Every night when I prepare dinner, I put on music. If my daughter, who’s six, likes the song, she’ll stop watching TV and join me in the kitchen for a dance party. Once my four-year-old son sees us dancing, he can’t resist joining the party. Most nights, our whole family ends up laughing together as my two little ones show off their best moves, and my wife and I try to keep up. It’s the best part of my day, especially now, as COVID-19 continues to affect our lives immeasurably.
As parents, we know that our children are in need of support right now. Kids are extremely resilient, but they are living through unprecedented times and navigating a world that’s very different from anything they’ve experienced before. No matter how strong our little people are or how well they appear to be handling things, we parents are hyper-aware of the effects the pandemic is having on their mental health and well-being. Kids need that lightness, that joy and that interaction with others. Parents and educators have always been part of creating those moments — and as a children’s author and entertainer, it’s my mission as well. That’s why I turn to a few powerful tools to achieve a sense of connection and togetherness: music, movement and laughter. These are things we can draw on anytime, anywhere.
As the ‘Rap Dad’ from Friendly Fables (or Lexy, as my friends call me), my goal has always been to make kids laugh, sing, dance and be active. If you get a group of kids dancing and laughing together, it’s always a fun time — you’ll see it immediately in their smiles.
I started Friendly Fables in 2018 after leaving the corporate world to care for my son, who needed surgery at Sick Kids Hospital in Toronto. What could have been a temporary leave turned into a calling when I started writing children’s books. As the months went on, I found that the best way to reach kids was through music and song, so I created a series of ‘Rap-A-Long’ books that each had their own song, music video and dance moves. Over the course of 2018-2019, I toured my songs live through elementary school visits and concerts in the community, but when the pandemic hit I had to pivot to singing and dancing online.
There’s a constant tightrope we all walk as parents with respect to screen time. My kids gravitate to television and YouTube, but not all of the content out there is great and we definitely set boundaries around how much they take in. You don’t want your kids on the screen all day — but there are times when videos can be both educational and interactive. When you want to transition away from screen time, music and movement can be great ways to help.
Here are some fun ways you can bring music and movement into your daily routine. Trust me when I say the laughter comes along for free:
Learn a dance routine as a family
If enrolled in ‘e-camps’ or ‘e-learning’ this Summer, make sure to take regular dance or movement breaks
Use ‘rhyme time’ to help kids memorize important things
Have family band night (spoons make for great instruments)
Incorporate fun songs into activities like toy cleanup and setting the table
Start a spontaneous dance-off!
It’s definitely been a tough year for parents, and we’re all looking forward to better days ahead. But until we get there, let’s sing and dance along the way.
‘Lexy The Rap Dad’, creator of Friendly Fables is a children’s author and rapping dad from Ajax, Ontario. His RAP-A-LONG stories and songs have catapulted him to success with a debut kids rap album that hit #1 on the iTunes children's music chart in Canada!
To learn more visit: YouTube.com/FriendlyFables
Or Instagram: @FriendlyFables