The Idle Parent: We Fill the House with Music & Merriment

This is the seventeenth part in a series of discussions regarding The Idle Parent Manifesto, which can be found in Tom Hodgkinson’s book The Idle Parent: Why Laid-Back Parents Raise Happier and Healthier Kids. Need to get caught up? You can do so here.

We Fill the House with Music and Merriment

iPad Music Station for Families

I grew up in a very quiet house – you could literally hear a pin drop in my childhood home. My mother didn’t like noise, so we never had music playing or the TV on for background noise. That all changed when I got my own house.

I asked Roger for a CD player for the kitchen. Thank God  he’s technologically savvy. He put together this set up with YouTube and Pandora so we can play any song we want. And do we! We crank the tunes. I’ve found it makes cooking and cleaning better. It also drowns out crying and tantrums – the more you complain, the louder the volume. It works great around here. Music makes everything better, I’ve found. We dance, we sing, we fight over who gets to pick the songs … but everyone smiles.

Making meals fun with kids

We’ve got Music covered, but how about Merriment? I don’t know about your house, but at my house mealtimes can be a real drag, the very opposite of merry. No one sits still, milk gets spilled and suddenly everyone’s a food critic. I have a few tips to combat this problem.

1. Read Aloud

This makes eating hard, but the kids will sit still if I read them a story. A few of our favorites have been Charlotte’s Web, The Strange Case of Origami Yoda and How to Eat Fried Worms.

2. Play Games

We have Rock, Paper, Scissors Dice, tops, a hangman book and Legos on the table. It gets messy and rowdy but I’ve found the kids complain less about the food if their mind is focused on something else.

3. Draw

We’ve been known to cover the kitchen table in butcher paper and give out crayons so that the kids can draw while they eat. It’s disgusting after about 2 meals and has been known to cause paper cuts, but the kids love it.

Settlers of Catan

I bought this coffee table off the internet. It really belongs in a fraternity house, but every now and then I go function over form. It has four chairs that fit under it and it’s perfect for board games. We try to leave a game or puzzle out on the coffee table at all times. Our current favorite is The Settlers of CatanGoodbye Candyland and Chutes and Ladders! Catan is fun for the entire family and won’t drive you to drink.

One of the points the Idle Parent author makes is to warn those of us with small kids not to be perfectionists when it comes to your home interior.  Save your sanity and money. He suggests you “give up on creating the ideal home and instead embrace the idle home.”

If you fill you house with fun things to do, kids will flock to it. Sometimes it gets loud and messy. We’ve skateboarded in the kitchen, we’ve spent hours throwing Webkins at each other and we’ve even ridden tricycles down the hallway. My walls have handprints on them and my floors are scratched but I consider these battle-scars. The day will come when these kids leave.  I will hire a contractor and erase the damage – but never the memories.





  1. Spotify > Pandora, IMO. Sometimes you want to hear a specific song or a specific album or just a specific artist. In a nutshell, everything Pandora does, but also a lot more.