When I was younger, I remember dreaming of having my own studio and having children. Of course, decades ago I didn’t give much thought to how both would co-exist in my life. For me, my dance career came first, I started teaching shortly after college, and I had no relationships on the horizon, so I put my work at the forefront of my everyday life.
Fast forward to the second year of the studio and I was engaged and set to be married in August over our studio’s summer break. I remember trying my best to be strategic with planning so that the two didn’t overlap. I enlisted the help of an older student to help with larger classes and a good friend of mine to take care of customer service to lighten the load a bit. And just like that, the transition was made - it seemed pretty simple at the time. Over the early years of marriage, I began to set in place more staff so that I could spend more time with my husband and family, and I am grateful for the amazing staff that pitched in and gladly did more and more to help build up the studio and move into our own location.
When it came to planning a family, I tried to be strategic again - hoping for a summer baby so that everything would work out perfectly. And by now I’m sure you’ve guessed it, that’s not what happened. Instead, what followed was a series of miscarriages over two years and painful memories. I wondered why it was so taboo to talk about pregnancies and loss, why if it is so common, do people not share and comfort each other with support instead of stay in secrecy. But I found comfort in family and friends, a supportive staff that helped things carry on in my absences and a few fellow studio owners that shared similar
I have a few bits of wisdom that I’d share with other studio owners
- First, be kind to yourself and your body. Please don’t ignore the physical and emotional changes you and your partner will experience. Take the time off that you need and don’t rush back to work to get your mind from things. Take the time to process what has happened and your next steps.
- If you are seeking medical support for fertility concerns, allow time for yourself to rest after test or procedure days. Even if you feel physically alright, sometimes you need mental space. And, while appointments may be quick, phone calls with insurance, doctors, specialists, genetic counselors and more can be time consuming and draining.
- Have your lesson plans and choreography notes ready to share. This is a wise practice no matter what, but particularly useful if you have an emergency such as being placed on bedrest early on in a pregnancy or taking time off for doctor appointments.
- Begin to lighten your in-person workload in advance. Whether you start your family according to plan or not, those months and years will quickly be filled with new priorities for yourself, your relationship, your new addition and all the appointments and celebrations. When you free up the time that you have to be at the studio, it helps free up mental space for processing a major life change.
- Get co-teachers for classes. Perhaps there is a new staff member looking for hours, or someone that needs more experience teaching, these folks can make great apprentice teachers to be in the classroom with you. They can learn hands on, instruct, demonstrate and sub for you when you need time off.
If you don’t have administrative help, now’s the time to enlist some! You can start with a few hours of part time help to shadow you and learn what needs to be done. Do a few trial runs of being out and letting someone else handle some work in your absence so that you can feel more comfortable with handing over some tasks and responsibilities.
Ginger is a consummate professional, collaborative team player, and creative colleague that consistently delivers programs and products of excellence. In addition to the above, she’s the principal owner of Haithcox Business Solutions, which offers mentoring and support services for aspiring entrepreneurs.