How I Survived Juggling Music and Motherhood

Posted on: 25 Jun 2012

Here I sit in the back of the car, wedged between keyboards, amps, microphones, a pram, nappy bag and car seat, snatching a moment to write whilst travelling on a journey.

The joy of having a baby is unsurpassable and I wouldn’t change it for the world; it’s by far the best thing I’ve ever done, but on the flip-side I could never not pursue my beloved music. For me music is a way of life, not a job – it’s part of my genetic makeup. If I’m not making music something inside me dies, so I knew I had to find a way to be a working mummy.

Weirdly I found that when Jack was born something inside me raised my game higher. Because he was a greater reason than I’d ever had before to become focused, I found my purpose in making music was heightened. So a natural flow took over me and I became more productive than I’ve ever been. God knows what I did with all my time before I had Jack. What a luxury to do what I wanted, when I wanted.

I couldn’t hire a nanny as I would’ve been too worried leaving Jack with a stranger, so luckily my husband planned his job around mine, working shifts that weren’t great (ie weekends). My mum and sisters babysat too, and this, coupled with Jack coming to writing sessions with me, made life workable.

Jack is a totally chilled-out baby and never happier than surrounded by people and socialising. He would come and sit quietly in writing sessions just taking it all in. When I take him to my publishers’ he disappears, being passed around and getting cuddles. In the middle of a writing session I had to chuckle to see my publisher John walk past with Jack in his arms, as if he were there everyday; a sweet moment. And I’ve realised that half the people I work with have kids, so they know what it’s like.

Jack has surely had the best musical education for an 11-month-old. What made it possible for me to work full-time and be a mummy was that not only did I step into Jack’s world, but he stepped into mine and now music is a way of life for him too. So I would say to any working mums out there, embrace it , because your world becomes your baby’s too and you can share some real bonding experiences.

Having a great support network obviously helps massively, but with a baby in tow, he can become sociable more quickly, which benefits him and his little character.

My career is in four strands: my own solo project (as Helen Boulding), writing & developing other artists (911, Alex Parks, Joe McElderry, Janet Devlin & many more), music for syncs and films, and a concept album with Youth & Gavin Clark from Unkle. So Jack has ended up in many interesting situations already in his short life, most memorably at Abbey Road for the recording of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.

If it sounds easy, travelling up and down the M1 with a newborn has been anything but – trying to get out of the door when another nappy change is needed, realising that you have babyfood down your front before a meeting, sneaking to the basement toilet to handpump breastmilk during a working lunch.

There was actually a point when Jack was about five months when the sleepless nights were proving too much: two hour sleeping stints are manageable when you can sleep in the day, but not when you have to get up the next morning and go to meetings or writing sessions. At times I was so tired I felt like my head was spinning. Then the mid-wife suggested I leave him when he wakes up in the night instead of feeding him so he’d drop off. When I tried this, after five minutes of moaning Jack went to sleep and slept all the way through. Why hadn’t anyone shared this information with me before?

Being a mum has made me fire on cylinders I didn’t know that I had before. But my heart and soul are now fulfilled in every way both as a woman and an artist – and I feel that both sides feed each other to make me a stronger person than I was before.

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