Many a studio owner might agree that the idea of maternity leave is laughable. "So many people say, 'I was back after two weeks—we had a competition,'" says Meagan Ziebarth, a former owner who sold her studio two years ago. "If that works for you, and you feel great, wonderful. But I feel passionately that having a baby is one of the most transformational life events, and you don't need to put that kind of pressure on yourself and accept that that's the norm."
So how can you take the maternity leave you want and make sure your studio doesn't run itself into the ground? We asked three who did it for their best advice—including what they wish they'd done differently.
State Your Terms
ReMix Dance Collective
15 years in business
It wasn't until the birth of her third child in 2015 that Liza Grundy finally allowed herself the monthlong maternity leave she'd always wanted as a studio owner. "With my first two, I was so focused, so driven. I wish desperately that I'd taken more time with them—that I'd relished the mom thing a little more," she says. "When you own your own studio, you can end up giving all of yourself to that, and then there's nothing left of you to give your own kid. With my youngest, I told myself, 'I'm not letting myself miss this. I will take the time and find a way."
- Invest in a studio manager. "It took me a long time to be in a position to afford a studio manager, but I would recommend you get one and get a good one. They will be worth their weight in gold," says Grundy. "I was able to trust a lot of the everyday business tasks to my studio manager. And everything else falls into place—your numbers will go up. Everything gets more organized. Communication becomes quicker and smoother."
- Trust your team. "It can be hard to relinquish control, especially when you've built something," she says. "But that old adage, that you're only as strong as your team, is so true. If you have the means to delegate things to certain people, do it. And don't micromanage them. I allowed people to do their jobs and trusted the fact that I had a really good team in place."
- Ease back in–on your own terms. "I took back classes as I felt ready," she says. "For example, my 'Lil' Breakerz' class, which is hip hop for ages 3 to 6, takes quite a bit of energy. So that was the last class I ended up taking back." She also made it clear that any check-ins with the studio would happen only by her initiation. "The studio knew not to contact me, unless it was a serious emergency," she says. "I would check in and make sure things were going smoothly, but on my terms."