The Balancing Act: Performing With Littles

I was asked a question on social media a couple months ago that has sparked an ongoing conversation in my head: “Any tips for performing with littles?” And while I know I am not the authority on this, figuring out a balance with family life and performing is something I am crazy passionate about.

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5 Ways We Balance Performing + Family

First off, let me say that kids were not the plan. When Addison and I got married I told him straight out that it would probably be 10 years or so before I wanted them. Performing was (and is) life and I didn’t think I could do both proficiently. We graduated from WSU in Musical Theatre in 2012 and went on to work in entertainment in Walt Disneyworld. A few months into the job something shifted. I was not finding the fulfillment that I thought the job would bring and I still had a lot of contract to fill. I was searching for deeper and richer meaning in life. Purpose. And then all the sudden I wanted a baby more than anything in the world. I’ll never be able to explain this sudden call to motherhood in maybe the most inconvenient job to be pregnant. But it was so real and so important. From there I quickly got back on my feet to get back to my job and life continued on, church, social life and performing. And that was maybe the most surprising thing to me of all. I think in my head children meant that performing went on hold. And this leads me to my first point.

  1. Children don’t make your life end. Continue to be you and to follow the things that are important to you and grow as a well rounded person. They will find that there is more of a person to love and look up to. I would even dare to say that I would not be the quality of performer today if I didn’t have children. Since having children I have endured more pain, felt a deeper love than I could have imagined, become more empathetic for those around me and am more in tune with my own emotions—all of which affect my acting abilities. I would also say that kids made me prioritize my projects and be more selective, making me more of a rare-commodity to directors and forcing me to only go for projects that is in my ideal castability.

When you’re pregnant with your first you’re so excited and anxious to do every little thing right, so we read books and things. One of the things that I read stuck with me (I believe it was in “Baby Wise” -Dr Robert Bucknam, M.D. and co-author Gary Ezzo) They said that having your world revolve around baby is tempting, but will not help the baby be independent or gain confidence. A baby needs to come into a family and understand that he/she is part of a team. That you all have a common goal. And sometimes it’s about the baby, but sometimes it’s about supporting Dad, and sometimes it’s about sacrificing for Mom. You all have equal pull as part of the family. Now, as a mother of 2 (age 5, and 1) this is more true than ever before. Both my husband and I do shows and other kinds of performing-random gigs, recordings, film, etc. It’s never steady, but our options are always abundant. Our schedules are never the same from week to week, and that’s how we like it. We spent a year or so after Disneyworld with the motto of saying, “yes” to everything. It was adventurous and doable at the times as we are constantly honing our skills in and learning what brings us joy and what brings us stress. We are much more selective and specialized now, increasing our value and enhancing our skills in select areas that we choose. We try to keep balance from week to week of doing stuff for each other. Sometimes the balance is watching the kids so Addison can get some time in at the gym, sometimes it’s Addison making dinner as I’ve been gone at shoots all day, sometimes it’s setting aside the million things I have to do to play a game with the kids. But also, it’s sometimes about the kids hanging out with a babysitter so that mom can go do a show and dad can go choreograph a show, or the kids having some quiet time so dad can edit photos.

2. Let kids be a part of your team. Kids are natural born helpers, they will feel a sense of pride as you succeed, the same as you do when they succeed. Let them help you. Tell them what you need from them. Make sure always return the favor when they need it.

3. You are the greatest example to your kids of what they’re capable of. Persue what makes you happy, it will give your kids permission to do the same.

I remember the day I found my mom’s “Treasures of Truth” book. It was a scrapbook of sorts, back in the day. I found pictures of her cheerleading and an article of when she sang, “The Impossible Dream” for her high school graduation. It dawned on me that day—mind you, I was like 17—that my mom was a real person, who had hopes and dreams, just like me. I remember wanting to let my kids know that I was a person with dreams early on. I wanted them to know that I was cool because I worked at Disneyworld, took voice lessons, did summer stock in West Yellowstone, and did a study abroad to London, twice. So whether that’s acting or softball for them, I want them to know that I am humble enough to continue learning-always, and brave enough to keep putting myself out there even when it’s scary.

4. Pursuing your dreams and having lots of interests helps you be relatable to your kids.

ENOUGH ABOUT THE KIDS! Let’s talk about the spouse! I am freaking #blessed to have the devilishly handsome, Addison, by my side. We talked about our future with theatre before we were even married-it was no question that we would love to perform as much as possible and the same for the other. So that was already part of the deal. It’s never something we’ve had to revisit or explain to one another and with that, we know how freaking lucky we are. We don’t have rules on anything, but just a lot of communication about dream shows coming up. The only thing we’ve had to do as parents is prioritze. Instead of accepting any role, being selective and saying, “I’ll only accept _____.” This has never been a selfish act for us. On the contrary, if we aren’t performing exactly the part we wanted, we would love to give the opportunity to perform to the other. It’s just that simple. There are so many different couples out there, with many different understandings of the HUGE commitment that a show is. The main thing here is communication. Tell them what shows are on your radar, what the commitment might be and what it means to you. For me, doing theatre isn’t a selfish act. I am a better mother/spouse and more involved and eager to be home when I am doing a show. It’s my self-care. It is me, using my full potential as a human and a creator for a couple hours a night, so that I can be a better mom all the other hours of the day. A friend always tells me, “doing a show is cheaper than therapy!” Amen, sister.

5. Communicate with your spouse.

Here’s a fun little video that Hale Centre Theatre did of our family, finding the constant balance.

I would love to know what helps you and your family find balance! Leave a comment!