What. A. WEEK! It's hard to actually digest how rapidly the world has changed since our last class together on Wednesday. I will be open and admit that I was one of the early believers that thought this was being blown out of proportion. I shut out the news and posts about it, assuming that it would all just work itself out without really affecting me. Boy was I ever wrong.
You, dear internet (and cousin known as social media) have gotten a bad rep through all of this. People have been online shaming others for over or under-reacting in the early days, sharing non-factual posts, and getting into fights with others about their choices to social distance. People also believe you are to blame for escalating the fear in society. But to me, you are saving our butts right now.
I've never been a news-watcher, so where have I gotten ALL of my information about this virus? From articles shared on social media. Everything (credible) I've read has shifted me from a non-believer to a hardcore social distancer in a matter of days. Even yesterday I opted to go out and teach my class at We Rock The Spectrum Kids Gym because I wanted to support the lovely owner of the gym who was so excited to have our music classes at her anniversary party, the event she had poured months of time, energy and money into planning. While I have no regrets about going through with it, had this event been scheduled for today, I'm certain I wouldn't have gone. Thanks to you, Internet, I'm more educated than I was 24 hours ago. You've exposed me to brilliant articles, graphs and videos that have taught me about how massively we are impacted in preventing the spread of this thing by choosing to stay home.
I'm also grateful to you for keeping me connected to my Do-Re-Mi community. Regardless of whether someone joined our classes 3 years ago or 3 weeks ago, I'm able to stay in virtual touch and watch everyone's babies grow while sharing the development of my little business. You've also caused me to get creative with how I can continue reaching families without hosting physical classes. Because of your amazing technology I could film a video, upload it, and be singing in other people's living rooms in a matter of minutes. I'm also grateful that in these uncertain times you've allowed me to find a way for my wonderful community to financially support me without physically attending class. You've given so many small business owners options to continue supporting their families.
And on a personal note, how amazing is it to have video chat during all of this? Our children can still communicate their smiles with their grandparents and show off their toy collections to their aunts and uncles and make silly faces at their friends. I shutter to imagine how isolating 3 weeks of social distancing would be without you.
These are scary, uncertain and lonely times. But you give information, connection and hope to the world in what could have been utterly devastating reality without you.
Thank you, internet, for informing us.
Thank you, internet, for creating work opportunities.
Thank you, internet, for making quality education and entertainment accessible.
Thank you, internet, for giving us purchasing ability with out leaving our homes.
Thank you, internet, for connecting us.
Lets hold our babes close, cuddle in, and wait this thing out. I believe we will. And thanks to you, darling Internet, the hugs will feel that much sweeter on the other side.
I was talking to a few different parents today who were remarking on how amazing it is to see the growth of ALL the babies in class. 👶🏼 We really do get to know each other in environments like this even without exchanging many words. We share mutual giggles when one baby plants a slobbery kiss on another one, or when one lets out an adorable squeal of joy.
Today I brought my daughter with me, and I got to play my ukulele in peace while all the other parents in the room instinctively watched out for her as she stumbled around the room. Shared experiences like this really do unite us, and there’s something pretty special in seeing parents celebrating and rooting for other people’s children. That, my friends, is what makes the world go round. 🌎 I’m grateful to be around such beautiful energy every week. 🙏✨
I’m on a constant quest to achieve a “family rhythm”. 👨👩👦👦 I don’t know about you, but for me, adjusting to parenthood over the past three years has been a relentless rollercoaster of extreme highs and lows, seasons that fly by and seasons that move painfully slowly, so achieving this “family rhythm” feels like an impossible task most days. 🤦🏼♀️
It’s so hard to juggle raising children amidst work and home responsibilities, all the while trying to maintain healthy relationships with my partner, friends, family and myself. I’ve also been researching the importance of allocating dedicated family time, for it deeply impacts the health of families. So how do we balance it all? How do we fit it all in, and what do we prioritize? 🤷🏼♀️
I believe that we can’t overwhelm ourselves with all these “shoulds”. We can’t fit it all in in one day and we can’t feel guilty if the realities of life cause us to choose work over family one day, and family over self-care the next. All we can do is have our little check list of what matters most to us and our squad, and do our best to carve out time for what we can manage each week.💆🏼♀️
All of the families who joined me today lead very different lives, but I had the pleasure of witnessing their dedicated hour of family time. I felt joy around me as I watched them earnestly dance, sing and act silly with their kids. I bet before they had kids their Sunday mornings looked awfully different. Today they chose music class over a luxurious brunch, and maybe next weekend they’ll skip music, drop their kids off at Grandma’s and give themselves a spa day. Like I said, we can’t do it all at once.🙅🏼♀️
But even on my hardest days of juggling, I always feel better when I’ve had some quality family time (even amid the meltdowns and frustrations!)🤪. Like all health, maintaining family health takes work. It takes planning, communication, reflection, and forgiveness to build the type of family we aspire to have. But go easy on yourself, parents. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and rhythm needs melody, harmony and dynamics to truly thrive. We may fall out of rhythm, but in time we can always manage to get back in sync. 🎵❤️
We’ve had a bunch of new followers join us lately, so I thought I’d take this opportunity to introduce myself. I’m Jenny, founder of Do-Re-Mi & My Baby. This is my happy place, singing a dorky tune with my ukulele, surrounded by cuties and their caregivers. 👩👦🎵
I’m a Mom to 3-year-old Brady and 9-month-old Adelaide, and wife to 33-year-old Dave. (haha) I’m a certified teacher, and I taught elementary music at St. Mildred's-Lightbourn School for 7 awesome years. I’m also a children’s choir conductor with the Oakville Choir for Children & Youth and I absolutely love it! 🎵💕
I have a degree in music from the University of Toronto, and a degree in education from Trent University. I love to travel (although haven’t done that much lately) and do yoga (also a bit rusty in that department because #momlife) but I’m going to make it a priority to return to my practice this summer. 🧘♀️
I launched my little business 2 years ago after my maternity leave ended with my son. I was floored by how deeply we benefited from community classes that I wanted to bring that experience to more moms in Oakville. 💕
Right now we offer a baby class, a toddler class, and a weekend family class for multiple ages and adults. Our next baby and toddler 6-week sessions begin on Wednesday and I’d love to have you join us! Our classes engage all five senses, and I’ve done a ton of research in early music education. In class, little ones get to use a wealth of instruments and props, and parents learn tons of songs to sing at home. But more than anything my main goal is fun. Did anyone else’s parents force you to take piano lessons until you cried and complained enough for them to let you quit? Yeah nobody wins there. Children will only continue to take part in music if they enjoy it.
So that’s me! I’d love to have you join us at one of our music classes. We welcome drop-ins to ALL classes for $20, so feel free to stop by any Wednesday or Sunday morning to check out what we’re all about. If you made it to the end of this, THANK YOU!
Ahhhhh so excited to be featured in Baby Gaga! Click here to read the full article online.
Music has a way of reaching everyone in different ways. As a music educator and entrepreneur Jenny Johnston (pictured above) explained, "the benefits of introducing music to your baby are endless". Jenny is the founder of Do-Re-Mi & My Baby, a parent and child music class located in Oakville, Ontario. She has an extensive musical background, and recently she has enjoyed using this knowledge and experience to introduce babies and their parents to the joys and wonders of music.
Ever since the memorable moment of performing in her Grade 5 musical, Jenny knew that she wanted to pursue music in her life. She joined a local choir, pursued music education in high school, and completed a degree in Vocal Performance from the University of Toronto. Jenny coupled this degree with a Bachelor of Education and enjoyed seven years of teaching elementary music education at St. Mildred's-Lightbourn School, a prominent independent school in Oakville, before starting her own family.
Once on maternity leave with her first child in 2016, it wasn't long before Jenny was passing along her love of music to her son, Brady. Her fellow mom friends would remark at how talented she was at fostering that love of music in her own baby, and they were soon asking her to help them teach their own babies about music. Thus, Do-Re-Mi & My Baby was born, and Jenny continues to share her love of music with other parents and babies.
When asked what were the benefits of introducing music to your baby, Jenny had many ideas to share. Here are some of the top benefits of introducing music to your little one.
10 MUSIC STRENGTHENS COGNITIVE AND SENSORY DEVELOPMENT
Music is a multi-sensory experience, and we don't often realize that. We don't just hear music, we feel it, we experience it. Through exposure to music, babies strengthen their cognitive and sensory development, and this is very beneficial. They learn to recognize familiar tunes, and babies as young as 7-months old can detect different beats in a song.
Music strengthens cognitive development by encouraging memory use and thought processes. As Jenny explains, "music engages all five senses", and through frequent exposure to music, babies develop stronger sensory connections.
9 MUSIC CAN BE APPLIED TO ANY ACTIVITY
We all know what it's like trying to keep a baby still through a messy diaper change. It can be next to impossible, as they wiggle and squirm while you do everything in your power to prevent poop from getting everywhere. Sing a little song, and all of a sudden, your squirmy baby is transfixed on you, listening intently to the song that you are singing. It buys you the time you need to get that diaper change finished!
Music can be incorporated into any activity, and it can help both parents and baby to feel more relaxed through activities that are perhaps a bit more stressful, like those diaper changes! Singing a little song during feeding time can help to calm your baby and help them to focus on eating, and we all know the benefits of singing a gentle lullaby at bedtime to help your baby drift off to sleep. As Jenny mentioned, "it is a wonderful way to build happy routines and establish a strong connection with your child."
8 MUSIC CAN HELP TO DEVELOP LANGUAGE SKILLS
Music has a certain repetitive, rhythmic nature to it, and this can be very intriguing and comforting to infants, as they hear a familiar song and learn to recognize the tune and even the lyrics. As they get older, this recognition of lyrics can help them to develop their early language skills. Through music, babies and toddlers become familiar with rhyming words and auditory nuances, and they acquire new words through different songs that they hear regularly.
7 BABIES WHO ARE SUNG TO GET BETTER SLEEP
Many parents sing to their baby to help them fall asleep, but did you know that singing to your baby can also help them to stay asleep longer and to sleep more soundly? There is nothing more comforting to an infant than the sound of your voice, so singing them a quiet song at bedtime has a similar effect that meditation has on us.
It lowers blood pressure, calms the brain, and readies the body for sleep. It doesn't matter what song you sing or whether you think you are a "good" singer or not, your baby loves your voice, and falling asleep to your gentle singing help them to enter a deeper, more peaceful sleep. So, sing away!
6 MUSIC CAN BE A TOOL TO HELP TODDLERS EXPRESS THEMSELVES
As babies and toddlers are exposed to different forms of music, they learn to identify the different tones and nuances in various songs. They can recognize happy, upbeat music and how it sounds different than stronger, angrier music. By exposing your baby to a variety of classical pieces that are emotional, babies learn to differentiate between these emotions.
As they get older and are still acquiring their language skills, music can help them to identify and express their own emotions more easily, as they have that understanding and recognition already. This brings toddlers some comfort, as they learn to navigate strong emotions and find ways to express them. So, throughout those terrible twos, keep that music playing!
5 MUSIC CAN TRIGGER MEMORY
We all have those songs that can trigger a strong memory, perhaps one that we hadn't thought of in a long time. You could be driving along, and an old familiar song comes on the radio, and instantly you're brought back to a favorite childhood memory. It is remarkable how music can trigger these sorts of memories. It is no different with babies and music.
If there is a particular song that you sing to your baby regularly, they learn to recognize that song and associate whatever emotion is linked to it. If it is a happy, peaceful song that you sing to them when it's bedtime, then whenever you begin to sing it, it will trigger that memory and they will know it is time to rest. This use of memory in music also helps to further develop your baby's cognitive abilities.
4 MUSIC CAN IMPROVE MATHEMATICAL LEARNING
Music, in all its forms, is quite mathematical in nature. There are patterns to a song, and mathematical reasoning is often required when reading music in order to play an instrument. Certain sounds in music can also be processed by different parts of the brain, sometimes the left hemisphere over the right hemisphere, and this can create a stronger balance within the brain. Even Einstein was known to sit and listen to music while trying to figure out a difficult mathematical problem!
3 MUSIC HELPS TO DEVELOP FINE MOTOR SKILLS AND COORDINATION
Learning to move along to music is beneficial for babies in many ways. Identifying the rhythm of a song and moving accordingly helps to develop a child's fine-motor skills, as they learn to differentiate between various rhythms. Playing an instrument is also a great contributor to developing fine-motor skills, so allowing your baby to play with age-appropriate instruments from a young age can help them in the long run.
Moving along to music helps to build a baby's coordination, as they learn how their bodies move, and how they can make them move in reaction to different songs. Moving with someone to music can also trigger the release of oxytocin, known as the "bonding hormone", the same hormone that is released during nursing. So, put on your favorite song and dance along with your baby. It is scientifically proven that they will love it!
2 MUSIC-MAKING MAY HELP TO IMPROVE NEUROPLASTICITY
Neuroplasticity is the brain's ability to form synaptic connections, and it is these connections in the brain that help to develop memory and skills. Music-making may help to strengthen neuroplasticity in the brain in the areas that are dedicated to processing sound, sensation, movement, and attention.
This means, by introducing music and music-making to your baby at an early age, they may have an easier time processing different sounds, paying attention to those sounds, and thus developing their language skills. By being actively involved in music-making, rather than just passively listening to it, babies are more inclined to develop these skills, as well as further enhancing their language and social development.
1 IT CAN HELP POST PARTUM DEPRESSION
Postpartum depression is a very real condition that many new mothers experience. As Jenny explained, postpartum depression "is something I've suffered with after having both my children, so Do-Re-Mi & My Baby is as much for parents as it is for babies and toddlers. I strive to create an environment in class where moms can meet each other and build their own mom-squad who live close to them and have similar aged kids. Maternity leave is a special time, but it can be so isolating for moms who spend hours alone with their baby all day trying to navigate motherhood alone. Classes like this build community that can truly be the saving grace for new parents."
Jenny is an inspiration to many moms, with her musical talent, her ability to connect to babies and toddlers in such a fun way, and her strength and courage to turn her passion into freelance work, allowing her to be at home with her children. If you live in the Greater Toronto Area and are looking for a music class for you and your baby, be sure to check out Do-Re-Mi & My Baby. If you don't live in that area, search around for a similar class near you, and explore all the wonders of introducing music to your baby!
Yesterday was #WorldMaternalMentalHealthDay and I’ve been so moved by the brave posts I’ve read by you mamas sharing your journey through maternal mental health. 🙏
I’ve never been so brave. I’ve never publicly shared my struggle, and I’ve hardly even shared it privately because to be quite honest, I feel ashamed. 😕
This photo was taken at the height of my depression - on a beautiful summer day, holding my beautiful two-year-old son, 8 months pregnant with my beautiful baby daughter, in my beautiful neighbourhood with my beautiful husband. What on earth did I have to feel blue about? 🤷🏼♀️
I was terrified of having a second child because I felt like I was barely coping with one. Toddlerhood knocked me down hard, and I went from a serene maternity leave with my precious baby to navigating self-employment with a fierce toddler in tow. 14 months into motherhood I went from loving it to resenting it. Just when I thought I was in the clear of getting postpartum depression I could barely drag myself out of bed every day.🛌
As this dark depression began to consume me I questioned the decision I made to quit my full time teaching job to be a work-from-home mom. I felt lonely. I felt incompetent. Every meltdown my son had felt like a reflection of something I was doing wrong. I felt furious that my freedom was gone. I felt overwhelmed by the daily demands of motherhood, yet bored by it at the same time. I compared myself to moms on social media who were cooking amazing meals from scratch, and writing about their gratitude for their children and I felt like there was something deeply wrong with me that I wasn’t doing the same. 👩👦
Generally, I do feel better these days. I’ve been to counseling and I take more breaks and a lot of the anxiety I had about having a second child went away once she arrived and I proved to myself that I could manage two kids. But I’m by no means 100% better. Feeling balanced is a muscle to be flexed, and with time and patience I’m learning to flex it. 💪
I’m grateful not to be in the thick of the blues right now. But If you are, know that you’re not alone, and I’m here for ya. ❤️ #maternalmentalhealth
Do you ever struggle with holidays? Ever since having kids the holidays STRESS me out! I find that extended family always have such high expectations for how my kids are going to enjoy a holiday. For example when my son was 18 months my Dad was so pumped for Christmas but my son had no clue what was happening! It's easy for adults to project their own happy childhood memories on kids and hope that our littles experience all the magic that they did, but its a lot of pressure to put on tiny humans! I find it a lot of pressure to put on us Moms too. I always feel guilty if my son "under-performs" on his excitement for a gift or tradition and disappoints the grandparents or aunts and uncles.
This morning was Easter Sunday and we had a fun park Easter egg hunt in our neighbourhood followed by an Easter egg hunt at my Dad and Step-Mom's. Nobody put any pressure on us to have a good time this time, but this year it was ME who wanted my almost 3-year-old to enjoy himself. I found myself rushing him around to "get excited" about finding eggs, and he did for the most part, but I had to stop and remind myself to chill out. This is all just strange traditions that we made up, and none of it really matters.
The morning went well but it was followed by a sugar crash and about 7 different meltdowns on the way home. Then after the kids nap we're off to another family Easter dinner, at which point my nerves sink in about how my son will behave, and how my 6-month-old daughter will cope being passed around to strangers desperate to hold her and get a baby giggle or two.
It all feels so intense to me, and makes me not want to go. But then in that brief moment when my Son says thank you, and my daughter smiles at a great aunt, it does feel all worth it (almost). I know how much joy children bring to adults, especially ones who are not around them very often. So on these stressful weekends I just remind myself to breathe, grin and bear the embarrassing toddler meltdowns, and give myself a break once in a while. Holdiays are magical and stressful all at once, especially for moms. So let's just post that cute instagram picture of our kid in the bunny ears, enjoy a big old glass of wine, and get through it together.
I questioned this title after I wrote it because the last thing I want is to seem ungrateful for my children. I also don't want to blow my daily struggles out of proportion when I know that compared to what so many parents go through with their kids I have it pretty good. But I decided that despite the fact that this title may seem over-dramatic to some, to me, that's exactly how I felt this week.
This week kicked my ass. Hard. Both kids were sick with what felt like the 10th cold this winter. And again, I know I have nothing to complain about since some parents spend weeks in hospitals with chronically ill children, but for a run-of-the-mill cold this one blew chunks. Literally.
It was also a bit of a perfect storm this week since my husband was working extremely long hours trying to prepare for a product launch (the life of entrepreneur parents) and I received some disappointing work-related news, and of course all of this was happening while trying to deal; with a frustrated, sick toddler on a food strike for 7 days and his equally sick baby sister. Cue violins.
So why am I sharing this with you? to gain a little sympathy? Maybe. But also to let you know that you're not alone. My morning on Thursday was a laughable morning to some, but to you moms out there who get the struggle of trying to entertain a sick toddler, you know that sometimes you do what you gotta do to survive! We HAD to get out of the house but he was too sick to bring to an early years centre. So where'd we go in yucky, cold, wet March? Where else but the mall. So here we are surviving.
Jenny is the founder of Do-Re-Mi & My Baby, a former teacher, a conductor, a freelancer, and a full-time Mom of a toddler boy and baby girl.