{GUEST POST} Wife of a Musician: Music for a Solid Bedtime Routine

Today’s guest post is written by my lovely wife Eleanor. Eleanor is a high school history teacher in Orange County, California and an amateur singer, guitar player, and ukulele player. Make sure you check out her other guest posts here.

When my son was born, he was just the most terrible sleeper. In desperation at around four months old, we decided to try creating a calming, repetitive bedtime routine to lure him into sleep. This never helped him - he eventually had to cry it out - but the bedtime routine stuck fast and has endured through our second baby, so much so that if we skip any portion of it, they freak out. Through experimentation and sometimes catastrophe, we have now got this down to a science, and both kids sleep 12 hours through the night.

Part of the success of the routine hinges on the music we play at bedtime. The original reason behind using music with bedtime was two-fold:

  1. I read that music would be a good cue that it was time to sleep, and

  2. I had no idea how long bath time and bed time should be.

So, in the order we play it, here is the music we play for the children at bedtime.

Baby Beluga by Raffi

First, please note that there is a LOT of Raffi on this list. I discovered him after talking to a mom friend (thanks Becca!) and the kids totally respond to the mild mannered Canadian folk singer. Baby Beluga, the simple story of the little white whale, kicks off bath time with a fun song that our son now sings along to. I picked this at the first bath time song purely because it’s the only Raffi song I knew that had to do with water. This is the song we do the primary washing during, while the kids play.

Water Dance by Raffi

I warned you, there’s a lot of Raffi. Water Dance is instrumental but I choose it because it’s perfect for splashing. My idea was to make the beginning of bath time super fun, then slowly wind down, so Water Dance is the splashing song and it sometimes works far too well.

Row, Row, Row Your Boat by (you guessed it) Raffi

This is the beginning of the bedtime slow down. It’s an easy song to sing and remember and in my son’s early days (before we had to split our time between two different bedtimes) my husband and I would each take a part and sing in a round. Both of my kids said “Row Row Row” early in their toddlerhood because we played this song every night.

Thanks a Lot by Raffi

This is the last bath time song, and I love it because it’s slow and soothing and it teaches thankfulness. My son says thank you for the same things every night in his prayers, and I like to think that this song helped instill in him a feeling of thankfulness. This is also the cue to our kids to get out of the bath and get dried off.

Lullabye (Goodnight, My Angel) by Billy Joel

It’s not a Raffi song! And it’s the only non-Raffi song of the evening. John loves Billy Joel, and when he was trying to convince me to also love Billy Joel, this is the only song I really loved. It has such a beautiful message about how we will always be with our kids, even after we are gone, and we have been singing it to Noah and Emma every night since they were each four months old. Noah is now old enough to sing along with us, and during both bedtime routines, this is the last thing we do before we kiss the kids goodnight and put them to bed.

I’ve said before that I think music is a powerful parenting tool. For our kids, it helps them know what to expect at bedtime and wind down from the day. I’m not saying that somehow these five songs will magically help your kid sleep (sorry) - it took us a year of grueling night wake ups with both kids to get to that point. But the music certainly helps soothe and secure them, and I’ll be happy to sing them Lullabye for as long as they’ll let me.

To get any of the above works transcribed, please email me at john@zechiel.com or visit Zechiel Music Transcription for a quote!