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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Balancing work and "dance mom" duties


msd

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Hello. I'm sitting here on the last day of a short vacation (and it was heavenly), trying to figure out how we're going to make it all happen this fall. My dancing daughter has moved up a level at her studio, thus adding more travel/studio time to a full life. We've got a while until she's old enough to drive herself :lol: , so I guess I'm looking to pick the brains of other dancer drivers who are in similar situation.

 

This summer was her first SI (fairly local -- so we only ended up with about 2,500 dancing miles on the odometer for that one :sweating: , rehearsals still continue there). So far, for the occasional weekday call, I've been able to use vacation time...but that's not a bottomless well. I have a wonderful, supportive husband, who has no flexibility in his work hours, so the driving duties fall (you guessed it) to me. As I will be running straight from work, picking her up right after school to drive to class, I've picked up a new Crock Pot cookbook.... I'll be hauling my laptop and cell phone, as the studio is *just* far enough away that it doesn't make sense to drive back home, then turn around to go back. Fortunately, the waiting area is relatively comfortable.

 

In other words, it's the end of August, dancing daughter is back to school tomorrow, I'll be back at work, the studio opens next week, rehearsals are intensifying for a September performance.....BLAAH! We'll be fine. We always pull it off. But beyond setting the table for dinner before I leave in the morning, keeping a spare set of dance duds in the car for emergencies, and an up-to-date family calendar on the fridge. I'd love to hear from other folks how you balance it all. Moms who homeschoool or have other kids to shuttle to soccer, etc -- join in, too -- we're all working moms...and we're all trying to figure out how to keep things flowing!

 

Happy back to school, and back to studios to everyone!

 

msd

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Msd, I didn't know whether to laugh or cry while reading your post :wink: It brings up all kinds of (repressed) memories.

 

Well, the first thing I will say from my newly-found freedom is that there IS light at the end of the tunnel :lol: even though it may seem pretty dim right now. I was in your situation with impossibly long commutes every time I stepped out the door. 200 miles a day on the car was considered a very good day :dry:

 

We had carpooling arrangements off and on throughout some of those years. The wildest involved my keeping a homeschooling girl overnight twice a week.

 

But you know what? As I was typing this, I realized that I owe thanks to that horrible schedule because some creative thinking in dealing with it caused me to switch careers. I'd never have done so if I'd had an easy commute.

 

Back then I was a classroom teacher. When daughter entered high school, my schedule didn't always permit my picking her up after school to take to ballet. So I had to hire someone at $25 a day to do it. I hired Nutmeg ballet students to drive my daughter to ballet after school a couple days each week. But I couldn't afford that. Meanwhile some parents had been requesting tutoring for their children. I quickly realized that I could earn the money (and then some) to pay the driver by tutoring. So that's how I came into my new field of work. I now tutor full-time, a job I love more than classroom work, and I'm working towards an advanced degree in special ed. I'd probably have stayed in the classroom if it hadn't been for carpooling difficulties.

 

One thing I was adamant about was that we try to eat dinners as a family. Because my only other child was older, this was fairly easy for us. Although it wasn't ideal, it was OK for us to eat dinner at 10 pm. The dishes were often left unwashed overnight

:sweating: . Ah well...the tradeoff was that we remained a close-knit family.

 

We did all the usual things: cooler packed with munchies in the car, hair and clothing supplies and a mini-office in the car for homework, books on tape for me while I was alone in the car, etc.

 

Then suddenly my daughter turned 16, got her license, and I was released from that schedule. You know, you focus all your energy on graduation so that when the license sneaks up on you, it really does come as an abrupt surprise. I didn't realize just how great an effect it would have on my life. While I loved the time it freed up, I missed our long car chats.

 

In many ways, I don't think my daughter and I would be so close had it not been for those rides. If she had been able to get to ballet on her own all those years, my time with her would've been very limited. So, in an odd way, ballet increased, rather than decreased, our time together. We were both held captive by the commute and that gave us the time to stay connected.

 

So we commuting moms just take what's handed to us and we twist and turn it till we shape a life that we'd never have planned but that in the end may be more interesting and fresh than if it had never happened.

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I laughed when I read this post! Not because I thought it was funny (haha) but because just this morning I woke up at 4 am in a panic trying to figure out how I was going to rearrange my entire life to fit everything into it.

 

We are going to be going through a HUGE transition in the next few months and I am having a super hard time deciding what to do. First, we are moving. Not too far but far enough that continuing at my daughters current dance studio is going to be a challange at best. What was once a 30 minute drive would turn into at least an hour closer to an hour and a half and she would have to give up weekday classes.

 

We have made a commitment through December for the annual Christmas production, so we decided to keep her at her current school until after winter break. Her knew school will be year round opening up a whole new can of worms on top of it. I will need to find a place for her before school and after for 3 months. Her middle school doesn't offer on site daycare. :dry:

 

I have found what seems like a very good dance school closer to our new home but she is devasted having to leave her teacher, and so am I. Her teacher is the most wonderful person. She is completely devoted to her girls and has taken my dd under her wing and gives her tons of individualized attention. She has transformed my daughter into a beautiful dancer. I hate to leave her but I just can't see traveling back and forth to the point that we would never be home. I have a wonderful understanding husband but there is a limit to how much we are gone.

 

Then there is the problem of how to get my daughter to her "new" dance school. It would be only 15 minutes or so from our new home, but I work 45 minutes away, without traffic. I am hoping I can find someone who can take her.

 

Family and friends are having a tough time understanding our dilemma. Dancing is our daughters life and to take that away from her or place it at the bottom of our list of importance is just not acceptable.

 

The only way out at this time that I see is to suffer through the next 3 months of commuting and then switching after the first of the year to the new academic school and ballet school. I just feel so terrible that our daughter seems to be making the biggest sacrifices and there is nothing I can do about it. :sweating:

 

I wish there were some way to add more hours to the day! Trying to figure all this out is going to make me crazy! :wink::lol:

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Well, I just shipped my kid off! (ho, more she spread her wings and flew away!!!) and that solved the whole thing. She's had a whale of a time and I've missed her like crazy. And the amazing thing is I miss driving her around! Happily (for me) she has been away so much she hasn't had time to get in her driving time at home to get her license, so she still "needs" me once in a while for a ride when she is home. Ah, the nostalgic delight of driving an 18 year old to a dance class or over to a friend's.

 

The sad moral of my story is that "balance" is a very elusive quality in real life. :shrug:

 

Good luck, but have fun and enjoy all that time together, you driver-moms! :wink:

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Syr, my 18 year old doesn't have her license either, and for the same reason!

 

I hesitated to post here, because I feel like I didn't do such a great job of balancing dance and life :wink: . I'm self-employed, so was able to schedule all of my work hours for the mornings so that I could be available to drive in the afternoons/evenings. My DD's studio was an hour away, which meant that I, too, didn't come home during the time that she spent there, and with classes and rehearsals that time was considerable. Tech weeks were a nightmare. We ate way too much fast food, and I spent way too much time window shopping (and spending money that I didn't really have!). Luckily, her older brother was 16 when we began this schedule, and in college by the time things really escalated - to the point where I felt that I actually lived in the town where her studio was located, not the one that I actually live in - so he didn't miss out on too much family time. The reason that everything worked so well is that my husband is a saint! He took up the slack, drove when I couldn't, made sure that dinner was ready when we got home on early nights, ate alone on late nights, never complained about the amount of time, effort, and MONEY that was spent on dance. As DD will be heading off soon to dance out of state and make a small bit of money doing it, we do feel that it was worth it. But, I'll be honest, it was really hard. Although, as vagansmom pointed out, spending time in the car with my daughter was a plus. All in all, I wouldn't have missed it!

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:wink: Ahhhhh... I am stressing this week about starting full schedule next week. We always seem to manage, but the thought of it overwhelms me. I think it's the hardest on my two non-dancing children. Especially the 13 year old boy who is too old to always bring along and too young to always leave at home.

 

I love that my daughter loves dancing, but it is hard on the family. :shrug:

 

msd, the crock pot is my favorite friend!

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Guest Cristina

:rolleyes:

 

This is a great thread. In our small world, I don't encounter other people who are doing the balancing that we are doing. It's funny to read so many responses here.

 

We also live far enough away from our school that it is not terribly practical to drive back home during class. This year, I have enrolled at a class taught at a college 45 minutes in the other direction from the ballet school.

 

The way our family pulls things off is that my husband, as others have said is a saint. Both of us are self-employed. Although we both have full-time jobs, we are both flexible in our schedules. He drives when I cannot. We travel with laptop, cell phones, work, and now study materials where ever we go. I sometimes run errands or take in a trip to the gym while dd is in class.

 

When it is time to work on the big performances, we commute to another town 60 miles away for rehearsals. However, we have a good group of parents who all pitch in to carpool.

 

One of the redeeming points of all the time we spend in the car is the chance to visit on the way home from ballet. Ballet teaches so much about life. The interaction with the other kids, the styles of the teachers, and the lessons learned provide incredible opportunities to talk about life and growing up. I could not write a better script. This time with my daughter is incredibly valuable, and I am glad that husband shares in the opportunity, too.

 

Cristina

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Guest lindendale

It's always good to read about other parents' juggling acts, just to remind one that "you are not alone." But I'm struck by the distances and hours you all are mentioning. This is the downside of living in the suburbs. Those of us who live in cities have much shorter commutes, and in many cases the kids can walk or use public transportation, just as we parents can. The whole suburban-car dependency thing is not the easiest way to live, and ballet parents may be good examples of people who pay a big price for suburban living.

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"Amen!" lindendale... I'd never have thought I'd be wishing I lived in the city, rather than the suburbs, for my child's benefit, as well as my own. :wub: Although I was not a city dweller myself as a youngster, I can see more and more reasons for living there - there's so much to do and see and, best of all, no malls!! :shrug:

 

In this country we're just beginning to get a taste of the cost of driving. It's too bad we don't have a really good railroad system as they do in so many other countries. :thumbsup:

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Guest MissInga

Well, I too have had a career change due to the ballet mom duties. I now work part time and work my hours around the drop-off-at-school-pick-up-from-to ballet etc. I also volunteer at the front desk at the ballet studio, which gives me a break on classes. We eat a lot of pre-packed dinners from the grocery store (Wolfgang Puck pizzas, Trader Joe's misc. dinners) and eat a lot of take out. Just remember you can't do it all.....and that doesn't mean there's something wrong with you.

As for carpooling, is there a relative nearby that could help out at least once a week? An uncle, sister, etc? I used to have to pay a older student to give my daughter rides....Also, I've become buddy-buddy enough with some of the other moms and we trade off......

Good luck!!!!!!

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Your posts are making me nostalgic already, after only a few weeks of not driving anymore. For nine years the drive to ballet -- at first only once a week, then soon several days a week until it was every day -- was my delight. Our trip was less than half an hour each way, sometimes just 20 minutes (and on Sundays only 17 or 18), and I stayed to watch my daughter's (and later, my son's) classes. It was the best part of my day and a very productive, happy nine years for my daughter.

 

The upshot is that my driving days are over. Our daughter joined a company earlier this month and has been at work for 3 weeks. Trouble is, the company is in Europe. Good thing is, it's her dream company, and mine, too. Poignant dilemma: while this is exactly what those 9 years were leading up to, I -- the balletmama/chauffeur -- had to quit driving and watching cold turkey and won't get to see daughter dance at all.

 

Our son will probably continue dancing, but only once a week. He cut down his classes by 3 last fall already, and although he is a very good dancer, he doesn't have the "calling".

 

I'll be thinking of all you driving mamas with wistfulness come the start of the new school year. Here, it's ever onward, and I'll look back on this time of transition with great joy. It was all worth it!

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Just a quick early morning note to say "Congratulations to your daughter Marga on her new position with a European company!" :clapping::huepfen: - and to add best wishes to you, too, during this new phase of motherhood. :flowers:

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