Thursday, December 19, 2013

Magic Music

When I was in high school I remember reading in the newspaper about a family that got ready to music. Once they pushed the play button on the tape player, their children got ready for the day both efficiently and peacefully. I thought it was brilliant. Since that day, the idea has stewed in my mind, and three years ago I finally sat down to create my own morning playlist. It has made a world of difference.
I started out by thinking about what exactly I wanted to have them accomplish in the morning—brushing teeth, showering, making their bed, and etc… Then, I timed them. I wanted to know how long it would take them to do a certain task, like making the bed, in a no-rush situation. This was the surprising part, as each step ended up taking a third of the time of what I had expected (and generally experienced).
Knowing what I wanted their routine to be, and roughly how long each task took, the next step was to search for songs that would fit the time. It was tricky to find 20-30 second songs, but once I found them and put them in order, the music routine was almost ready. Lastly, I made a visual list for them to follow along. As they were pre-reading it was made solely out of pictures, and then later when they could read, I just listed which activity went with which song.
When we tried it out, and voilà, it worked like magic.
Well, almost magic. After the novelty wore off Clara would resist and plead with me not to turn on the music, but after the music had started she completed her routine without a problem. After a week or so, she didn’t even make a fuss, and just started going right away. I thought Clara might have a hard time remembering what task went with which song, but it took maybe three days before it was completely memorized.
Things I love about it:
The music is a natural time keeper.
No reminding.
No bribing.
They know what they need to do, and it doesn’t change, and everything gets done. I feel this element gives predictability and stability to their lives. As the routine is so constant, it empowers them to know what comes next, and makes for a smoother day in general.
I feel like it is teaching the virtue of each habit has its own reward, like the pleasure of a hot shower, and smooth clean teeth. They feel what it is like to have a job well done.
It is fun! The music is cheerful makes them feel good. They sing and get into the songs. I make sure the songs are positive, with values I want to cultivate. (I once made the mistake of adding a song, when after I listened to it for several days, realized it was not as wholesome or innocent as I thought it was.)
Other tidbits:
 I am in earshot to trouble-shoot problems. For instance if the toothpaste runs out, or Clara needs help getting on her shower cap, I need to be there to help. Plus I make sure they have what they need, by laying out their clothes, so they don’t waste time looking for socks and shoes. I also prep John’s bed making efforts. He isn’t big enough to do the whole job on his own.
Most the time I leave the area so that they become independent. I have found that John will want me to dress him if I am in the same room with him and is just fine if I am gone.
Last thing. No Stopping! If they miss completing the task before the song is over, it works best if they just go on to the next task, and then after the routine is done, they back to complete the task.

The whole thing lasts about 10 minutes for John and 15ish for Clara.

So that is the meat of it! Enjoy!


Jaime said...

I tell everyone who asks about this. It is so great, and it has made our bedtime routine so much more pleasant and quick.

Mariah said...

I love this! Music can bring joy to even the most mundane tasks... Thank you so much for sharing.