Evenin’ all. Something that has been increasingly on my mind is the productivity with which mothers deliver their duties. This is a universal observation and something not unique to a Dance Mama, but nevertheless the difference I notice in productivity since coming back to work as a Mum is interesting. Particularly long hours that are usually unsociable is the norm on planet dance.
BC (before children), I would quite happily stay at work ‘til 6pm, 7pm, 8pm more at night, toiling away on a schedule or spreadsheet. Nowadays, my days are 10am – 4pm in the office, mic-dropping on the dot to get my train. This is mainly down to the fact of the astronomical charge of £1 per minute if I am late to pick up child 2 from nursery. Surprisingly, this is something that I completely agree with. It is fairly bleak to be left at the stagnant end of a theatre trip with one or two young dancers waiting patiently to be picked up. Especially in winter.
However, dance folk ain’t about the money, so wages are not high. I remember explaining this to a rather fantastic colleague without kids who was horrified that if I missed my train I could lose almost a day’s pay. FACT. Ergo, time-management becomes of paramount importance. But d’ya know what, in dance, this is really healthy. I often speak of the dangers of the exploitation of passion, either by oneself or by others, and asserting your boundaries can be tough when everyone wants to put 200% behind an artistic ideal – often at the expense of our wellbeing. It is really up to us all, with families or not, to feel empowered to assert boundaries for ourselves. I am pleased to say, my work fully supports me on this.
It is really up to us all, with families or not, to feel empowered to assert boundaries for ourselves.
So, like many working parents, here’s a run-down of an average day (for some of you this could be straight from your diary, or may be enlightening. Either way, I’m happy!):
6.45am Alarm of at least one child calling out or crying goes off. Unavoidable so must get up.
6.45 am Get breakfast for all, get children changed (including a nappy), do child 1’s hair OR have a shower and get self changed
7.30am Continue with previous task with at least one person crying and attempt to be-shoe children and check bags (packed the night before)
7.50am Attempt to leave house no. 1 – will involve a lot of coaxing and/or wrangling
7.55am Attempt to leave house no. 2 – will involve going back for a water bottle/ house keys/ phone with at least one person will be crying (myself included).
8am Chase child 2 around the car before getting entire circus into car
8.10am Drop child 1 at school breakfast club
8.25am Drop child 2 at nursery
8.45am Park car at station car park for some extortionate fee. Get train into London (work on train – ah, the quiet)
9.40am Buy emergency coffee to maintain morale and maintain awakened state
10am Arrive into work
4pm Leave work
4.15pm Return train journey (work on train)
5.00pm Pick up car
5.10pm Pick up child 1 from afterschool club
5.25pm Pick up child 2 from nursery
5.45pm Cook tea/ unpack bags/check for homework
6.30pm Bath time (think gale force shipping trawler and you're close)
6.45pm Bedtime story complete with human climbing frame and Fawlty Towers style chase around bedrooms and reading practice
7 – 8pm Various attempts to settle/calling out from both children
8pm Ideally ‘clock off’ from parenting duties but invariably get interrupted with further demands for food/water/cuddles/ Sellotape (Child 1 is very industrious)
9pm Actual ‘clocking off’/ collapse in front of a box set
10.30pm Bed ready to get up and do it all again the next day and pray that there are no overnight wake-ups
Time is our greatest commodity – spend it wisely.
My point here is to show you what my schedule looks like 3 days of the week, but not in a way that asks for sympathy, for you to feel sorry for me or be annoyed as you may do this 5 or 6 days a week. Its purpose is to give you a snapshot of how someone like me (and millions of other working parents) ‘makes it work’.
In a week where we have celebrated #mentalhealthawarenessday and #dayofthegirl , I am proud to have the freedom of operating with this level of scheduling and intensity to assert my right to work, in an industry that I love, and hopefully (although it fluctuates) in a balanced way so that I can fulfil my parenting duties as I wish and can look after myself. Time is our greatest commodity – spend it wisely.
I’m curating a break out session at One Dance UK’s conference in Leeds on 23/24 November more info to come, but check out the info here: