Hey, Mama. Do you feel like you don’t have enough time for your music lately? Here are 10 tips to help you find the time for keeping up your craft and creative output.
As musicians and parents, time can become a very scarce resource. Sometimes it’s hard to see how to fit it all in. I’ve been through the struggle and I’m here to help with tips for making music consistently after becoming a mamá. No matter what stage of parenting you’re in, there’s always a way to make it work.
Here are ten things to consider when you’re feeling short on time for making music.
1. Set a Schedule
Identify some windows of time you have available and make it standard to use those times for music. For example, you may find a few hours during nap times, after kid bedtime, or on specific days dedicated to music while someone else watches the kid(s). If you work/rehearse from home, it may be that you need everyone to clear out for an hour or two on a given day or consider additional child care. See my article with tips for affordable Baby Sitting If you are consistent about it, you will find it easier to maintain, as it becomes part of the family routine.
2. Don’t Talk Yourself Out of It
There may be a voice in your head that says you are too tired, or you should do the dishes or throws any other myriad of obstacles in your way. Commit to showing up anyway and put it the work. You don’t have to have a brilliant inspired session every time, but you do need to show up for yourself. And if you’re feeling guilty, remember that making time for yourself is essential for your mental health, which is ultimately good for the whole family.
3. Understand Your Goals
Consider what it takes to make you feel fulfilled as a musician, and what your current commitments are.
Are you a band leader who is also engineering an album? Are you a side musician in several bands? Do you lead a band and sometimes work as a side musician? Do you need to pay your bills with music, or do you have a day job or some other way to pay the bills? Depending on the answers, your needs will be different.
Some musicians need to be playing lots of gigs. Others would rather have a day job and make their original music even if it’s not as reliable an income. As a drummer and songwriter/band leader, I’ve had periods in my life where I’ve been in two or three bands at once. Some paid the bills and some had my heart. There have also been times where I’ve decided to stop all my side-musician work and focus on my solo project because it needed my full attention. The important thing is to figure out what your musical priority is, and to make sure you’re holding space for it.
4. Prioritize Your Passion
Making time for music means letting some other things go. Don’t let un-important things steal your time. Only you can decide how that looks in your life. For example, I rarely watch television and I only go to the movies a few times a year. If I have a few extra hours, I would rather spend them making music. It’s ok to not do all the things.
5. Get Your Gear In Order
Having all your gear ready to just switch on and start playing is a huge help. You don’t want to spend your precious music time fiddling with cables and equipment. If you don’t have a dedicated space for making music, do what you can to optimize your setup and break down time. This will help you maximize the time spent playing or creating.
6. Declare Your Deadlines
I find it helpful to set goals to work towards. It might be a release date, or a date by which I will have completed some other creative project or task related to maintaining my music business. Setting deadlines, writing them down, and talking about them with friends goes a long way to keeping me motivated and accountable. Once you have a big goal set, break down the little steps to get there and make sure you’re making progress each week.
7. Stretch Your Timelines
Understand that the more plates you have spinning, the longer things take. If it used to take you six months to complete an album, with a kid it might take a year or more. Adjust your expectations, and be gentle with yourself if you have to give yourself multiple extensions. As a songwriter, I used to aim for an album release every other year. Now, it takes me about one year to write the songs, one year on production, and one year on marketing.
8. Know What Season You’re In
There will be moments where you need more time for your music. If you’re working on a new album, you might need extra focus and time to get it across the finish line. When you’re rehearsing for a tour, you might need to spend more time on rehearsals. Make sure to let your friends and loved ones know what season you’re in.
I have long stretches of time when I see my friends less, and rely on my partner to do more of the heavy lifting at home. Good friends and partners will be understanding and support you, as long as you communicate. My partner is also an artist, so we organically take turns with one of us focusing intensely on our projects and the other holding down the fort. When I finish a project or major milestone, I catch up with friends, lean into the household tasks and make time for “regular life.”
9. Simplify Your Life
A few years ago, I decluttered my life and was shocked by how much extra time it gave me each day. Streamline whatever you can to create more time for music and intentional living. There are countless ways to rescue time from your days. Banishing the clutter, automating your bills, creating routines, reducing commute times, stacking your tasks, and even wearing the same kind of clothes every day or cooking the same meals most weeks will save brain power and time.
10. Keep Up Your Connections
It’s easy to get steamrolled by mama-life and become an accidental shut-in. Don’t forget to keep up with other musicians, and stay up to date on what’s happening in your music scene. Networking is incredibly important in terms of keeping doors open and helping you find new opportunities. Make it a point to go to shows, and support other musicians. It will keep you motivated and inspired. If you can’t make it out right now, stay in touch by email or on social media. Even small gestures to stay connected can have a huge impact.
Have a different idea that you recommend? Share it in the comments!
Keep on making that music, Mama!