My husband and I are musicians. And we’re parents. When we are onstage, we do our best to really be ON stage. But all our “backstage” experiences with our son (our little frog) deeply affect who we are as people, thus musicians. Recent insights:
We are well into our second week of the Irish Folk Festival tour of Germany with three other bands, a toddler, and no designated nanny. Thanks to the generosity of our touring companions, our son has loving care during our soundcheck and time onstage. As in life, there’s a lot of rolling with it. But here has been our basic routine:
- Nigel wakes us around 7am. We try to entice him into a second snooze, which usually ends in a giggle-filled plea to “wake up, Mommy! wake up, Daddy! open your eyes! let’s play NOWWWWWW!”
- We take turns playing with cars and trains in the hotel room. We eat. We run around until van load in.
- In the van we read, sing, play Robot Magnets, eat snacks. The goal is to keep Nigel happy… and awake! We do our best to save the video option for the evening treat. Rest Stops are big running opportunities–deep thanks to The Fretless and Ian Smith for being tirelessly kicking the soccer ball and playing airplane with Nigel!!
- We load into the hotel and try to keep Nigel engaged while distractedly downloading emails, washing underpants in the sink…
- We head to the venue and desperately pray for a quiet corner for the Pack N’ Play. This is the time to present fun new toys–we can get a good 20 minutes from a well-timed surprise!
- We soundcheck while our wonderful friend Mary or the dear, patient Fretless (the best-band-in-the-world) runs with Nigel.
- We do our best to feed protein to Nigel and take turns getting changed for the gig. Nigel picks awkward moments to run into various dressing rooms (ideally catching Tara and Ciara from Ciorras while they are changing…).
- We put Nigel in PJs and set him up with wonderful Ilka at the merch table for his long-awaited video! (Oh, yeah, and we play our set.)
- We pick Nigel up and read, cuddle him to sleep and set him in the Pack N’ Play.
- We take turns eating dinner.
- We play the encore while our marvelous promoter Petr keeps an eye on our sleeping son.
- We load out, moving Nigel as carefully as possible into the van and then back into the hotel.
- We do our best to go straight to bed so we can do it again tomorrow!
I am so grateful to all the parents (and other good-with-kid people) who have offered ideas and tiny toys along the way. This is a weird and sometimes hilarious challenge… we are lucky to be able to travel as a family. It takes a very special promoter and travel team with patience and compassion to pull this off. Please do keep the ideas coming, gang! This is a total work in progress.
Wow… I've always felt that juggling was a useful life skill. Sounds impressive on all levels! How aware is Nigel that his life is very different from most kids' lives?
Last night he was making a parking lot for his toy cars near the merch table at a cool club in Soerst: to Nigel, it was just another place to play. But for me I do feel a little weird bringing a kid to all these wild grown up places… The good news is that he is usually going to sleep by 9pm at the latest. We are finding routine!