Ask the Experts: Separating Work and Family Life

Q: I run my dance studio with my daughter, and sometimes it feels like there’s no separation between our personal lives and work lives. How can I keep the two separate?

A: My husband, my two daughters and myself all work and live together. My husband Barry runs the studio, and my two daughters, Dana and Jessie, do the majority of the teaching with me. We are all blessed to be making a living doing what we love. But yes, it is very hard to separate our personal lives from work. There are those days when the pressure of working and living together becomes too much, and everyone heads to a different part of the house.

It helps that we each have our passions and interests outside of dance. The girls love to travel and get away in the summer months. My husband plays hockey, goes golfing and plays cards with his buddies. I spend time with friends of mine from high school every week, grabbing lunch and shopping. They keep me grounded and take my mind off the studio.

My daughters and I have started taking classes together that have nothing to do with dance, like cake decorating. It’s a great opportunity for us to bond outside of the studio. And my husband and I just returned from a nondance-related trip (only our second in 34 years of marriage—try not to wait that long).

My best advice is to have outside interests and schedule your own downtime—and encourage your daughter to do the same. Balance, I am learning, is the key to happiness.

Joanne Chapman is the owner of the award-winning Joanne Chapman School of Dance in Brampton, Ontario.

Photo by Dan Boskovic, courtesy of Joanne Chapman

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