I am a piano teacher. Currently, I teach 16 students (14 during the days and 2 in the evening every other week) and because of our local school schedule, I usually teach from 3:30 to 5:30 (give or take 30 minutes) Monday through Thursday. I have Fridays off, but this is so I can keep my sanity (plus the school gets out early on Friday, so it's nice to have some flexibility to take the kids places for the afternoon).
I have had a schedule similar to this for almost 6 years --even when we lived in California. I love to teach piano lessons! It has always felt like "me" time, and the best part is watching a child progress from week to week (you know --students who actually practice). I'm a no-nonsense teachers with a fabulous sense of humor, so all of my parents and students actually like me, I think. But I'm firm. I don't put up with excuses or "I couldn't because my mom..." because I used to be a student like them, and I'm not stupid. I refuse to put up with crap, and many times my students have received some good lectures (followed by compliments and my fabulous sense of humor). And yes, I have made some students cry --but it's always the guilty ones. Go figure.
Anyway, suffice it to say I love to teach and I've been doing it for a while (6 years can be "a while", right?). But something happened last week that rocked my world --and it was the smallest of small situations:
The woman who took #2 to theater classes decided that she needed to stop doing all carpools for the after-school-activities because it was negatively affecting her daughters.
At first, I was miffed. I teach 4 piano students on theater class day, and I didn't understand why she wouldn't just take my kid (who lives around the corner). I called a friend and asked her to drive #2 to the next theater class, and she said something to me that just clicked: Maybe the neighbor was doing something inconvenient for other people because her children were in need. This thought forced to the forefront my concerns about teaching piano lessons --my kids don't really like it.
They never have, really.
Before I go on, I want to emphasize that I think it's okay for kids to have inconvenience and see that mom has things she needs to do --and they will survive. I do not need to be at their beck and call --in fact, I usually make them figure out a lot of things for themselves. I'm a huge advocate of teaching my kids independence (but not to extremes!) and I've never been a helicopter mama (hovering). So, it's not bad that my kids are playing in the play room with the babysitter while I teach piano lessons upstairs. They survive --and I'm here if they need them.
But they still don't like it.
So, here are my children who have never liked me teaching piano lessons every single day, and I can't even drive one of them to theater class which is only 10 minutes away (if that). And then I thought: I should just stop.
[Another disclaimer: I'm not saying anything about working mothers. This is about me and my situation. If you work and you love it, awesome! If you work and you hate it, I'm sorry! But the truth is that I'm a SAHM, and so I have choices I can/should/get to make. Right? Right. Thanks.]
The hardest part, right now, is that the money coming in from piano lessons helps pay our grocery and other bills, and so I feel some pressure to continue teaching because of that. The other hard part is what I said earlier --I love teaching.
So, what do I do? How do I adjust what I'm doing to benefit my happiness as well as my kids? For the longest time I waffle between just wanting to quit outright to teaching forever. But I realized something else:
My daughter leaves for school around 8:15AM. She comes home from school right as I start teaching --I don't see her until dinner. And then less than 2 hours later, she's in bed. Next year, this will be 2 of my kids. The next year, it will be 3 of them. This gives me about one hour in the morning and two hours at night.
Who knew I would miss my kids so much?
Brandon has a solution that might work: Just lessen the students. Work 2 days a week instead of 4. Pick 8 students who actually practice and show up for lessons, so it will be rewarding and worth it --but I won't feel overwhelmed and our kids will have a more accessible mother.
I love this idea. I could even start a wait list if I wanted --and maybe provide suggestions for other teachers (except I don't know many).
But the question is, when do I do it?
When I told the friend (from above) about this, I said:
If I reduce my students now, the parents aren't going to be very happy, and I really don't want to give them a tough situation. I'd feel like I'm screwing them over, you know?
Friend: So, you'd rather screw over your kids than screw over the parents?
me: Well, when you put it like that...
So, dear reader, here is my question and where I need some advice: Do I plug along and wait until the baby is born, and then reduce my student count drastically in September? (I'll probably take all of July/August off.)
Or do I figure out a way to drastically reduce my student count now? (I would do it in a very polite and kind way, of course.)
If you were me, what would you do? Please advise!