One of the most challenging, and simultaneously the most rewarding, part of caring for infants--either my own or in my classroom--was nap time. Sleeping babies are among the world's most precious treasures.
At work, to help get 4-9 tiny ones to sleep at once, I employed a time honored tradition that all the cool early childhood professionals know--the naptime tape. There are plenty of lullaby tapes on the market and local musicians are always trying to busk their latest compilation at early childhood conferences. In a pinch, the third side of the Beatles White Album makes an excellent playlist for sending kiddos off to sleep. The best teachers, though, skipped the ready-to-play naptime tapes preferring to put together their own special mix tapes. Back in the dark ages (before iPods), it took significant effort to create the soundtrack to peace and quiet. And in many child care centers, the competition to create the best naptime tape is fierce.
(This is the subject for another blogpost, but I promise to one day tell you how I vanquished the toddler teacher who insisted that a Madonna mix could touch the Beatles with a vengeful hour of over a dozen covers of "Blackbird.")
My naptime mix has evolved over the years to include a mix of classical, classic rock, gospel, and folk tunes guaranteed to lull my wee charges to sleep. When my own children were babies, it was these songs that I would sing over the cradle, or while I walked miles and miles in circles around the house to comfort a fussy one. When my cousins and nieces and girlfriends' children started having babies, I made up CDs of my naptime mix to add to their shower presents. I would like to think that one day my own children will sing, or at least play, these same songs to my grandbabies.
Miss Kristen's Naptime Mix
Freight Train (Peter, Paul & Mary)
Whistling Gypsy Rover (Tommy Makem & the Clancy Brothers)
Ripple (Grateful Dead)
You Can Close Your Eyes (James Taylor)
Three Little Birds (Bob Marley)
The Garden Song (Pete Seeger)
Welcome to the Family (Kids Praise 3)
Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy (Tchaikovsky)