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A Day in the Life of a Voiceover Actor/Mom

LaciandTobyWhen people find out what I do for a living, their first reaction is “Wow! That’s so cool!” Then they look down at the two adorable little boys I have in tow and ask, “how do you find the time to do all that with the kids?” The answer? It’s not easy. Finding perfect balance is not always possible, but I do my best, because both my career AND making my kids feel supported and loved is important to me! I thought I would try writing down what a day in my life as a working mom is like. Here goes!

 


8am – Make oatmeal for the kids and a protein shake for myself, watch a short episode of Elena of Avalor on the Disney channel as we eat. (That theme song is ridiculously catchy, isn’t it?) Think about how I totally want to voice a guest role on this show, and wonder how I’d go about that.

8:30am – Respond to texts setting up backstage babysitting for the days my husband and I (yep, we finally get to do something together! Theatre is a great hobby/outlet to relieve stress) will be performing in a musical next week. Mentally make a list of all the things I’ll need to remember to bring to the theatre to keep the kids entertained.

9am – Put the baby down for his morning nap. He’s so cute when he gives that sleepy little smile and rolls over asleep, holding his ragged stuffed seagull. Its name is “Squeegulls,” if you wondered.

9:20am – I have an important phone call coming up, so I try to get the 4 year old set up playing Wii sports in the next room. Hopefully that will occupy him for a while. Sit down with my laptop. Google “best mic positions for Sennheiser 416 voiceover” and read some advice on various forums and sites. I just added a Sennheiser shotgun mic to my studio, after hearing from many other VOs that it is great for commercial, promo, and audiobook work, and helps cut down on background noise. Anything that saves me some editing time is awesome, especially with long-form work like audiobooks! I have a particularly “clicky” mouth that requires a lot of editing. But since it’s a shotgun mic, you have to be sitting in just the right spot. I want to make sure I have it tilted at the best angle, and pointed at my mouth correctly so it captures the best sound.

9:23am – 4 year old is crying. “I can’t do this game right!” Apparently the “flap your arms like a chicken and fly through targets” Wii fit game is a bit too hard for him. Spend 10 minutes showing him how to do it in the hopes it will buy me a little more quiet time when the call comes in.

9:33am – Back to researching.

9:34am – Heard from the next room: “Argh! C’mon! Stop throwing snowballs at me!”

9:35am – He’s collapsed in a heap on the floor, in tears because his character failed the game. I decide that maybe it’s time for quiet book reading time or Playdough instead.

9:40am – Sigh. Attempt to sit down with laptop again. My call starts at 10am; hope the kids can stay quiet for that…

9:48am – Hmm. According to other pros, it looks like the best practice for the shotgun mic is to position it above my head, pointed down toward my mouth, sitting about 12 inches back from it. OK, I’ll try that next time I record. One of my agents just sent over an audition for a web commercial, so I’ll have to remember to use the new mic and see how it sounds when I do that.

9:50am – Prepare my materials for my 10am call. A production company emailed me yesterday, wanting to add me to their roster for narration work, and asked me to fill in their rate card with my prices. However, the rate sheet is broken down into a ton of categories and usages that I don’t particularly understand well, so I want to make sure I’m charging fair/standard rates and not undercutting myself or quoting so high I scare them off. So I turned to the Global Voice Academy, which has an online rate guide that lists current standards for various parts of the industry. Though it is INCREDIBLY helpful, I still have a few specific questions in the narration area, so I took advantage of one of their coaching call sessions. I’ll be chatting with the “Queen of Narration,” Anne Ganguzza, to get her take on what I should include on my rate sheet for this genre.

10-11am – Met with Anne in her Zoom chatroom and we nailed down a good rate sheet to send to the client. Yay! Grateful for experienced colleagues to help me navigate the wild west of setting rates. She encouraged me to start high and bid down if needed, something I often second-guess myself on. I need to stand up for what I’m worth! Typed up a friendly email setting forth my rates and letting the client know I’m looking forward to working with them long-term. Hopefully this new client will accept my rates and turn into a source of steady narration work.

11am – Wake youngest kiddo up and get kids in the car to go run a few errands. I need to do a bit of shopping (random things like finding brown slippers for my husband’s costume, picking up an order of vitamins from a friend, returning library books, and general grocery shopping.

11:30am – Stop at Chick-Fil-A and meet up with a few other moms from the local Mom’s Club to chat and eat while the kids go nuts on the playground. It’s nice to have some adult conversation in person now and then, since working from home (and talking to myself all day in a padded room, haha) keeps me pretty isolated. There are a bunch of older kids climbing backwards up the slides on the play area and being generally rowdy, so we don’t stay too long. Don’t want my little guys to get trampled.

12:30pm – Visit Target to do some costume hunting. I will be attending a comic convention this summer, and I hope to cosplay as one of the characters I recently voiced, April from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles! I need to find a particular type of yellow tee shirt/jersey. No luck, drat. All the tee shirts are too pastel or have flowery print. I’ll keep an eye out at other places; I have plenty of time. Also looked for the game itself in the electronics area. I found the VR headset system, but looks like they don’t have the TMNT game here yet. Too bad, I’m dying to take a picture with an actual product with my voice on it! That’s been a silly goal of mine since I started VO. I did, however, come across Miss Lisa Biggs’ voice a number of times on the toy aisle, as my son played with the FurReal Friends animals. Kind of surreal to hear the voice of someone I just video chatted with yesterday coming out of a toy my son grabbed in Target. Weird way that my mom life and work life collide! 🙂

3:00pm – Finally back home. Put away the groceries and get the kids ready for an afternoon nap. Crossing fingers…

3:23pm – Kids are both out! Score! Sat on the couch with a nice cold glass of water to unwind and browse Facebook for a few minutes as a reward. Saw someone asking a question about headphones in a FB voiceover group and couldn’t help myself from answering, because I’d just recently run into the same issue (Headphones with a high impedance rate don’t output a lot of volume with the Focusrite Scarlet 2i2 interfaces; I had to buy headphones with a lower impedance to hear myself well while recording). So much for avoiding work, haha.

3:30pm – OK, it’s nice and quiet, so it’s time to take advantage and get some work done. First up on the list is finalizing some scripts for a Christian game I’m leading the VO team on. That means I’m in charge of casting, proofing the copy, and managing the talent. The first level of the game has been coded, so now I’m just polishing the dialogue.

3:48pm – Hmm, tried to send emails off to the VO team with their directions and scripts for Level 1 to record, and noticed that my email signature from my work email seems to have a broken link. It’s not showing my VO logo with my contact info at the bottom. Time to troubleshoot; a broken graphic looks really bad to clients.

3:50pm – Fixed it! Just had to reconnect the image on my hard drive to my email program. Now I’m going to work on editing a short clip for an animated kids show that teaches Bible lessons. A friend of mine did most of the voices and needed a fast editor to help lighten her workload, so I offered to help out. Start my time tracking widget going (I’m billing at an hourly editing rate). Right now I’m listening to an actor with a particularly cool authentic Australian accent. Crikey! Quite pleasant on the ears. I love Aussie voices. I’m able to split the file up into multiple lines and save them pretty quickly for this portion, so now I can check that off my to-do list.

4:00pm – Onto my own editing. I’m currently in the middle of recording an audiobook version of Pollyanna, and have about 15 chapters recorded so far, but only about 5 edited. I’m not outsourcing to an editor this time in order to maximize profits from the sales though, so it’s been slow going getting the files cleaned up. I’ve got to clean up any clicks and pops, loud breaths, and reading mistakes (of which there are many. Ever tried to read hours of something aloud without flubbing anything or stumbling?). Right now I’m about to start editing chapter 6.

4:08pm – Email notification just popped up. A client says she doesn’t think I ever sent her the invoice for a video game recording I did. Whoops! That’s something I definitely don’t want to miss out on… log into my accounting software and double check.

4:11pm – Dang, she’s right. How did I forget to send that out? Looks like I created it and just saved it as a draft. Glad she reminded me. *Bangs head on desk and sends the invoice.*

4:15pm – See another email, a private invitation from a potential client on Voice123, a casting site I use. They would like me to give a quote for recording a script for their music production, and included a link to listen to for reference. Hmm. The link is giving me an error message, so I can’t really accurately quote anything, not knowing what the word count or timing of the script is yet. Email them back asking if they can resend a link so I can send an estimate.

4:22pm – Back to editing the….Well. Never mind. Sounds like the 1 year old is awake again, screaming bloody murder from his crib. Guess I’m going to pick him up and do some laundry and start the dinner ingredients thawing, since there’s no way I can edit with him climbing on me, as he’s prone to do lately whenever I sit down. Will have to work on it some more once the hubby gets home.

4:32pm – ….Aaaaand it sounds like he fell back asleep. Check the baby monitor to make sure he’s actually breathing (he is). OK, cool. Big brother is stirring now, but I’d like to knock out that audition for my agent real quick before little bro is up. I direct my eldest son to the couch outside my booth’s window where I can see him, hit record, and hop behind the mic. It’s a short script, but I keep stumbling on the word “woman” for some weird reason (?!?), so I have to go back and read a few sentences again. I try out about 3 different sounding takes for variety. I smile out at my son, and he grins back. He likes watching me in the booth. I won’t be surprised if he wants to record stuff too someday.

4:50pm – I save the raw audio file to my hard drive, and notice that wow, the noise floor on the new mic is really low! Outstanding. I don’t even have to do noise removal, woo hoo! But I still run a few filters in Adobe Audition to clean up any clicks and pops, and hand edit out a few breaths. I also “Frankenstein” together two phrases where I liked the way I read the end of one better than the other. I quickly save the finished audition, double check to make sure I named the file correctly according to the instructions given, and send it off to the agent.

5-9:30pm – A whirlwind of cooking dinner, folding laundry, eating dinner, doing a few dishes (though most of them end up staying piled in the dish rack til we use them again), family time and chasing the kids around to make them get their pajamas on.

9:47pm – Both kids finally asleep for the night. Hubby is already in bed, falling asleep when I come out of the kids’ room. He’s not a night person. OK then, I should probably double check my email before I close everything down, to make sure there’s nothing urgent needed before the morning.

9:52pm – There is. The director of the show we’re in next week needs an update to the program that I designed for him (I have training as a graphic artist), as he’s taking it to the printer tomorrow. It should be a pretty easy fix. So I’ll need to reformat that for him and send it off tonight. Also looks like that client from V123 got back to me with the details, but my brain feels fried and I think I’ll have to wait until the morning to type out a response and estimate that actually sounds coherent.

11:15pm – Of course the “simple fix” took a lot longer than I thought when the file glitches while saving and messed up the formatting. Luckily I was able to fix it and send it all off. OK. Everything that needs to be finished today is done. Finally off to bed. Phew! Reeeeally hoping the kids decide to sleep in tomorrow.


So as you can see, my day can be pretty all over the place, juggling family and work at the same time. (This particular day ended up being more packed than most!) It’s not always a glamorous celebrity lifestyle when you work in the entertainment industry, haha! Usually it looks more like messy hair and pajama pants with oatmeal handprints on them. Sometimes it can get a little overwhelming, and I’m constantly having to check my messages and keep up on my marketing when the kids are occupied. I do love that I can work while still being present with them and being with them when they need me. And I also know that it’s important not to lose what makes you YOU when you become a parent…keeping active in the creative fields I love makes me a happier and more well-rounded mom. I’ve learned that I can’t do it all, though. No one can balance work and home life perfectly! Inevitably, something has to wait. I can’t really let down my clients OR ignore my kids, so in my case, the spinning plate that has to fall is housework. My house looks like a tornado blew through it. Laundry and dishes pile up, toys are scattered everywhere, and sometimes I don’t have time to go shopping or meal plan, so I order meals from a kit delivery service or use Amazon Prime for groceries. Sometimes when I visit other homes, I feel a little guilty that mine is nowhere near as spotless. But I have to be ok with not being the best at everything all the time, and having a messy house means I instead get to spend time connecting with my kids or taking a day trip somewhere to unwind. (Not that you CAN’T have those things if your house is clean, just that for me personally, the other parts of my day have to take priority. Maybe for some people, cleaning and organizing is relaxing!) I also have had to be tougher about saying no to events and other obligations. Since the days are so packed full, I have to really weigh what I say yes to. Sometimes I probably come across as a hermit, haha, but it’s what works for us! I hope this post helps another mom who feels like everyone else always has it all together and balances things perfectly. Some days are cuddles and sunshine, and others are tears and time outs. But I wouldn’t change anything. 🙂

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