Balancing Family And Kids And A Freelance Life

by Jonathan Siddle on November 28, 2012

While Randy is on hiatus recovering from a writing-induced ailment, some friends are taking up the slack. Today’s post is by Jonathan Siddle.

My wife and I differ from other members of our family in that we are both musicians, myself focused on freelance work while my wife is a teacher. While the vast majority of my work is at night, my wife’s busiest period is marching season, or the months of July through the end of October. Needless to say, our schedules can sometimes be on opposite paths. This wasn’t an issue until our son came along. And like most children, he is his happiest when he has both parents. Thus, a certain balance had to be addressed in our lives, constantly a work-in-progress. Here are a few points that have helped us keep the peace:

Show them what you do and have them “participate”
We started acclimating our son to music from a very early age. While my wife has never been the practicing type (even in college), I’m on the horn a lot. So taking him downstairs with me to run around (and sometimes play on Mommy’s drums) while I warm up has been a great way to get him comfortable with the sounds of the trombone. For his second birthday, my wife and I got him a trombone kazoo, which he just loved because now he had a trombone like Daddy. Now we can “practice together”.

Take them along
It’s one thing for a child to see their parent practicing at home; it’s another thing entirely to see them interacting in public. So we’ve started taking him to our different events. He has gone with my wife to marching rehearsal and “helped her with practice”. More and more he has joined my wife or my mother at some of my public gigs, whether that be a jazz combo or church orchestra. It’s great for him to see and hear the music, so how the different instruments work and sound and even come up to the band and get comfortable with new people. This doesn’t apply to church gigs by the way, although it is funny to see him running down the pew saying “There’s Daddy!” in the middle of a service…

Sacrifice a little at home
While it’s great that we are able to give him a close-up look at what we do away from home, it is equally important to have as normal and comfortable a home life as possible, even at the expense to your free time enjoyment. That could mean he gets to watch his favorite show at an inopportune time (like on Sundays during football) or taking him to a park when you’ve had little sleep from being out late from a gig the night before. This could also mean picking up the child and/or housecleaning duties from your spouse who has been stuck at home for several nights in a row. This is the hardest lesson learned for us so far, and I’m not always mindful of it, but it is the one that will bring the most peace in your house.

These tips have helped us keep a sense of balance in at home while at the same time keeping our son involved in areas of our life he wouldn’t normally see. Have some tips of your own? Please feel free to share them below.

The Balancing Family And Kids And A Freelance Life by Jonathan Siddle, unless otherwise expressly stated, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

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