Well, 2019 has been a bit stop and start for me so far. My family has been doing pass-the-parcel with winter bugs and last week it was my second turn. An upside was making the discovery that watching back-to-back episodes of Grace & Frankie is actually an additional cure to tonsillitis.
My duvet days last week have been a good reminder to me of the challenges working families face with the dreaded lurgy. It’s particularly bleak if, like many of us, you are self-employed. Taking a day off for yourself of your children immediately impacts your progress and earnings. And, if your anything like me, your inner-critic is really furious you had to reschedule a meeting and disappoint someone else. Ooh, dance folk have amazingly loud inner-critics, and this where I the dancer mentality can trip up this #dancemama.
Dance Mamas have been conditioned to strive for perfection from a very young age, and if anything, parenthood is the antithesis of this. I once went to a workshop with The Artist’s Way author, Julia Cameron, who asked us to write down who our inner critic sounded like and give them a name – hers was called ‘Nigel’. Whenever Nigel questioned Julia's creativity, she told him ‘Thank you, Nigel. Now $&@% off.’ I feel this is a top tip, as Nige does seem to be highly active in reconciling your dancer expectations versus parental reality.
So how to overcome this? Move those expectations.
So how to overcome this? Move those expectations. On a good day, I aim to draw upon my choreography and creative task-setting experience of thinking of shifting my mindset to seeing life as an improv session. I try to harness my creativity to problem-solve, remember that obstacles are redirection, and apply these concepts to the ‘house of cards’ of family logistics (as Edel Quin describes here).
This positive use of skills is not always the first instinct Dance Mamas have when faced with this challenge. Most dancers have been encouraged to push past pain/ignore it in the past, and as parents we often put their childrens' needs ahead of our own at our own expense. One Dance UK had a great campaign #dancersneedrest back in 2014 which raised awareness of the importance of rest for dancers, underpinned by dance science evidence. This is a great one to revisit to silence your inner Nige.
Where can I put in the rest periods, rather than have them ambush me?
Finally, duvet days are your body’s way of giving you time to take stock of what is going on and re-evaluate. I’m now asking myself where can I put in the rest periods, rather than have them ambush me? What can I do to ease myself back into the work zone?
So, I’m giving myself a do-over (and invite you to do also if you have been under a duvet) and use today’s Chinese New Year (year of the pig) as the real start to 2019! Here’s to healthier one :)