Creating a family playlist is remarkably bonding

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We recently started a family playlist that we add to every other week. The idea of making a family playlist started as a way to fill up a few Friday nights during lockdown, but turned out to be something far more special.

Everyone in our family (including my husband and I) have really different tastes in music. Really, really different. We represent the full gamut of musical genres, from classical to country to opera to jazz to rock to pop to hard-core rap to heavy metal to Beyonce (who is her own genre, as we all know). Let’s just say that road trips are tricky.

That’s a lot to work with if we were going to make a playlist we all liked. Which is why we have rules.

Spotify family playlist

Family playlist rules

1. Each session has a theme you have to stick to

This ensures that everyone is forced out of their usual comfort zone (apparently there is comfort in heavy rap for some people) to discover new music that fits the theme. Or, at the very least, you need to stretch within your comfort zone to suit.

Themes we have or will cover include:

  • Songs from the year you were born
  • Songs with a colour in the title
  • Songs  with a number in the title
  • Songs from a particular decade
  • Songs you always return to
  • Songs that changed music
  • Songs people should listen to more often
  • Songs that make you want to dance
  • Songs about a day of the week
  • Songs with a place in the title
  • Songs that are your favourites

We love festivals too: 13 family music festivals to groove to


2. You have to consider the rest of the family in your choices

That’s because songs get added to the family playlist by popular vote. So if you bring along songs that you love, but haven’t considered the musical preferences of the rest of the fam unit, you might be very disappointed. The less songs you get voted onto the family playlist, the more you will probably hate listening to the family playlist in the car on very long road trips…

Elvis is not on the family playlist

3. Everyone brings up to three songs

You can spend the week finding just one perfect song, but it’s better to hedge your bets and offer up a few. 

How it works

Once we’ve set a theme for the next session, everyone is on their own to investigate the theme and make some selections.

On family playlist night (we don’t actually call it that, for the record!!) we hang out together, listening to the tunes and voting them on or off the playlist. Some songs get barely three lines of music played before everyone agrees it’s a no. Generally, if we couldn’t stand to listen to the whole song on a road trip, it’s off.


Speaking of off: TikTok and please stop


There’s a fair amount of arguing and tantruming if a beloved choice doesn’t make the grade. The stakes are pretty low, though, so it’s generally chill.

The best bit is the dancing, singing and bonding over great choices that woo the crowd. Such a great night in with the fam and one the kids are happy to say they look forward to. One of the kids mostly gets bored (or disgusted with the rest of the family’s taste in music) halfway through and leaves, but he always fronts up for the next session, so I call that a win.

No music no life

It’s a brilliant feeling to introduce a new favourite song to your kids, and I’m pretty sure the feeling is mutual. I’ve developed a great love for Ben Folds music and our daughter is caught in a seventies-music time warp that she’s loving right now. The family playlist is one we are all happy to hit play on.

Give a it a go. At the very least, it will make car trips far more interesting (and hopefully harmonious!).

Do you have a family playlist at yours?

Feature image by Fixelgraphy; Spotify screen by Patrik Michalicka; Elvis by Jamakassi; No music by Simon Noh

Written by Bron Maxabella

Bron is the founder of Mumlyfe and is so happy to welcome you here. Bron has been writing in the Australian parenting space as Maxabella for more than seven years and is mum to three mostly happy kids and wife to one mostly happy husband. Mostly happy is a win, right?

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2 Comments

  1. Avatar

    What a great idea!!
    Not quite the same thing but one way we share the music is when travelling each child plugs in their ipod to the car speakers and we all get to listen to what they are listening too, and sing along.

    Reply

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