I’m so excited to feature this week’s “Her Juggle” mom. Laura Brenes and I actually went to high school together, and we managed to reconnect via Facebook. I asked Laura to participate in this series because she has such a cool job – she’s a musician – and her schedule is quite unique. Still, like all moms, she’s finding a way to balance career and kids, and I love how she’s managed to create a career she’s passionate about. Learn more about her juggle below, and I’d encourage you to check out her music as well. You can learn more about Laura on Instagram, Facebook and her website.
Tell us what you do for a living.
The easy answer … I’m a musician. The more complicated answer… I’m a freelance musician who plays the French Horn. I do a lot of studio work, which means recordings for movies, TV, video games, and theme park attractions. Some of the fun things I have done are “Fast and the Furious” “Ice Age” “Lone Ranger,” “Sponge Bob,” “Agents of Shield” “Fantastic 4” “Minion movie.” I also am an adjunct professor at the University of Redlands. I teach there once a week during the school year. I also play in live performances, including concerts, Broadway shows, etc. AND…. I JUST finished my debut solo album. It’s called “a Time and a Place” and it is some beautiful new music for horn and different ensembles written by AMAZING composers. This was a project that I’ve been working on for years. I’m sooooo excited that it is finished. I bet you are wondering right now… “What does a French Horn even sound like?!?!?!” Check out my album and you will know! You can find it at LauraBrenes.com.
How many kids do you have? Ages?
Two kids, a five-year old (Carlo) and a three-year-old (Eva).
Explain your average morning.
Every day is different around here. Usually the kids make their way into the bed with us around 6 a.m. If I have to work during the day, I am usually up before everyone and get the coffee going, and the lunches ready for the day. Then my mother in-law comes over to help with the kids when my husband leaves for work. If I don’t have to work in the morning, and there isn’t any kind of school for the kids, I try to keep them snuggling in bed with me as long as possible. We usually miss breakfast on days like that.
Give us a glimpse into your daily “juggle.” Do you work in an office or at home? Do you connect with your kids throughout the day?
Since most of my work is in Los Angeles, I spend a lot of the time commuting. I usually touch base with my mother in-law by text all day long. The kids like to send me emojis! I can usually tell who is sending the emojis by what they are. My son always sends the explosions, and anything that looks like a weapon. My daughter prefers to send hearts and all of the cupcake and kitty cat symbols. When I’m at home, I have to practice at the house. I usually sit on the patio and practice while they are riding bikes around the backyard. I’m not sure if my neighbors like that, but it works best for me.
How does your family keep track of schedules and activities?
I keep a date book (on paper!!!) with everyone’s activities. I then put the things that my husband and mother in-law “need to know” on a calendar in the kitchen. I leave a lot off of that calendar because it confuses everyone. I make sure all of the bases are covered. It works better if one person is in charge of all of that.
Describe your dream schedule?
It would be nice to only work days for a few weeks, then only work nights for a few weeks. It gets really hard when I work day and night. When things get busy like that, I might not see me kids awake for a while. It’s tough, but usually I will have a few empty days after things are really crazy.
How do you use your time at night once the kids are asleep?
If I’m working a show, I’m usually not home until around 11 p.m. But I always touch base on my computer and make sure the bills are paid etc. Then if I have a few minutes, I love to watch Netflix shows. I’m obsessed with “The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” at the moment.
What is the best thing about being a working mom? Hardest thing?
I love being able to continue my career as a mom. I am a very goal-driven person and I really love that I am able to still develop my art and career even with my family around. The hardest thing has got to be finding the balance. I miss my kids a lot when I’m gone, and if I am gone for too long, it gets tough. But luckily we are all very happy with the way things are going. My kids understand my work and are excited when I have a fun job playing for one of the movies that they will watch. They were really excited to watch “Sponge Bob, the movie” and would shout “There’s mommy!” every time they heard a French Horn. That makes me smile.
How do you relieve stress or carve out “me” time?
UGH! That’s a tough one. I seem to always be stressed out. I LOVE YOGA! It’s tough to find a class that fits into the schedule, but I always have a yoga bag in my car, and will stop at random yoga studios throughout LA. I also like to go to the gym during my work day. Because I have breaks throughout my day, I feel like I get a lot of “me” time. I do breathing exercises in the car sometimes to keep myself focused.
Share a treasured tip you’ve received from another mom.
There are a few other moms in the music industry that I am always asking advice from. One in particular gave me some really good advice. I was having a hard day at work and hadn’t been able to keep up with the housework. My family had stepped in, but it really bothered me that I wasn’t the one doing all of the household chores. I know… call me crazy… I’m a control freak. Anyway, this friend of mine (who has three kids) looked at me and told me… “Don’t worry about that stuff. If someone can help you with the little things, LET THEM! You just need to be there for your kids.” She also tells me all the time to let things slip. If I’m really busy, I try to spend my downtime really focused on the kids and their needs.
And, if there is anything else you’d like to share … feel free.
I will just say that one thing that has helped me is community. Knowing that there are other moms out there that are having similar struggles with balance, timing, work, home, etc. really helps ground me. There is no perfect way to have a family. Everyone is doing the best they can. I’m so thankful for my beautiful family. And I’m so thankful for work. It all goes hand in hand for me. I’m so thankful that I’ve been able to be me. Sounds cheesy, but keeping true to yourself is sometimes a struggle.
Last great book you’ve read:
Read and finished?!?!?! That’s tough. I’m always staring books and have a huge pile on my nightstand. BUT… let’s see. The Brothers was a great book… if you are into historical political stuff.
Your Working Mama Theme Song Would Be …
Either “She Works Hard for the Money” or “She’s a MANIAC!”
My greatest guilty pleasure:
Junk TV and Trader Joe’s Dark chocolate peanut butter cups!!!
Are you a working mom who would like share your “juggle?”
Message me on Facebook or send me an email at email@example.com.
I’d love to share your story!