Every Monday, Momstamp features interviews with women that inspire us. Discussing the impact parenthood has had on their personal and professional lives, we find out what tricks they’ve learned along the way to help them manage their lives more effectively. This week singer Lisa Loeb talks with Momstamp co-founder, Julie Hermelin.
Lisa Loeb is a Grammy®-nominated singer/songwriter, has written children’s books, designed an eyewear line, and founded the non-profit, CampLisa. She recently co-wrote a new musical “Camp Kappawanna,” which is debuting at New York City’s Atlantic Theater Company in April.
Top Parenting Hacks
I’m juggling a lot of different things: trying to get my kids to school on time, completing errands/tasks, work, not always sleeping enough. Sometimes, I just feel my body tightening up and I very purposely think to myself, “take a breath.” I stop, relax my throat, neck and breathe deep. It’s surprisingly hard to remember but getting more tense doesn’t help anybody.
2. Handwritten Lists
I’m always dumping information out of my brain. I find that writing it on paper is more helpful for me than putting it in my phone because I see it better on paper. I’ll make a print out of my calendar, fold it in half and write multiple lists on the back divided into categories. Seeing it that way feels more manageable and makes me feel less stressed out.
There are always things that need to be done around the house. I have lists, my husband has lists. We each have our own priorities. Assigning your list to your spouse is tricky. Sometimes it’s better to just hire a handyman or a cleaning lady to come in and do the little things that you were trying to get your spouse to do. Delegating out to a qualified person really helps reduce the overall nagging.
While my son is napping either I or my babysitter will wash and cut up vegetables and stick them in the fridge. It’s a little thing but it really helps our family eat healthy, easily and quickly.
5. Manage Expectations
I decided to start managing people’s expectations of me. I was getting anxious at night when I got emails after people’s kids were in bed and they had more time to work. Instead of continuing to be anxious, I let people know that I don’t check emails after eleven. Sometimes I’ll give myself up to a week to respond. If it’s something that’s time sensitive, I tell people to call.
I’ve also started to charge my phone in the bathroom to get off obsessively checking social media and started to use a regular alarm clock so I’m not looking at my phone first thing in the morning.
6. Let It Go
My husband keeps reminding me that everything can’t get done in one day. There are times I have to leave the house with dishes in the sink which drives me crazy. Leaving certain things undone is so hard but sometimes it’s necessary. I’m often reminding myself that life has limits that need to be respected. I am not a robot, if I’m tired, I need to sleep not just drink more coffee and keep going. I’m working on finding that balance because taking care of those little things often makes it easier for me to focus on the next thing.
Check out more of Lisa’s fantastic recommendations on Momstamp!
How did becoming a parent influence your life both professionally and creatively?
I’ve always tried to pick jobs and accept opportunities that agree with my values. Right now, I don’t want to be away from my family as often so I try to tour less and for shorter periods of time. In general, I don’t want to be away for more than seven days at a stretch if I can help it. There are times when I need to tour for longer. The biggest issue I’m trying to figure out right now is how to do my creative work while being home more.
Did your creative process change once you had kids?
It’s harder to find that time. When I really look at it, it’s always been hard for me to find that time, I always have so many different projects going on. I can blame it on having kids and not finding the time, but kids just become the easiest way to procrastinate. I find myself at a piano coming up with a part of a song and that bit is fun and inspiring but doing the homework of taking those ideas and turning them into a full song has always been a challenge. Ultimately it’s about prioritizing that time and not making excuses. There’s time to take a walk and there’s time to sit down and write, both are important.
One of the reasons I love collaborating now because I set a time to work with somebody to finish a project which is so fun, plus there’s the added bonus of getting to see how other people work.
What is your co-parenting relationship like with your husband?
The dynamic of our relationship is very modern, it really is co-parenting. He works in an office at the Conan O’Brien show and my schedule varies, especially when I am on tour. If I’m out of town, he’s taking care of the kids. If I have to work late at night, he’ll wake up early and let me sleep. I’m sure there are details he’s not aware of, like, where that weird pair of socks is that my daughter wants to wear but there are definitely details he knows that I don’t know. He’s a great partner.
Lately, in addition to date night, we’ve been trying to encourage each other to go out with our friends while the other stays home once the kids are asleep. It’s nice for both of us to have different types of social time and give each other the space for it.
What are some ways you try to create meaningful time as a family?
We’ve started doing Shabbat dinner on Friday nights, which neither of us did growing up. It’s really basic with just a couple blessings. The kids were going to a Jewish preschool at the time and it seemed like a fun, special way our family could be together. Now we’re in this funny position where my husband and I are trying to pass along what Shabbat means to them while at the same time figuring it out ourselves.
I really cherish little things at home: bath time, funny conversations choosing a book at night, picking out what to wear. What I most remember from childhood are those small things like fishing with my Dad, picking out lip gloss at my favorite store, watching Fat Albert and eating a sandwich. Those small moments are what I enjoy with my family.
You wrote a couple children’s albums and a songbook for children before you had kids, What inspired you to take your career in that direction at that time?
I’m a very sentimental person and I remember my childhood really, really well. There were a couple of records that meant a lot to me when I was a kid that I listened to that I thought were so cool because they made me feel grown up or like a baby-sitter, like “Free to Be You and Me” or “Really Rosie” by Carole King.
As I got older, as a creative person who makes music, I thought, “God, it would be so cool to make something like that. There was also the Muppet Show and a lot of comedians, musicians, and actors who existed in the grownup world but were still relatable to kids. I wanted to make something like that with a certain amount of innocence but really funny.
How has becoming a parent deepened or changed your approach to that work?
Between being a parent of young kids and doing more performances where I play kids music, I’ve learned a lot about what works and what doesn’t both in the studio and on stage. My kids listen to kids and grownup music so I end up hearing a lot more of that music, songs I love and ones I don’t. In places where I feel kids music is lacking, I’m inspired to create it.
In my performances, there are a lot of songs that are fun for older kids to sing where they can really grasp the lyrics and the wordplay, but there was this one show where there were a lot of one and two year olds. I remember thinking, what do kids that age listen to? ABC’s and Twinkle Twinkle? That’s what I sang to my own kids. I was embarrassed to play them not in the bedroom but I did. It was like playing the most popular song in the world. Everybody participated and parents loved seeing their kids sing along– it was a blast. I realized there’s a lot of value to that and it gave me a different sense of what the live concert experience can be from a family point of view.