'You will always still be passionate about your work and want to do the best job but you will also need to find balance and switch off, enjoy quality time with your children.'
Mother of two. Pilates Instructor and Founder, BActivePilates
What is the most challenging aspect of working in dance and being a parent for you?
For me as a mum of two young boys, and being self employed as a Pilates instructor, it is often a challenge to find time for administration. I have a wish list in my head of resources and content I would like to create but because I am often out teaching and when I am at home it’s hard to find child free time to do admin, until they are in bed and then that’s my window of time. So I’m often on my laptop in the evenings. Whilst I try to make sure that when I am with the boys my sole focus is on them sometimes you need to respond to an enquiry, email, call, or do a quick social media post. I try to keep this to a minimum as I am lucky that I can now work my schedule and hours to suit school and term time but it also brings new challenges.
What support did you feel you had from work when you were pregnant?
During both of my pregnancies I was still employed alongside my self-employed work. I was very supported by my employer at the time, and was always granted the necessary time off needed to attend midwife appointments, scans and they took time to look at my workspace to minimise risks. During my first pregnancy I had gestational diabetes which initially proved quite stressful as I would need to regularly monitor my blood sugar levels whilst at work, and would sometimes get high readings. I am a very active person and towards the end of my pregnancy I was allowed to leave early to attend an antenatal swimming class so they were very flexible. Whilst I would often still work long hours on my feet the option would be made available to sit but I just preferred being standing and moving – the dancer in me!
Was there anything that may not have been in place that you felt could have been useful?
Not that I can think of. They even had a quiet room you could go to if you needed a moment of rest. Whilst I didn’t ever use it, it was great to know it was there.
Do you think being a dancer/ working in the dance industry made you think differently about your pregnancy/recovery?
Yes absolutely, I wanted to remain as active as possible throughout both on my pregnancies. With my first I stopped teaching early so I was able to maintain regular gym workouts and classes for myself. Many women are afraid to exercise in pregnancy, especially when its your first and your worried if it’s ok for baby, but being a dancer I felt I knew my own body and could make reasonable judgements to know when to stop and rest and not work myself to hard on any cardio activity and be breathless. I could still exercise and feel good but adapt. I was aware of my body changing. I’ve gone on to lead both antenatal and postnatal classes to help others stay mobile during pregnancy. I am so aware from being a dancer and Pilates instructor the extra strain on the body and how this can impact your alignment and posture, so wanted to help other women stay active and recover post pregnancy.
From your experience, what advice would you give to an expectant parent regarding leave?
Your priorities will change and shift. You will always still be passionate about your work and want to do the best job but you will also need to find balance and switch off, enjoy quality time with your children. Everyone always says time goes quickly when you have children and it really does, they are only little for so long, so cherish any leave you get, enjoy maternity leave. Take time to switch off from work.
If you were expected to dance postnatal (either by yourself or your employer) how did you approach your recovery?
I returned as an instructor rather than a performer so was able to build back up gently.
What changed most for you on your return to work?
After my first child I returned part time, instead of full time and sometimes this can make you feel like you miss out on some of the team events or key meetings. I returned as a job-share which was great that my employer welcomed this but it often meant that I had a lot to come in and catch up on before I could start actioning things. You then have to manage and juggle childcare, drop off, pick ups etc.
Does parenting help you in your work?
Yes. I think once you have experienced labour yourself and once you have your own family you can relate to the juggle others experience. I had always wanted to teach antenatal and postnatal Pilates for sometime but felt that I would be doing a disservice until I had experienced this myself. I can now relate to clients more having been pregnant and as a parent finding the time to exercise, attend a class and squeeze in ‘me time’.
Does dance help you in your parenting?
One of the key principles of Pilates is breathing and this has certainly helped when you might be feeling anxious, overwhelmed or tired - just taking a few moments to pause and breathe, reset and recharge.
Do you know of any resources that already exist for parents who work in dance?
Anything else you think would be worth raising?
As someone who trained in dance and as a teacher I also spent a number of years working in the dance sector producing a range of learning and participation projects and performances. This enabled me to work with such a breadth of people of all ages, schools, teachers and so many talented creative individuals. I learnt so many things during this time whilst working specifically with children, parents and families and feel that this helped shape the parent I want to be.
Now I’m on the other side where I get to experience taking my children to arts and cultural activities - all of the things I once organised. Now that I run my own Pilates business and home Pilates studio both my boys love getting involved and I try to be an active role model. My son aged 3 has often appeared in my weekly zoom classes online as he is always asking to join in and practice some of the moves. I work hard to make Pilates accessible to all and inspiring people to lead active healthy lives. I’ve recently been delivering Pilates workshops in schools to support the key stage 2 National Curriculum for PE to develop flexibility, strength, technique, control and balance. I’ve also work with corporate companies and businesses to enhance good posture and wellness in the workplace. I’m always excited to explore new collaborations in my work, but what’s most important is that I can watch my boys grow up and be there for them.
More about Bonnie
Bonnie Ruddock is a certified Pilates Instructor, with extensive experience working in the dance, education and events industry. Bonnie has previously been employed by East London Dance, The Royal Ballet, The University of Surrey and acted as a trustee to Dance Woking.
In 2016 after becoming a mum Bonnie launched her own classes BActivePilates with a passion to help others to enhance their posture and alleviate aches and pains through the practice of Pilates.