In an attempt to not drive all my readers away permanently, by sheer weight of the world's burdens, I'm going to write about something a little more palatable.
Singing your children to sleep.
I sang my boys to sleep until the younger was what- 4? or 5. A long time. And every night, with very few exceptions. Spouse and Spice share(d) the chore sometimes; but frankly I like doing it, and kind of stole this job when I could.
It started with my first child- when I was youngish and raring to go forth and prove that education is useful. As far as I know, I just thought this up- by using what I knew-
People expect singing to soothe the child; but I set out to intentionally CONDITION the baby to fall asleep when I sang.
Babies, and children, sometimes are at odds with their parents regarding the timing of sleep. This probably comes as a shock to the non-parents out there, but alas, it's true. Sometimes, when you are dead tired and want sleep- the little stinkers won't. And won't let you, either.
It would be SO wonderful to be able to wave a magic wand, say "sleep, beautiful child", and have the little boogers just conk out. PLEASE.
So. I tried singing. Guess what? The dirty so-and-so WAKES up to listen. Hey, new, interesting! I can wave my feet in time!
Back to the alleged thought processes. What do we know about triggering desirable behaviors?
Pavlov comes to mind, though it's not more drool I want, it's SLEEP.
With somnolence aforethought then, I made an EFFORT. I made it a point to be there, when the durn critter was already falling asleep because of sheer exhaustion.
DON'T start to sing- until the child is nine-tenths gone. Sing softly. Continue singing for a good minute after the creature is clearly asleep.
Then do it again. And again. Then start singing when the kiddle is HALF asleep. Repeat.
Then start singing just as they're getting sleepy.
You should be getting the idea by now. You are getting sleepy... drowsy... so warm and comfortable, it's hard to keep your eyes open... you will send me money, lots and lots of money...
While just the sound of your voice is a big part of it, having one particular song for the exact transition works even better. When the child is actually conditioned, singing in the accustomed way can MAKE the child sleepy, and put them to sleep; ready or not.
We started this process with Smidgen way back there. Now that she's 3, it's a major part of nightly ritual. Sure, it takes time, but it's a treasured bit of the day, for all concerned. It takes precedence over any other urgency- the kid needs to go to bed NOW- I have to be there, to sing.
At this point, Smidgen is highly aware of it all- and puts pressure on for... MORE. Don't wanna go to sleep yet, sing me another song.
Ok, smarty... here's one... in French. Ha. Slipping a little education in, and you don't even know it. Now I get "sing me porkwa" on a regular basis. I do provide a translation, too- this is "Dites moi", from "South Pacific".
So you can expand your repertoire, and the child's. There's an awful lot of songs that have lessons in them one way or another. You get to choose. And you can make up your own- sticking in bits of things from today's events- or tomorrow's.
And you can play, always. Sometimes I sing "Raindrops on roses" - and sometimes I sing "Raindrops on noses". Keeps her on her toeses. Mostly I get a little wriggle and grin and a "nooooo. Start over."
But the conditioning still holds. When it's really TIME; I start to sing "All the pretty little horses" - and on the second line- Smidgen will yawn. 95% certainty. The second time I sing it- she's dropping off fast. The third time- which is hummed- she's out; sinking down into deep stable sleep.
At the end of that- ha! she's putty in my hands. :-) I can slip my arm out from under; straighten her out, even move her to another bed- and she will not wake.
This is useful in sickness, too; when the child is waked up off schedule, miserable, can't sleep- a little cuddling, and the song- and they'll relax, and sleep. Also in strange places; traveling...
Thank you, Pavlov.
I haven't ever tried to calculate the hours out of my life spent singing to my children. It has to be many hundreds, by now.