Music has always been important to my husband and me.
I grew up in a musical household where the radio was always on, attending concerts was the norm and my dad played numerous instruments. I played the piano from the time I could reach the keys — with the assistance of phone books to sit on.
My husband, meanwhile, played guitar and rocked out at concerts with his mom. He and I actually met at a very young age while seeing a local band play in downtown Annapolis. We spent many dates hanging out at Sam Goody, Tower Records, and waiting in line outside Hecht’s to buy tickets to concerts.
When my husband was a teenager, he joined the band at his church where he’s now the Praise Team Leader and we both play in the church band together. Every Sunday morning, I love to look out over my keyboard to see my two boys jumping around, arms in the air, singing along to the music.
Both of the boys enjoy playing instruments, especially drums or anything that’s exceptionally loud. I hear them on the monitor in their room singing songs together. They both know that I’m a dance fitness instructor and any time they hear one of the songs on the radio that I do in class, they love to enthusiastically point it out. Music is major in our household. It probably happened unintentionally, but now that I’ve seen the benefits of music as a parent, I make a point to include it throughout our day.
Both of my boys started life with music in the air. I had a play list of favorite songs on during my labor and the days that followed in the hospital. I did it mostly for me. It helped to have music playing softly in the background as I got to know my newborns for the first time. All of the nurses commented on the music and how peaceful and happy it was in our room.
Now when I hear certain songs from those play lists, it brings back vivid memories, like the sweet feeling of that new child snug in my arms. I also distinctly remember the uplifting song that came on the night I was up crying with James, feeling so alone and afraid of this new venture called parenthood. Music helped get me through those challenging first days with my sons. It also had the perk of letting my children learn to sleep with noise in the background.
As the boys have grown, I’ve learned how music can change the atmosphere and mood at certain times of the day. Long morning drives to get errands done are so much more pleasant when I have a kid-friendly Pandora station playing. Unlike listening to a CD over and over, the songs are random but it’s all music the kids enjoy and recognize. We can also customize the station by “liking” or “disliking” certain songs. The kids love not knowing what song is coming up next.
I also have a Pandora station that only plays soft lullaby-style songs, which I usually put on late in the day, right after dinner, or when the kids are overly wound up and need to chill out with Playdoh or a puzzle. It’s like magic how, as soon as the music comes on, you can see their little bodies start to relax. It helps with my mood too. When my patience is running thin, some fun music to dance and sing to helps put things back in perspective.
I guess as parents we can’t help but pass along our passions and hobbies to our kids, at least in the beginning. I imagine parents who are into sports have children who can recite player names and team mascots, or artistic parents whose children sleep with home-made murals on their walls and paint under their fingernails. Our kids make music, sing songs and will probably attend many concerts with us one day. That’s pretty cool to me.
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Mandy Watts is a stay-at-home mom who lives in Crownsville with her husband, Justin, who runs their family business, and their two sons, 4-year-old James and 2-year-old Luke.