Sing, Sing, Sing

Dear Friend E,

You always want to know my "secrets" for what I do with Daughter.  I have been thinking about it.  One thing that I do that I feel like nobody else does, (so I guess a "secret") would be that I sing to her.

Before you start busting out your excuses to me, (because I totally just heard you breathing in to say them, right?) listen up.

I didn't grow up in a house that sang all the time, so don't let that be a deterrent.  My family was a "band" family.  Not that we couldn't sing, we just chose not to sing.  So yes my family was musical, but singing was not encouraged at home.  In fact I was told to stop singing on more than one occasion because it was annoying to family members (ouch!!!).  We also had a "no singing at the dinner table" rule.  We were allowed (and encouraged) to sing in our church choir, but since we were a "band" family, that's what we did at school.  I did manage to squeeze in a couple of year of high school choir, but my confidence was fairly low.

If you can't sing at home, where can you sing?

So there's my background.  Here's what we did with Daughter.

We started at birth and started small.  Let me say that Husband did almost all of the singing (until I gained a LOT more confidence).  Songs for Family Home Evening, a song right before bed, nothing huge.  I started to make up songs more to entertain myself.  I had never been home all day with a baby before.  It is quiet and almost kind of weird.  I tried to talk to Daughter a lot about what i was doing (i.e. putting water in the pot, tying my shoes, etc).  Sometimes when she was starting to fuss and I was trying to get something done I'd find myself singing.  Well, kind of chanting in the beginning...

Chanting Example:
"Water in the pot.
water in the pot.
Mom's putting water
in the pot, pot, pot"

Then, because I couldn't think of anymore lyrics I would keep chanting/singing the words as many different ways as possible.  Yeah, kind of freaky when you realize that you've been singing/ chanting about putting water in a pot for like 10 minutes or more!

Then we started developing little melodies that we would sing to "cue" Daughter that it was time for certain things.  These were very short and nothing fancy, but we always sang the same short song whenever we did a diaper change, put on pajamas, nursed, etc.

Song Example:
"It's jammies time,
It's jammies time,
It's jammies time,
for sleep."

These became especially helpful when we couldn't fix a need instantly (i.e. Dad was holding a baby who wanted to nurse).  Husband could sing the nursing song and buy a few minutes until I was all ready to go.  We continued with these songs for months and also continued adding ones as needed.  Husband will still bust out a song these days when Daughter starts getting impatient over something.

Music is so powerful.  It usually instantly pacifies Daughter.  She understands that we know she has a need.  She sees us address the need (even if it'll be a minute), and it also distracts Daughter from thinking that she is upset.  I know this all sounds scientific, but it is what has been working from our experience.  To be completely honest, the singing really helps me just as much as Daughter.  It calms ME and helps to distract ME from being upset in a lot of situations.  This way I don't yell :)  I would rather hear myself chant/ sing than listen to whines, so everyone wins!!!

Now, we also sing as many other songs as possible now too.  Besides bedtime songs I didn't really sing anything more "real" until Daughter was older.  Now the Primary Children's Songbook is used daily in our house.  Don't worry, we've sung many renditions of "Wheels on the Bus", but I do stick mainly to the Primary Children's Songbook.  We have "music time" and sing songs together.  Sometimes, Daughter will sing to herself (now plunking around on the piano keys as well!) and sometimes we sing together.  I should mention that for a long time (months upon months), Daughter only sang with her hands.  If a song had actions then she would do them, otherwise it was just me singing a solo.  As a result she now knows well over 30 songs and keeps surprising me with today.

I had been driving down the road singing "Away in a Manger" when something took my attention, so I paused.  Well Daughter jumped right in with the correct words and started singing.  When we got to the chorus I would sing the first "asleep" and Daughter sang the second "asleep" with the right notes.  (Listen here if you aren't sure exactly what I am talking about.)  I got such a kick out of singing with her.  We were giving high fives.  It was awesome, like we were singing in a choir together.

Obviously I worked from the beginning to cultivate a child who loves to sing.  I often tell her that she sings beautifully to encourage her.  At church we always make a big deal out of singing the hymns.  I am sure that her language skills are so developed in part due to her singing.

I also like that I am producing a singer, because singing promotes self-confidence and every parent wants to their child to be confident.  Singing is like giving a piece of yourself to all who listen.  It takes guts.  It's taking a risk.

Music has always blessed my life, but developing MY singing voice over the last couple of years and singing as a family has brought greater family unity and peace and blessings more than I ever imagined.  Daughter's sweet little voice with not quite correct dictation is so precious to me.  To hear a two-year old singing "I Belong to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints" is powerful.  She is learning so many truths and I know it is contributing to her overall character and testimony.  Our home is filled with the spirit of music, and I KNOW that the "song of the righteous is a prayer".

(And we still enforce the no singing at the dinner table rule!)

Good luck.  I hope you give it a try.



Alisa said…
Two of my favorite quotes are ...

“I don't sing because I'm happy; I'm happy because I sing.”


“God respects me when I work, but He loves me when I sing.”

I enjoyed this letter!

(Just go ahead and allow the singing at the table- makes for great dinner conversation!)
Jen Bowen said…
I love having the Primary songbook to pull songs from when singing to my kids. We love singing around here and singing songs especially saves me on car rides. That's really impressive how much Daughter loves to sing and I love that she's "playing" the piano with her songs as well!
Lindsay said…
I totally forgot to add how much I love it when Daughter sings "Quickly I'll Obey" as she's running in to the room after being called. It makes me smile!!! (Of course we had to work on it a little to obey, but we didn't tell her she had to sing as she came)
Anonymous said…
This was a very well written post. So much fun to read.

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