I had trouble sleeping when I was younger. Well, not really. I slept just fine. But getting me to go to bed was tough. I didn’t ask for stories, hugs, or for someone to make sure that there weren’t monsters under my bed. I asked for songs. Lots of songs.
My mom always sang me to sleep as far back as I can remember. She would make up lullabies, sing songs she knew, or sometimes just hum familiar tunes. When I was able to talk, I would request songs or sing them with her. I always enjoyed learning and repeating lyrics.
Once my brother was born, he also got an earful of melodic tunes. When we were younger we would sleep in the same bed and I would sing to him in the dark. “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” was a random request that I had to sing over and over. Instead of the lyrics “So let’s root, root, root for the home team” I had to replace the word “home” with whatever color my brother suggested. So let’s root, root, root for the yellow team.
Eventually my parents had to start getting creative. You can only listen to “Old McDonald” and “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” so many times. I liked when my mom sang “My Favorite Things” from The Sound of Music. The lyrics were so colorful and there were so many things to visualize! Best song ever!
In times of desperation, we would listen to ABBA or Disney soundtracks while falling asleep. Not always peaceful, but they did the trick.
I remember when my dad would sing theme songs from old TV shows that rescued him from his childhood. Gilligan’s Island was my favorite. Occasionally my mom or dad would sing The Brady Bunch intro as well. These songs were ideal because they told a story (of a lovely lady…). My mom couldn’t really sing The Partridge Family’s intro because there wasn’t much to it. And it doesn’t really do much in the relaxation department–Come on, get happy!–despite it being her favorite childhood show.
My parents would also sing us children’s church songs which were always very mellow and usually had a good message about God and Jesus loving us. That was always a comforting way to fall asleep.
I love that my parents took the time to sing us to sleep. I recognize that it wasn’t an easy task, especially when we didn’t drift off to a magical dreamland immediately and kept asking for them to sing another. I think I went through every baseball team color in the rainbow for my brother’s enjoyment. But that’s just what parents (and big sisters) do.
Did your parents or siblings ever sing to you before bed?