We all know the freelancing on a whole can be a daunting experience. The possibility of never knowing where our next pay cheque is coming from or even the motivation involved in being responsible for every penny you make as well as personal growth.
For some of us, the addition of parenting on top of that can be a big change & even one that some dred to take with fear of missing out on what could be an amazing experience.
We get 1st hand advice from new mother, Rosa Ullmann. A Keys player from Finchley, London on how she has found the change & if it is as daunting as one would imagine.
Tell us a very short synopsis of your career?
“I’m mainly self taught as a keys player. Like most musicians, I spent my 20s working for a few different artists, did some touring, been in some of my own originals bands, did a some small session/tv work. Variety has always been the spice for me!
I have kept up quite a few pupils for the last few years, but I’ve now had to drop quite a lot of my teaching because in the last year my gigs have really increased, which is kind of ironic as it was all at the same time as being pregnant/having a baby!”
Now you have a new one, tell us about him?
“My baby boy Marlon is now nearly 8 weeks old now! He has been exposed to a huge variety of music from day 1 and I think this is why music really soothes him no matter what his mood is.
I was pregnant and touring & often really worried when I hadn’t felt him move throughout a whole day of rehearsing/gigging, then as soon as I was back in my bed at the hotel and all was quiet, he’d start moving loads! Its crazy that he actually seems to sleep better with loud music playing, and this seems to have been the way in and out of the womb. His fave genre is Calypso, the more percussion the better!
He loves socialising and being held by different people. He comes to a lot of social things with us and came with his Dad to watch me play at Glastonbury, his first festival!”
How has the adjustment been?
“Great so far, but technically I’m still supposed to be on maternity leave. I knew I would find it frustrating going from a busy gig schedule to being at home not working, so I booked some gigs in pretty soon after giving birth. Its actually been fine and quite easy, and I think thats hugely down to my very supportive boyfriend Dan. We talked about how we would both manage our work before we decided to have a baby, and as we are both freelancers it has been easy to figure out our schedules around each other.
In fact its really made me appreciate even more how lucky we are to have flexible jobs doing what we love!”
What are peoples response when they find out you have a child?
“Everyone I have worked with since Marlon’s birth has been amazing and supportive! Nothing negative to report. People think its great that I am continuing to grow and develop my career while being a new mum.
When I announced my pregnancy to eveyone, a few people said “what about your career?”. I would then explain that I think with careful planning and support, we can all do anything we want to do, and don’t have to choose between having a happy family and the career we want.
I’m glad that I’ve followed this through and proved that it can be done, and people’s reactions have been so nice.
I’ve had such a positive response from people when they’ve seen that I have kept up touring and doing big festivals while pregnant/during the first 8 weeks of being a mum.
I have had loads of lovely messages from women saying how inspiring they find it, and that more girls need to step out and show everyone that having a baby shouldn’t have to mean fear of no longer being booked for work. “
Was it much different to what you expected?
“Not really, in fact I’ve been pleasantly surprised at how much easier its been! I had decided that I was ready for a baby once my career was on a good track, and I told myself that I’d be diligent in making sure it keeps moving forwards. It was a bit tough trying to juggle all the work while 7 months pregnant, but I’m glad I did as I feel like its paid off now. I was lucky in that I had quite an easy pregnancy so still had the energy to keep up my gigging schedule.
When I first got pregnant I was worried that people might stop booking me, but lately I’ve actually had more gig/project offers than ever before.
I’m surprised that I got back to gigging after the birth as quickly as I did, and that I was physically ok to do it all too.”
What are your goals for your child? Would you want them/ not to become a musician and why?
“My goals for Marlon are for him to be happy in whatever he does!
I would like for him to be a musician as thats a path I can understand and support him in, but equally I want him to do his own thing, whether thats music or somthing else.
Like alot of parents, whats important to me when it comes to his career is that he has a good work ethic and finds success doing something which he enjoys and that contributes to the world in a positive way. I want him to have as many opportunities as my partner and i can give him, so we want him to play an instrument from a young age, but only if he wants that too.”
Good sides/ Bad sides of being a working mum?
“Good sides are that I really feel like I’m having my cake and eating it! Its the best feeling doing what I love and knowing that at the end of it I can go home to my lovely family.
Also, inspring others to do the same and proving that we can have it all is really satisfying. I can’t wait til my other muso friends start having their babies too!
Bad sides? Missing Marlon and Dan when I go away, and feeling guilty/worrying when I spend a night or two away from him.
Having to drop some of the longer tour stints (I wish I could be in two places at once!). Also, getting in from a gig late and tired, and then having to summon the energy for an hour long breastfeeding session is tough!”
What advice would you give to anyone who wanted a child and become a working mum?
“Do it! It helps to have your career on track before you start thinking about ditching the contraception though! Plan properly and have good support, whether thats from your family/partner/both.
Talk to your partner about things you both individually want to keep doing and things you don’t mind sacrificing. Be open and honest about everything.
ALWAYS have a back up plan! Get a good dep who you rely on. Be honest with people and you will build up trust and respect.
Baby ear protectors! Ems 4 Bubs, make the noise levels at gigs much safer for baby!
You never need to hide the fact that you are pregnant/have a child.
Oh and let someone else lift the heavy stuff on your gigs, but let them know that you will need this at the time of agreeing to the gig!
Also, I know its hard with this lifestyle, but try wherever possible to get an early night. Sleep is the new rock n roll!”