(Today’s Author is Charlotte from MWM Torquay/Brixham)
January can be a difficult month to feel happy in. The days are still short, it can be chilly and the colour, lights, treats and magic of December are behind us for another year. It can take a bit more effort to find activities that make us feel happy and have a positive impact on our wellbeing and the wellbeing of those around us. Music is a great place to start.
Music is powerful, most of us have experienced the effect of music and rhythm on our emotions. It can help to motivate us when we’re exercising and has been found to be as useful to some athletes as performance enhancers that they aren’t supposed to use.¹ What better way to enhance your own performance as a person, and a parent, and enhance your children’s mood, wellbeing and a multitude of other skills, than with music!
The best predictor of a person’s life satisfaction as an adult has been shown to be their emotional health as a child. Mother’s mental health has the largest effect on this than any other factor.² So if parents and children (future parents) are happy it makes a huge difference to all of us. Research has shown that listening to music daily has reduced levels of stress and anxiety in pregnant women. Some of the music used in the study was just the sort of music we use at Music with Mummy and Jolly Babies, including Brahm’s lullaby, nursery rhymes like Twinkle Twinkle Little Star (a firm favourite in all classes) and classical pieces of the sort we have as our ‘listening music’ in class.³
Another study has shown that children in hospitals were significantly happier during music therapy, where they could play maracas and bells (sound familiar?), than they were during play therapy where they could play with puzzles and toys.¹¹
Engaging with live music can be a particularly effective way to increase our levels of wellbeing. Enjoying, singing and dancing along to music in the company of others helps to strengthen social bonds and can make us significantly happier. Singing in a group has a positive impact on mental health.²² This is great news for parents and children and music groups are widespread and easy to access.
For us parents, joining a music group reduces isolation and allows us to meet other people experiencing similar highs and lows as we are. For parental mental health, the combination of music, social interaction and quality time with our little ones must be positive and all this is what you find at Music with Mummy and Jolly Babies groups. Music can have a profound positive effect on us physiologically and emotionally. When we listen to music we use a large area of the brain, meaning that learning music and experiencing rhythm can have a positive impact on brain function and, therefore, many other skills such as maths and language.³³
For the long-term happiness of your children into adulthood, look after yourselves. It’s ok not to be ok. Be mindful of your moods and recognise when you aren’t feeling your best so that you can find ways to help yourself. Invest your valuable time, energy and resources into doing whatever it takes to take care of your own wellbeing and in turn the wellbeing of your children will improve. Play music with your family, make music with your family, feel the beat with your family and mix with other families while you’re doing it. Dance it out together, take deep breaths to soothing melodies together and make music work for you because making music matters to everyone.
Charlotte x x
3. Wiley-Blackwell. “Soothing Music Reduces Stress, Anxiety and Depression During Pregnancy.” ScienceDaily. Oct. 14, 2008.