This is a concise list of things that I found the most tricky to navigate as a new mom with a career.
- operating on lack of sleep. This is not an all nighter - this is an every nighter....
- prioritizing feeding at all times (even at work).
- balancing teaching schedule and duties with increased number of doctors appointments.
- working a 14 hour day. (leave house at 6 AM , teach from 9 AM to 7 PM, back at home by 8 PM)
- having energy / dealing with fatigue of mind and body.
- remembering all the tools needed to teach, take care of myself and mother a child each day.
The aspect of balancing my work with being a new mom that needed the most attention was lecture preparation. In Fall 2022, I was teaching Orchestration and Form & Analysis at the same time. These two courses, in particular, can be real bears to teach because they require so much research and each class session is 80 minutes. Both a broad view of score studies, repertoire knowledge *and* detailed examples that clarify the larger materials (think learning how to label forms or how to voice chords for winds) are necessary to make sense of these large topics.
To tackle the 'problem of prep' I decided that powerpoint presentations would work best for me.
I don't normally use powerpoint but I chose to use them during this unique time because:
- I could work on them anytime of day or night
- I could work intermittently, as able, but still be moving forward with the work.
- I could build something slowly that was still effective.
- I could showcase more music because it used fixed materials.
- I could build a logical flow to the material and build out complex areas with different kinds of examples.
The only major downside to using powerpoint was that I had to capture all the music myself. I did this with Camtasia and recorded the video with audio and embedded it as a movie into the powerpoint presentations. This was very time consuming but essentially 'doable when sleepy' and worth it in the end. In hindsight, I feel that adding a wide variety of musical examples really added a lot of interest to the lecture content, although I am curious to see if the student agree.
This preparation, took consistent, although unscheduled, effort. 5 minutes here, one hour there, 15 minutes there, 30 minutes, 7 minutes, capture this, find that score... The longest stretches of work time amounted to about one hour - but beyond that it was mostly piecemeal throughout the day - working when my daughter was settled.
The hour stretches were worked while my daughter slept .... so I had a good hour that I could work through about 3 times a day. Then, once my husband got home, I could work at night...
When I was pregnant, I honestly thought I'd be able to work while alongside my daughter but at this stage of her life thats not really possible. As she grows and can play independently, that seems more and more likely - but for now, working while she naps (or when I have a helper in the house) is best.
This was honestly very stressful for me. I am used to working without time limits and this adjustment was a significant shift in my workflow.
I really wish more moms (and dads!) talked about strategies for work/baby balance more openly.
I don't feel as though I've even added the 'life' part back into the mix yet, lol!
Maybe I can balance 1) work and 2) life and 3) baby in 2024?
What about you? Have you experienced anything like the 'problem of prep'? How did you manage it?