Whether you’re a professional or a recreational dancer, finding the right work/life balance can be tough. So how do you manage to fit it all in without burning out? I’m sure every family works in different ways, so this article is really about tools and processes that have helped me and my loved ones cope with a crazy artistic life, which at times can be pretty unpredictable. I hope you will find inspiration to help you maintain your balance, so you can enjoy both a rich career but also spending much precious time with your family.
To be honest I’ve never thought of splitting ‘work’ and ‘life’, as I love what I do for a living. My life revolves around my family and dancing, so I guess for me it’s all about the dance/family life balance! But even if you have a 9-5 job it can be hard to fit your passion for dancing in with every day life. I know it all to well as I used to hold down a full time job, whilst teaching 4 weekly classes and performing at the weekend.
Before I had a child (and plenty of sleepless nights) it was admittedly a whole lot easier to juggle everything. My husband would pursuit his interests and I’d be off doing my thing, and then we’d fit our ‘couple time’ in around that. With a baby in the mix, life looks a whole lot different, and to be honest I wish I’d made more of my ‘me-time’ before… But at the end of the day, it’s all about priorities, as is everything else in life.
Dancing isn’t just how I make my living, it’s also what makes me feel alive. I have to move my body in order to feel good both physically and mentally, and I need to express myself creatively too. In other words – I’m likely to be a crap mum and wife if I don’t get to do it. I’m lucky that my husband understands this, but yes we have had quite few conversations about it, as he’s very different to me. He knew already before the arrival of our son that he would have to be a very hands-on dad, but he was fully up to that, although every now and again we still need to talk (as I’m sure everyone does) about what we expect from one another on the parenting front and how we want to bring up our offspring.
Still, the day has only got 24 hours in it, so here is how I go about juggling it. I’m not saying this is the only right way, it’s just what works for me and my family, so if you find any of this helpful then please take away what you can from the following:
You don’t need to be overly fanatic about it, but organization is key if you live a busy life, which varies from day to day. Every weekend my husband and I sit down and plan out the week, so we know each other’s schedule. We have tried a shared online calendar, but that didn’t work, so now we sit down with a coffee and our diaries every 6-7 days instead and talk through our plans. I will have classes, gigs, workshops and admin time, and he will have work, leisure activities etc. We plan our meals, childcare, shopping and other activities at the same time, as we only share 1 car between us. Once we’ve sorted the week, we look a month ahead to see if there’s anything big coming up, such as either of us travelling abroad, if we’re having guests coming to stay etc. Only by keeping each other well informed are we able to make our every day work, as well as our relationship!
This may sound boring, but because of the nature of my work, my diary can fill up very quickly with private lessons, events and performances. I have therefore introduced a monthly family day and a regular date night. The family day is not negotiable now matter how busy either of us get, and on that day we always try to do something all three of us will enjoy. It can be a full day out or half a day at a museum, park, event etc. But there’s no checking the phone every 5 minutes!
Our date night is obviously only for my husband and me. It can be a lunch date, a few hours for a walk in the afternoon or an evening out – we try to vary it, and love it 🙂
Don’t expect to do it all yourself, I certainly couldn’t! I have a child minder, a babysitter, a graphic designer and various other people that I generally refer to as my ‘team’ who make my every day manageable. In the beginning I thought I needed to do it all myself, but it left me feeling burnt out, so I talked to my husband about how to create more time. As he works fulltime there was only the option of ‘outsourcing’, so that’s what we’ve done.
It doesn’t need to cost a lot of money to do that either, often just being willing to ask for help can mean that people around you may offer it for free or in return for another favour. In case you wonder – no I don’t just let other people look after my child all the time, but every now and again I have to, as I otherwise can’t get the time to do my ‘day job’ which is how I pay for me and my family’s living. And as mentioned at the beginning, if I don’t get to move and be creative (let’s face it, creating a stunning show or choreography with a baby on the arm is very difficult!), then I don’t feel good about myself either, and can’t be a good mother or partner either.
Read my post on how to create your personal dream team.
Every minute is precious, so enjoy it! Being in the here and now is very important. I see a lot of people who constantly think ahead or dwell on past mistakes, and that really isn’t a good use of time. Life has taught me that the first decision often is the best one. If you have a big decision to make then by all means do your research, but don’t waste time wondering whether every little detail will be perfect. It won’t be – but that doesn’t matter because it’ll be as good as it can be. Perfect is boring anyway, so just get one with it and get things done. I have been there soooo many times. Going over a performance or a choreography to teach. Now I simply set a side a set amount of time to do the job. If it’s not quite right then I’ll leave it and revisit again shortly before the event. That way I save a lot of time and energy.
There are many ways to waste ones time – the most obvious one being on TV and social media. I hardly watch TV these days and I only spend a couple of minutes each day on Facebook, Instagram and other social networks. But time wasters can also be people. I’m sure you know what I mean…. I used to have a neighbour like that, and although she was lovely, she would always corner me at my busiest time and talk to me for ages. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t like to be rude to people and it’s very rare that I meet people that I don’t like, but sometimes you just can’t chat for hours about the weather, so I decided that I wouldn’t. If I’m now in a hurry, I simply tell people that I only have ‘X amount’ of minutes. I don’t watch my clock all the time, but I do stick to my own time ratio and then move on. It’s surprising how quickly people can cut to the chase when you tell them that they basically have to. On days when I have more time, then I will stand and talk about this and that or even pop in to my neighbour with a slice of homemade cake!
Procrastination is another big way to waste your time, and on next week’s blog I’ll share my 3 best tips for avoiding it and being more productive.
How do you balance your dance/work/family life? Have you got any tips that you’d like to share? Let me know by leaving a comment below.
Happy and beautiful dancing – always 🙂
Did you miss my last post? Read it here: The ultimate core strengthening exercise