Growing up, I loved summer for its perfect blend of laziness and activity. I spent my days sleeping in and hanging out with my friends at the pool, and then, once I was in high school, my evenings were filled with community theater rehearsals and low-key plans with friends.
As an adult, especially the last few years before having kids, summers were a blur. I packed them with full work schedules, gigs, vacations, and obligations to which I felt bad saying no. I barely spent any time in my summer happy place (next to a pool), and let the season slip by because I was so “busy”.
That was my experience even after having kids, as we added all kinds of new activities to the mix. I continued to say yes to work opportunities and performances, even though really, I just longed for weekends completely free of plans.
But this summer is different. I’ve spent the first half of 2017 slowly paring down commitments and work to that which most fulfills me and suits my family life, and now, for the first time in as long as I can remember, I have more white space than plans on my calendar.
In the summer of 2007, I started a little side hustle called Music Therapy Connections. That side hustle grew into an actual business that took up all the hours I wasn’t working at my full-time job, and it eventually replaced my full-time job. In time, it grew into a partnership with another music therapist and didn’t stop there.
10 years in, Music Therapy Connections is a full-fledged brick and mortar business with a team of 10 that serves hundreds of families within our walls and hundreds of people in the community each week. What a wild ride it’s been.
And through it all, I’ve not only run the business, but also provided music therapy, led early childhood music classes, and taught piano, voice and guitar lessons. I’ve taken two summer maternity leaves and extended summer breaks to be with my kids, but always returned to my students in the fall.
Two years ago right around this time, I was holding a brand new baby girl in my arms and wondering how I got so lucky. Her entrance into the world wasn’t quite as smooth as her brother’s, but all those hours of labor made the moment that much sweeter.
Mia Belle was not what I would call an easy baby; she didn’t sleep through the night for her first 18 months of life, and she clung to me for dear life at all hours of the day. She cried just about every afternoon as I left for work. But in between the clinging and crying, she was unbelievably sweet. And funny. This girl learned how to go from coy to total ham in about 6 seconds, and she charmed everyone in her path with her huge blue eyes.
And she still does, this little 2-year-old of mine. Complete strangers stop to comment on how cute she is and how beautiful her eyes all are the time, but really, the best part about her is her personality. She’s always had so much of it, and now that she is talking nonstop, we are getting to experience the full extent.
Today started the same as most: with my 3 year old coming into my room, whispering “mommy…mommy!” until I rolled out of bed to accompany him to the bathroom, and then bringing him back to our bed so we could maybe, just maybe get a tiny bit more sleep.
He humored us for a few minutes, but then, as usual, began asking if it was time to go downstairs yet. (It was only 6:30 am and my daughter was still asleep down the hall). My husband, bless him, took Parker downstairs and I went back to sleep. I woke up to a work-related text, and listened for a minute only to realize that the house was empty.
My husband sent a photo of Parker on his bike and Mia in her stroller, headed to grandma’s house. “Wanted you to sleep and relax” was the caption.
I had a quick moment of panic, as I always do when I realize I have time to myself but no idea where to start. These are how most of my work days begin, regardless of how long I’ve spent organizing my to-dos in Trello. There is just SO MUCH, between my house, personal tasks, all the parts of my businesses…knowing what to tackle first is impossible.
So I started the way I usually do, with cleaning up. That meant putting away the stray toys all over the house, returning all the books in Parker’s room to his bookshelf, loading the dishwasher with the breakfast dishes, etc. I have a hard time being productive if my surroundings are messy — it’s a curse, really.
Then I made myself a cup of coffee, a bowl of cereal, and went upstairs to my office. I sat down at my desk, and again went blank. All the things I need to do were right in front of me on the computer screen. I have emails to send, songs to post, website pages to tweak. But instead, I posted a photo from yesterday to Instagram and opened up a new blog post. I felt like writing whatever came out of my fingertips.
So I did, and this is the result. It’s nothing groundbreaking, but it’s a little glimpse into the daily struggle of someone who is spinning many plates. You can probably relate all too well.
My husband just texted me that they will be home in 30 minutes. That’s just enough time to make the responsible choice by showering and getting ready for the day. I feel pretty good about going off-list to do something just for me, though. I hope you do something just for yourself this weekend, too.
Bedtime with a toddler and a preschooler is often a challenge, as you can probably imagine (or know from experience!). But it is MUCH easier than bedtime with an infant and a toddler, especially now that my husband and I divide and conquer. After baths have been taken and teeth are brushed, he takes Parker and I take Mia for the final steps in the bedtime routine.
Parker is almost 4 and has inherited his dad’s master negotiation skills, so actually getting him into bed and leaving the room can take up to an hour (which I secretly love, after two years of sleepless nights with babies while my husband peacefully snoozed).
Mia, on the other hand, has been a breeze ever since she learned how to sleep at 18 months old. One story, one song, a little bit of rocking, and then she asks for her crib.
Church Mice, that is. Way back in the fall of 2006, I was invited to take the reins of an early childhood music class at the church I attended. I was still in graduate school at the time, so I gladly accepted my very first “professional” position in the music field.
I fell in love with this class from the very beginning, and it fit in beautifully with the music therapy and teaching I was doing full-time just a few months later. Every weekend, I got to work with little kids and their families, singing songs, playing instruments, and having a great time.