bellydance by Amartia, baltimore bellydancer, bellydancer baltimore, busy mom

In this day and age, society places so many expectations on us it can leave little room for activities, like dance.  In my case, I work a full-time job that takes me completely away from the dance scene, except for the occasional check-in on facebook or email.  Then, I drive my hour and a half home, pick up my child from after school care, do the dinner thing, do the homework thing, and if there is time we might actually get to a bath. It all starts again the next morning at 5:00am.  All and any responsibilities that can wait a few days automatically fills the weekend.  So, when do I dance?  Great question!

As hard as it can be at times, there IS time for dance.  If your schedule is anything like mine, then you may feel like you don’t have time even to read this blog.  That is why I have created a quick and easy “Busy Woman’s Guide To Finding Dance Time.”

1. Learn how to say no.  With dance, this can be hard because a big part of your success can sometimes be measured by your involvement in the dance community.  You want to support other dancers as much as you would want to be supported.  To gain supportive relationships one must have the availability to help at an event, help another dancer with a routine, rally the troupes to go see a hafla or recital, etc…  And you can still do that, but you have to know when is too much and say “no.”  Let go of the fear that if you do say no, you will never again be asked to be a part of another event.  If you are able to show support when you can, it will be appreciated, even if it’s not every single time.

2. Make time for you and keep it. Plan something for you (a hair apt., dinner with a friend, etc.) and then block that time off as if it were jury duty.  It is not a time that you could do something for you unless something more important comes along.  Keeping time for you is important because the less you have it, the more you need it.

3. Support goes both ways.  Have a supportive boyfriend/husband?  That’s awesome!  Not everyone has that.  I can say for certain that my husband will watch our son and take on extra responsibilities so that I have time to dance, because he knows that I will have no problem taking responsibilities when that football game comes on that he’s been talking about all week.  If you have someone who can help with tasks to help free up your time, make sure you do the same for them.

4. Use the commute.  My work commute is horrendous; we’ll leave it at that.  But, I have been using that time in my car to learn music, to listen to and learn zill patterns, to listen to a book on tape about the Middle Eastern culture.  Even though you are not physically dancing, you can still advance in your dance success in other ways.

5. Involve your friends and family.  I have a 7-year-old son who wants my attention on him ALL THE TIME.  Sometimes, the only way I can dance is if he is involved in some way.  And hey, it’s kinda fun.  He has become my personal cheerleader and dance/life coach and I wouldn’t have it any other way.  Now, that doesn’t mean I won’t dance in the hall outside his bedroom after he’s gone to bed so that I can practice and not hear “Mommy, look at me.  Mommy, let’s go outside.  Mommy, is this supposed to come apart?”  I do what I can when I can.

As for friends, I have some very close friends who are not dancers and are supportive, but dance is not their life.  Involve them by inviting them to a show you are in and then go out to dinner and shopping.  This way, you can commit to a show AND spend quality time with your best buds.

6. Still have no time?  Make a long-term plan.  Write it down.  Great things DO happen to those who work hard.  Understand that when you have a lot going on in your everyday life, you will need to spread dance stuff out.  It’s okay to do that.

7. Class time?  HA HA HA!!  No seriously, I get that one.  When are you supposed to take dance classes to improve your technique when you are working late all the time, or when you are the one who has to pick up the kids from daycare and start dinner?  So, you can’t make classes right now.  That doesn’t mean you can’t sign up for an occasional workshop.  And by occasional, I mean it does not have to be every must-have workshop that comes along (see item number 2).  Sure, you’re not getting those weekly classes, but an occasional workshop means you are not falling farther and farther behind in your own personal dance goal.  Speaking of…

8. Your dance goal is yours and yours alone.  When you have a crazy schedule that makes it hard to find dance time, it’s a good idea to take a moment for a reality check (but not too long of a moment!).  You will not be able to match the goals of Miss Dancer Shinypants who seems to be able to meet every dance demand brought forth to her.  Make your own goals and don’t worry about anyone else’s.  You’re doing just fine.

9. Narrow it down.  Let’s face it, there is SO much to learn when it comes to Middle Eastern dance styles and culture, one could easily spend years on it.  Don’t get overwhelmed.  Pick ONE dance item to focus on at a time.  Make a list so you don’t forget the dance stuff that pops in your head that you want to do, like, tomorrow.  It will live on that list until you get to it.  Oh, and it’s okay to move items on the list around.

10. You are not a machine.  You are a human being who needs to take a break now and then.  So, let yourself do that.  Perhaps, instead of practicing dance (you had a hard day at work and you didn’t sleep well the night before) maybe chill on the couch for a little bit.  Hey!  Get out that dance video you’ve been meaning to watch and pop it in.

I want to thank Baltimore Belly Dancer, Bellydance by Amartia for this opportunity to be a guest blogger.  It did take me about two weeks to write this a little at a time, because I have no time.  But, it’s done!  And I feel good.