The Music Mom: Eileen Carey

It wears you down. It wears you out. But you stick with it, fully aware that not doing it is not an option. It’s part of who you are, and you need to do it.

What exactly is this labor of love? Well, if you’re a music mom, it’s your motherhood and your musicianship. That’s right: you are the rare bird that is 100% committed to two seemingly opposite – yet at times equally trying – roles. 

Before you say something like “Yikes! I’ve never thought of it that way!” and begin freaking out about all that’s on your plate, let me make clear my intentions: I want to encourage you to 1) notice the similarities between being a mother and being a musician and 2) fully embrace the two roles with the knowledge that being a music mom is the best way to succeed at either role.

In short, I strongly believe there are many ways your motherhood and your musicianship can compliment each other, and doing one makes you better at the other

The reality is that being both a mother and a musician is not as different as you might think. Sure, bedtime and showtime are quite different in terms of volume and energy – or at least they should be.

But there are several aspects of a music mom’s two favorite activities that mirror each other. The cool part is that recognizing these similarities and then embracing your roles will make you an absolute rockstar at both.

Ready to be inspired? Me too. Here are the ways that being a musician and being a mom are similar: 

Moms and musicians both need LOTS AND LOTS OF CREATIVITY.   

As you know, parenting does not come with a “how-to” manual. Despite your best efforts to learn from all the moms and dads who have come before you, once you have your own child, you’re pretty much on your own.

And because there is no foolproof plan for raising kids, you often find yourself figuring things out on your own. This requires a certain amount of spontaneity and creative thinking. It’s amazing how moms can sometimes turn an unexpected, negative, and potentially disastrous situation into a fun, positive, and memorable experience. 

Likewise, being a musician exercises the same parts of your brain that produce the abstract thinking necessary to handle those stomach-turning, stress-inducing parenting endeavors. There is no blueprint for how to handle many of the moments you’ll encounter as a musician.

Composing a brand new tune for a songwriting contest? No blueprint.

Promoting a new song or album on an internet that is completely filled to the brim with more new albums, artists, and songs than you could ever count? No blueprint.

Collaborating for the first time with a group of unfamiliar musicians who are a bit more, umm, “eccentric” than you expected? Definitely no blueprint. 

But you survive, and sometimes even thrive in, these situations.

Why? Because your creative instincts allow you to. They’re among the greatest gifts you could ever have as a musician. And as a mom.

Wear them like a badge of honor. 

Moms and musicians both FOCUS ON THE BIG PICTURE

Whether you’re trying to move on from that disaster of a gig in which your guitar strings broke and your voice gave out, or you’re trying to forget the exhausting and overly spirited argument you just had with your teen, you’re going to need lots and lots of perspective to maintain a positive attitude as a musician and as a mother.

This perspective will get you through the countless moments you feel like a failure. As a parent, you really don’t have a choice. There’s another human being depending on you to move on from your bad moments.

So you do, knowing full well that your performance as a mom is not graded by one, two, or even a thousand uh-ohs and oopses. Nope. Your final grade as a mom will be determined by the kind, caring, and empathetic adult you help build. And deep in your heart of hearts, despite your many mess-ups, you know you’re doing a helluva job.

Similarly, one bad note, one lousy rehearsal, or one very forgettable gig does not define you as a musician. You’ve poured too much time and energy into your music to be destroyed by one or two failures – or even by twenty.

You care too much to be deterred by a critic’s negative review, or by a less-than-stellar crowd for a gig you’ve spent months promoting. Does it hurt? Of course.

But deep down, you know this: those negative moments are a part of this here music thing. If the biggest names in music history, the iconic singers, musicians, and bands who inspired you to first pick up an instrument or belt out a tune, if they had those bad moments, so can you.

You know this, and that’s why you continue pursuing your music, in whatever way and to whatever extent you do.

The big picture is your best friend, both as a musician and as a mom. Thank God for the big picture. Thank God for perspective.

Moms and musicians both shed their share of BLOOD, SWEAT, and TEARS.

The best things in life are worth fighting for. And sweating for. And crying for. If you’re a music mom, you’re gonna do all three, both for your kids and for your music. Plan on it. 

Parenting is, by its very nature, an attempt to survive the consequences of making yourself completely vulnerable in oh so many ways.

As a parent, you must endure the physical exhaustion that comes from making sure a completely helpless being survives multiple stages of life.

You must endure the emotional agony that results from selflessly loving and caring for a person who means more to you than any other person or thing on this planet. 

And in the end, there is no guarantee that all your love, caring, and concern will be given back to you. But you give it anyway. Day after day, year after year. 

Likewise, as a musician, you spend countless hours practicing your craft, collaborating with other musicians, and promoting yourself and your music.

You pour your heart into it, and sometimes even your soul.

You ride a never-ending pendulum of emotion, going from extreme confidence in you and your craft one day to downright disbelief in what you’re doing the next. 

Final notes

Let’s recap what we’ve covered so far. Your motherhood and your musicianship are similar in that they both require a crazy amount of creativity, an ability to focus on the big picture, and the shedding of blood, sweat, and tears. Recognizing this common ground between the two roles is the first step in becoming the best music mom you can be.

The next step? Make sure that you fully dive into each role as you take it on. Remember: we’re not aiming for being all things at all times. That’s a surefire way to spread yourself too thin and do a less than stellar job at both roles.

Instead, being a music mom is all about time management and giving both roles all you’ve got, as I described earlier this year in this post

Being a music mom is definitely challenging, but I can’t think of anything that is more exciting and fulfilling than raising kind and thoughtful humans while also exploring and expressing my creative instincts through my music.

When I think of it that way, I have to ask: why would anyone not want all the magic, mystery, and madness that comes from being a music mom?

Parenting is the best job you could ever have. It’s also the toughest. By far. Not that this is breaking news to you, but I know I find it reassuring to hear it from someone else.

Yet, if you’re like me, hearing about how difficult this parenting thing is is not enough. You want it to be easier. You want to get better at it. You want to screw up as little as possible.

The problem? By its very nature, parenting is the ultimate breeding ground for mistakes. Raising, protecting, teaching, and caring for another human being – and doing these things well – is incredibly difficult. You’re gonna screw up. Lots and lots of times. Here are just some of the mistakes you can expect to make as a parent:

  • failing to discipline your child
  • losing your temper
  • not listening to your child
  • avoiding conflict with your child for the sake of temporary peace
  • letting your actions contrast with your words
  • micromanaging your child
  • inconsistency in how you respond to your child

How you handle these mess-ups is often more important than the mess-ups themselves.  Based on everything I’ve seen, heard, read, and experienced, I have found that successful parents make lemonade out of lemons by doing two things with their mistakes:

  1. They learn from their mistakes.
  2. They let go of their mistakes.

These two are obviously not the be-all and end-all of parenting tips, but doing them has made a world of difference in my life, as well as in the lives of my kids.

1. Parenthood is the ultimate classroom in which you can learn from the good and the bad. Learn from your mistakes. 

Next time you make one of the mistakes mentioned above, remember this: Making mistakes is natural, but fixing them and then learning from them is not. Here’s how you do it:

  1. Admit your mistake to your kids.
  2. Reflect upon your actions, carefully analyzing what you did and why.
  3. Actively pursue better parenting methods.
  4. After reflecting on your actions and the new info you’ve gained post-mistake, do everything in your power to do better next time.

The benefits of using your mistakes as learning tools

Not only will following these steps allow you to learn from your mistakes and fix any damage that’s been done to your relationship with your child, it will also make you a superb role model for how to deal with mistakes.

By preaching within your home that mistakes are opportunities to learn, your kids can learn important lessons that include:

  • messing up is a part of life,
  • it’s possible to survive mistakes, rather than be defeated by them, and
  • they can pick themselves up off the floor after they’ve messed up.

Your kids will begin to resemble you in that they admit their mistakes, make amends with anyone who’s been hurt by their mistake, reflect on how and why they made their mistake, and try hard to do better next time.

If you look at it that way, you can see why some parents view mistakes as golden learning opportunities.

2. They will only bring you pain, anxiety, and guilt, so let go of the mistakes you’ve made.  

Every mom and dad regrets something they have said or done. Or something they didn’t say. Or didn’t do. So if there’s something that has been eating away at you, now is the time to forgive yourself and move on.

Forgiving yourself for parenting mistakes will help relieve you of the stress, guilt, and anxiety you may be feeling, and will allow you to focus on the present more than the past.

Why we are so hard on ourselves as parents

Making some of the mistakes described above – especially in the heat of the moment – is natural. It is part of what makes us human.

But when we make mistakes, and then view those mistakes in light of the unrealistic expectations put on us by ourselves and society, is it any wonder we feel guilty?

Whereas our parents only had to deal with the probing eyes of their neighbors and closest friends, we are seemingly under constant scrutiny as modern parents. Social media has allowed everyone with an opinion to make that opinion known, and they have the ability to judge everything we do and say. And yes, many of these folks do judge everything!  

You might feel as though you are doing a fantastic job as a parent, only to read a random article on Facebook that criticizes the very thing you thought you were doing right. Or perhaps someone felt the need to enlighten you regarding the flaws of a certain parenting technique of yours, and now you feel like absolute garbage. We’ve all been there. 

Next, you fall into a pattern of questioning every single thing you do and say as a parent. Modern parenting is more difficult than ever, and the type of unsolicited critiquing I described above is one reason why. 

The effects of holding onto your mistakes

Yes, we parents are the ones who carry the bulk of the weight of guilt from past mistakes. It has multiple negative effects, which I’ll discuss in a minute. But we are definitely not the only ones whom it affects: our kids are negatively impacted when we hold onto our mistakes.  

As parents, we often feel bad for our mistakes, and beat ourselves up because we know we could have done better. This is completely normal. 

But on occasion, we can feel so guilty that we end up feeling anxious about each and every thing we do and say. We can even fall into a state of depression. This is not good for us, either physically, mentally, or emotionally. And it’s definitely not good for our kids. 

They don’t get our best when we are in a negative frame of mind. We are less patient than usual with them. We are overly sensitive to their words and behaviors. We are more prone to engage in poor parenting when we allow the guilt from past mistakes to haunt us. 

So how do we let it all go?

How you can let go of your mistake – and all the guilt that comes with it

Letting go of a past mistake and all the guilt that comes with it doesn’t have to be a long and drawn out process. You can take steps that help you to immediately begin moving on.

You have to make amends with whoever was hurt by your mistake. Have that talk in which you own up to what you said or did. Tell them you are sorry, and that you want to make things better. That you will make things better. 

And don’t be afraid to ask for forgiveness. The forgiveness of others is often what fuels the fires of closure and healing, so ask for it. Receiving someone else’s forgiveness often allows you to forgive yourself.

Turning your mistake into something positive is another way to move on from all the negativity of that mistake and its connected guilt.

Decide that your mistake is going to be a source of learning, self-awareness, and self-improvement. Decide that you are now a better person because you made the mistake.

Taking this positive approach is another surefire way to leave behind the mistake, as well as all the bad vibes associated with the mistake. 

Moving towards a parenthood filled with more learning and less guilt from the mistakes you most definitely are going to make

Once you’ve forgiven yourself, sought forgiveness from whoever your mistake hurt, and turned the bad of your mistake into something good, take a proactive approach to avoid future guilt. You can accomplish this by doing the following:

  • Never forget that parenting mistakes and the guilt that comes with them are normal. 
  • Stop chasing the impossible dream of parenting perfection. None of us are going to achieve that, so bless yourself with the gift of realistic parenting expectations for yourself. 
  • Be proactive in communicating your feelings. Express your thoughts and feelings so that you can more easily transform them into positive actions.
  • Find yourself some form of a support system. It might be a friend or relative who is a parent. Or maybe it is an online community of parents. They’re out there. We’re out there. For example, here’s a Facebook group I created. We are moms who share a love for our music and have decided to pursue it full-time. We’ve got each other’s backs, and it’s a wonderful thing. 

Closing thoughts

If you’re a parent, you’re going to mess up. Sure as the sun will rise, you’re going to make mistakes.

The good news is that you can – and you will – overcome those mistakes and turn them into something positive by learning from them and taking the steps necessary to let them go.

Best wishes on your journey towards parental learning, healing, and closure!

 

 

 

 

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

  1. plan things out so that you have specific times set aside for both roles and
  2. 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.

 

 

I have heard from so many music moms who struggle to justify pursuing their music once they have kids. They know they must continue being mom, but, sadly, are much less sure about the music part.

Most of the negativity surrounding these mothers’ musical aspirations comes from the Debbie Downers and naysayers of society who hold women to unfair and unrealistic expectations. They demand that us moms conform to the rigid creative restraints and boundaries designed by society way before we existed. 

If you’re a frustrated music mom who has dealt with this way of thinking, you are not alone. And if you have completely ditched your music or just put it off to the side, or you are considering doing either, please continue reading this post. I wrote it for you. 

Before I dive into the three reasons why you should keep doing your music, let me restate what I’ve said a thousand times before: your responsibilities as a mother should always come first.

Your family should always be at the top of your list of priorities. Always. Everything is secondary to them, and yes, that includes your music. No matter what form your music currently takes, and regardless of how you define musical success, your music simply cannot be something that detracts from your role as mom. 

My goal with this post is not to devalue motherhood. Nor is it to take away from the significance of family.  

Instead, I want to remind women that while a mother truly is the most amazing thing you could ever be, it is not the only amazing thing you can be. 

On that note, I feel like I need to remind you of something important, something you might already know, but is so easy to ignore:

Your music is a part of you.   

It is not something you put on and take off, like that killer pair of jeans you love putting on but hate taking off (and sometimes vice versa). Your music is deeply embedded in you. It’s in your heart. It’s in your soul.

Think about it: throughout your childhood, adolescence, and whatever amount of adulthood you have under your belt, you’ve known you had the music in you.

Whether it was writing songs, playing instruments, jotting down lyrics, making beats, or recording other people’s music, you knew all along that music was a part of you. A big part. It was, and still is, in your DNA.

Having kids and adapting to your role as a mother changes you in many ways, but it does not make your natural talents, dreams, and passions suddenly go away. 

With music being such an essential part of your being, it is imperative that you continue to embrace and develop it. Here are three reasons why you should never, ever ditch your music – despite what the cynics say.

REASON #1. CREATIVE WOMEN IN TODAY’S SOCIETY (ESPECIALLY MOTHERS!) ARE CONSTANTLY TOLD WE CAN’T, SO WE NEED GALS LIKE YOU TO PROVE WE CAN. 

I bring up reason #1 with the assumption that you care about improving our situation as women because, well, I know you do.

We all know that nowadays women have more difficulty expressing our creativity than our male counterparts. It takes so much effort just for us to be taken seriously and viewed as equals – and that’s just the women who don’t have kids. As for those of us who do have children? Ugh.

Women need to see folks like you succeed.

We need to see what can happen when a mother tells society that its unfair expectations will not keep her from doing what she loves.

We need to see the joy and satisfaction that come from a woman living a life in which she gets to enjoy both who she loves and what she loves.

After all, why can’t we have both? Why should men be the only ones who spend time each week doing the things they cherish and then come home to the people they cherish? They shouldn’t.

Music moms like us have a golden opportunity to change society’s perception of what we are capable of. 

When we prove that the love shared between us and our families is as strong as a family with more traditional roles, we win.

When we prove that a different family routine is not a negative family routine, we win.

When we prove that a mother who takes her music seriously doesn’t have to compromise her role as the loving, nurturing bedrock of her family, we win.

We all win. 

But it all starts with us not giving up on our music (or any other creative endeavors we value) simply because it doesn’t fit the mold of traditional motherhood.

REASON #2. EMBRACING YOUR CREATIVE SIDE MAKES YOU A MORE FULFILLED PERSON, WHICH MAKES YOU A BETTER MOTHER.

Fully embracing your creative instincts helps you feel more fulfilled. Instead of wallowing in frustration (or anxiety, or depression) because you’re suppressing your natural talents and interests, you’ll feel more relaxed, more accomplished, and more fulfilled. This will make all parts of your life easier and more enjoyable, including motherhood.

I’ve known some gals who immediately ditched their musical aspirations once their kids arrived. No more songwriting. No more recording. No more live shows.

I can’t help but think that most of these women made these changes solely because they felt obligated to. They felt pressure to make sacrifices for their kids, and, well, this must include removing things like music, art, and literature. You know, all the unimportant parts of life we can obviously live without.  

Keep in mind that many of these women were not striving for rock n’ roll stardom. They never dreamt of spending countless hours away from their family promoting their newest album. They never had visions of flying across the globe on fancy jets while FaceTiming their sad, lonely kids who missed them like crazy – just so they could perform for thirty minutes at all the major music festivals in the world. 

No, the only thing many of these women wanted was to write songs of their own. Maybe even a full album’s worth. Perhaps they simply wanted to get better at their chosen instrument by practicing on their own for a few hours each week. Or maybe they looked forward to playing the occasional open mic at the local coffeehouse. But, unfortunately, they didn’t do any of those things. 

Sadly, these moms ended up resenting their kids because they subconsciously blamed them for stealing the joy that comes from doing what they love. Keeping your creativity alive and well will eliminate any chance of this happening to you.

In short, if you are at heart a musician and you want to feel fulfilled, you need to make room in your life for your music. Doing so will benefit everyone around you, including your biggest fans of all: your kids.

REASON #3. PURSUING YOUR PASSIONS AND FIGHTING UNFAIR GENDER EXPECTATIONS MAKES YOU A POSITIVE ROLE MODEL FOR YOUR KIDS. 

As parents, one of the main things we try to teach our kids is how to live right. A big part of that involves showing them how to live the right kind of life physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

Simply walking away from your music in a way that leaves you miserable and resentful is not the right way for you to live. You don’t want to be that type of example for your kids. They deserve better. And so do you. 

We love to tell our kids that they should pursue their passions. We feel like parenting rock stars when we encourage them to make good use of their talents. We teach them the value of working hard at something in order to improve at it. Discover what you love to do in life, we tell them, and then find a way to do it over and over again.

Yet creative moms often neglect their own passions and talents out of a sense of duty to their family. Even if their intentions are good, they’ll still end up teaching their kids the wrong lesson. Just imagine having to have this conversation:

Kid: “Mom, why don’t you write songs and play open mics like you used to?”

Mother: “Well, honey, I just can’t right now.”

Kid: “Why not? Julian’s dad does, and I know you’re a better singer than he is! If he can do it, why can’t you?”

Mother: “Julian’s dad is, umm, well, he’s a dad. He’s a dad, and I’m a mom, so it’s different. I need to be here for you.”

That’s quite a heavy weight to put on a child’s shoulders, eh? Even if you worded it as delicately as possible, your child would still end up feeling as though he or she is keeping you from something you enjoy. That type of guilt could produce negative consequences that last well beyond childhood. 

Now I know that conversation seems a bit farfetched, right? None of you would actually give an answer like “he’s a dad and I’m a mom” to explain why you can’t do your music. But honestly, when you think of the forces that keep moms like us from pursuing music and other forms of creativity, doesn’t it pretty much boil down to that?

Even if we live in a world that treats us that way, don’t we want to show our kids that we are 100% willing to fight against it? Don’t we want to prove to them that it’s better to rock the boat than to give in to those who try to force us to be someone other than who we really are?  

One of the best qualities we can find in a person is genuineness. Being who you really are. Being who you’ve always been. It’s called being real, and at a time when filters and fake usernames rule the day, being real is more valued than ever before.

So be real. Be yourself. Embrace your creative side. Make time in your life for your music. With the proper balance, planning, and resources, you really can have all the things that are important to you.   

If you’ve wanted to be a music mom, now is the time.

You’ve already proven that you have the mom part down. 

Now show everyone the music.  

“The Living Years” by Mike and The Mechanics

“Song for Dad” by Keith Urban

Despite the sun, fun, and good times that are on their way, the start of summer can also be a time of stress and uncertainty for kids and parents.

Yep, even as our favorite season rapidly approaches, there are some legit challenges that come from shifting gears from the routines of the school year to the unknowns of summer.

To help ease the transition, here are 4 tried and true tips for ensuring a smooth, stress-free shift from school to summer.

Add routines to your summer schedule.

Kids thrive on routines. During the school year, it’s much easier to maintain a routine. Summer schedules tend to be more open and flexible, so routines are less common. But this doesn’t mean you should ditch them.

You and your children will benefit by doing things like waking up at set times, reading together at the same time each day, and packing bags for summer camp at the same time each morning.

These routines will give your kids the same sense of structure and security they enjoy during the school year, and that is a very good thing.

Include your child in summer planning and preparation.

Kids always like to feel as though their opinion matters.

Give your kids a say in what they do and where they do it by asking for their input in the early days and weeks of summer. They will appreciate the opportunity to have their voice heard.

Some other ways in which you can include your child is by having them map out driving routes (using an actual map is much more fun than pulling up directions on your iPhone), writing up a list of clothing and items needed for your activities, and searching online for more detailed information pertaining to your destinations.

Remember: a fully invested young traveler is a happy young traveler – and a happy young traveler is a very good thing on a long road trip!

Have your kids stay in touch with their school friends.

The bonds your child developed during the school year with their friends were an essential part of their comfort and security at school.

Just because they won’t see those friends in a school setting for a few months doesn’t mean they should lose contact with them. Quite the contrary, actually.

Strengthen your child’s attachment to their closest friends by arranging summer play dates. Or keep them connected by writing letters and sending messages via email.

However you do it, make sure your child stays in touch with their school friends. This will help lessen the negative effects of summer’s great unknowns.

Embrace and encourage summertime learning.

We all agree that learning doesn’t have to happen only in schools. It can take place anywhere and at any time – especially during the summer.

The summer provides an excellent opportunity to learn about so many things, including geography, history, and nature.

Family field trips can introduce your child to new places, new people, and new ideas.

Or, if you’re mostly staying home this summer, something as simple as an outdoor scavenger hunt can reveal to your child so much more than a textbook.

Teachable moments happen everywhere, so be on the lookout for them.

Encourage your kids to read new books, take photos of things that interest them, and document their discoveries in a journal.

I hope these simple tips will help ease the transition from school to summer. I also hope you and your family have a fun and safe summer, filled with lots of love, laughter, and learning. 

Why healthy habits matter

One of the more common stereotypes associated with musicians is the reckless, drug-addicted party animal. Unfortunately, much of this image is enforced by the way some music makers choose to spend their free time.

The truth is, though, that you don’t have to play into that cliche. Debauchery, destruction, and unhealthy habits are bad for you in the long run – both as a musician and as a person.

If you want to be more professional, organized, and, in the end, successful, you should try to develop repeated behaviors that facilitate those positive traits. In other words, you should try to develop healthy habits.

4 healthy habits every musician should develop right now

To help push you and your music career in the right direction, I’m sharing these 4 healthy habits that all musicians should develop. They’re simple and easy to repeat, so they won’t take long to evolve from new behaviors to helpful healthy habits. If you’re tired of spinning your wheels and you’ve been looking for something positive to replace your old bad habits, get started on these healthy habits ASAP.  

1. Spend lots and lots of time outside being active. 

I view nature as a wonderful facilitator of the arts. Here’s why:

  • Being active in nature inspires some of your best and most creative ideas.
  • Being active in nature can help increase your focus.
  • Being active in nature can also produce increased energy and enthusiasm in all parts of your life, including your musicianship.
  • Finally, and most important, being active in nature can inspire new songwriting ideas.

The best part? You don’t even have to spend a lot of time outside. It’s now proven that walking in a green space for a mere 25 minutes will boost your creativity

2. Ditch any creative dependencies.

If you are dependent on certain substances or conditions just to write music or “be” a musician, now is the time to stop.

Your musicianship should happen naturally. Make sure you can create at any time, without depending on anything else to make it happen.

Your creativity comes from within you. While the presence of certain people, places, or things might inspire increased output, the absence of those people, places, or things shouldn’t cause decreased output. 

3. Embrace early mornings as the best time to do your thing. 

I know it sounds like a ridiculous idea, but mornings are actually an excellent time to unleash your creativity. In fact, recent research shows that the best time to write and create is early in the morning. 

If you can get up and moving early enough, you’ll find lots of energy and a clear mind waiting for you. Some folks believe they can only do the creative thing late at night, and for certain night owls, that might be true.

But I urge you to try mornings instead. The clarity and freshness of a new day will work wonders for your body, mind, and creativity.  

4. Spend time each day meditating, praying – or just relaxing and thinking. 

Sometimes the mental clutter we accumulate during the day clogs our creativity. All the doubts, fears, and worries we gather can leave us flat out exhausted, with little to no energy left for creating. As musicians, this is a very negative place to be.

To counter this, spend a few minutes a day in calm isolation. It might be meditation. It might be prayer. Or it might be you simply sitting there and focusing on something positive for ten minutes.

However you do it, and whatever you call it, you can expect the following benefits of sitting in silence: a greater sense of clarity and control, less anxiety about your musical ambitions, and an increased awareness of  yourself as a songwriter, musician, and creator. Sounds good to me. 

Need more convincing? Check out this superb video by David Eby, a.k.a. “The Inspired Musician.” In it, he perfectly sums up the benefits of meditation for musicians. 

So, what healthy habits do you suggest? 

I’m always looking for more ways to fine-tune my craft while also improving myself as a person. The habits described above work for me, but what works for you? Feel free to share in the comments any healthy habits that have worked for you.

There are so many ways to say “Happy Mother’s Day,” but if you’re a music mom, you know the best way is in a song. 

Songwriters from pretty much all genres of music have recorded their very own special odes to their moms. But for me, there’s something real special about a country singer belting out a sweet, soulful song for his or her favorite lady.

On that note, check out these 6 country gems that will remind you and your mom just how much y’all are loved, needed, and appreciated.

“You Can’t Lose Me” – Faith Hill

Released in 1996, Faith Hill’s “You Can’t Lose Me” tells the story of a mother who supports her daughter after she finishes last in a race. Moms and daughters everywhere can relate to the undying support shown from the mother, from the end of that childhood race to the day she is forced to let her daughter head out on her own. 

“In My Daughter’s Eyes” – Martina McBride

This 2003 classic from Martina McBride instantly embroidered itself onto the hearts of moms everywhere. “In My Daughter’s Eyes” is from the perspective of a music mom who hopes and prays to instill within her daughter important traits like honesty, respect, and compassion that she’ll need later in life. McBride also gives thanks for all that she has learned by looking at things through her young gal’s eyes. 

“The Best Day” – Taylor Swift

Taylor Swift is best known for writing songs about having fun and enduring the ups and downs of male/female relationships. In “The Best Day,” however, she addresses a more poignant topic: her mother’s steadfast love. Swift looks back fondly as she recalls how her mom was there for her during the tough times of childhood. Now that she’s grown, she wants her favorite lady to know that the best times she had were spent with her. Such a sweet message, and one that all moms need to hear. 

“Mama’s Song” – Carrie Underwood

All mothers want their little girls to find true love and be treated like a princess once they grow up. “Mama’s Song” is Carrie Underwood’s message to her mom that Underwood did, indeed, find a man that “treats her little girl like a real man should.” Every mother should be so fortunate to receive such a sweet and soulful confirmation that her not-so-little girl is now in the right hands. 

“Angels” – Randy Travis

“Angels” by Randy Travis gets me every single time. In the beginning, Travis sings about a friend who doubts the existence of angels. Travis soon responds with a set of lyrics that should make every mother tear up:

Well, you missed the most obvious thing                                                                                   Man, are you blind?                                                                                                                         Just look in your mother’s eyes

Yes, sir. Anyone who has had a mother knows that angels are, without a doubt, real. 

“Mom” – Garth Brooks

“Mom” by Garth Brooks wins the prize for most original concept. In it, God has a chat with an unborn child who is moments away from discovering Earth. The child likes it where he is, so he asks God if he can skip the whole being born thing. God’s response is why “Mom” is one of Brooks’ favorite songs to sing – and why we love it so much. 

“Why can’t I just stay here with you
Did I make you mad, don’t you want me to?”
God said, “Oh, child, of course I do
But there’s somebody special waiting for you”
So, hush now baby don’t you cry
‘Cause there’s someone down there waiting
Whose only goal in life
Is makin’ sure you’re always gonna be alright
A loving angel, tender, tough and strong
It’s almost time to go and meet your mom

Now if that doesn’t hit you like a ton of bricks, nothing will. 

So, what are some of your favorite country songs about moms? Feel free to post links to songs in the comments.

I hope you have an amazing Mother’s Day – one so good that it belongs in a song! 

Hoping that your child is as creative as you are is normal. After all, you’re a music mom who has experienced the joy, growth, and sense of accomplishment that come from unleashing your creativity, and now you want those things for your favorite little person.

The best part? We generally don’t have to teach kids to be creative. They seem to have a natural instinct for it. If we give them the proper tools and get out of their way, kids will create more than we could ever imagine.

Eventually, though, some obstacles might get in the way, including fear, time restraints, and passive entertainment, among others. This is where we, as parents, step in.

If you find yourself wondering how to overcome these obstacles, check out these 4 ways to help unlock your kid’s creativity – including the wild and crazy stuff!  

Provide your kids the resources they need for creative expression.

The most important resource you can give kids is time. They need tons of it so they can engage in self-guided and unstructured play in which they’re completely free to use their imagination.

Another resource necessary for creative expression is space. Make a space that is solely theirs to play in, create in, and make a mess in. Perhaps a room in your basement or attic could work. Make it their own personal area where they feel comfortable, somewhere they can paint, dress up, play Legos, or bang on the drums.

For their next birthday or Christmas gift, give your child items that will contribute to their creative growth. Blocks, costumes, art supplies, old instruments, dispensable cameras – all these are items that your kids can use whenever they want.

By making sure your child has these valuable resources, you’ll be ensuring their growth as creative individuals.

Allow your kids the freedom to explore their ideas – no matter how wild and crazy they seem. 

Generally speaking, kids have active imaginations that can lead to some pretty wild and crazy ideas. Remember that three-headed lion swimming in a bathtub that your son randomly drew? Or that extremely silly song about how her pet could “faaaaaaaart with all her heaaaaaaaaart!” that your daughter composed and then sang for an entire day?

Well, that drawing and that song were products of your child’s imagination. They were very early expressions of their creativity. Instead of focusing on the silliness factor, focus on how unique and imaginative they were. It’s much too easy to dismiss them, but don’t.

Embrace your child’s wild and crazy ideas and encourage them to continue drawing, writing, painting – whatever! Make sure they know that their ideas – no matter how silly or way out there – have value.

And then, to prove that not all creative output needs to look or sound a certain way, introduce them to stuff like The Beatles’ “I Am the Walrus,” Warren Zevon’s “Werewolves of London,” and The Police’s “De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da.”

Or, to really make the point, you could just browse the paintings of Picasso.

Ask lots of (good) questions about your kid’s creations.

One of the best ways to inspire kids to be creative is to show them you are interested in their creative endeavors. There’s no better way to do this than to ask questions about their creations.

Instead of giving a generic and half-hearted compliment like “Wow, I like that!” (something they’ve likely heard a thousand times), ask sincere questions like “What were you thinking when you drew this?” or “What was your inspiration when you wrote this?”

These types of questions will convince your kids that your interest is genuine, and they will give them an opportunity to analyze their thought process as they create.

Set a positive example by showing your kids how to be creative.

I’m sure you know this, but your kids are always watching you. They see and hear everything you do. More important, they also copy what you do and say. To put it simply, they do everything they can to become little versions of you.

This gives you an excellent opportunity to model the type of creativity you want them to eventually display. Let them see you hashing out the chords to that brand new song you’re writing. Show them the lyrics you’re struggling to complete. Invite them to the studio to watch you record your new album. Make them a part of the process. 

Most important? Don’t obsess over the final product that you’re creating. Show your child that the process itself is the most important part of the creative journey. This will encourage them to have a positive relationship with their creative side, no matter what struggles they encounter along the way.

Show them that being creative can be a messy, imperfect, and sometimes frustrating process, but it can also offer growth, learning, excitement, and all types of rewards.

Closing thoughts

As a parent, you are most responsible for your child’s creative development. This is both a blessing and a challenge.

But if you follow the steps above, rely upon your own innate sense of creativity, and continue being the supportive parent you’ve always been, there’s no doubt that you’ll soon unleash your child’s creativity like never before. 

Good luck!

Did you ever notice how carefree and happy young children are while they’re painting? There’s no fear of failing to paint the perfect picture. There’s no anxiety over how others will respond to their painting. It’s just them, their paint, their paintbrush, and a big bunch of smiles. It’s an incredibly joyful thing to watch, from start to finish.

As adults, we sometimes lose the joy that comes from such creative activities. We occasionally allow self-inflicted killers of creativity to keep us from being the innovative and inspired creators we know we are.

And just what are those creativity killers? There are several, including guilt, comparison, and distractions. In this post, however, I want to focus on the one that seems to be the most common among musicians, artists, authors, and other creative types: fear.

I hope that by identifying overwhelming fear as an obstacle to creative freedom and discussing 5 ways to rise above it, you’ll soon begin enjoying prolonged periods of creative bliss, success, and satisfaction. 

The different fears creative people encounter & how they negatively impact us

Although it is completely natural and can sometimes be used for good, fear is one of the most common roadblocks to our success as artists. Want proof? Just check out this list of all the different fears that creative folks like us encounter:

  • fear that you are not really a creative person
  • fear of disappointing yourself
  • fear of taking the first step
  • fear of failure
  • fear of the unknown
  • fear of being judged by others
  • fear of revealing yourself
  • fear of rejection

Each of the above fears can stop us from learning more about ourselves. They can prevent us from discovering the beauty and joy of artistic expression. They can keep us from realizing our true purpose in life. 

The worst part? These fears can negatively impact us to such an extent that we ditch the entire creative process just so we can avoid the fear.

Think about that: fear is so powerful that it can actually keep you from doing what you love.

If you think that’s a complete shame, you’re absolutely right.  

5 ways we can rise above fear & the benefits of doing so

Instead of trying to create in the frustrating frenzy of fear, there are specific things we can do to defeat fear.

  1. Embrace the fact that the entire creative process is a dynamic journey, a mystery worth investigating. Within this creative journey, we will often succeed. We will also sometimes fail. But if we welcome the process as something that can make us better artists, and more important, better people, we win no matter how things turn out.
  2. Think of your creativity as a way to discover new things about you and your craft. Cherish the uncertainty of it all. Don’t obsess over the final product. Start by calling each new creative idea an “experiment” rather than an attempt at perfection. You are trying something new, and learning from it. Perfection is never possible, while improvement is always possible. 
  3. Tell yourself that your creative identity is not defined by whatever song, painting, sculpture, or book you end up making. The final product is only part of the entire journey, and again, that journey is an absolute treasure that we as creative people get to experience. 
  4. Be kind and gentle in how you critique yourself. When it’s time to evaluate your final most recently improved work, avoid saying things like “this song is trash” or “I stink at this.” Instead, take note of specific things that can be improved.
  5. Take baby steps as you reveal yourself as a creative person. Begin your creative endeavors by creating in private. Once you’ve created something you’re excited about, choose a group of people you trust to show it to. This will give you the confidence you’ll need to gradually expand your audience. Before you know it, you’ll be sharing your creation online and then in front of complete strangers.

Right now is the best time to rise above your fear

It’s time, friends. It’s time to let go of everything that’s been holding you back. It’s time to embrace and unleash the creativity you’ve always had within you.

Why now? Because you’ve already waited long enough, and, most important, you already have everything you need in order to do this. 

Follow the methods described above, and get ready for the fun, excitement, and sense of accomplishment that come from discovering and nurturing your creative self.  

It’s time for the daring and innovative creative you to rise up, and fear to step down. 

 

 

With so much technology filling our everyday lives, one of the biggest challenges of modern parenting is making sure our kids create more content than they consume.

Screens are everywhere, so if we’re not careful, our children can easily be blasted with all sorts of content from all sorts of sources. Another way to put it: it’s way too easy for our kids to become constant consumers.

There’s plenty of evidence that our kids are consuming insane amounts of technology, and that it’s starting at an early age. For example, this study in 2014 released the following results:

Most households had television (97%), tablets (83%), and smartphones (77%). At age 4, half the children had their own television and three-fourths their own mobile device. Almost all children (96.6%) used mobile devices, and most started using before age 1. Parents gave children devices when doing house chores (70%), to keep them calm (65%), and at bedtime (29%). At age 2, most children used a device daily and spent comparable screen time on television and mobile devices. Most 3 and 4-year-olds used devices without help, and one-third engaged in media multitasking. 

The good news? The same tools that lead to all that consumption also let kids of all ages create content. There are tons of apps, games, and toys available that encourage imagination and creativity.

It is with the proper use of these tools that we can help our children develop a positive relationship with technology by becoming active creators.

Here are 5 fun and simple ways to encourage your child to be a creator.

Is your child a musician? 

This one is obvious to us music moms, eh? Most kids love music right out of the womb, so transferring that love into creation isn’t hard when they’re little. You can record sounds using everyday items such as spoons, pots, salt shakers – whatever!

When it’s time to progress a bit and your child is ready for actual instruments, you can take the sweet sounds they make (or that they will eventually make) and let them experiment with sound. Older kids can use all sorts of tech tools to help write their own tunes and master their craft.

When they’re ready to start laying down some tracks, your kids can easily record, edit, and share their output with friends and family.

Is your child a storyteller?

Storytelling seems to be a natural activity. As soon as kids start talking, many are eager to tell tales. Use this innate inclination to encourage them to narrate their activities.

While they play, build, or wander, ask them questions that allow them to create a narrative. Questions such as “What are you building?” and “Where are you going when you climb that tree?” are invitations to open their imaginations.

Tech-wise, there are lots of apps that let kids record their stories and create digital books. If this all sounds too good to be true, rest assured that I am not telling any tall tales! 

Is your child a director?

Pretty much all children love to watch television and movies. Most of them don’t know that they can actually be a part of the fun.

If you’ve seen your child use his toys as characters in a story, they are already acting as a director. Encourage that skill by having them play around with animated storytelling apps that let them record a mini-movie with movable characters, props, and settings.

If your kids are older, introduce them to more advanced stop-motion animation apps. It’s then up to you whether or not they try to go viral by posting their content online. 

Is your child an artist?

If your kid is naturally artistic, it doesn’t take much prompting to get her to draw or paint. Eventually, though, she will want to take things to the next level. Try giving her even more inspiration with apps that feature famous painters, sculptors, and designers.

For kids who love comics or manga, there are programs that enable them to create their own cartoon characters, panels, and dialogue balloons.

There’s a little bit of everything out there, so every young artist-in-the-making should have plenty of opportunities for creative exploration. 

Is your child an author?

The days of pencil and paper will never be totally gone, but the first steps to becoming an author sure have changed. Apps like Book Creator are extremely kid-friendly, so kids can easily create while writing a story.

As for what type of story that might be, it might be something as simple as the recent weekend outing you went on as a family. Thanks to modern technology, your child can then make his or her book interactive by adding images, audio, and video to it. 

The last step is to publish and share your kid’s book with family and friends – and maybe even with a publishing company or two, if you think it’s good enough!

So, now that you know all this…

Technology is so incredibly powerful – almost as powerful as your child’s creativity. When you put the two together and give your child the tools and freedom to find inspiration and direct his or her own learning, you will be amazed at what they are able to do. 

Creating with technology is an adventure, one that’s even more exciting and beneficial than consuming it. 

As a parent, it can sometimes feel as though we are stuck in a rut, like our parenting juices have run dry and there’s nothing left to give. Our search for inspiration and motivation leads to nothing but frustration.

Experience tells us that we will eventually return to the land of parenting milk and honey, where our energy is unlimited and our creativity abounds, but sometimes it feels soooo far away.

Likewise, as musicians, there are times when we simply cannot do what comes naturally to us: create. More specifically, we cannot write songs. Any songs. At all.

Songwriter’s block is an incredibly frustrating problem that eventually afflicts every songwriter. It can be incredibly demoralizing, even to the point of convincing some musicians that they should walk away from music and pursue something else.  

The good news? This dreaded blockage of creativity is fixable. You can break the dam and allow your creative juices to flow freely, and you can do it as soon as today. 

Here are 8 ways to end songwriter’s block and get you once again writing the songs you want and need to write: 

1. Focus on a repeated chord progression instead of lyrics.

If you’re trying to write the perfect lyrics but keep coming up empty, ditch that approach and try looping a chord progression. The repetition will allow you to try several melody and lyrical ideas in a short amount of time.

Something good should come from doing that, putting you right back in the songwriting groove. 

2. Think of your song as a story.

As a songwriter, one of your goals should be to discover a clear headspace in which to write. Instead of cluttering your head with the frustration and anxiety that come from trying to create the perfect melody or lyrics, develop a storyline that you can build upon.

Use this storyline to introduce characters, a setting, and a message. Before you know it, you’ll have created a brand new world that is the perfect setting for your song. 

3. Picture in your mind a specific time and place, and start from there.

Think of a place that you’re familiar with, or make one up from scratch. What do you see there? What do you hear there? Who is there with you?

Your answers to these questions will function as the starting point for your song. Sometimes knowing that you actually have a starting point is all you need to get started. 

4. Focus on an exceptionally emotional personal experience from your past. 

This sounds obvious, right? Too often, though, songwriters try to imagine the perfect story idea for a song, when their own personal experience will work just fine.

Tapping into an emotional event from your past will ignite the fires of your creativity, which will hopefully lead to a deluge of song ideas. 

5. Listen to songs that inspire you. 

We all have those handful of tunes that always inspire us. Return to the songs that first motivated you to pick up an instrument.

There is a very good chance that the inspiration you feel simply by hearing these songs again will put you in the right frame of mind for writing your own tunes. 

6. Change your setting. 

Sometimes the same old same old can suck the life out of you.

If it’s been a while since you’ve been somewhere new, perhaps it’s time for a different setting. Go somewhere new, refresh your mind, and watch as the change in scenery jumpstarts your creativity.

A revived sense of creativity ought to be enough to end your songwriter’s block. 

7. Write from somebody else’s perspective.

Sometimes getting out of your own skin and seeing things from somebody else’s perspective can do wonders for your creativity.

It can open up a new world in which you are free to explore new and exciting points of view. It can make you feel emotions that you might not have felt previously.

All these new thoughts and feelings are sure to spark something in you, something that could very well knock down the wall that stands between you and your next album’s worth of songs. 

8. Borrow song structures from other songwriters. 

Trying too hard to reinvent the wheel is often the cause of songwriter’s block. Hence, sometimes you just have to ditch trying to be completely original, and accept the fact that most of the greatest songs ever written follow somewhat similar structures.

Identify the structures of some of your favorite songs, and then mimic them as you attempt to write your own song.

Having a tried and true basic song structure from which to write makes it easier for you to create your own melodies and lyrics.

Borrowing song structures from other songwriters (particularly from your songwriting heroes) just might be the trick to ending your songwriter’s block.  


What tricks do you recommend to someone struggling with songwriter’s block? Share your suggestions in the comments. And as always, thank you for reading.