mainly music

  • One of mainly music and mainly play’s five core values is celebration. Celebration is dwelling on the enjoyable things in life – noticing the extraordinary in the ordinary. Looking out at the world, it’s easy to get dragged down with all the negativity that is thrown at us – so it does take some effort to stop and celebrate!

    So it is worth it? What is the point of celebration? Well it turns out that celebrating is actually good for us in a number of ways.

    Firstly, celebration allows us to focus on the important things of life – it gives us much needed perspective. Celebrating one another and special events recalibrates us to not lose sight of the important things in life!

    Celebrating also gives us a sense of belonging! Gathering together to celebrate a shared joy bonds us as a group. To belong is a core need we have as people – and we can do it through coming together in celebration.

    Finally – celebration is actually good for your health. Scientists concur that celebrating makes you feel better. It helps your body produce oxytocins and endorphins – natural chemicals which reduce stress, boost your immune system, allow you to achieve more and even live longer!

    Which is all why at mainly music and mainly play we choose to celebrate! Birthdays, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Christmas, Easter, babies, children moving on to early childhood education or school, Chinese New Year, Matariki in New Zealand, Naidoc in Australia – there are so many reasons (or excuses!) to stop and celebrate!

    Celebration doesn’t need to involve an all-out party either. Just to stop and recognise is significant. Simple acts of kindness which are acts of love from the heart often have greater impact than bells and frills.

    So let us always find the reason and the room to put celebrations into our lives! It’s good for us!

    From the Bible: “... I have come that you may have life, and have it to the full.”  John 10:10

  • Have you looked at 'how' to speak love into your child using the love languages? While a child is young, it's good to love them through all five love languages so here's some practical ideas you could try this week.

    Time – take a moment to have a ‘date’ with your child. If you can, one parent with one child – at the park, go for a walk, make a craft; if you can’t, set aside a chunk of time to complete a project with your children.

    Act of service – does your child look after a job around the house? Maybe they feed the cat or dry the dishes. Why don’t you take their turn? Make sure you tell them WHY you’re doing this or it will go unrecognized!

    Physical touch – easy as! A rough and tumble on the floor. Read a book snuggled on the couch together.

    Words of encouragement – write a note to tell your child how much you love them and why. “I love the way you smile.” “I love you because just because you are my son – no other reason.” “I love the way you care for your sister.” Speak out what you see for little ones who can’t yet read.

    Gifts – children don’t have a ‘value’ for money. Something small – something big but cheap; children view the item’s value to them rather than what you paid for it.

    We’re grateful to Gary Chapman who wrote the book, 5 Love Languages, and recommend it to you as an essential parenting title.

  • Self-esteem. Parents are sometimes placed on a guilt trip. We measure ourselves. The critics say, the child's self esteem is all up to parents.

    It has been recorded that worry does not add a single moment to your lives. That wherever our treasure is, there our heart and thoughts will also be. And that each of us is more valuable to God than the birds of the air.

    How can we, as parents or influencers of these youngsters, present a bigger picture so they know we 'choose' them, that they are held in our hearts as 'loved'?

    Firstly, we can reduce the 'worry' factor. We can take stock of the atmosphere in our home, not talk about wrongdoings in their hearing, and stop ourselves from confiding our own fears to them.

    Secondly, we can encourage them in treasures beyond themselves - let's help them find a passion - dance, sport, art, literature. They don't have to be 'first' or 'best' - instead be satisfied with a job well done, a game well played.

    Finally, we can explore with them a picture beyond ourselves. If Gods finds us and our children more valuable than the birds, we can relax in that knowledge. Look at birds dressed so finely; they have detail far beyond our nakedness; they worry-not. Sure birds don't have schedules or iPhones, rent or mortgage, bills nor credit cards. Birds' lives are relatively care-free. But listen to their song - they sing as the sun rises, they sing as the sun sets, and whether its raining or sunny, they find something to be thankful for. Have you considered and 'i'm thankful' list !

    Start by doing  what is necessary. Then do what is possible. And suddenly you are doing the impossible.
    Francis of Assisi. 

  • My nearly four-year-old is busy studying the latest flyer from one of the big stores, so conveniently deposited into our mailbox every other day. This is one is seasonally filled with chocolate eggs. Big ones, small ones, hallow ones, marshmallow ones, licensed ones featuring the latest cartoon star/movie star/pop star. She is dreaming, mouth almost watering. I am curious:

    Hey darling, can you tell me what Easter is really about?

    Ummm... Eggs?

    No, not really.

    Ummm... Chocolate?


    Ummm... Chocolate eggs?!

    No, not even chocolate eggs. Do you remember what happened at the first ever Easter?

    Ummm... Jesus was born?

    No, not quite. Jesus was born at Christmas time. He came into this world as a little baby, but he was actually God's son and God was sending him to this world because we needed a Saviour.

    Why did we need a saviour?

    Well, this world is pretty amazing and beautiful. But people do some dumb stuff sometimes. They hurt each other and that makes God really sad. They also forget about God and try to manage on their own. But God loves us so much, He doesn't want us to hurt each other, or ourselves, and He misses us if we just go of doing our own thing. So he came up with a plan. He would send his son Jesus to be with people on earth for a while, so they could learn more about God and the way God wants us to live. And then Jesus could take all the punishment for the wrong things people do, so us people - God's precious children, would not be separated from Him forever but could stay connected to God an one day live with Him in heaven for eternity.

    What's eternity?

    Forever and ever. But back to Easter. Jesus had been living on earth for about 33 years.

    Daddy is going to be 33 at his next birthday!

    Yep, Daddy is nearly 33. Jesus had been working as a carpenter...

    What's a carpenter?

    A carpenter is a builder.

    A builder like Daddy!

    Yes, a builder like Daddy. Jesus had been building, but also telling people amazing stories, and teaching them really helpful things about life, and making sick people better again, and performing miracles.

    Whats a miracle?

    A miracle is something so amazing that only God could have made it happen.

    Like me?

    Yep, you're a miracle. But back to Easter. People were hearing about Jesus and all the cool stuff he was doing. And some people knew he was a great leader and they wanted to follow him. But other people were afraid of Jesus. They were worried that Jesus might make trouble for the rulers, that Jesus would get people to fight against their rule and try and take over.

    But you said Jesus was only doing cool stuff?

    Yep, he was. he wasn't going to fight with anybody. He was doing what God has asked him to do - teach people about the Kingdom of God. But the really powerful rulers felt so threatened by Jesus that they go soldiers to arrest him, saying that Jesus had broken the laws of God. He hadn't broken any laws, but by now the priests had told lies about Jesus to the Governor. The Governor didn't want Jesus killed, but people were all getting really upset and out of control, so the Governor thought Jesus had to be punished and then hopefully people would calm down again.

    Did Jesus get time out?

    Well, sadly not. They did a really awful thing to Jesus. They nailed him to a big wooden cross, which is really, really bad for your body, and after a while Jesus couldn't breathe anymore, and he died. And we remember that day on Good Friday. We have Hot Cross Buns, and the crosses remind us what happened to Jesus that day.

    MM1259 EasterBunImages_1

    Good Friday? That cross thing doesn't sound very good.

    Well, something really good was about to happen. And the cross thing - well, that was very, very important, because it was part of God's plan for Jesus. So it was a holy thing to happen. And another word for "Holy" is "good".

    Did Jesus stay on the cross?

    No, his friends were allowed to come and take him down from the cross. They took his body and wrapped it up, and then they carried it to a tomb.

    You mean a room?

    No, a tomb... a tomb is like a cave in a rock, and in those days that's where they put people when they had died. And then a big rock was rolled in front of the tomb and a guard was there keeping and eye on things.

    Were his friends sad?

    Yes, they were really, really sad. And they comforted each other. And then on the third day, the Sunday, some of Jesus' friends, some ladies, went up to his tomb.

    To take Jesus some flowers?

    Something like that. But do you know what they found? Nothing, No Jesus! and the big huge heavy stone had been rolled away! They tomb was empty, and the guard had no idea what had happened. And then they saw a couple of angels who told them that Jesus was alive! He had come back to life, he had risen from the dead! We call that resurrection. That's why Easter Sunday is called Resurrection Sunday. The friends of Jesus were amazed, and rang back to their other friends to tell them the good news. It was hard to believe it was true, so Peter, another one of Jesus' friends came up to the tomb and all he could find were some of the bandages they had wrapped Jesus in before. Jesus was alive, and he visited with his friends and talked to them some more before going up to Heaven to be with God.

    Why did he go back to heaven?

    Well, his work on earth was done.

    His building work? Had he finished his house?

    Not his building work, but the job God had sent him to earth to complete - Jesus had to die as punishment for our sins - the things we do wrong. Because Jesus took the punishment for us, we don't have to be punished, we can be forgiven and still stay really close to God, even though we make mistakes and do the wrong things sometimes. But Gods plan was not Jesus dying on the cross, the most amazing part was that empty tomb. The empty tomb showed us God's amazing power - God is more powerful than death, so Jesus came back to life! God is the greatest, most powerful king and ruler EVER. And because of Jesus dying on Good Friday but then coming back to life on Resurrection Sunday, we too don't need to be afraid of dying - we can live forever with God. In fact, With God we don't need to be afraid of anything!

    So...why do we have Easter eggs?

    That's a good question. The hollow chocolate eggs, the ones with nothing inside, can remind us of that empty tomb...there was nothing inside the tomb because Jesus was alive!

    Does Jesus know the Easter bunny?

    He might do. Jesus is actually really into fun stuff, and people having a good time. The bible says he came so that we may have life, and life in abundance! That means a really fun, happy, full life! At Easter there is heaps of fun stuff around. Some things - like eggs and baby chickens represent new life, the new life we can all have because of what Jesus did. Other things are symbols of spring because in the Northern Hemisphere Easter Happens and springtime. It's not spring here in New Zealand though, it's actually Autumn, but that's ok - we can still think about Spring and all the new life that happens then when animals are born and chickens hatch out of eggs...

    So why does this Easter Egg here in the magazine have a picture of a Dora on it?

    That, my darling, i just can't really explain.

    "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him". John 3:16-17

    Special thanks to Ohbaby! magazine for providing us with the content of this piece.


  • When you're at mainly music, there are songs and rhymes that involved props. Sometimes those props are given out to everyone, like maracas or scarves. And other times, there are props given out to only five children who come to the front to hold them.

    And then the crying begins!

    If your child loathes being left out, rather than scold them, ask the team to 'not forget your child in future', or wish there were only five children in your session, here are some ideas to help your child learn from a very young age about being a team player. This is going to take time. With the end in mind [I want to develop a team player], keep persevering in the process of teaching your child.

    Distract your child by whispering into their ear about the props at the front. "Look at the colours of those ladybugs - what colour do you see?" "I wonder if Sophie will drop her ladybug. Do you think she will?"

    Celebrate the other children who are at the front. "How cool is it that Marcus got to hold the duckling? Are you ready to clap when he holds it up?"

    If your child will not calm, take her out. But first, give her the change to make that choice. "Samantha, we cannot enjoy the mainly music session if you are going to scream about the lollipops at the front. You can either stop screaming or i will take you out to the foyer. It's your choice. "And make sure you follow through. No counting or no bargaining from you; no semi-screams from your child. Out in the foyer you can advise your child, "We can back into music when you are ready to participate. Other children are having a turn this week. You will have a turn another day. I will wait with you until you calm down. Tell me when you are ready to go back in with a smile."

    Delight in your child when it is their turn. Don't look at your phone. Make eye contact and smile while they're at the front. When you child returns, triumphant that it was their turn, smile and give a hug or high five. Tell them what and amazing job they did holding the big picture. Delighting in your child is a key attachment activity. When they know you love and adore them, no matter what, they feel secure and find a sense of belonging.

    If your child is cautious but willing about going to the front, go with them. At mainly music, we're about the connection you can have with your child in the session. Don't force them to be confident. Help them gain confidence in holding a prop. Make sure you child has some degree of willingness though.

    And during the week, practice. In the car, talk about how excited you'll be to see Amy and Oscar at the front with puppets. At home, have your child hold something related to a song or rhyme you can remember or play a song from the Greatest Hits range. Practice turn taking - have teddy or dolly hold one of the props, then your child. Encourage your child to be the session facilitator at home with the soft toys. Congratulate toys who take part. And if any soft toy cries because they want the prop, take it into another room and with a voice loud enough for your child to hear, state what you'd be saying if it was the real thing!

    Hope you have fun.

  • When we think about adults spending quality time with children, i wonder if it's just me, or does your mind go straight to sentimental sorts of scenes: cosy board game by the fire, baby crawling through the daffodils of his first spring, perhaps a slow-motion shot of a family laughing as child toddles through lapping waves.

    If i were to ask you to imagine and adult spending quality time with a child, to consider a rich opportunity for relationship strengthening or visualise a learning interaction, i don't reckon you'd visualise a nappy change.

    But perhaps we should. perhaps the journey to self begins on the nappy change table.

    If you're reading this, you are probably fairly interested in child development and  you will know how powerful early relationships are in impacting our social skills: our ability to read cues, to respond to and empathise with others, and that these abilities serve as powerful predictors of things like school success and later relationship health.

    Those of us who are interested in brain science understand the repetition is one of the key principles for reinforcing learning and building brains. We know that infants and young toddlers are particularly malleable at a foundational level: their 'habits of mind' are being formed, they are waist-deep in the fundamentals of identity formation.

    So while our memories might grasp onto "special occasion" moments as examples of quality time, our brains are actually built on the everyday minute, the day-in, day out activities so often disdained for being just routine.

    Please join me in rethinking this idea, just for a moment. Consider that most children are reported to enjoy around 5000 nappy changes in their lifetime. There are interactions that are happening anyway - these are, if you choose to think if it like this, tasks that must be done.

    A nappy change interaction can be swift and clinical, making maximum use of distractino as a tool for getting jobs done. The distraction might be that of the adult (cricking phone under neck or sending a text message) or it might be the child who is distracted, encouraged to lavish attention on something other than the adult.

    Instead, imagine the way that nappy change routines can be an oasis of relational connection in a busy, busy world. They offer the change for adult and child to share gaze and conversation, smiles and song.

    Children who are consistently handled with kind hands and good humour are far more likely to radiate those gifts back to the world. Imagine how you might handle a nappy change routine differently if you weren't consistently rushing to get it finished, but you were instead seeing it as an opportunity for unhurried, relational strengthening (with poo-be-gone benefits).

    These daily acts of mothering/fathering/caregiving provide an inbuilt opportunity for children to experience intimacy - especially when their adults hold an intention to build and nurture the relationship, to attune to the needs of their children, as well as achieve the practical goal represented by the routine.

    Children who are consistently handled with kind hands and good humour are far more likely to radiate those gifts back to the world.

    It is helpful to view all care routines in this way, to see that feeding a baby is an opportunity for shared intimacy, warmth and the beginnings of conversation - and to consider that nappy changes are an extension of the feeding and nurturing routine.

    Babies aren't necessarily aware of a separation: what happens at the top half of their personhood in comparison to what is happening in the bottom half, but they are certainly aware of how good it feels to be held gently, spoken to warmly, smiled at by a loving and familiar face. And we are aware of the power of the repetitious.

    Remember, children don't delineate their experiences into "educational and relationship enhancing opportunities" and "other" - the act of supporting a toddler into gumboots is just as full of rich learning as the splashing in puddles to follow.

    Let's pledge to say the word "routine" with reverence, and imagine that the very familiarity of the event creates a framework that allows us to pay even closer attention to the person we're caring for.
    Miriam McCaleb, Brainwave Trust Educator.

    Reprinted by permission of The Brainwave Trust. To obtain a copy of this article, we recommend you go to:

  • I’ve never taken much note of the claims cleaning products make but when you’re looking along the supermarket shelves, you being to wonder about what you read.

    The claims give the impression that mould and grime, window streaks and dirty marks will disappear the moment they see the cleaning product poised for action. Forget elbow grease – that went out with the last century. Forget your grandmother’s recipe for stain removal – that’s been superseded with chemicals in a bottle.

    I got thinking about this at the same time as I was facilitating a parenting course and I began to think about our expectations. We microwave our food; we drive through for our take out; we check our bank account for our ‘real time’ balance; and that product we ordered, it arrived before the weekend.

    All this speed and little effort spills over, unconsciously, to other areas of our life.

    We expect parenting skills to be applied with no elbow grease. We try a new idea and become disappointed when our child’s behaviour hasn’t changed in 24 hours. 24 hours? Like within the moment.

    And yet, deep down we know from personal experience that change takes time.

    And if we’re a little reflective, we recognise that a little elbow grease applied in the form of perseverance and effort actually results in a job well done, in a skill learned, or in our character being formed.

    Our pain-free, elbow grease-less, ‘now’ world actually needs a little pain, a smattering of elbow grease and some extra time to ensure we and our children grow character, achieve goals and make a difference.

    As parents, we need to slow cook our parenting and give time for those changes to take place. When we persevere, our children realise we mean what we’ve said. So become a broken record. Don’t budge even when the tantrums occur. Apply elbow grease. Your life will become better for it … in the long term.

  • It’s just occurred to me that we’re going back in time.

    I’m not much into history but I have been thinking recently about historical ways of life after seeing the movie, Suffragette.

    Throw into the mix one of my children having a chat to me about self-value. “Mum”, he said, “tell me how valuable am I to you?”

    Along with the constant awareness I have of children sitting in trolleys or buggies with electronic devices; observed at meal tables when we’re out; or seen in cars on journeys [where, let’s face it, there are windows so they can see what is going on in the world].

    Put this all together … and what have we got?

    I think we have a new way of ensuring children are ‘seen and not heard’.

    We’ve gone back in time. We’ve gone back to a time of life that we look back at and say, “Wouldn’t want life to be like it was for our grandparents.” And yet we’re now partially in that place.

    All too often, we give our children an electronic device to stop them making noise [and they’ve worked out ‘noise’ gets them the electronic device] while we’re out and about. This stops us from having conversations about the world and how it works. This stops us having conversations with our children. This stops us talking about life and what matters to us.

    What did I answer to my son’s question? How much I loved his attention, how I delighted in his opinions, how I valued his stories and more – I’m not going to give detail because that was a conversation between him and me. But how could I answer his question? We have had shared time, chatting, wrestling with issues, talking through ‘what if’s?’, asking tough stuff – together. He’s in his twenties and back when he was growing up, there weren’t devices to hand over. We talked at the table. We chatted in the car. We conversed while we journeyed through life.

    As someone in another phase of ‘family’ to those of you in the pre-school and primary years, can I encourage you to think about the place of ‘the device’ in your lives? It does have a place. But is the use of devices causing your children to be ‘seen and not heard’?


  • Depending on the age and stage of your children, here are some ideas for a fun morning or afternoon activity these Christmas holidays.

    All children love to help you cook – if you have the patience, bread making can be a satisfying event because the kneading is not only good for time spent together but it’s also great for building strength in your child’s fingers and hands. Give your child the chance to be creative as they knot the bread or decorate it with cheese, salami, tomatoes and more. Even small children can participate in bread making.

    Decorate some cookies – buy some plain cookies or biscuits from the store and decorate them into faces. Talk with your child about how a sad face would look, a happy face, a pink face, a blue face … get them thinking creatively!

    Play hair dressers – time to get out the dolls, the shampoo, the blow dryer, the magazines, the clips and the hair ties. Ensure the scissors stay hidden!

    Use the hallway as a bowling alley - soft toys or plastic tumblers can become targets. A soft ball your bowling ball – and away you go.

    Have a puppet show – time to match all the sock in the house. Anything that has no pair becomes a ‘sock puppet’. Glue fabric, wool, string, or cardboard – anything that will fix to the sock as a decoration. Have your puppets talk to each other. Read a story and let the puppets act it out.

    If it’s summer where you live, a bucket of water and a paint brush. Child love to paint pictures on the path or the fence. This is a ‘low mess’ play option.

    More outdoor time can be fun with outdoor chalk [pavement chalk] – play tic-tac-toe, draw a scene on the path, or draw roads for the bikes.

    If it’s cold where you live, wrap up warmly and go for a walk, collecting items along the way for a collage picture or sand garden made at home. When you go for a walk with your child, look for things to talk about – the colour of a leaf, the way an insect walks, the sound of a bird or the speed of a vehicle. This time together can be more than a physical exercise.

    Pick up items that could be used for a craft activity – a collage, an indoor garden, leaf rubbings, or a print. To make a collage, bring out the glue and make a picture on card. To create an indoor garden, place play dough on a plate or plastic lid and stand the leaves and twigs upright. Place a sheet of paper over the leaves and lightly draw over each leaf to create a picture. To make a print, glue the items on card, paint over, then place paper over and press down. When you remove the paper, you’ll find you’ve made a print.

  • Christmas is a wonderful time for traditions. Start them while your children are young, keep them happening year after year, and look back on treasured family time in the years to come.


    Keep a Christmas decoration box – While your toddler may seem light years away from being a young adult, now is the time to find a beautiful storage box. Buy a special Christmas decoration each year, used on your tree. Include a photo in the box of your child standing next to the Christmas tree with that decoration in view or being held by them. When your child leaves home, send them off with a box of decorations and photos that have special meaning to them.


    Keep a box of Christmas books under the tree – Collect Christmas books that you store under the Christmas tree, making them the subject of bed time stories during December. Maybe you have a collection of mainly music Christmas books! Perhaps you have others you have collected or were treasured books from your childhood. Start a tradition this year that will carry into the years ahead.


    Involve your children in this year’s Christmas cards and wrapping. Sure, email cards are fun. But how about creating some for family members? Have a special drawing session where you provide card and drawing items. Using triangle shaped card, buttons and wool can create delightful Christmas trees to then fix onto a card. Using brown paper [often you can purchase this in rolls for packaging] children can create wrapping paper for your gifts.


    Do you live in a city or town where residents feature Christmas lighting decorations on their homes or in their gardens? Perhaps you live in the country where the lights are out night after night in the sky … that’s stars! Why not create some special traditions where you bundle the children into the car, in their night clothing and view the lights or stars? Talk about light – how it can’t be stopped by the dark but instead how dark is always overcome by light. Talk about the very first Christmas where one light stood out and indicated in which city Jesus was born.


    One tradition some families enjoy each year is the purchasing of a gift that can be passed onto families doing life tough. Operation Christmas Child is one such organisation – fill a shoe box with goodies that will opened around Christmas. Another is to buy a gift for families attending mainly music in conjunction with our Excluded Communities initiative. Give your children the perspective of giving at Christmas rather than getting.

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Fires, floods and other nasties
Families at risk
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Fires, floods and other nasties
If there has been a natural (or man made) disaster in your country, like fires, floods or even terrorism, and you'd like to support the groups in that area, depending which country you give from, we'll make sure these groups get help. The money will go to celebration items (like Christmas books or birthday gifts) and financial support of the local groups affected.
Families at risk
We're connecting with families who don't always see the value of mainly music sessions first off - but when they attend other services provided by agencies and participate, their smiles return as they connect with their child. It fills mum's life and develops the bond with her children.
Bring connection during Covid-19
We have many stories where mothers say, "I went to my GP. I was told to go on medication. I found mainly music. I don't need medication at all." Post natal depression, social isolation, anxiety along with Covid-19 restrictions can stop anyone in their tracks. Contributing to this fund from anywhere in the world will help those mainly music groups who are struggling financially.
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