Hi! I’m Laura from Sheffield based band, Reverend and The Makers. I am 35 years old, mother to two beautiful boys aged four and two, married to Jon (aka The Reverend) for 10 years. I play keys, trumpet and do bits of singing in the band, but I am also the tour manager, which basically means I’m the logistics-on-the-road person, arranging transport, accommodation, liaising with venues etc. I am also Jon’s unofficial PA!
I decided to start writing this blog as I often get asked how I juggle being a parent with being in a touring band. I hope this will be an honest portrayal of what I do, how I prepare for gigs and how I cope with being away from my babies when both Jon and I are touring. I am in quite a unique situation in that I am married to the lead singer of the band I’m in and we are therefore away at the same time and so I can’t rely on my other half to take on the childcare as other couples do. Our eldest son has just started school and the youngest is in nursery two mornings a week so it’s not easy but we are incredibly blessed to have wonderful family close by, without whom we would be lost! I am also the only woman in the Reverend team and usually in most venues so, it will be an insight in to that too. Generally I’ll be talking about day to day life but I hope bigger issues surrounding women working away will come across too.
This is my first time…blogging, so please be gentle. I welcome constructive criticism and would like this to be an open space for discussion on the topics that arise here but haters will be ignored. Please feel free to ask questions and I will try to incorporate these in to future posts. So here goes, my first post as “Mum On Tour”!
The 6 P’s
Proper Preparation Prevents Piss Poor Performance …. Coined by a former Reverend drummer, Big Stu, this phrase is more relevant to me now than ever! Childcare is a minefield, which I’m sure most parents with unusual working hours can relate to. We are very lucky to have both sets of grandparents in Sheffield who are willing and able to look after our boys. We generally try to split them so that it’s not too much for either but invariably there are dates when they are fully fledged heroes and they will have both at the same time. It took me hours of brain power agonising over which grandparents were away or wanted to come to a gig on the tour as well as what’s most convenient for activities that the boys do. I finally wrote out a full sketch of a two month itinerary, including band practices and tour/album promotion commitments, and got all the grandparents round to discuss if it would all work for them. Thankfully the wonderful Uncle Chris, Aunty Gail and Julie have been able to step in too where my parents (Richard and Janie) and Jon’s (John and Cheryl) were busy etc.
My calendar looks like an absolute mess and the majority of that is where the kids will be. There are birthday parties, among other things happening whilst we are away, so presents need to be bought and wrapped in time and packed off with the correct grandparent as well as potential costumes they will want to wear (Spiderman and PJ masks are current favorites). Changes of clothes, packed lunch box for the little one, special teddy’s and books, the list goes on and on and on and on!
I get quite anxious just before we leave the boys. Not necessarily because I’ll miss them. I obviously do but to be honest it’s quite nice to just be me, a musician, being able to wee when I want without spectators, or having a hot cup of tea, or sitting and just doing nothing for five minutes. It’s quite nice to be selfish! I get anxious because I want them to view staying with their grandparents as a treat, not that they’re being shipped off while mummy and daddy work. Especially with our eldest having only just started school, I’m very aware that he gets really tired by the end of the week and recently has just wanted to be at home with Jon and me and his little brother. For the same reason I worry that I will have forgotten something (see above para for examples) and therefore upset the boys or the grandparents. I have some great mum friends though and we constantly remind ourselves about the “shit guilt fairy” (see the brilliant http://hurrahforgin.com/2016/07/07/the-shitty-guilt-fairy/)and I’m pretty sure every parent wrestles with her most weeks for one reason or another.
I fit in my tour manager job when both boys are at school and nursery, usually a Monday and Thursday morning. I try to email people the night before so that hopefully I have responses by the time it’s my work day. I work at night sometimes too, post bedtime, but as I have discovered this is not massively productive as I’m usually brain dead by 7.30pm and only capable of watching Strictly Come Dancing, or the like, with a vacant look on my face! I have to be quite reactive to things that pop up so sometimes I’ll send the odd email when at the park/playcentre/farm etc. I can’t rely on Jon always being around as his work is so sporadic but he is good with taking the boys off when a tour’s coming up so that I can squeeze in a couple more hours. Pre-kids I would try and find the band weird and wonderful hotels in whichever city we were staying in but now I have to prioritise my time and use a travel agent for touring bands for hotels, flights and ferries. Hotels are not always as quirky but they’re always clean and have safe parking for our splitter van which is essential.
And then last and probably least, I have to think about things for me – what am I actually wearing on stage that doesn’t show my knickers or make sweat really obvious (FYI most greys are out!). When will I have time to do my hair – if you’ve seen me, you’ll know I have a massive mane of hair that contrary to popular belief, does not look like it does on stage when I wake up. It takes half an hour to dry it, let alone to style. Will I have time to do my nails, the answer is usually, probably not.
I should like to add as a note to those thinking “why doesn’t Jon sort some of this stuff out” – Jon and I discovered each other’s strengths a long time ago and while he is incredibly creative and the force behind Reverend & The Maker’s, he is not a logistics man! We work with what we’re good at and so I deal with who needs to be where when and with who for what reason. I’ll be honest and say yo-yoing in and out of band life and full time mum life is extremely hard. Just as I get in to a flow with one job, everything switches again. I don’t have the luxury of knowing where me and my husband will be from one day to the next so I have to be flexible which doesn’t come particularly naturally to me and has been made much more complex with the arrival of our beautiful boys. They need me to be steady and consistent but I can’t always be that for them which breaks my heart. Shit guilt fairy alert! This tour will include one of my longest stints away from them – 5 days. I have done four and struggled towards the end but that was when our youngest was only one and every time he saw me on facetime he would get upset so I’d have to sit out of sight while Jon was on the screen. I’m welling up just typing this! God I love those little people!!
So count down to the tour, I’m trying to spend as much time with the boys as is humanly possible, clear the washing basket, get things in the freezer so I have healthy food options for when we’re back but tired, pack for all of us and constantly thinking about the first few nights away and who needs what where. I’ve heard of musicians that go to a hotel for a few days before rejoining the family home but we don’t have that luxury (and neither would I want to really) so straight back to 6am starts and 8pm bedtimes after Portsmouth! I’m really excited to be performing on the “Best Of” tour. We start in Nottingham which is always a good one. I shall blog again around Nottingham or Portsmouth.
So how did I do?! Feel free to leave comments, but try to only say things that you would feel comfortable saying to my face. What would you like to hear about?