Time has never flown by faster than it has these past few months. I can barely keep up with my day-to-day responsibilities, because the hours just seem to slip away.
It might have something to do with the fact that I’m gearing up for our studio’s spring recital and a new session of early childhood classes, managing a full student/client load, and running a business…all while living that #momlife (which includes very little sleep, thanks to a certain baby girl).
As a mom and business owner, I am constantly struggling with the tug-of-war between my family and work. I’m not talking about setting my priorities, because without question, my husband and children come first above everything else. I’m talking about the day-to-day stuff.
The “I could send this email really quick while Parker eats his breakfast” stuff. The “I should really put Mia in her crib rather than hold her a little longer while she sleeps so I can go record that song” stuff. Because there’s always stuff to be done, but never enough hours in the day.
The longest shortest time, indeed. When I think back to the end of May when Mia was born, it seems like just yesterday; this summer flew by in the blink of an eye. But some days felt absolutely interminable, especially at the beginning when I was just getting the hang of caring for a newborn and a toddler at the same time.
But I knew from previous experience how precious and fleeting this time is, so I tried hard to soak it all up — I think I took more pictures in these last three months than I have my entire life. I’m already getting nostalgic about this summer, spent at home with my sweet babies and knee deep in diapers.
Although I was technically on maternity leave, I didn’t hang up my music therapist/teacher/business owner hats all together: I taught two early childhood classes, a few lessons here and there, didn’t miss a week of producing my podcast (even the week Mia was born!)…oh, and my business partner and I renovated a new music therapy and teaching facility.
It was a busy summer that required a lot of juggling, but honestly I think it helped keep the baby blues away. I didn’t feel like I lost track of who I was aside from a mom the way I did when Parker was born, which was a huge relief. I have to say that it has been a much smoother ride the second time around.
I’m hoping that the ride continues to be just as smooth as I dive back into full-time work a week from today. I’ll write more about my schedule and how work days will look later, but right now I’m going to get back to savoring what is left of my maternity leave. The longest shortest week ever, to be sure.
When I originally laid out my school year schedule way back in August, I wasn’t pregnant and therefore planned to end the spring session at the very end of May as usual. Now here we are, in the final days of May — less than a week away from my due date. And I’m still working.
My son’s due date was in mid-June two years ago, and the timing was PERFECT since I was able to finish my spring session and then have a week off before he was born 6 days early. Little did I know just how valuable that week off was!
Although I’m still feeling great, it’s getting increasingly harder to motivate myself and work up the energy for a full afternoon/evening of students. But the alternative is staying home, twiddling my fingers and wondering when baby girl will arrive.
I’ll have plenty of time to stay home this summer during my maternity leave, though it won’t be quite the total vacation from work I took after Parker was born. Being a brand new mom, I’m so glad I decided to completely take off the summer with him and unplug from my online work, as well. It was definitely a big adjustment once I did return to work in September, but I don’t regret it.
The second time around, maternity leave will look a little different. While I won’t be seeing students and clients as usual, I will be returning to lead a couple of classes in July. And I have plenty of administrative work to do for both my private practice and online business.
Luckily neither are a one-woman show these days: I have an amazing business partner, Katey Kamerad, at Music Therapy Connections, and a fabulous project manager, Julie Palmieri, for my online work. Their help and support will be essential as I adjust to life as a mom of 2.
I think it will take some time and experimentation before I find my rhythm with a newborn and the work on my plate, and I know it won’t be smooth sailing (is anything about motherhood ever smooth sailing, especially in the newborn days?).
But I’m looking forward to all of it nevertheless, whether my maternity leave starts today or next week. At this point I’ll be completely honest…the sooner the better!
The following is a guest post by Amy Kalas Buser, MM, MT-BC. Amy is the owner of Wholesome Harmonies, LLC, where her mission is to support other music therapists in their work with children and teens of all abilities. by providing quality resources to inspire creativity. She offers E-Books, songs and blog posts that provide creative session planning ideas and inspiration.
My husband tells me that our baby is going to grow up thinking her life is a musical.
I must admit, I have to agree.
My baby Brooke is 10 months old and I spend a good portion of the day singing my way through our daily routine and using instruments to calm, excite, and inspire her curiosity.
I always knew I’d use my skills as a music therapist when I became a mom, but I had no idea just how crucial those skills would be in helping me bond with my baby and move smoothly through our daily routine.
Barney’s Clean Up song has made it a breeze to clean boogies off Brooke’s nose and wipe sticky banana off her hands.
“My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean” has allowed me to rock and calm her even after she’s gotten shots at the doctor.
The rain maker allowed my husband and I to road trip with Brooke from Miami to NYC when she was just three months old. (No joke…I shook that rain maker for hours.)
Here are some other ways I use music, and specifically singing, each and every day:
Daily Routine Songs
I created a song for each part of our day. I sing a wake up song, a diaper changing song, a cleanup song after each meal, a bath song, and a good night song.
I also create other songs on the spot as needed. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve sung something like “Mommy’s in the kitchen putting dishes away!” or “Mommy is folding all your laundry!” Sometimes these are just spoken in a sing-songy voice, but the result is a baby who feels like she’s part of what’s going on and is able to connect what I’m singing with what I’m doing. Personalized Name Songs
I wrote a personalized song just for Brooke using her name. It goes like this: “B-R-double O-K-E, spells Brooke (cha cha cha), spells Brooke (cha, cha cha), spells Brooke! Brooke is the one I love, Brooke was sent from up above. Ohhhhhhh… B-R-double O-K-E, spells Brooke (cha cha cha), spells Brooke (cha, cha cha), spells Brooke!”
Sometimes we add a shaker during the “cha cha cha” part; sometimes we dance around as we sing; sometimes my husband beat boxes at the end – the options are endless! :)
The incredible thing is – Brooke recognizes her song! There have been countless times that she’s been crying and when I start singing this song she stops, looks up at me, and smiles. I know it’s because she recognizes her song!
We sing EVERYTHING to the tune of “La Cucaracha.” It’s fun and words just seem to fit in perfectly with the catchy melody.
For example: “Your daddy loves you, your daddy loves you, and your mommy loves you too. Your mommy loves you, your mommy loves you, and your daddy loves you too!”
We change the words to fit whatever she’s doing (“You’re eating chicken, you’re eating chicken!” or “We’re washing dishes, we’re washing dishes!”)
This one tends to be an earworm, so I apologize in advance.
Another piggyback song I sing is to the tune of “I’ve Been Working on the Railroad” (the part that goes “someone’s in the kitchen with Dinah”).
I changed the words to:
“You’re the best baby in the whole wide world, you’re the best baby in the whole wide world. You’re the best baby in the whole wide world and your mommy and your daddy and your Mimi and your Pop and your grandma and your grandpa (etc, etc, etc for ALL family members!) just love you so.”
Whenever we list all the family members that love her, she giggles and giggles.
I have to say, there is nothing in the world that compares to the look of recognition on Brooke’s face and the smile that emerges when she recognizes all of “her” songs.
Are you a music therapist with a “mama moment” to share? If so, please submit your story, along with a photo and short bio, via email.
Welcome! I’m Rachel Rambach, board-certified music therapist and creator of Listen & Learn Music — educational songs and musical materials for children. I love sharing my work with you, along with my behind-the-scenes creative process, adventures in business ownership, and life as a mom of two little ones.
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