For many young dancers, it wouldn’t be possible to grow and thrive in their dance journey without love and support from their mom or parent figure. So, with Mother’s Day fast approaching, we wanted to take a moment to celebrate the backbone of the dance community – the parents.
As well as chatting to our own dance community, we spoke to 1,000 parents of 4-16-year-olds to determine how much time they dedicate to their children’s hobbies and whether it’s all worth it (spoiler alert – it is!).
How much time do parents spend on dance and other hobbies?
To get started, we wanted to find out just how much time moms spend taking their children to and from events, hobbies, and classes. We found the average parent figure spends 2.72 hours a week just getting kids to and from their activities – which works out as a huge 141 hours a year and an impressive 1,839 hours over an entire childhood from 4 to 16 – that’s 77 days straight!
Of course, for those who choose to pursue dance to a professional level, this means much more time dedicated by the dancers and their parents. As well as their own moms, young dancers also often rely on a community of dance moms for support. One dancer told us:
“My stage school was 30 minutes away from where I lived, so both my parents, but particularly my mom, would spend two hours a day, five or six days a week commuting me to and from my classes. My mom would make all my costumes, some of which could take around 10 hours alone to fully cover a leotard bodice in tiny sequins. My mom took me to most of my competitions, and would watch me in every section I was in. As I got older, I became more independent as my mom worked full time as a teacher and couldn’t take time off during term time to take me to competitions, so I would stay with other dance moms. Nevertheless, when a competition fell during a school holiday, my mom would always give up her holiday time to be there and travel the length of the country to competitions, which could sometimes be five to six hours away.”
Even when under pressure from work, many dancers remember their moms being their number one supporter. Another dancer told us:
“As my mom raised us, she did all the driving to and from dance classes, including competitions and shows. I always remember my mom being the mom at dance shows the one who made costumes and altered them and the mom who took my classmates when their parents couldn't. She did all this while working 35 plus hours a week.”
What are the benefits of sports and dance for children?
While children’s hobbies clearly take up a lot of mom’s valuable time, our study found the results are more than worth it.
As well as the physical benefits and confidence boost that comes from being active and learning new skills, afterschool activities such as dance class help strengthen the bond between parent and child.
Of the moms we spoke to, over 8 in 10 (86%) said they look forward to the time they spend with their children when traveling to and from classes. The reason? In this day and age, it’s difficult to get quiet, alone time with children; time away from a screen where parents and children can openly communicate. The hours spent traveling with children allows that.
When traveling to and from classes,
- 78% of moms said they find their child to be more open and honest when talking
- 7 in 10 (70%) say they love spending time traveling to and from classes with their child
- 76% find it easier to talk to their children
- 6 in 10 (59%) said they have the most in-depth conversations during this time
- 61% said they have their child(ren)’s full attention
- 67% feel like their child has a lot to tell them after attending classes
So, rather than seeing the time spent ferrying kids to and from their hobbies as time wasted, embrace it! We spoke to developmental psychologist and Certified Family Life Educator, Kate Monahan, who backed this up, explaining the value of quality time spent traveling to and from hobbies with children:
“Spending time traveling to and from afterschool hobbies is never wasted time. When parents support their children's interests, by traveling to and from events, parents show with their actions that they care about their child and support their passions. Plus, during periods of time without direct eye contact, such as in the car, children are more open and honest communicators. This means that travel times are beautiful moments of disclosure and deep conversation. These two facts together help build a close, positive relationship with parents and their child.”
How do I help my children find the best hobby for them?
There are countless benefits to signing your children up for afterschool activities, whether that be sport, drama or dance. But with so many options out there, how do you know which is best for your child?
We spoke to Gino Parisi, a therapist at Counselling Services Wales, who told us it’s important to let your child decide for themselves which hobbies they’d like to do. While we know hobbies come with countless benefits for parents and children alike, you should be careful not to push children into hobbies they aren’t happy with. Gino explains:
“Quality time spent with children is so important for their development. But what is quality time? This means things that children like to do and not just what parents think they will like or have decided is best for them.
It is important to give children free will in what they want to do. This includes hobbies—parents should ask their children what they may be interested in and not presume what they will like. So, allow your children to explore and find out for themselves. This may change weekly until they find out what they like doing. Enjoying a hobby together is a great way to bond. It says to the child, "I am interested in you, and I want to be with you, it's fun being with you!" It validates children and will build their self-esteem.”
Of course, if your children are interested in getting started with dance, you’ve come to the right place! From How to Get Ready for Dance Class to What to Expect at Your First Pointe Shoe Fitting, our dance advice and education section is packed with all the information you need to prepare them for their dance journey.