I am a dance mom. (Or we are dance parents – whatever phrase works for you.) Both my daughters take dance classes in various styles, and we are at the studio four nights a week.
(I even take dance classes – it’s a great form of exercise, and so fun! I’m taking ballet class and loving it.)
Spending all that time at the dance studio can get pretty stale. I’m speaking from experience here. Just yesterday a dance dad we’re friendly with (his daughter dances with Emma, and has since they were 3) made a crack about building an apartment next to the studio so we wouldn’t have so far to come every day.
We have built up some great relationships with the other crazy dance families who are there multiple days a week. After eight years dance with the same groups of kids, it’s nice to have that feeling of community.
But how do you really survive spending almost every weeknight sitting around the dance studio while your kids are dancing their little hearts out? Well, I’m here to share my experiences with you – and maybe give a little support to the newer dance moms and dance dads out there.
How to survive being a dance parent at a non-comp studio.
I’ve not been a dance parent at any other studio, so I don’t know how the travel and competitions change the “dance parent” lifestyle.
Catch up on work
My favourite thing to do at the dance studio is work. That might sound odd, but I’m a writer outside of my regular day job, so whenever I can sneak in some writing time it’s a huge help to keep me on top of my tasks.
At our dance studio there is a table and chairs for common use, and the wifi password is tacked to the bulletin board. I bring my laptop, and whatever else I’ve been jotting notes on, and draft articles or edit photos I’ll be using in my next post. Some weeks are more productive than others, but I do always get some work done.
This can happen in a lot of different ways. Our studio is not-for-profit so there is a board of directors. They are always looking for new members to round out the group. My husband is acting chair this term while one of the families is off on sabbatical.
I take dance classes. I’ve done ballet, contemporary and street jazz. I find classes that happen at the same times as my girls are dancing, and get my groove on. It’s so much fun, and a lot of other dance moms take the classes too. It’s both a mental and physical workout!
(Don’t be intimidated by a lack of dance background. When I started taking class – at age 35 – I had never danced before and I started with ballet which has it’s own language! Read about my early adult dance experiences. *Spoiler: I love it!)
At the end of each dance year our school puts on a big show at the local theater. They are always looking for parents to volunteer backstage, or during rehearsals. This is a huge undertaking with costumes and programs, so anyone who has time and an appropriate skill is drafted to help out. I’m sure most dance studios appreciate all the help they can get from parent volunteers.
Dance schools are always excited to show off their moves. If you know of an event or occasion that your school is performing at, go! This is a great chance to see the different dance styles, and the accomplished dancers who have learned so much over the years. I know I am always amazed, watching the “big kid” dancers perform. And then I tear up with pride when my daughters are out there showing off their stuff.
Kingston School of Dance has participated in the local Santa Claus Parade, Culture Days events, created a Christmas show for a local nursing home, and will be performing at an OHL hockey game during intermissions. It’s so fun to see them out in the community sharing their love of dance.
This may seem obvious, but I am still learning the names of some of the kids who dance with Rose, and have for 4 years now. There are a lot of kids to know, and a lot of adults that go along with those kids, but learning names really helps build a sense of community.
Just last week I had to ask a mom her name – and you know what, it wasn’t awful. She admitted she’s terrible at remembering names too. Not all parents are stick-around-the-studio types, so a lot of faces are familiar but names are elusive. I say a lot of things like “Claire’s mom” when referring to parents simply because I don’t want to ask names. I’m working on getting over that.
Dance parents are a special breed, but learning to survive as a dance parent doesn’t have to be difficult.
Spending a lot of time at a dance studio doesn’t have to feel like a waste of time. I have made a lot of other dance parent friends, and I actually look forward to my evenings with them.
Chatting with other parents, and (even better) dancing with them makes me feel connected with others who share my interests. Or at least their children, who share my children’s interests.
Do you have a studio or team that you spend a lot of time with in your week? How do you deal with the “never at home” aspect of a lot of extra-curricular activities? Share you experiences i with me in the comments.
If you’re looking for gift ideas for the dancer in your life, check out my gift guide for dancers.