A little over a year ago I became a Mom. It’s changed my whole world and some days it can be a challenge to do both. This is a series on how dance teachers who are Moms balance it all. I hope you enjoy it! xo
Tell us a little about yourself. Where do you live? Where do you teach? What ages and stylesof dance do you teach? How long have you been teaching? What’s your background?
Hi! My name is Mary Allen, I live in Melbourne, FL. Right on the East coast of the state, minutes from the beach! I currently teach at our local church that I am a member of. I currently do not teach in a traditional studio or classroom setting. I teach ages 7-12, Ballet and lyrical style dance. Along with a dance camp every summer that runs for a week in June. I teach an introduction to each style every day, along with choreography for a musical the students perform at the end of the week.
I have been teaching for over 10 years in some way. I began dancing at the age of 3 and knew early on I wanted to be a dance teacher. I studied many style of dance, from Ballet to Irish and everything in between. During high school I danced in a semi-professional dance company, along with teaching younger students, age 3-12 several days a week.
Tell us about your children. How old are they? What are they like? Do you have a partner? How do you support each other when it comes to your teaching schedule?
I have been married for almost 7 years to my wonderful husband! We currently have 3 little ones together. My oldest is 5 years old, a very active and music loving boy. He’s always wanted to dance with his mommy! My 3-year-old daughter just started her first ballet class this past fall, and I have no idea who is more excited, me or her! My youngest little one, just turned 9 months! Every time music comes on, she likes to “dance-y, dance-y” as we say! My husband is very supported of my teaching schedule, which is currently very light. But in the first years of our marriage, he was always helpful with watching kids and helping me prepare for my classes.
How do you make it work? What time of day do you teach? How many hours a week? How do you handle childcare? Who takes care of your kids when you are teaching? Do you take them with you? Are you able to see them while at work? Tell us a little about your situation as it is now!
My current situation is probably the best! It was very tough in the beginning when my husband was working many hours, I was teaching 2-3 days a week in area preschools/schools and raising little ones! Right now I am able to bring my little ones with me. During our summer camp, they are either in childcare on property or participating in the camp themselves. This past summer when my youngest was just 3 months old, I had an amazing parent of the camp stay with me all week, holding the baby while I was teaching and would bring her to me whenever she needed to nurse or wanted time with mommy. I could never repay her for that!
When do you find time to plan your classes? Are you involved in anything else? Hobbies? How do you make time for yourself outside of being a mom and a teacher?
This is my hardest thing as mom! I always seem to run out of time in the day to do things for myself. I plan at night when I need to, also during Tuesdays and Thursdays, when my oldest two are in preschool together. I also work part time at our church as the assistant children’s ministry director. Planning Sunday mornings and our various week long summer camps, that include our Music, Art, Dance and Drama (MADD) camp! I am currently taking a mommy and me ballet class once a week and belly dance class twice a week with friends.
How has being a dance teacher impacted your parenting? How has being a parent impacted your teaching?
When I began teaching in high school, I learned quickly how important patience is! As a parent, the patience I have learned from teaching the littles has helped me with my own children. My teaching style has changed since I became a parent. I have seen the ways my own develop and the way they learned and have used those experiences to help with the many different little ones I teach now.
Have you ever taught your own kids? What was it like?
I have not yet taught my little ones in a classroom setting. I have made sure they know all the ballet positions for hands and feet by the time they are 3! My husband laughs at me for teaching them their ballet steps so early.
What is the hardest part about balancing teaching and being a mom?
The hardest part about balancing is finding time for everything. I feel like things get shorted or forgotten at times. I have learned that not everything will get done. But as long as the kids are fed, bathed (sometimes), classes are taught, and everyone is asleep. I have done great things!
What is the best part about doing both?
The best thing is getting to be both a mom and a dance teacher. I get to share my love of dance and learning with both my kids and those I get to teach with. Even though I don’t currently teach in a traditional studio or classroom setting. I will always consider myself a dance teacher. Someday soon, I hope to find an opportunity to teach again in a studio.
What advice would you give a new mom trying to balance teaching dance and being a mom?
Take it one day at a time! You will have moments or even days where the baby has been crying non-stop, your covered in sweat, baby spit up and nothing felt like it got done. But you give a child the experience of dance and loved your child! Those are the moments that matter.
Anything else you would like to share? Insights? Ideas? Feelings? Advice? Stories? Frustrations? Successes? Challenges? Inspiration?
I love how dance is not only a part of me, but I can see it in each of my kids (My biological children and also the students I have taught). When music comes on, they love to dance and move. They might not become professional dancers or even take many formal classes. But I know they all have that love of dance in some way, inside each of them. As a dance teacher, that is why I will always teach in some way. At times I might just be teaching my own kids (everyone should know plie’s) or students during the summer months. But that will never stop me from being a dance teacher at heart!
Thank you Mary!