The most peculiar thing has happened to me. I don’t know if it’s because I have finally come down from the mad adrenaline-fueled ride motherhood has taken me on over the past 5 years (or almost 6 if you count pregnancy), or if it comes down to being just plan shattered from all the touring, performing and self promoting. Whatever it is I’ve found myself taking a huge step back from performing and I’ve been concentrating on upskilling, toiling the land and just being with my kids this year. This might not seem very peculiar, unless of course you happen to be privvy to the ridiculous pace I’ve been sprinting these past few years. With the goal of reaching that seemingly unobtainable space called ‘successfully self employed’ and throwing the word ‘musician’ into the mix, I have found myself supremely compromised so often when looking to strike a healthy balance between my love of music and everything else in my life. My husband has copped it, my kids feel it, my digestive system and sleep time have suffered for it and all the while I’ve been striving towards something that seemed so close and so far away all at once. Like the donkey with the carrot tied to the stick that swings out just beyond his nose.
Motherhood and music combined strike a rather brittle balance if you ask me. I’ve been pondering what the combination is that opens up the Pandora’s box with all the answers on how to make it flow. I’m not sure I’ve found the right answer for me, but if you’re considering taking this route here’s some combinations that offer apparent success or at least help:
*Consider building a strong musical platform for yourself before you get pregnant. That way you have a solid base to continue on from. Pushing for it when you have small children can add massive pressure to everyone in your family and the reality is that when you’re Mum you’re King Kong and everyone needs you at home. Alternatively give it some time and work on this when your kids are in kindy or school. *Ensure you have a super supportive partner who understands your heart space and absolute need to release music from your body. *Create ways to incorporate your kids into your musical career. Many working mothers don’t need to do this as they drop their kids at daycare, do their job and don’t feel they have to have their kids playing dinkies under their feet. However, if you’re a musician you’re the mum that’s touring for extended periods, rehearsing late into the night, self promoting and marketing your albums 24/7 on top of performing and singing in pubs and playing folks down the isle on the side just to make a buck to help pay for the printing of tour posters. If you can factor in your family and find a way to occasionally bring them with you this will help perpetuate the togetherness your family needs to maintain and keep you all connected. *see my tips down the bottom on some ways to do this. *Do normal things! I spent so long feeling overwhelmed at the immensity of what I had created for myself and what it took to be an independent artist that it began to consume me. “Hang on kids, I just need to send one more file off to my designer….oh hang on. Just 3 more little things. I promise”. Ewww! I don’t want to be that Mum. I want to bike my kids to the bus stop and harvest dinner with them from the garden while they still think I’m cool to hang out with. Keeping on top of your work is vital, no doubt, but not as vital as grabbing those precious moments to do normal everyday stuff with your little people. You don’t want to look back and realise it’s too late to reclaim those moments. * Create a solid routine. I’m serious! I know it’s a mad and inconsistent life for muso’s but one things kids offer is a bit of a daily routine. Go with it and use it to mold your own work schedule. Set clear goals and time frames, include time boundaries when it comes to work. I’m notorious for snatching sneaky moments whenever I can to get bits of work done, but I find it prevents me from being actually present and in the moment with my kids. *Acceptance- This one is key for any Mum who hopes to rush back into her music career and finds that she keeps getting pulled back because someone needs her at home. This is all part of being a Mum. All-in-all it lasts for just a moment in time before we’re not needed and those precious moments of being someone adored Mummy are gone. No more tiny reaching arms and soft baby skin and sleepy snuggles and contagious baby giggles. It’s over so quickly so remember to surrender and enjoy these moments while they’re here. The saddest thing I ever heard was a friend tell me she let her daughters baby years slip by because she pushed so hard for success. Ironically she is now hugely successful but her grief at the trade-off has left her wishing she’d chosen a more sustainable road to victory. *Learn to delegate and ask for help. There are so many ways to find support, from trading your time or skills, hiring an intern, blogging to campaign for support, crowdfunding and so much more. Thinking outside the square is your best friend. *Look after yourself. Sustaining good health and energy is important for everyone in your family. Not just you. Eat quality food, get enough sleep, exercise and take time to chill with friends and family. It’s easy to fill up every space with what think you should do and then suddenly you’ve lost touch with everything that’s real and tangible. Check in with yourself and tune into what’s most important at all times.
Some of these things might not apply to you at all. You may find that you’ve managed to strike a clever balance at playing the multi-faceted, super talented chameleon that you are. If you have, then I commend you. I bet you’ve got tricks up your sleeve that most of us haven’t even considered. I also guarantee you figured out that being gentle with yourself, consolidating and preservation are the key. I’ve figured that much out. It’s keeping with it that I’m still working on.
And how to incorporate your family you ask? Yes, I promised to tell. There’s all sorts of ways you can bring your family in on your musical adventures.
*House concerts- book a mini tour where you are hosted by people who offer you food and accommodation. You’ll be amazed at how supportive this is for both your music and your family. It gives you and your partner time away from home, the kids get an adventure with a bed to retreat to and you meet awesome people who genuinely feel excited to have you in their home. *Host your own concert at YOUR house. This way your family don’t miss out and they get to stay at home. *Consider throwing the odd kids show or song into your tour or routine. I does wonders for sparking interest and kids truly love it. I’ve been building stories with my little girl using the loop pedal. Sometimes they work, other times they’re ridiculous but it’s a great way to connect musically and help her to understand part of what I do. *Offer to play for free at your child’s school event or for a community fundraiser. It’s a mint way to get your community knowing who you are and that’s smart. They’re your best support. It’s awesome for your kids to feel like their mum is the local superhero for the day too. You’ll be surprised at how many paid gigs you can be booked for when you offer your services for free once in a while. *Take them on tour. Perhaps just a small tour but if you’re good at booking venues that offer accommodation it’s a totally viable thing to do so long as you’re partner, a friend or family member is cool to come along and be there for the kids.
I bet you’ll think of wild and wonderful ways that could teach me a thing or two, but in the meantime I hope these little insights help. I’m working at taking things down a notch or two, simplify and create a better product all round. Things got a little cray-cray there for a bit with my musical identity while I tried to figure out who I was, what my role was and if I was even able to continue on like I did pre kids, without compromising those I love most. The conclusion is that I can have it all, and if anything I have even more to offer than I did before. I just need to think outside the square a little more often and be gentler on myself. I’ve morphed into 3 people now and life’s a little busier.
Go forth and conquer super mum. Your music was made to be heard!