Competition and recital days are a lot like birthdays and major holidays (that involve lots of presents and sweet treats): The excitement is high, but your daughter is guaranteed to crash at some point.
Just like avoiding boredom, avoiding meltdowns and keeping your daughter “ON!” is a delicate dance of our own. Do too much and she’ll burn out; do too little and she’ll zone out. When we prep for a competition, I keep these things in mind to ensure the day runs smoothly:
- I Need to Stay Calm. When I get flustered, annoyed, bored, or cranky — so will my daughter. I do everything I can to keep my energy up and to create a light-and-airy vibe. Yeah, I know, it’s not easy when you’re stressed out during make-up time and making sure you packed all the right things. But, we’re moms! If anyone can fake it ‘til you make it, we can.
- Pack a Variety of Toys. As I mentioned in my “Tips to Stave Off Boredom” blog, I always bring a variety of interesting toys and activities that are different than what we play with at home. I pack coloring books and stickers that are *only* used for dance competition and recital days to keep that excitement level up!
- Snack Wisely. It is realllly tempting to give in to letting your daughter eat candy and soda to keep up her energy level. But, honestly, just don’t do it. Not only is it unhealthy and will definitely interrupt a normal bedtime routine, but it’s a trick that your daughter’s little body just doesn’t need. Don’t teach her bad habits or she’ll subconsciously reach for sugar whenever she’s feeling stressed or tired later in life. I’m not above giving some candy or soda occasionally, but it’s just not worth having my daughter associate those sugary foods with performance and energy. Instead, keep her well-fed with nutritious, high-energy foods like peanut butter (or nut-free butter, which also has a decent amount of protein), granola bars, cheese, hard-boiled eggs, and fruit.
- Stick to a Routine. Your little dancer may have trouble sleeping the night before a performance — totally normal! However, do your best to keep a routine down. If your competition is at a hotel, it’s tempting to hang out at the pool for long hours. But resist the urge to do so until AFTER the competition. Having her emit a similar amount of energy as a normal day will help neutralize her boredom and over-excitement on dance day.
- Play Games. This goes back to #1 on my list — You. If you can keep the energy high by having a casual dance party with your fave music, or a freeze dance competition, or Simon Says, you are keeping your little one in a playful mood.
When you keep things as close to normal as possible, your daughter’s energy levels and mood will stabilize. It’s worth it to build in breaks throughout the day that are solely focused on your daughter’s wants and needs, instead of what the competition is demanding at the time. When the family and team is focused on fun, it makes it easier to keep the momentum up!