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As a dance teacher, and now a mother, if you wish to know how you can do it all, read this firsthand account of a dance mother.
Dance and motherhood?
A few years ago, if you had asked me that, I would have just laughed at your face. I mean, doesn’t motherhood means endless nappy changes and many lullabies ringing in your head? Who would have the time to plan classes, work on programming, cut music, choreograph- after endless laundry, cleaning the ever messier house, starting dinner?
How is it all going to happen?
Teaching several nights a week, choreographing musicals while I juggle the daily grind trying to keep all balls in the air? Little did I know that it will happen one way or the other, and going with the flow is your only way of surviving, be it dance or mommyhood.
Balance: the word any dancer can relate to. Comes in handy for mothers too!
There is a lot of opposite forces working while you are dancing. In a grand Jete, for example, you are leaving it all on the ground with full force and pushing yourself to touch the stars, the gravitational forces trying to keep you on the ground. The opposition creates tension, and tension brings in balance.
It is calm and collected, not nervous or high strung. You engage muscles and actively working hard, but if you are not relaxed, your Jete will fail.
Just like dance, if I have to balance motherhood and dance, I must let go. There is a chance I could find the calm through all the chaos surrounding me!
While you have learned to make a comeback to your dancing world after pregnancy, you have also realized that your life has changed, even as a dancer.
But everything is not negative about this change.
With time, I am learning to be more spontaneous, my new priorities have ensured that I improvise and think on my feet all the time. I have become stronger, nothing fazes me, and I am more driven, and even more compassionate, as a teacher.
I thought sharing my life journey here will inspire other moms who have hung up their dancing shoes and stashed away their dancewear deep in their closets to come out and at least give it a try. It’s not that bad, much like dancing in an ever-changing choreography called life! So here are a few challenges that I faced, and I am sure you would have, too, and how to overcome them.
Motherhood teaches you what your body is truly capable of. It was inspiring as well as a humbling experience to bring my baby in this world. At the same time, I could not help but admire my body’s resilience and strength through it all. When I stepped back on the dance floor after the break, I made sure that I respected my body’s new limits, as well as worked on regaining my lost form. Let me tell you that all through my pregnancy and well into my first few months as a mother, I was just focused on keeping my baby on top priority.
I sought medical advice on my diets, workout plans and started a simple regime within a few weeks of delivery. Being focused on returning to the dance floor helped me in making a smoother and faster comeback.
Tip: Listen to your body, consult your doctor and plan how you wish to come back. Focus on your diet and workout regimen. Take adequate rest. Things will take their own time, but what you desire will happen for sure.
I was lucky to be able to find a baby sitter, and my parents helped me too from time to time. While I was away at the classes or rehearsals, I had someone to watch over the baby. On a few occasions, we made the trip to the dance studio together, where, nestled in her crib, I could keep an eye, nurse the baby while my students practiced.
Tip: Take as much help as you can! Plan your meals at least a week ahead, take the support of your partner, parents, friends or hire a babysitter if possible. Take as many breaks as possible. For moms with toddlers, you can introduce them to dance classes!
Dance is fun, and your kids will genuinely enjoy dancing with you around. But make sure you do that in a comfortable setting without too many students around, or at least a few kids their age. How about starting a mother-toddler dance session in your studio? Gives you a chance to interact and socialize with other mothers, while spending some quality time with your munchkin.
On the day of the performance of the season’s ballet, your baby is cranky, crying and might be sick.
What would you do?
You can’t leave your students in the lurch.
If like me you were active till your last trimester, you would have had a stand-in teacher, a friend who filled in for you while you were away. Take their help. Try baby-wearing; it works wonders- especially for a sick and cranky baby.
Think on your feet, and above all, keep calm.
Tip: Again, take outside help. Seek out your friends, family; anyone who takes care of the baby can while you are busy. However, be ready to share most of the load, as no one, and I repeat NO ONE, can replace you as a mother.
I am an early riser.
That gives me an extra hour every day that I can spend the way I like. I take my cup of coffee and curl up with a book, meditate, do my Pilates routine, without anyone disturbing me. The morning hour spent with myself helps me keep things in my control. The peace and calm I experience in this hour help me sail through the many surprising twists and turns my day could take. My most creative plans have been the result of the peaceful me time I had all to myself!
Tip: Sneak in a few minutes to yourself every day. Self-care is the most important thing for a mother. Exercise, meditate, read, pamper yourself, or just take a nap! Remember, you are important too!
You don’t have to be the perfect dance teacher and the perfect mother all the time!
Don’t feel guilty if the laundry is not folded or the house is not cleaned. Focusing and prioritizing on what is more critical – tucking your child and reading a story or cleaning the house, you know what to choose.
Set up a schedule for cleaning and laundry, and stick to it. Make sure you have extra of everything, just in case you are unable to take care of chores in time. Even with all the planning if it doesn’t work, take it in your stride and move on!
Tip: Planning helps- You will notice that children also love routine, so a fixed bedtime, nap time, meal times help them know you are in control of things. You don’t have to color code the Lego bricks right away. Just scoop them and keep them in a single large box, your kids are going to mix them all up again anyway. Stop being a perfectionist and relax! Things are only going to get better!
Your child’s leftover mush is not your dinner. It can’t be if you need to work on your way back to teaching dance. Eating a nutritious meal while you take care of the baby might not come easy, but it’s all about making the right choices every time you need to refuel yourself.
Stays hydrated and restrict your caffeine and sugar intake as it helps you combat sleepless nights. For fitness, try easing into a less strenuous routine and gradually build it up from there.
Tip: Like planning dinners for the family, plan your meals too. Your fitness regime could start with a simple walk with your baby tucked in the stroller. Focus on getting back to your routine slowly, and surely.
It has been proven that a good diet and fitness regimen could help in beating postpartum blues! Motherhood is indeed a gift, and all my dance skills, hard work, tears, and sweat pale in comparison to the little, but great joys it has given me.
But do you know the greatest gift of all?
Being a dancing mom and seeing my little munchkins trying the pirouette on their twinkly toes, following in the footsteps of their mother!