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How smart parents fuel their families with music

Music feeds the soul, yes. It also feeds the brain by nourishing a child’s language development, learning across subjects, and engaging their senses and motor skills. Plus, when shared, music creates sweet moments of connection. We asked smart parents to share with us how they use music to fuel their families, and here is what they say works, day after day, year after year.

Make mornings, homework & bedtimes go better

Morning music is the best! Our playlist (Wake up the Kids on Amazon Prime Music) also helps us time the next activity. When Stompy the Bear comes on, everyone knows it’s time to get our shoes on!” —Helen Jane Hearn

“We listen to music in the car on the commute in the morning. We pick songs, I sing them out loud to him, and he giggles while he wakes up. Our current rotation is Fight Song, Brave by Sara Bareilles, and Wake Me Up by Wham! (it’s a short drive). We also have dance parties at night, same type of songs, to get our excess energy out. —DeAnn Malone

“I like music to help lighten the mood. Busy chore morning on Saturdays? Crank up the fun-having music so we can get through it a little easier. And last night, for homework, it was the James Taylor Pandora channel in the background. And we sing, a lot.”—Brandi Koskie

“All kinds of music is a soundtrack for my day with my son. We start our morning jamming in the car to the ’80s or ’90s station. When I pick him up from after-school care we listen to mellow stuff, like classical guitar. My goal is to spark creativity and conversation. After stories, we listen to Bach—at least that’s what we’ve had in his player for the last year! He calls it his “good dreams” music. Really, music is just another way for us to communicate with each other on a different level.” —Dresden Julia Shumaker

To make chores more fun

“When I was a child, whenever I woke up on a Saturday morning to my parents playing music, it meant it was ‘clean the house day.’ My parents had their albums that they liked, and now, if ever I need inspiration to get up and clean, nothing does that better than replaying the music my kids choose.—Devan McGuinness

For travel and commutes

“On road trips, we have a family playlist on Spotify that every family member has contributed to in equal amounts. So there’s absolutely no fighting about what to listen to when our diverse group is in the car!”—Wendy Bauer Piersall

To mark a moment and make family memories

“Every summer, I pick a soundtrack CD. We listen to it every day in the car and sometimes inside the house, and it seals those summer memories in. One year our soundtrack was the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse CD, and those songs still make me smile!” —Maggie May Ethridge

To manage stress, anxiety, special needs and emotions

“Music has been mode of reducing anxiety for my daughter who also has ADHD. When she was little, there was fear and resistance to get to school in the morning. Now that she plays the flute and in the last year, the piano. This is what centers her and she sounds amazing, too! Five to ten minutes of music in the morning gets her on track for her day.” -—Michele Miller Monaco

“For me it’s my anger blow-spout. When I get super frustrated with the girls, I start singing and fake opera and directing them what I need them to do. It’s sort of my humor with music.” —April Metz de Montiel

“When I was a kid, the only music my parents listened to was classical and marching-band music. I wasn’t a fan. On rare occasions, I’d catch a pop song on the radio and I’d light up inside, but my parents would often condemn those songs without explaining why. As a parent, I encourage my kids to explore all types of music because I believe it’s their choice to decide what speaks to them. Music is so powerful. It affects our moods, inspires us, and often gives us a voice when we can’t find the words ourselves.” —Mary Hayes

We jam so hard all the time. I believe that all kids who have two parental figures have one Pop Music Parent who likes what they like and has the responsibility to take them to concerts and listen to favorites on repeat, etc. The other parent gets to do what they want. My dad listened to classical, my mom was my Pop Music Parent. She took me to see NKOTB and got just as excited as me. She let me control the radio and sang along. She never criticized my music. Music is a big thing for me so it was her way of supporting me and my individuality. Now, I’m that parent to my kid. And sometimes that requires me to be a ‘Bieleber’ and that’s fine with me. I’m all in.” —Casey Brown

To talk about big stuff and stay connected

“I use music as an entry point to talk to my kids about issues of gender roles and stereotypes, double standards, drug and alcohol use, body image, etc. Pop culture in general, and music specifically, can give us a way into these issues without seeming preachy.” —Vikki Reich

“Music is the soundtrack to our family life! We have music playing all the time, from the time we wake to the time we shut it down for quiet time. I grew up the same way and music is part of my core. I’m so happy I’m sewing that thread into my kids’ lives and it’s awesome! We have favorite songs, lyric jokes, and always share new bands/songs with each other. And then there’s the threat song — ‘I’m going to sing a Taylor Swift song if you don’t knock it off!’ We have many, many threat songs)” —Charlene Prince Birkeland

“How do I use music? As a mode of communication and connection with my kids. In the car—every minute of every day. We also have a road trip playlist we listen to that all contribute, too. We share music via iTunes family and we are known for Friday night kitchen dance parties. They’ve changed from all five to a rotating roster of me and eye-rolling teens, but they still participate a lot. Just don’t tell their friends. 🙂 My kids have also, since birth, fallen asleep to music. Sometimes it’s the birthday CDs I make them and sometimes it is a soundtrack to a movie, Broadway (ahem, Hamilton) or Zelda video game. Pretty much, there is always music in this house.” —Cristie Ritz King

To teach new skills

“My husband loves to play music (guitar especially) so we have a music corner in our house and have dance parties on the regular. When our youngest was little and [my husband] was a stay-at-home dad, they had music class daily. With my oldest son, I love finding music to share with him through the message feature on Spotify and he will do the same. We definitely love to sing and dance quite frequently.” —Sondra Santos Drahos

“I married a music critic, so music is always on and my kids are frequently challenged to identify an artist or find the common threads between singers, bands and producers.” —Alma Klein

To bond with baby (and big kids and teens and grown children and grandchildren and…)

“I sang My Favorite Things to my tummy knowing she’d hear it in utero. To keep us both brave and cheerful about… what was to come. Then the Beatles lullaby tape with ‘her’ ballad on it that she was named for, called Julia. Then our song—for life—became You Are So Beautiful by Joe Cocker.” —Patricia Campbell

“My kids make Siri rap in the car. My car has voice text and it’s highly amusing hearing Siri get down with Eminem! I’d like to say we bond through the use of soothing music piped through the house, while they do homework and I busy myself in my apron, preparing dinner…. but nope. We make Siri rap for us!” —Donna Robinson

What ways does your family tune in to music? Email us at parents@weeschool.wpengine.com and we’ll share it on Facebook and Instagram!

About the author

Jessica

Jessica

Jessica Ashley wears inappropriately high heels to the playground. A content strategist and creator, Jessica is the founder and voice of Single Mom Nation and the podcast Single Mom Nation Radio. She is the mother of a one-boy-band, Tae Kwon Do-ing tween and a feisty toddler known as Boss Lady.