Tuesday, June 17, 2008

How to Calm My Fussy Children

Have I mentioned that Lukas screamed nonstop for the first three months of his life? After that he only screamed half the time for the next year. I seriously thought my eardrums would burst. They had that fuzzy, crackly sound coming out of them like a speaker that has had too many watts of acid rock blasted through it (thankfully, my ears did heal and don't sound like that anymore).

So here's how I survived: I sang to him. Somehow, singing calmed him down and made him stop screaming. Now it was not my favorite thing in the world to be singing most of the day, but it turned out to be much more pleasant to hear myself sing than to hear my child scream. Within 10 seconds of starting a song, Lukas would stop screaming and listen and play quietly or sit enraptured with his mother's dulcet voice. Ahem. You get the point.

I found that I needed to have songs that were fairly long, so I could start a song, sing it through and not have to think of what the next song would be while I'm also trying to read a recipe or multi-task with the laundry and the dishes. The Itsy Bitsy Spider is a little too short, but The Star-Spangled Banner is a good-length song. And can your 4yo sing the national anthem? Mine can, because he's heard it over one thousand times. I may have scarred my kids for life by singing many of the songs from The Sound of Music over and over, but hey, it kept ME sane! Hymns are great too.

Lukas' best lullaby was Edelweiss from The Sound of Music. Natalie's was Amazing Grace. I tried to come up with a new one for Konrad (I started with You Are My Sunshine, but decided the phrase "my only sunshine" might make the other kids jealous) and he doesn't cry nearly as much as the other two did, so I just sing the old standbys. Ok, he's not too old to come up with a personal lullaby, so I'll work on it! I'm trying Love Me Tender to see how that fits with him.

The biggest problem I had was remembering the lyrics! I knew a lot of melodies, and many of the words, but when I'm singing like this, I need to know all the lyrics so I can keep the song going while I'm doing something else. I'm sure there are a lot of lyric sites, but I found this one that I use. It has children's songs, patriotic songs, and musical songs (where I found all the lyrics for The Sound of Music songs).

So that's how my fussy children can be calmed. No guarantees it will calm YOUR fussy children, but it's worth a try! I think that the positive response to singing only kicked in at about four months of age for Konrad, so if it doesn't work for you right away, try it again in a month. Konrad switches from crying madly to the biggest two-toothed grin ever when I start singing to him.

Singing to my kids worked (and still works!) for me. Check out Shannon's site for other things that work for other bloggers across the planet.


The Happy Housewife said...

Great advice. I use to sing to my kids when they were babies, but not so much now. I need to start!

The Happy Housewife said...

I forgot to mention, the vacuum is a Eureka cordless quick-up.

Milehimama said...

Each of my kids ended up with their own lullaby somehow. We changed that phrase to "darling sunshine" instead of "only".

Michelle said...

I did the very same thing and still do actually. I would sing anything and everything to Austin and Andrew when they were newborns. You are My Sunshine was Austin's song and he still recognizes it when Larry (of Veggie Tales) sings it on his DVD. =) Andrew wasn't as fussy but if either of them get up in the middle of the night, music does the trick!

Amanda said...

I'm always singing to my kids. For my son, when he's super upset about something, not just any song will do. It HAS to be Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Da. He can be hysterical, and that song will make him smile every time. (For my daughter, the song is "Slip Sliding Away" by Paul Simon. I have weird kids.) I always greet them in the morning by singing "Good Morning!" from Singing in the Rain (my dh hates that song though, LOL).

I'm always looking for long songs....the national anthem is a good one!

World's Greatest Mommy said...

We do this too! Each of our five children has their own song. All of them are either made up, or changed from original lyrics slightly.

Great tip.

Blue Castle said...

I did this too. I remember trying to come up with songs and so I started singing them hymns. I don't think I had a particular song for each kid, though.