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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Balancing dance with school/chores


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My DD is 12.5 and dances 4 nights a week with rehearsals on weekends for Nutcracker in the fall/winter. Her evening classes total about 11 hours per week. She is a good student and does not have much difficulty keeping up with her assignments. My question is: what is reasonable to expect in the way of chores at home? I have been easy on her for the past few years while her time spent dancing has increased. I do feel that school and then dance are her main priorities but I want her to be a bit more self-sufficient and take some responsibility for her room/bathroom, putting her laundry away(which I do for her), etc. She will be going away for 6 weeks of intensive this summer so I am hoping this will help but right now I am just questioning what is a fair amount for her to do during the school year.


To shed some light on the situation, she is an only child and I am a stay at home mom so I am not put out much by doing these things for her. Yes, she has been spoiled in that way for many years! I just want her to be able to function on her own when the time comes!

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You are so right to be teaching your child to become independent! My college aged child is shocked by how little basic life skills some students have, even though they may be academic superstars.


Sorry I can't give you a precise list of chores (all of my children have had slightly different responsibilities at different ages, because all children's needs and abilities are different). But I think your instincts are good, and you will find a balance. She will thank you later. Just be very, very detailed in your expectations (eg first take the hair out of the drain in the shower and throw it away, then use this spray and this sponge to spray and wipe down the shower, here is how I do it...) because a twelve year old's vision of clean is different from yours!

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My 13 yr old daughter dances 7 days a week (one day is rehearsals) which adds up to roughly 22 hours a week.


She is responsible for chores on all of those days except one (Her rest day... well, kindof. She still dances. lol). She has both morning and afternoon chores. Morning chores have to be done before school starts, and afternoon chores done before dance starts. Morning chores include cleaning up from breakfast, getting ready, cleaning up her bathroom after herself, picking up clothes from bedroom floor and making bed etc. Afternoon chores include whatever the "daily chore" is (changes daily), sweeping first floor, bringing down laundry etc.


We homeschool, so accomplishing all of this is made easier by adapting her schedule accordingly - so she can fit it all in (sometimes she is at the studio at 2:30pm). Whether they are in public school or homeschool... I do think asking your child to help out the family in some way and giving them some kind of responsibility is important. Otherwise, they could *wrongly* assume that the world revolves around them! :) :)

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Teach her to do her own laundry...a life skill many kids don't learn until they go away to college. If she wants clean clothes to wear, she'll do it!

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Thanks everyone. It sounds like we are on the right track. I have made a very detailed list (thanks Salmonpoint!) of very basic chores to be done before school and on the weekend. I have been showing her how to do her laundry in anticipation of being away this summer. Hopefully she will adjust to the new approach quickly! I have to say that I was expected to do way more at home at her age while training for gymnastics 5-6 days a week, but my mom worked outside of the home and I had siblings.


I am still curious what other expectations are so please post your thoughts...

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If you look at it as 'what will she need to learn to be a functioning, independent adult at the appropriate age', you'll find it easier to figure out what she needs to learn, beginning now. Chores aren't just something annoying to be pushed off, but rather the means of learning basic life skills.

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Hi, Supermaman. My daughter is the same age and in almost the same position (she dances 6x/week). It is very difficult to manage school, homework, ballet, household/self responsibilities, and the ever important need for sleep. During the school week, she has very little time free time, and during her weekend "free" time, in addition to wanting to have a little down time with the family and non-ballet friends, she often works on getting some of her homework for the following week done so she can get to bed at a decent time on the weekdays. It is always a delicate balancing act.


But... I think it is important that my DD learns to be responsible for herself and that she becomes somewhat self-sufficient. As you wrote, school and ballet are her main priorities (school the first) -- and they do take up a significant amount of her time -- so I don't expect her to contribute much to the household during the school year. I do expect her to keep her bedroom and bathroom tidy, make her bed, not trash the rest of the house, and help with the care and feeding of our pets on the weekends. (During long holidays and in the summer, she does a little more around the house.) And although I don't have her do her own laundry, I do have her separate her (and sometimes my) clothes before I wash them, and sometimes help fold and put away her own clothes. So while she doesn't do the actual washing/drying at home, she does go away in the summer knowing what gets washed with what, and what does and what doesn't go in the dryer. So far, her clothes have come back from SIs the same color and condition they left home :)


There aren't many six week intensives; I wonder if your daughter will be going to the same SI as is my daughter...

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My DD is close to the same age and dances 6 days a week (7 during Nutcracker). But as a single working parent, I just don't have time to coddle her. DD is expected to keep her room tidy. That includes keeping it cleaned, dusted, windows, bed made, etc. I'll vacuum it when I vacuum the rest of the house. She also makes her own breakfast and lunch every day (except Sunday lunch). She is responsible for rinsing and putting her dirty dishes in the dishwasher always. If she doesn't, she has to do the family's dishes for a week. She is responsible for taking her dirty laundry to the laundry room. If she doesn't, she won't have clean clothes. I sort and wash all laundry; DD folds and distributes. She has to keep her bathroom clean, her kitchen counter space clean (she has her own spot with her Nutribullet and Keurig and assorted snacks). And, finally, she is responsible for feeding and walking the dog at all times. Any unusual "chores" that creep up - washing down the deck, mulching the yard, planting flowers, pruning roses, she is expected to help if she is around to do so. (We do have a general yard service to mow and rake.) She does get an allowance which she can use for extras and incidentals that aren't necessary. The way I see it, she is a member of the household and should be expected to clean up after herself and contribute to the general household needs. It makes for responsible citizens later in life. I seriously knew people in college who had no idea how to clean a window or change a light bulb. We're working on cooking dinner together, but it is admittedly hard when she's at dance during dinner time. (BTW, if anyone ever rooms with my DD during an SI or such, I'll go ahead and let you know that she makes some mean quesadillas! :D )


Oh, and she is a straight-A honor student.

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DD is 13 (so delete if you don't want me posting here!) with a similar dance schedule. She is in 7th grade, all advanced/high school classes. We leave for dance right after school and she comes home between 7pm (1day/wk) to 9 (3days/wk) or even 9:45 (1day/wk).

She has set chores as well as homework, and is expected to do all before any "downtime".

Some chores don't have a chance to get done until weekends, unless there are rehearsals or out of town dance things (which happens a lot).

Her weekly chores include:

vacuum great room

Check cat litter box daily

Load dirty dishes into dishwasher as needed

Wipe dining table

Fold laundry as needed and help out actually doing the loads as well if needed

Keep room tidy (hah!) and her and her sister are responsible for their shared bathroom


Her 10yo sisters chores (competitive gymnast working out min 14hrs/wk):

Stick vacuum kitchen and dining room

Feed cats and dogs daily

Unload dishes from dishwasher

Clean glass patio door

Tidy glass table in living room

Keep room tidy

Help with bathroom

Empty trash cans in house

Refill toilet paper in all bathrooms


I work in the mornings, and my afternoons/evenings I am where THEY need to be because we have a bit of a drive to dance/gym and I'm not going to spend twice the gas money to drive home, spend an hour or less doing chores and then driving back to dance/gym..! Plus, I have taken on more hours at work (gym) so I can get a couple of work hours in a few days/wk while DD2is at gym anyways. It is necessary for the girls to help out at home or this wouldn't be doable at all.

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DD 12 dances 6 days. She has to do: empty garbages, dishwasher (load and unload), wash dishes periodically, laundry (sort, fold and put away her own), vacuum half of house (sister does the other), dust, keep room somewhat tidy and help keep her shared bathroom clean. She has started to learn to cook some basic foods for herself on the weekend such as omelettes or soup.


Everything varies a bit depending on the amount of homework or if there are performances. It is great that they can contribute when they can!

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Its a tough one getting everything in with these kids. My DD has a lot of homework some nights and dances 6 days a week. I did have to have a face to face with her a few months ago when she really started to let things slide. I started to resent that she expected me to be the maid of the house. So I wrote up a list of what I expected (both of my kids) to do on a regular basis. I made it clear if they wanted to keep up with dance (son/karate) they have to clean up after themselves and some basic chores.


DD = make bed, keep her bathroom clean, put her things away, clear her dishes, take trash out, sort laundry, etc. She doesn't have time big chores but she needs to at least take care of her own things without being reminded or lose her "privilege" of dancing. Don't get me wrong, I fully support her dancing and spend my own time in that regard, but she needs to reduce the housework load on me by cleaning up after herself.

She got the message loud and clear.

Some days she has more or less time, I let things slide a little. Other days, like Sunday I may add a chore here or there for her to pitch in. All life skills!

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I'm going to buck the trend on this thread...the biggest lifeskill I ask of my kids (all three, not just the one DD) is cooperation. What that translates to is when I ask them to do something, no 'tude, no backtalk, no "later", and a SMILE. Being a stay-at-home mom most of the household falls under my responsibilities, but everyone likes help! LOL So on any given day, someone unloads the dishwasher, clears the table, helps the youngest with homework, walks the dog...etc. It works for us. I grew up with an ex-military dad who ran the house like a barracks, so personally I am adverse to creating a hostile work environment (so to speak! LOL).


Every home is different...this works for us...may not work you . :flowers:

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My DD is also 13 but she has had some type of household chores since about age 3 or 4. Then, it was mainly helping me to clean up, maybe help with the laundry by folding washcloths or setting the table. As she got older, the chores increased gradually. Now that she is 13, she isn't thrilled when I go into her room, so the deal is that as long as I don't have a valid reason to go in there, I won't. But, she has to keep it clean or else I have a valid reason. She is also responsible for cleaning up after herself in the kitchen. I almost lost it this morning when I discovered she had made a late-night snack of mac-n-cheese (the kind you make on the stovetop, not the microwave variety) and left all of her dirty dishes in the sink, including the saucepan, strainer, bowl for the pasta, separate dish for whatever dessert she had to go with it, and various utensils.


She is also responsible for the family pet. This is mainly because while the dog is hers, she wasn't bonding with DD as much as with me because, well, she knew where her meal was coming from! Putting the canine responsibilities under DD allowed the dog to see DD as her master and she began to interact more with DD. Our dog is well-fed thanks to the assorted scraps of food she steals in addition to her regular food, so if she misses a meal she definitely won't starve. (Although one day everyone in the family thought no one had fed her and she got 4 meals.) DD has "forgotten" (i.e., too lazy to get out of bed or stop whatever activity she was doing) to walk her at various times and has had to deal with cleaning up the effects. She's pretty good at "remembering" now.


I think every child by age 12 or so should at least be responsible for their own rooms and cleaning up after themselves around the house. Anything else, I agree with buzzandmoo about pitch in where and when needed.


MODERATORS: When I responded, I thought I was in Cross Talk. I just noticed this showed up in the under 13 forum when I was scrolling down the main page.

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My DD is 11.5 and DS is nearly 13. They dance 4-5 days a week, and have other activities they are involved in as well. I'm a single mom who works out of the house with a huge commute and we're all creative types, who prefer our hobbies and interests to housework. I couldn't possibly do everything myself and if I want to spend any time with my kids at all, they need to help. We use routines (inspired by Flylady) in the morning before school, when they get home from school and before bed. The kids have very basic chores to keep their rooms/workspaces in order and to help keep their bathroom, and places at the dining room table clean. They are responsible for making their own breakfasts, lunches, and snacks, and putting food they need on the shopping list. My son knows how to make weekly bread for us in the bread machine, and some other basic meals. My daughter just learned how to do the laundry (now that she can reach our stacked dryer) and loves to help out on the weekend. I'm gradually teaching them how to do most of the basic household chores, like vacuuming, dusting, unloading the dishwasher, cleaning the tub, sweeping/mopping the floors, which we all do together on the weekend. A lot depends on how big they are. For instance, my son does the vacuuming, since he's big enough to handle the vacuum cleaner. I'm grateful that my kids have both watched me work hard to support their dreams, and as they get older, they are anxious to help me out, so getting them to do chores is usually pretty easy. Except for their routines, I only ask them to do the big jobs when they have bigger blocks of time (and they are always done after homework). On weeks when they have heavy rehearsals, I respect their need to rest and we don't do as much, but this really only happens 2-3 times a year. My kids both know they won't be allowed to go away until they can take care of themselves (clothes, basic cleaning) and I expect them to be self-sufficient before they leave my house. I was one who got a lesson on how to do laundry the weekend before I went to college and I really struggled to learn to take care of myself.

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Another single mother here. I admit, for too many years I let my DD (now 11), get away with doing next to nothing at home. She was already dancing a few times a week and I really just wanted her to focus on school and keeping her grades up. I was working 50 hours a week, chauffeuring her around, and losing sleep to keep our home acceptable. All that she had to do was feed the cats and put her laundry away. I completely underestimated what she could, and should, do at home.


Last summer I was in a car accident and had to have spine surgery When I got home from the hospital, I could hardly do anything, so it fell on her to pick up the slack. Just before starting middle school and a new ballet schedule of 5-6X per week, no less. You know what happened? She proved that she was fully capable of doing a lot at home and still balancing everything. She's feeding the cats and tending to the litter box (they are her's after all), helps with laundry, folds and puts away her own clothes, keeps her room clean, makes her bed, makes her own breakfast and lunch, takes out the trash, and helps with the dishes. I still have some physical limitations, but even as I've been able to resume more of my normal activities, she's continued to do a fair share of the housework. Last week she just decided to clean the bathroom, so I wouldn't have to. But that is my ultimate goal here, not to dole out responsibilities, but for her to be able to recognize when something needs to be done, and to take the initiative to do it, just as I would. (Okay so the litter box and trash still requires some prodding, but no one likes doing those things.)


I do have to say that my DD is actually pleased with having so much responsibility at home. No, really. It makes her feel trusted and respected as a more mature person. She still goes to ballet 5-6X a week, gets all of her school work done, has managed to stay on the Honor Roll, with these added responsibilities, and she is proud of that. She also sees it as a way to prove that she will be ready to go away when the time comes. As do I.

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