I had the pleasure of participating in a panel recently whose topic is very near and dear to my heart – “Moms in Music.”
Presented by Women in Music, this was an open discussion about the challenges and joys of parenting while maintaining a career in the music industry. Taking place at BMI headquarters in downtown NYC, my fellow panelists included moderator Pam Workman-Hilton, founder of Workman Group Communications, Angela Hunte, GRAMMY award winning composer, producer (“Empire State of Mind”) and recording artist, Julie Hurwitz, VP at Kobalt Music, Lauren Kinhan, NY Voices touring artist and Nina Persson, the lead singer and songwriter for The Cardigans. We were there to let people know that yes, you can still have a vibrant career while coordinating sports schedules, homework and carpools!
The women on the panel ran the gamut – some were new moms, some had one child, some had a few kids, some had teenagers – but what we all had in common was figuring out what kind of balancing act worked for us as individuals and for our family.
While it’s something I rarely talk about, I am the mother to three children – a teenager, a tween and a grade schooler. I married relatively young, and compared to my friends, started having children young too. Both my husband and I understood from the beginning that having a career was important to me, and I had every intention of ‘having it all.’ That’s not to say it has always been easy!
Julie from Kobalt told us that she had a female boss, which she thought was helpful because they could relate to one another on that level. They had discussed what the company’s expectations would be of Julie, and she let them know what she was able to do. She leaves at 6pm every night because she had a Nanny to relieve, but she also commits to going to at least one show a week in the evenings to represent the company. It’s a predictable schedule that works for both her and her boss.
As an entrepreneur, I have a lot of flexibility but not much downtime since I am involved in all aspects of my company. What I tend to do on the family front is view things in days and seasons. As for days, it’s comprised of operational tasks: is the homework done, does anyone have a cold, do the kids have clothes for the next day of school, has everyone taken a shower? Then seasonally, I step back and look to see if we’re meeting our family goals. I am proud to say that with the help of my husband, we almost always are. It’s important to us to make sure that each of our children receives the attention they need, while respecting and valuing that they have working parents and, most of the time, they do.
The take away for all of us, and the audience too, was that you have to earn your stripes while you have the opportunity to do so. You should take every chance you’re given to build your brand so that you have equity (in yourself!) when you decide to start a family. If you decide to take a step back, the attention given to fostering friendships and nurturing relationships will still be there for you when you return. It’s also important to try and keep your skills up to date so when you do decide to return to the workforce, you’re viable.
If you can’t, or don’t want to, take a break when you have children, which seems to be the norm, make sure you are clear with yourself as to what your goals are. If you want to leave work at 5pm every night, find a job that will accommodate that. If your current position requires late nights or early mornings, be honest with yourself about what is right for you and your family. If it is the right job for you, figure out how to make it work. You may not know right away, and may have to rely on good old trial and error, but most importantly, be honest with yourself.
The last topic we touched on was to prioritize. You can’t get back the special moments in your child’s life; seeing your 4-year-old in a tutu for her first dance recital is one of those times. On the other hand, don’t be too hard on yourself. Kid’s activities have become so inclusive that you have to be OK with not making every single event.
And finally, it does take a Village, so avail yourself to as much help from family, friends and neighbors as you can.
As my parenting/work motto goes: Pray for Success, Plan for Failure, Live Near a 24 Hour Walgreens!