I’ve had lots of working moms ask me how they can get better at balancing their family and career. My response to them? Don’t.
After they pick their jaw off the floor, they ask what I mean. I tell them what I have learned over and over again as a full-time mom who is smack dab in the middle of a full-time music career: family-work balance is an impossible to achieve fallacy that leaves many working moms tired, frustrated, and resentful of both their career and their kids.
WHY BALANCE IS IMPOSSIBLE
As a musician, the idea of perfectly balancing my career and my responsibilities as a mother sure sounds nice. But it is impossible. Here’s why.
The concept of family-career balance often has to do with time, as in with my situation, giving equal amounts of time to my kids and my music. So, in theory, if I spend two hours a day recording in the studio, I should spend two hours a day playing with my kids.
Sounds fair, right?
The problem is that life doesn’t work like that. Time doesn’t work like that. Most days have an uneven distribution of free and busy time, planned and unplanned events, and work and leisure. Sometimes giving an equal amount of time to different activities simply isn’t an option. Pretending that it can be accomplished can only lead to immense frustration and anxiety.
HOW TO BE THE BEST WORKING MOM YOU CAN BE
Instead of trying to achieve a balance of time spent on career and kids, I have found that the best way to succeed as a music mom is to
- plan things out so that you have specific times set aside for both roles and
- pour all your energy and attention into each role while you are doing it.
The goal is to have specific times when you are taking on each role. This can only happen with much planning and organization. Then, once you have things mapped out, jump into each role with both feet. Do everything you do with as much gusto as you can, and you’ll soon find that the two parts of your life that sometimes seem at odds actually complement each other quite well.
As an example, let’s look at the life of a musician. Makes sense, right? When it’s time for you to focus on your music, you need to be completely there in that world of songwriting, studios, and stages. You are still mom, of course, but you need to be able to tune out everything else while you are working.
Your career deserves you giving your full attention to your music. As do your fellow collaborators and colleagues. Your fans, too.
You love your music and you want it to succeed, so it must be treated just like any other career in which one wants to excel. Work hard. Network. Believe in yourself. Devote yourself fully to the task at hand, whatever it might be. And then kick its butt.
Likewise, your kids deserve to have all of you when you are with them. Commit to being fully with them in body and mind. 100%.
And yes, sometimes the mind part is tough. There are lots of details involved in a music career that can distract you from whatever you are doing. Not only that, but inspiration for musicians can strike at any moment. Trust me. I’ve had plenty of lyrics and melodies randomly pop into my head. Some of them at inopportune times.
Still, you need to fight the urge to give heed to each and every little thing that comes to mind. If you have committed to watching a movie with your little ones, snuggle with them on the couch and watch the movie. Intently. Don’t check your email on your phone to see if your manager has an update on your upcoming tour.
You probably already know this, but your kids totally know when you are not fully there with them. The only thing that could happen from getting that message from your manager now instead of an hour later when the kids are in bed is your kids feeling as though they are not enough. As though they are not worth your full attention. They might even begin to resent your music. That would be a shame, wouldn’t it?
So give your kids exactly what they want and need when you are with them: you.
THE BENEFITS OF ORGANIZING YOUR ROLES AND GIVING THEM ALL YOU’VE GOT
There are several benefits to giving your kids and your career the time, attention, and effort they both deserve:
- You’ll have reduced anxiety by not trying to be multiple places at one time.
- You’ll find yourself more focused on everything you do.
- You’ll get better at your chosen profession.
- You’ll get better at being a mom.
Sounds pretty worth it, eh?
CLOSING THOUGHTS ON BEING A MUSIC MOM
Being a music mom is a wonderful thing, and I wouldn’t trade either part of it for the world. My family and my music both bring me incredible amounts of joy. Sure, it can sometimes be exhausting to take on both roles, but it is always worth it. I’m sure you feel the same about your kids and whatever career you’ve chosen.
To really excel in both roles, though, remember that there are times when you must separate them. This separation requires planning and organization. Then, once it’s time to take on a specific role, give it all your attention and energy. Make sure that you give whatever you’re doing, and whoever you’re doing it with, your undivided attention.
And remember: whatever you do, do it with all your heart. That is, after all, the only way to do anything.
Good luck to you in all areas of your life! And if you are working towards becoming a music mom, I hope you excel as both a mom and a musician.