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 styles of dance do you teach? How long have you been teaching? What’s your background?
My name is Katie and I live and work in Northern New Jersey, Bloomfield to be exact. I teach at Shooting Star Dance Center which I also own, having taken over from my teacher/boss/mentor this September. I have been teaching on my own for the last 14 years, though I started with apprenticing at my studio when I was 16 (more than half my lifetime ago!). It was through apprenticing that I found that this was where I wanted to be, in the studio with the kids. I went on to get my BA in Dance Studio Operations from Stockton University as well as getting certified through the 3 levels of DEA and testing for membership into Associated Dance Teachers of NJ, where I am now treasurer.
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?
My favorite subject 🙂 I have 2 kids – TJ (born 5/13 he’s 2.5) and Mikayla (born 9/14 she’s 15 months). They are wonderful and crazy and constantly challenge me day in and day out. I do have a husband who is wonderfully understanding when I need to be at the studio. He’s very hands on so when his work schedule allows spending one on one time (or one on two in this case) is no problem.
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!
I am incredibly lucky – between my husband’s days off and my mom I only have to have a high school babysitter in once a week for about 3 hours. I teach around 12 hours a week, though I am at the studio more. It is wonderful knowing I can take my children with me in an emergency, though I prefer not to on a regular basis because I feel it is a distraction and and not fair to the parents or students who are paying me for my time, but I do know that works for some which is great. I don’t see them while at work unless they are in a class with me. Having 2 16 months apart can be a challenge and i do find that work can be an opportunity to decompress from them a little and be in a better frame of mind when I get home.
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?
I try to plan everything as far ahead as I can. If not, I have built time into my schedule to be at the studio to work without distractions or it happens after they go to sleep. At this point other than being involved with Associated Dance Teachers, there leaves little time for other activities for me, though I try to get to Yoga when I can and build time in monthly to get out of the house with my husband for a few hours. I thankfully have a wonderful network of family and friends who are willing to help out from time to time to let us recharge and indulge in some “me” time.
How has being a dance teacher impacted your parenting? How has being a parent impacted your teaching?
I have worked hard throughout my career to really be able to really communicate and relate on their level. After having kids it has been more natural on both sides to be able to reach out and really get to them. When I may be having a particularly challenging day with a student I am able to call up other tactics I have used on my kids and it usually diffuses the situation faster.
Have you ever taught your own kids? What was it like?
I have taught my son. The first few months were great though he then started acting up and really pushing boundaries. If it had been another teacher he most likely would have been fine, but in order to not just concentrate on him we are currently on a break from dance class and are going to try again in a few weeks. If I had another teacher for the level I would not have chosen to teach him this young.
What is the hardest part about balancing teaching and being a mom?
Feeling that one of those has taken so much out of you on any given day that you really have to dig deep to give 110% to the other as well.
What is the best part about doing both?
Very simply they both give me joy and give me a break from the other so I can truly enjoy what I do.
What advice would you give a new mom trying to balance teaching dance and being a mom?
You are going to be tried and frazzled, but it’s ok. You will figure out what works for you, even if it’s not all the advice that is being thrown your way. Take it one day at a time and never refuse help from family and friends! Lastly they are not young forever, remember to enjoy it with them and let the studio worries go once in a while.
Anything else you would like to share? Insights? Ideas? Feelings? Advice? Stories? Frustrations? Successes? Challenges? Inspiration?
Having high school/college assistants if you can is a wonderful thing, especially if you can teach them to lead your warm up . It allows you a minute to breathe, pump if need be, go to the bathroom, review your notes or even just collect your thoughts.
Both teaching and motherhood are a wonderfully scary ride. None of us have all the answers, but don’t be afraid to reach out if you need help. Sometimes just having someone to commiserate with can be a wonderful thing.