I direct musicals. This is definitely the best job in the world. I recently directed a show in Leicester for the National Youth Music Theatre, with a cast of 29 and an orchestra of nineteen.
When I was pregnant with Finn I accepted this job knowing that it would have me going back into rehearsal when he was four months old. ‘That’s fine!’ I thought. ‘Four months is loads of months! He can hang out with my Mum and Dad and I’ll feed him in the breaks, every four hours, like the books say…!’
APPARENTLY MY CHILD HASN’T READ THE BOOKS
The plan was skewed from the start, when he decided to make his appearance two weeks late. Even my pleas of ‘come ONNNN baby, you’re meant to be four months old when I start rehearsal!’ did nothing to get him moving. He also decided from the beginning that he wasn’t really up for spaced out meals but would prefer to spend the majority of his time at the 24 hour milk bar – one customer, one employee.
I needed a strategy and needed it fast. My job is very physical, when we are in rehearsal we move around a lot working with actors and creating the show. With such a large theatre company it’s very hard to be passive. I joke that I mostly run around screaming and shouting and waving my arms around – but it’s not actually far from the truth!
BABYWEARING AT WORK
Our Connecta sling was a key part of the process. Being able to wear Finn when he needed me meant that I could still be active and energetic in rehearsal with the added bonus for him that he got to participate. He loved watching the music and dancing and being up at eye level with everyone. It helped me concentrate on the job and not worry about him, so I was able to enjoy it too!
Once we moved from rehearsals into the theatre, my husband took over from my parents and spent most mornings happily wandering around Leicester with Finn in the sling before bringing him in to watch the technical rehearsals. I got used to looking around and seeing a pair of eyes poking out the sides or the top of a little snoozing human head.
BREATFEEDING IN A BABY SLING
One of the things I was most worried about was Finn’s relentless eating regime. He had been exclusively breastfed on demand from day one and I didn’t think it was fair for him to have to suddenly adapt to my schedule and so had a consultation with Hannah (Wallace) to learn how to feed him in the Connecta.
This was a game changer. I could strap him in, plug him in, and no one would even know! It lowered my anxiety level no end on days when he had a late sleep – one day he slept right through my lunch break and I didn’t need to panic and wake him up.
Mum brought him to me once he was awake and I disappeared into a corner to sort him out and reappeared two minutes later with a happy baby attached and feeding like a boss.
My next job is in Singapore so we are all looking forward to our next installment – slinging all over the world!