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Make the Most of Competition Weekend

Amidst all the stress and nervousness that a dance competition weekend brings, don’t forget to take some time to have fun! Typically, our entire household packs up and attends competitions to support Alessandra and her dance team. As a family, we gather with pride to watch her dance her little heart out on stage! Getting a child to a dance competition is truly a family effort: from driving to and from the dance studio, to encouraging practice time at home, to washing those dance tights very carefully, it feels like we’re ALL on stage when she is.

We take advantage of competition weekends to not only demonstrate our support of Alessandra, but to experience a mini-getaway with our family. While it’s important for the dancers to remain focused before they take the stage, having some fun activities planned helps to alleviate the moans of boredom from siblings and gives the dancer something to look forward to after she’s done competing.

Here’s my Tip List for making the most of competition weekend:

  1. Research Beforehand. Before we head out the door, we do some reconnaissance about the hotel and area where we’re staying. Since we know we have a tight competition schedule (usually, you aren’t sure what your Day 2 will look like until results from Day 1 are posted), we look for restaurants or activity areas that are within a 30-minute drive from our hotel. Look for the usual mini-golf places, movie theaters, and restaurants, but also visit the city’s Chamber of Commerce website to see if there are any festivals, parades, or other one-off events going on that weekend. 
  2. Make Your Hotel Home Base. Recognize that it is ambitious to get out into the town you’re in during a competition weekend. So many factors are in play that could change your plans (see #3 on how to deal with this!). Most hotels hosting competitions (or are on the competition’s “recommended” list if the event is not held at the hotel itself) have fun swimming pools and other amenities that appeal to travelling families. Head to the lobby restaurant with the whole family, or plan a Moms Only drink at the hotel bar while the kids stay with dad in their rooms. These are easy ways to have some fun in a different environment. 
  3. Don’t Tell the Kids. In the event of bad weather, an unusually tight competition schedule, or any post-competition meltdowns, just don’t tell the kids what you’re planning. Above all, the dance competition comes first! The worst thing you can do is disappoint the kids by having to cancel an outing. Instead, just let them know that something fun is planned after the show — whether that’s going to a drive-in movie theater or snuggling on the hotel bed with some snacks and a show.
  4. Just . . . Go to the Pool. As much as you may want to plan an interesting outside-the-hotel activity, the kids likely just want to go to the pool. Especially considering that it’s not just your family, but your extended dance team family, along for the ride, the pool is a popular spot to cool down and have fun after a tough day of competing. It gives the dancers a way to let loose and form bonds outside of the dance studio, and it gives siblings the opportunity to get to know one another as well — after all, there are likely many years of competing ahead! 

When you keep dance competition weekends light and airy, it will help your dancer relieve some anxiety about competing, and it gives your family a much-needed break away from the day-to-day. For our family, it’d be a rare occasion to just stay in a random hotel in a random town one weekend; dance competitions give us the opportunity to explore a new area and get some quality time together.