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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Dance/Life Balance for Family


camercad

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I was hoping to get feedback on finding a better balance between supporting my DD's love of dance and making sure the rest of the family's needs and wants are met. Both my husband and I work full-time, staggering our schedules, so that one of us is available when the kids are not in school. I take the early work shift and have the most burden in shuttling my two children to their activities.

My daughter currently takes four dance classes a week - two ballet and two jazz. Thankfully, we were able to concentrate her classes on two days (2 classes per day). In addition to dance, my daughter also takes piano once a week. For my son, he takes taekwondo twice a week and violin once a week.

My daughter wants to audition for her studio's jazz company and add in another ballet class for next dance year. This would increase her schedule to 5-6 classes a week.

 

I feel pulled from contradicting feelings of not knowing how to handle anymore on my plate vs. wanting to give as much as I can for children to pursue their interests. How does everyone else do it? Or does a family reach a point where they decide to concentrate on one child's dance interest over other things?

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Oh that I had an answer to this question. . . .

 

I guess I try to stay focused right now on important family experiences that I want to keep and not allow to be compromised. These include nightly meals together (sometimes we have dessert together because we all get back too late). Meals out together. Family movie nights. Church. Vacations. Short trips to my parents.

 

I guess I am saying this only because it's my way of making sure that I am not compromising my values. Also, I try to evaluate opportunities as related to their quality. Some opportunities are not really high quality and not worth the money and stress.

 

I think that for anyone that gets serious with their child about dance there are inevitable family sacrifices, but those are up to individual families. I know where I stand in certain respects. I will not allow our family to be divided, unless DD is goes to a residential school and then the distance can only be so graet. I will not stop saving for retirement or college. I will not allow dance to detract from the experiences that my son needs.

 

I think that it's easier to set standards and priorities and then check new opportunities against these. . . I don't really have an answer but this has been helpful for me, thanks :D

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Thank you for your response. It is nice to know that I am not alone. I realize that in posting my questions that there would be no easy answers - which often seems to be case in parenting.

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My DD attends dance 6 days a week. We have been blessed by finding a carpool. You might have success in putting note up at your current dance school. Often classes of many different levels meet simultaneously. Even if dropping off & picking up another dancer who is a little out of your way, if that child's mother is willing to do the same for you, it may free you up for an evening.

Good Luck!

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I have to admit that we live a totally imbalanced life when it comes to meeting the dance needs of one child vs. the needs of the other three kids and the parents. I do not work away from the home during the day, but I do drive my dd 5-6 days per week (after school and on Saturdays) which takes up a great deal of time as we live over an hour from the dance school. The other kids do their activities with my husband, and I have a wonderful mother's helper who sometimes takes dd to dance so I can go to other kids' games, shows, etc. and other times does activities with other children. It is a struggle but between my husband, my mother's helper, and myself we get all of the kid's needs met. They are all doing very well in school, with friends, and in their own activities. The other kids, as well as my husband, deeply respect my dd's dedication to dance and do not attempt to make me feel guilty for spending more time with her than with them. That's not to say I don't feel guilt. I dread the day when one of my grown children might say, " You love her more than me and you always have! You spent most of your time with her!" because it isn't true- if another of my children develops this kind of drive to do something, I'd figure out a way to make it happen for him/her, too. It is a balancing act, for sure.

 

At some point, we will probably consider sending dd to a residential dance program, but I will continue to mother her from the sidelines and really just keep on trying to make it work as a family. It is all any of us can do.

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Wonderful post, Learningtodance. I wish I'd been able to articulate that exactly! While dance is a big commitment - there is a lot more that goes into supporting a dancer. He or she is a child and a member of a family too.

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Sometimes I think the best you can do is to look for creative solutions to make the best of the situation, and it sounds like you are doing that, so kudos to you and your husband. My DD was already very committed to ballet by the time her younger brother was old enough to do any activities of his own, so I experienced a lot of guilt because everything he did had to work around her schedule. And I had no choice but to bring him along to ballet since we commuted a long distance. But I always tried to designate that as special time for him and me to be together. I printed google maps of everything in the area we could do together while we waited for her -- libraries, parks, movies. I also looked into activities he could be enrolled in within an easy distance of ballet. We packed picnics in the good weather, and we ran errands together. And the interesting thing is that my husband was certain our son was miserable always taking a "back seat" to her, but now that DD is no longer commuting, he actually misses those days and often asks to visit our "old haunts" for old time's sake! So you just never know. :D And it's comforting to know my instincts about my non-dancing child being quite happy were correct. You always need to listen to your instincts, and I agree wholeheartedly with learningdance about not compromising values, which becomes increasingly difficult as your dancer progresses.

 

I'm not sure how old your DD is now, but one thing to consider while she is young is her level of interest in ballet. If she ends up studying in a pre-pro ballet program, the requirements will increase gradually until she is doing 4, 5, or even 6 days of ballet, which doesn't leave much time for extras like a jazz company. So one school of thought is to let her enjoy her jazz classes and the jazz company now, while she has time for them, and let her decide what path she wants to take. Or if she shows a particular interest in pursuing ballet now, you might want to consider making ballet the priority and pass on doing the jazz company, which would give you more free time. But that's one of those individual choices, and the "right" answer is different for everyone.

 

Hopefully you will find some comfort in Ballet Talk. You are certainly not alone! Best of luck to you!

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I wish I had some sage advice to offer, but I just wanted to chime in to say that we're in pretty much the same boat. We have other children - one of whom is as passionate about his primary pursuit as DD is about dance, which means that on many evenings, my husband and I are like two ships in the night, with one of us taking one child, and the other taking the other.

 

We are (thankfully?) constrained by how much money we are able to devote to dance both now and what we're prepared to do in the future. We won't go into debt to finance this, we won't give up saving, we will not give up eating healthy foods, and we will not take on second jobs, as our family time is already precious and in short supply. We are however, willing to forgo other things like fancy electronics, extended cable, new cars, vacations, upscale clothing etc. The financial limitations and time limitations that we've imposed pretty much ensure that dance doesn't take over our lives.

 

Also we aren't obsessed with putting out equal dollars toward each child - we take more of a "give each child what s/he needs at any given time according to our ability to do so" approach. Currently, dance is eating up more dollars than every other activity combined, but it wasn't always this way, it may not always be this way.

 

For our family, the primary difficulty in finding the dance/life balance lies in managing the sibling rivalry, which is intense. My "type A" non-dancing first-born ds, who is accustomed to being noticed and praised and coming first in all of his endeavors, is finding it difficult to deal with the praise and recognition that dd has begun to get from others. Sibling rivalry is a whole other ball of wax, but because it has reared its head so early in dd's dancing journey in a way, it acts as an additional barrier to prevent us from going so far with dance that it is to the detriment of our other children. Our ds isn't the type to silently suffer until adulthood, and then tell us how he felt that we didn't pay him enough attention. He lets us know, loud and clear, that he really needs us to be dialed into his needs. :D

Edited by mamabear
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Thank you to everyone for sharing their stories and solutions. I was watching DD at class yesterday and was struck by how happy she always looks in class and on stage. Because of that, we will try the best we can, but can only do so much. She is old enough at almost 10 to understand what being a family means, which is a give and take.

My DD is set to audition for the junior jazz company this Saturday and then we will play it by ear. I think I'll have a better idea of her desire to pusure more dance after her first summer intensive in June. If she still wants to do it after dance 6 hours a day for two weeks straight, I'll take that into account in how to support her.

Unfortunately, for carpooling options, we are limited. We live in the rural outskirts of the city and haven't found a carpooling arrangement despite trying for over a year. We might consider looking for a nanny driver this fall, depending on DH's and my work schedule and the costs.

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Guest coupe66

We have a large family and it is a real challenge to get everyone where they need to be. Two of our kids are dancing pre-professionally and basically live at the studio, which is just under an hour's drive away, each way, for us. Here is what I have found to be helpful: try to arrange carpools with other families, if you can. Try to multi-task other ways, such as locating stores or other places so that you can shop, go to the dry cleaners, the library, wherever, while dk is busy dancing. Then, you can cross that task off your list later.

 

Try to plan meals and keep them simple. Get a crock pot if you don't already have one. That cuts meal planning and prep time down, giving you more time for other things later in the afternoon/evening.

 

Finally, one thing I have told myself (and I believe it is true) is that if it weren't ballet that the child is involved in, it would probably be something else equally time consuming with its own set of expenses. As I drive to the studio early on Saturday mornings, I am so often relieved that I do not have a child who plays lacrosse, baseball, soccer, etc., so that I do not have to trek around to playing fields here and there in the rain, snow, cold and heat!

 

Even with all of this, sometimes it is just plain hard to keep everyone on schedule, so try to maintain a flexible mindset and do not get down on yourself for feeling/getting disorganized at times. It happens to all of us now and then!

 

Hope this helps!

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My son did play soccer last fall and probably will do so again this year. So, yeah, I did stand outside during games while it was raining. I was also with him one practice when the temps were in the high nineties. I do prefer activities with roofs and air-conditioning.

 

Good news - it looks like I have a carpool set up for DD's summer intensive. I'm pretty relieved about that.

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I believe there is no balance, just juggling. Which means something eventually has to fall.

Right now our schedules are the oldest DD 8 dances locally 3 days a week and I drive her 1 hour - each way - twice weekly to ballet. She has gymnastics only on Tuesdays evening. DD 6 has gymnastics twice weekly, and dance locally on Saturday. DS dances locally only on Wed. and has Tae Kwan Do twice weekly. I have had talks with my children about sacrificing and prioritizing. They know there is no time for Girl Scouts/Boy scouts and some other after school activities.

The thing that is really really scary is as they all get older (meaning next year) they will increase classes. My son wants to take ballet and jazz. My hubby is ok with this just so he continues in Tae Kwan Do.

 

So we all are in this together. I do not know what the future holds, but what I can do is be the best supporter of my children's interest and passions. As long as grades are good, we go to church and have some free time to swim and hang out with family. I think we have to figure out what is acceptable when one of the ###### being juggled falls. My main ball falling is that my house is not clean and there is always laundry in the dryer. (and the washer)

 

camercad- I hope your daughter did well at company jazz tryouts. I look forward to reading more.

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3childrendance. .

 

Yes, I agree it's a juggle and in my 2 child household things are not as clean or neat as I want them to be and the washing machine runs well into the night. Nice to know I am not the only one.

 

I add to that work and additional consulting that I take on to support dance and it is truly crazy. I think that in the past 2 years I have come to understand how quickly this becomes a huge time and money investment. The good thing is that it is forcing our family to evaluate the quality of various dance opportunities and hold many up to a cost/benefits analysis.

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DD enjoyed the jazz company auditions last Saturday, and now, we are waiting to hear the troupe list.

I can't tell you myself how she did, because the studio decided to put up posterboards on the windows to keep from parents peeking in and disturbing the kids.

Obviously, they know us parents too well.

It was at these auditions that I was able to talk to a few of the other parents in setting up a carpool for the summer. So, in my mind, the auditions already was reaping benefits

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What is this "clean house" of which you speak???????????????? :lol::blink::dry::wink:

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