5/3/10

Balancing Teaching & Family

I love being a piano teacher. Among many reasons why, I love it because: I am able to do something I love and inspire/bless the lives of others (and get paid for it!); I get to choose my hours; I can earn a good living, if I choose; I am my own boss; and I get to do it in my home! Who else is so happy about this? We really are blessed in our profession in many ways! These reasons why I love being a piano teacher are so important to me, because of another love...

I love being a mom. I have wanted to be a piano teacher for a long time (and I have taught piano for quite a long time!) but I have wanted to be a mom for even longer - for as long as I can remember, in fact. I am a stay-at-home mom and wouldn't have it any other way.

Janina is also a mother, and many of our readers are currently raising families, have raised families, or hope to raise families in the future! Therefore, we feel that it is only fitting to talk about ways to balance these two important parts of our lives. We hope that you will share with us your experiences and ideas this week on this important topic.



Things to Consider

When you are a parent, setting up your music studio is a bit different than if you did not have a family to consider. There are so many things to think about, to schedule, to plan, to decide. Here are a few questions to ask yourself, to get yourself thinking and planning:

  • WHY do you want to teach?
    • This question is so basic to any music teacher. Sometimes we lose touch of our motivations, and this is an important question to think about as you are planning your studio and figuring out how you are going to balance your teaching time with your family time.
      • Why do you want to teach?
      • Do you need the income? Or just want it?
      • Are you doing it for the love of teaching?
      • Is it a job? Or a hobby? A chore or a joy? Is it a much-needed mommy break? :)
  • How much do you want to teach?
  • How much do you need to charge to make it worth your time?
    • I have learned that, as a mother, your time is incredibly precious!
  • What time of day will you teach?
  • What will your children be doing and where will they be while you teach?
  • What will your spouse be doing while you teach?
  • Will you need to find child care? If so, who will watch your kids?
  • What are the ages of your children, what are their needs and schedules like? Will you be teaching when your children get home from school?
  • What will you if (when) something comes up? What if your child needs homework help? What if your young baby needs a lot of your attention? What if your child is sick?
  • How much time will you need during the week to prepare for lessons? To answer phone calls/emails related to your studio? To do any other preparations/planning for your studio?
  • Will you have specific times set aside to do these things?


Requirements & Challenges

My #1 challenge in being a piano teacher is arranging my teaching schedule in such a way as to not interfere with my time with my husband and son. This is incredibly important to me. You may have different challenges. Here is a list I have come up with of requirements of being a music teacher who is also a parent, as well as some challenges that you may have to face:

Requirements

  • Organizational skills
  • Time management skills
  • Efficient lesson planning
  • Good meal planning skills (especially if you teach in the afternoons/early evenings!)
  • Professionalism
  • Creativity and ingenuity

Challenges

  • Teaching at a time when other family members will not be present (I assume this would just get harder as your children get older)
  • As a parent, there is never complete, total control over your schedule - things come up! How will you handle it if your child needs you?
  • Switching between "mommy mode" and "teacher mode" - this includes looking professional and presentable (what? no spit-up-covered shirts and greasy ponytail hairdos?), cleaning your house (sometimes a mad dash to get the house looking presentable before the first student of the day arrives!), changing your mindset (which is often a very welcome and refreshing change :))
  • Learning to be picky about students you accept and who are worth your precious time - personally, I would rather it be a joy than a chore that I absolutely dread!
  • The ability to stand up for your missed lesson policies - as a parent it is much harder to work in extra make-up lessons

What are some challenges you have encountered in being a piano teacher and a parent? What do you think is important to consider?

4 comments:

Heidi said...

As a mom of 4 (almost 5) balancing teaching and parenting has definitely been an issue for me. I teach because I love it (although the extra income is nice), but for now I limit the # of students I teach to balance my time with family. Initially I scheduled all lessons on the weekends when my husband could watch our children, but as our children have gotten older and some parents requested weekday spots, I have loved having the 30 minute lab time incorporated into my lessons. With staggered lessons, this allows me the flexibility to have the student do their lab assignment first if I need a bit more time to "calm" the studio environment, attend to a waking child, check on the dinner etc. without cutting into the amount of time the student gets in their 30 minute private instruction.

Michelle said...

I limit my studio to only a few students because my husband's schedule is so random. I am never sure whether or not he will be home. If he's not though, my kids know that it is the one time of the week they're allowed to watch TV and they love it! As my kids get older I will take adult students during the day while the kids are at school.

Megan said...

I also am able to have all of my students on one day - minus one adult student my age that I teach on Thursdays while the boys watch a movie! Movies are great for single half hour lesson. I have 7 students on Friday afternoons and truthfully there is rarely a Friday that all seven come -and- that doesn't make me too sad because then if the boys need attention or dad needs help I can use that time. When my kids start going to school I'm not sure what I'll do!

Shauna Leavitt said...

I'm a new mom and this first year of teaching with a baby has had many challenges. I'm still trying to find a balance between family and teaching. Scheduling is the most frustrating. I have a sitter who watches my son while I teach, but on many occasions she has cancelled last minute and I've been left scrambling to find someone. I'm trying to figure out how to plan better for next year. I have a "charge for missed lessons" policy, but I'm a softy and usually end up refunding them or making them up. I hope I find a balance soon!

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