Running Your Studio, Raising Your Family (and all that jazz)

It’s certainly not news to anyone reading this that running a dance studio while also raising children and maintaining a loving relationship with your spouse is extremely challenging to do – and do well – every day. Very few studio owners go to bed feeling satisfied that they have been the best entrepreneur and parent that they can be that day. In fact, it’s usually the opposite. More often than not, a mixture of exhaustion and stress surrounds the feeling of juggling too many balls all day long. And that’s not to mention the anxiety of realizing at 2am everything you need to catch up on the next day.

In order to give 100% during the time you have with your family as well as the time you spend on growing your business, it’s vital to get structure and routine (2 words that many creative individuals will cringe at) into your day, and commit to being completely present in what you are doing at work or home.

Multitasking
Productivity experts around the globe will tell you time and time again that there is no such thing as multitasking – if you are doing two things at once, you are doing neither of them well.

In the meantime, working moms and dads from the same corners of the earth scoff at this sentiment as they simultaneously send emails, breastfeed a newborn and help their toddler build the world’s greatest cereal box rocket. The fact is, multitasking isn’t a choice for studio owner parents – it’s a necessity. The key to multitasking effectively though (and this is the crucial part) is to do it the smart way.

Think of your daily to-do list. There are things on here that while necessary, are lower-value and take less concentration than others (for example, checking in on your studio facebook page, or folding washing) which you CAN effectively multi-task and get the desired result. But before you jump into tackling more than one task at a time, make sure to consider how much attention and concentration each one will need. Here are some do’s and don’ts for the multitasking ‘parentrepreneur’:

DO – Discreetly browse and screenshot costume ideas on your ipad while watching “Frozen” with your 5yr old
DON’T – Place your final costume order on your smartphone while crowd-controlling your children at the park

DO – Check in on your business-related social media while overseeing your 8yr old complete their homework
DON’T – Interview a potential employee over the phone while encouraging a toilet-training toddler to use their potty

DO – Enjoy watching your boys sing, dance and choreograph to your music collection while you decide on troupe songs
DON’T – Reply to a prickly email while arguing with your spouse

DO – Take your kids to the gym where they can play in the daycare while you return some simple emails on the treadmill
DON’T – Call your teachers to discuss timetable changes while shopping with your daughter for a prom dress

Outsource, outsource, outsource!
There is no greater feeling than to walk through the door and be greeted by the scent of a spotless house that you didn’t clean yourself. While certain outsourced tasks may seem like too much of an expense, don’t lose sight of the fact that the time you are saving by employing someone to do your dirty work (sometimes literally) is time that you will be using to build and grow your empire. Don’t sit and watch Dr Phil while someone irons your clothes – instead use the time to implement a 90-Day marketing plan, or participate in some online courses.

A prime example of outsourcing for studio owners is to employ a Virtual Assistant to take over your administrative hours, and you can also use them to organise your family and social calendar/tasks as well. Some other avenues to consider outsourcing include:

  • Housework
  • Childcare
  • Gardening
  • Pet walking and grooming
  • Home maintenance
  • School drop off and pick up
  • Meal preparation
  • Putting your garbage out for collection
  • Marketing
  • Cleaning the studio
  • Moving house
  • Social Media
  • Washing your car
  • Music and video editing
  • Financial management
  • Organisation

You can even outsource getting your stroller or child car seats picked up, cleaned and returned to your door! If there is a task that you hate doing and is sucking up your time, get on the internet and find someone to do it for you (chances are they’ll do a better job anyway).

In terms of childcare, eventually you’ll need to outsource here too. It is impossible to achieve everything you need in order to reach your full potential with those gorgeous children in tow 24/7. Long daycare may not be ideal for you, so look at hiring a trusted friend, family member, au pair or nanny to care for your children so that you can spend regular time 1-on-1 with your thriving business.

Schedule time for everything
Some business owners have admitted to scheduling bathroom breaks into their calendar . . . we won’t quite go that far, but it IS important to schedule your days to make the most out of your time. Blocking off 30 – 60 minute time-slots allocated to tasks is going to boost your productivity. Simple. Stick to your calendar, and slot in some flexible time where you know you may need it (you’ll work out your patterns after following a schedule after about 2 weeks). Don’t forget to include travel and meal times so that you have a clear indication of your actual productivity potential.

Boring but game-changing tip: Meal and clothing preparation the day before (yes, even for you and your spouse) is a huuuuge help. Evening-you will hate it, but Morning-you will adore it.

Calendar

The biggest thing here is to stick to your commitment. If you have scheduled time with your family, you need to shut the laptop and put the cell-phone away. The adage of ‘quality over quantity‘ here is so crucial- your children will cherish an hour at the park with your undivided attention.They won’t get that same joy sitting in front of the TV with you for 3 hours while you work next to them and tell them to shush every time the phone rings.  

Be Flexible
Routine is an inspiring concept when you have young children. You’ve read about babies who sleep from 7pm – 7am, and feed every 4 hours. They self-settle for naps, and poop at the same time each morning.

Sure, it can happen. But the truth is, it most probably won’t. Sure, set up your ideal routine and certainly try to get your household into some great habits…but don’t waste your time and energy stressing if little Lucy has a bedtime of 7pm and is still squirming and crying for a cuddle at 7.45.

Sometimes you need to give in a little to get your work done – and that’s ok.

If they are under the weather, let your kids sleep on the couch while you revise your studio handbook. Put on an extra episode of Peppa Pig to keep them happy on a sniffly day. Put your bub in a carrier and choreograph them to sleep if they just won’t settle.

Breaking your routine sometimes is necessary, so try to keep a flexible mind-frame and have backup plans (babysitters, friends and relatives) on call for those occasions when your plans just need to change.

Look After YOU

We have saved the most vital point for last. If you aren’t looking after yourself at the most basic levels, everything else you are doing will suffer. Take some time to assess and focus on nutrition, rest, exercise and self-fulfilment. If those needs aren’t being met, then you need to focus on them first. Schedule time, seek professional advice and start to plan for the best possible you so that you can give 100% on ALL fronts.

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