Packing for a weekend getaway with children is always stressful. What if I forget something? Luckily, there’s typically a drug store or “big box” type of place nearby where we can quickly shop for a forgotten toothbrush or extra underwear!
But, when you’re packing for a dance competition outside of your city, the essentials go beyond toiletries and bathing suits. You likely won’t be able to easily replace costumes, hair pieces, and shoes.
Take for example this horror story from my dear friend (ok — I realize this isn’t a regular person’s idea of a horror story, but for a dance mom, this is the ultimate fear!). She packed up the family for a dance competition in Canada. Getting through airport security, keeping the kids occupied on the flight, and landing and navigating to the hotel was super stressful — but they made it without a hitch! Then, they unpacked. And her daughter’s Dreamy Dancers shoes were nowhere. to. be. found. Dreamy Dancers are so unique with their chunky glitter that a comparable dazzling replacement could not be found at the local dance shop.
So, she placed a distressed phone call to a friend back home, who of course didn’t have a key to their house (this problem has since been solved!). This friend ended up breaking into their house, locating the Dreamy Dancers, and overnighting them to Canada. The shoes arrived the day before the competition and her daughter’s performance and costuming went off perfectly! But let me tell you, there were some frantic texts and Facebook messages going back and forth trying to figure out a solution!
Another, more common, worse-case scenario is simply just the tension of traveling for a high-stakes dance competition. The dancers are excited, but tired, stressed, and experiencing a range of powerful little girl emotions. These feelings definitely impact the dancer’s confidence and focus, which just takes the fun out of the experience.
I’m a huge proponent of checklists that include the essential items that you need. The first thing I pack is my daughter’s competition-related items; first, I lay it all out on the floor, then I double check it against my check list, then I immediately pack it and cross it off my to-do list. This way I know I have all the tights, shoes, costumes, and makeup and they’re all safely packed away until we depart. If you’re flying to your competition destination, be sure to pack all of the dance gear into your carry-on! Never, ever check this bag on a plane.
After packing, I make time to sit down with my daughter, usually the night before we leave, and have a heart-to-heart discussion about her feelings and what she’s most excited and most nervous about. It’s a great time to assuage any fears so that you can focus on getting through the stress of travelling and settling in the next day. I give her some tools to handle potentially tough emotional tension that’s inevitable in a dance team so that she can lead with confidence and be a good friend and teammate.
Keep an open mind and know that something will happen to put a wrench in your plans, whether it’s big or small. Being prepared for the worst will make it much easier to mentally deal with the issue!