendations, especially for children.
That news may surprise some parents. Nutritionists and doctors have advised against giving children sugar-heavy drinks like soda for several years. But juice and milk have been staples of food guides in the past.
Yet, the new food guide recommends that Canadian families avoid all drinks that are high in sugar. That includes juice.
What about milk? Dairy is now considered a protein and not an independent category. Drinking milk should be considered against other protein consumption in the diet.
I get a lot of questions from my patients about how the new food guide should influence the choices they make for their families.
It’s important to remember that guidelines are not laws. Instead, they provide educated instruction that each individual should interpret. If you have questions, you should always talk to the doctors and medical professionals who know your history and health needs best.
Also, Health Canada’s recommendations reflect recent changes in medical and scientific research. By adding new discussion areas to the guide, Health Canada is asking us to consider new ideas, such as the important of eating with family, that haven’t had a lot of airtime in previous versions.
What is Health Canada’s goal in updating the guide? In general, they want to help Canadians to:
While these are lofty but important goals, we still need to make Canada’s Food Guide apply to our own lives. You can use the information it contains as a stepping stone to avoiding the disordered eating patterns I see in patients every day.
So, the food guide serves as a great reminder to be proactive about our eating habits as we grow and age. To have a healthy life, it’s important to be proactive about food. A meal is a process, not just an end result.
By sharing meals, play and conversation with others, we’ll all learn to make better choices for our health.
What recipes do you enjoy making with your family? Have you added cooking experiences to your Family or Child collections in LifeTales? We’d love to learn more. Drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Do you have professional expertise of value to families? Would you like your expertise featured on our blog? Send your pitch to email@example.com. Please note we can’t respond to all inquiries. But we will be in touch if there’s a fit.
Have you heard about growth mindset parenting?
It’s based on a popular psychology theory in in education. Articles on growth mindset also get a lot of buzz in magazines and blogs for the entrepreneurial and self-improvement communities. Even pro athletes like the NBA’s Steph Curry have even talked about taking a growth approach to their careers.
Why should parents care? Because exploring a growth mindset may give you new tools as you take on the responsibilities that come with having kids.
Think back: one minute you were living your adult life, working on your career goals, deciding if you should join a recreational soccer league, or debating whether to try that new takeout place down the block.
Yet the minute you learned there was a baby coming, your priorities shifted. Before you know it, that tiny, vulnerable human being is in your arms. And during your child’s early years, it’s your choices that have the biggest impact on how they learn and grow.
New parents can read all the baby books in the world to get ready (and some parents do). But nothing prepares you for that humbling moment when you look into your child’s delicate face and grasp your new roles. There’s no going back—and no manual.
It can feel pretty overwhelming.
Don’t worry. All the research suggests that parents are made, not born.
According to Wikipedia, a mindset is, “a set of assumptions, methods, or notations held by one or more people or groups of people.” In other words, it’s all the ideas we’ve picked up from family, friends and our experiences about how we’re supposed to think and act.
Growth mindset theory is credited to Dr. Carol S. Dweck, an American professor of Psychology at Stanford University. Over the course of her accomplished career, Dweck and her fellow scientists developed a theory of two distinct mindsets. They found that people basically fall into two groups with very different approaches to life, including what they think about failure.
From Wikipedia: “Those with a ‘fixed mindset’ believe that abilities are mostly innate and interpret failure as the lack of necessary basic abilities, while those with a ‘growth mindset’ believe that they can acquire any given ability provided they invest effort or study.
So, here’s a quick graphic overview:
Dweck’s research showed that people who believe in growth are more likely to continue working hard despite setbacks. Through determination, learning, training and persistence, they improve because they believe that it’s possible for them to change.
If you think about qualities like intelligence as being fixed, like the number of jelly beans in a jar, then you have whatever you’re born with and no more. Your ability to learn and change is set, along with your ability to solve problems or rise to situations. Which means if you fail, the failure results from your abilities.
Kind of bleak, huh? No wonder people with a fixed mindset avoid situations where failure’s on the line at all costs.
On the other hand, if you think of intelligence as something more like a muscle you can build with practice and repetition, life becomes less all-or-nothing. You’ll spend less time obsessing over mistakes and what they mean if you believe it’s possible to learn from them and improve.
To Dweck, openness to this fundamental belief in your own ability to get better means you could “live a less stressful and more successful life.”
Food for thought, huh?
Parenting is hard. Co-parenting with another person can be even harder. You and your partner may have very different ideas about how to raise another human being, and there’s no way to know until the baby arrives.
You may not feel like you have an immediate talent for parenting if:
If you didn’t grow up in a family where other adults showed you how to cope with these challenges, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. Even people who come from big families may feel they have no idea what they’re doing. Comparing yourself to friends or skimming the feeds of parenting influencers intensify those feelings.
Everyone’s life looks shiny on the outside.
But as Joe Hirsch writes in his INC Magazine profile on Curry, “Success comes as a result of effort, learning, and persistence–not just inborn talent, intelligence or strength.”
The good news? You don’t have to be a rockstar right out of the gate. Parenting is nothing if not an opportunity for persistent learning.
So, adopting a growth mindset may help you think about parenting as a multifaceted skill at which you—and your partner—will get better.
You don’t have to be experts or achieve someone else’s level of perfection. You just have to commit and be open to achieving what works for you and your kids.
The Huffington Post’s Parenting blog has some great ideas for getting started, including monitoring your self-talk and being conscious of the messages you’re sending about learning and growth to your kids.
Based on our experiences, the LifeTales team is how our app can act as a feedback mechanism for you.
The Personal Collection gives you a completely private space to jot down your thoughts about how you parent. And if you’ve noticed tendencies that you’d like to change, it’s also a perfect place to note your habits without judgement.
In the spirit of Professor Dweck, you can gather data about your choices and impartially assess where they’re leading you. Ask yourself:
Over time, you may see you’re doing a better job than you thought. And someday, when your kids are grown, you’ll be able to reflect on your experience and share your wisdom.
Does adopting a growth mindset to parenting appeal to you? What are the skills you struggle with?
Get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’d love to feature your growth experience or hear from you about other topics we should explore.
It’s a common question: when should you start thinking of your baby as a toddler?
When you’re deep into the day-to-day experience of raising a young child, time is lightning fast. You see your baby everyday. Being so in the moment makes it harder to take a step back.
When you do, it’s easier to realize just how many milestones have passed since that transformational first week at home. As American author Gretchen Rubin once wrote about parenthood, “The days are long, but the years are short.”
So when should you start the mental head shift?
As the name implies, the toddler development stage is defined by “toddling” or unsteady walking. While all children take their first steps at their own speed, it’s common for children entering the toddler stage to make more effort to move under their own power.
You can expect them to become steadier on their feet and more interested in exploring their own ideas as they move through this stage.
The U.S. Center for Disease Control defines two phases of the toddler period, each of roughly 12 months.
See the CDC’s toddler pages for more information about safety tips and positive ways to help your child develop a healthy mind and body.
Popular culture is full of nightmare stories about the “terrible twos,” reflecting the growing adventurousness and, yes, willfulness your child will demonstrate through this period.
Strong, consistent boundaries will help you and your child to navigate this exciting growth stage together. You will also likely find you now enjoy more variety in your daily activities than you did during the infant stage, and more opportunity to experience the world together.
By the time your baby becomes a toddler, you will have helped them to explore their:
Living in the smartphone age means that it’s never been easier to capture the parts of childhood that speak to you. Starting a Child Journal is a great way to capture the stories inside your photos and video, and tell your child what they were like at each stage of their life.
What are the sweetest or most challenging moments of your child’s toddler stage? Get in touch at email@example.com. We’d love to feature your toddler memories or hear from you about other topics we should explore.
Ask any large group of adults what they most fear and their list will likely include:
While it’s entirely possible to live your life avoiding items one and two, having kids may push you to sing in public in ways you never thought you would.
The connections between music and other life skills are rich and varied. Scientists have long theorized that’s there’s a connection between music and math, for example, although Scientific American notes the exact nature of this relationship remains fuzzy.
Other associated benefits may include higher emotional intelligence, better social skills and a greater appreciation for tone and rhythm.
Beyond the possible skill benefits and a general appreciation for music, hearing a lullaby can form iconic childhood memories.
Whether your parents chose to sing pop songs by Joni Mitchell, The Beatles and Simon and Garfunkel, traditional nursery rhymes like “Mary Had a Little Lamb” and “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” or camp songs like “The Wheels on the Bus” and “Old MacDonald,” you may yet have strong feelings to that music and hearing your parent sing it.
Singing is an activity that parents and children can enjoy at any age, and it can also be a key part of your bedtime routine. A lullaby can help set the mood for the end of the day and help your baby’s brain to understand that it’s time to relax and wind things down.
Where to begin? We’ve compiled some quick suggestions as you get started.
Particularly in North America, it’s very easy to internalize cultural rules about who is allowed to sing (people with “good” voices, whatever that means) and who is not (everyone else). However you feel about singing in other parts of your life, try not to let that judgement into this process. Singing develops your child’s bond with you. What matters is that you do it, not how you sound. As Ian Mendes has written for Today’s Parent, “If the sound of mom’s gurgling digestive juices helped baby doze off, then the bar is set pretty low for you as a singer.”
If you can barely hum “Baa Baa Black Sheep,” then songs like “Memory” from Cats or Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” may not be the best choice for you. Longevity should be your guiding principle. When your child develops a fondness for your lullaby, it’s possible you will still be singing the same song 10 years from now. Have mercy on your vocal cords and pick a tune that you can sing easily and without strain at various volumes. (Seriously, have you considered “Ba-Ba-Black Sheep?” It works pretty well.)
Can’t remember the weird second verse to “You Are My Sunshine”, which ends with the heartwarming line, “You have shattered all of my dreams”? No sweat. Your baby won’t care if you know a single verse or just the chorus. In some ways, it’s easier to choose a short song that you can easily loop when it’s 3 am and you’re gamely singing while pacing their bedroom in a vain attempt to get both of you some sleep.
Keep a pair of earplugs handy if you’re got a fussy baby who’s fond of screaming along to your midnight (or afternoon, or morning) performances. You’ll still be able to hear yourself singing and it may help take the edge off.
You’re going to get tired of singing the same song (trust us on that one). For mental variety, pick a secondary lullaby or two that are also easy to sing and toss them in now and then for you and baby. One of our team members used the classic song, “ABC,” as her back-up lullaby because it’s easy to sing at different pitches and speeds.
Want more of a challenge? Pick an easy song you like (“Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star,” maybe) and swap the words out. You can describe what you see in your baby’s nursery, talk about what you did during the day, or tell your baby about people in your family. Young babies won’t care, but it can be a fun game for you to play as they get older.
Still not sure what to do? Pity the parents who successfully raised children in the dark era before YouTube and run a search. You’ll quickly find over six million examples of lullabies you can learn from a range of cultural backgrounds.
Thanks to technology, it’s never been easier to record an audio file or video of you singing to your child. Adding your lullaby traditions to a LifeTales story collection gives you both have a soothing memory to reflect upon as your children grow and your voice inevitably changes.
What were the go-to lullabies in your house growing up? What are they now? Have a suggestion for a different blog topic? Get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’d love to hear from you!
The photo, “White and Wooden Wall Decor,” appears courtesy of Charles DeLuvio.
As social media platforms evolve, it’s getting easier to share your life with the people you care most about.
But for every genuine, two-way connection, there are the (sometimes) well-meaning folks who don’t respect boundaries. Some even take their social updates a little too far.
We’ve all got a few of them in our friend networks. They’re the people who:
Managing other people’s drama is challenging enough when you’re single or recently married. Add a pregnancy or a new baby to the mix, and the stress around oversharing can snowball.
Even being rich and famous doesn’t necessarily protect people from their oversharing friends and relations.
This week, Meghan Markle, now the Duchess of Sussex, returned to New York City for her baby shower. It’s the first time the former star of Suits has been back to the U.S. since marrying Prince Harry of Wales last spring. Their wedding ceremony was watched by 18 million people worldwide.
But their storybook day was nearly upstaged by the willingness of some relatives within Markle’s father’s family to overshare about her life.
Thankfully, few of us will face the same kind of media and social pressure as the new duchess. But we can take some helpful ideas from how Markle’s managed her oversharing relatives.
The Duchess turned to many long-time friends to organize her shower. They include tennis champion Serena Williams, international and human rights lawyer Amal Clooney, and stylist insider Jessica Mulroney. And Mulroney, who met Markle when she was filming Suits in Toronto, also acted as her defacto maid of honour when she got married.
Like the Duchess of Sussex, we all need to determine which friends are capable of reciprocal trust. If there’s someone in your circle spreading rumours or not standing by you, it might be time to introduce better filters on what you share.
Harper’s Bazaar reports that a small group of only 15 people attended the Duchess’ baby shower in the New York. This choice minimizes the risk of leaks to the press. Your life may not generate photos worth thousands of dollars to tabloid editors, but everyone goes through times where privacy and discretion make life more manageable.
You don’t have to rent the pricy penthouse floor at The Mark, as Serena Williams reportedly did (though kudos if you do, it’s beautiful). There are other ways to manage who sees what if you don’t want to show personal photos to everyone.
Facebook allows you to create friend groups that tier access to your content, Instagram offers private accounts and LifeTales always lets you decide whether your connections see a single story or a whole collection.
It’s not easy to be estranged from a parent. If your older relatives show a continued lack of respect for your space, as Markle’s father has done, you may need to put some personal distance between yourself and your boundary breaker. So, consider limiting the amount of photos, news and personal details you share with them until trust can be re-established.
Like the late Princess Diana before her, Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, is certain to live part of her life as a mother and wife in the spotlight.
But as Elaine Lui has observed in her ongoing coverage of the union, the Duchess is the first member of the royal family to bring prior experience with celebrity to her new role in public life. We’re most curious to watch how she’ll use digital tools to manage her new family’s privacy as she becomes a parent.
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Photo courtesy of the Northern Ireland Office via Flickr.