Okay, I'm going to get real sappy for a moment. If you have followed us for any length of time, you have probably seen us refer to our "dance family", but few of you know the depth of that term and what it really means to us and how it led us to starting Dancetastic Dancewear. So put up with me for a few and let me share a little bit of why dance means so much to us.
Let me back up quite a bit. My kiddo started dancing at age three and by age five was part of her studio's competition team. She loved it and couldn't get enough of the classes and rehearsals. She was so excited for that very first competition. We've all been there. So afraid they'll mess up or that you'll forget to pack something important. It's exciting, but so overwhelming!
That first competition was in January, so her father and I loaded up the car and drove up to Indianapolis. My daughter was beside herself and told me more than once that her team was going to "win" the whole competition. Even though it was just two short little dances, I don't have to explain that feeling of watching your child on stage doing what they love.
That feeling was extremely short lived as her father had a massive heart attack that night and died in our hotel room. Two of my fellow dance moms stayed up with me that night, one of them got her parents to drive my mother up that night so I wouldn't be alone for the drive home the next day. These were people that in all honesty, I had only spoken to twice a week during our kids rehearsals. It wasn't like they were friends from high school or anything, but they immediately stepped up and there was the feeling that I was one of their own.
The compassion of my fellow dance moms and dads didn't stop there. They went out of their way to help us through that first year and so many dance dads stepped forward from time to time when needed. It's all those little things you don't think about at the time. I mean, every plan I had for the next few years, the next few months, even the next few days changed that night. I didn't know if I'd be able to keep our house, let alone who to call when a tree fell over the driveway or who was going to take my daughter to all those father daughter events.
I didn't have to think about some of it because the other dance parents were there. They became our family, and dance became my daughter's way to cope with the crazy turn her life made. They showed so much patience when she'd want to call home during sleepovers to make sure everyone was still alive (yes, literally). Her dance teachers helped distract her during all those firsts...The first birthday after, the first Christmas after, and yes even the following year going back to that same competition.
So years later, when we decided to open Dancetastic, it wasn't just to sell dancewear and shoes. It was to share what dance has grown to mean to us. They way it helped us through the worst time of our life and made family out of strangers. So when we refer to our dance family, it's not some catch phrase, we mean it...deeply. That's my sappy sharing moment for the day.
(Copied from our newsletter)
This is a personal issue for me as my own kiddo does not fit the ideal for a dancer type body. She is tall compared to her teammates (even though at school she is one of the shortest in her freshman class) and has an hourglass shape most teen girls dream of. Traditionally, if she wanted to be serious about dance, her life would be dominated by diets trying to make herself rail thin.
I frequently hear it when out shopping for regular clothes with my daughter. If she mentions that she's a dancer to people, we often hear "I never would have guessed, you don't look like a dancer". (Yeah, rude much?)
The dance world is changing though. More and more, there seems to be a shift to healthy and strong bodies. Dancewear now comes in a wider size range and lengths and the girls that come into our store have a very "body positive" attitude. I rarely overhear talk of extra pounds they need to shed and instead hear things like the perfect set of turns they did in class or how excited they are about an upcoming performance.
Dance Spirit magazine did a wonderful article about this very subject and you can read it here.
Dance offers so many health benefits both physically and mentally, it is so wonderful to see the inclusion of strong bodies. The simple reality is good or bad, we are all judged on our appearance. I am so thankful for dance giving my daughter the confidence to be comfortable in her own skin during those crazy teenage years.
Strong = Beautiful
This is the last part of our series about being a Dance Mom on a Budget. If you missed any of the previous parts, you can catch up through the links below.
Part One Tuition
Part Two Competition Fees
Part Three Travel Expenses
For our last installment, we will be looking at ways to cut the cost of dancewear and shoes. This goes from class basics to the staples needed for your competition bag.
Booster Club - I can't stress this enough. If your studio doesn't have a booster club, look into getting one set up. Anything that is required for class such as shoes, tights, leotards, and hair pins and nets can be purchased with booster funds.
Credit Card Cash Back - I know a few moms that use cash back bonuses from a credit card to lower dancewear costs. The card they use is for dance items only and they pay it off immediately, but with the money they get back it adds up to a small discount.
Dancewear Sales - Most dancewear stores (including Dancetastic Dancewear) run sales from time to time. Try to stock up when items you use are on sale, even if you don't need them yet. Also check with local studios as they often have used dancewear sales where you can pick up some real bargains!
Group Orders - Dancetastic Dancewear works with studios placing large orders and depending on the items and brands needed, can sometimes offer discounts up to 40% off when placed in one large order. Another option is the Eurotard Dress Code Solution which offers 5% back on all purchases when a studio enrolls.
Loyalty Programs - Wherever you purchase your dancewear, check for a loyalty program of some sort. Dancetastic Dancewear has one for every $200 you spend, you get $10 off your next purchase. This is especially helpful when purchasing shoes and dancewear for the new dance year.
We hope you enjoyed our series and we would love to know your ideas for how to be a Dance Mom on a Budget!
Hotels.com - This is my personal favorite because my daughter's dance team does several competitions out of town. The prices are usually comparable (unless the competition has reserved a hotel block at a special price) and with their rewards program, you can earn a free night after 10 stays. Your team doesn't travel that much? Have several moms go in together on one hotels.com account, reserve the rooms together, split the cost, and then when you reach the reward and go to use it on the next competition stay, you can reserve together again and split the cost and everyone benefits from the reward.
HotelTonight.com - This one is not for the faint of heart. This is traveling to a destination without a hotel reservation and trusting that you will be able to find something once your there. From the hotel tonight website: HotelTonight is an online travel app that allows users to find discounted hotel accommodations throughout the Americas, Europe and Australia. Due to the last minute nature of the bookings, the app can offer deep discounts off the listed hotel rate. Since its launch in 2010, HotelTonight has been downloaded by more than 15 million users.
Several of the national hotel chains also offer a rewards program including Hyatt, Marriott, Hilton, and many others. If you have a favorite chain, go to their website and look for any rewards program that they might offer.
Another huge expense when traveling is meals. You have to eat, but how can you keep it from breaking the bank?
Breakfast - I always suggest staying at a hotel that offers free breakfasts, but if that is not a possibility, You can always fall back on prepackaged donuts, breakfast rolls, or the standby Pop Tarts. If that doesn't sound appealing, a cooler full of frozen breakfast bowls, sandwiches, or sausages could be the answer. As long as you have access to a microwave, there is no need to go without a hot breakfast.
Lunch - If you are at the competition during lunch, there is no need to rely on snack food or the expensive treats served at the concession stands. You can pack a lunch just as you would for school or a picnic. If you are lucky enough to be at the hotel for lunch, hot dogs, hamburgers, soup, bacon (BLT's), or any frozen dinners can be made in the microwave.
Dinner - Much like lunch at the hotel, dinners at the hotel can be most anything that can be microwaved. Spaghetti noodles can be cooked ahead of time, drained and put in a ziplock bag, and then ran under hot water to reheat. Sauce can be heated in the microwave. There are several rice or macaroni cups than can be the perfect side dish to frozen burgers or hot dogs, and vegetables can always be heated in the microwave.
If you go this route, I strongly suggest a trip to the dollar store for cheap glass bowls and plates for heating things. Disposable plates and utensils are available there as well. Your largest expense here will be coolers, but even the cheap foam ones get the job done really well.
I hope you enjoyed the third part in our series. Look for the fourth and final part next week!
Last week I introduced part one in our Dance Mom on a Budget series by looking at ways you could save on tuition costs. If you missed it, you can still read it here. This week, we are taking a look at another money suck…Competition Fees.
Competition fees can range from a minimal fee for a group dance to a couple hundred dollars for a solo. So how do you cut costs without cutting dances?
FlipGive.com – We went over the benefits of this program last week, but long story short, you make money by shopping online at your favorite stores. You can learn more here.
Booster Club—A booster club is a great way to organize fundraising and take some of the bite out of dance expenses. A well run booster club can provide funds for competition fees, dancewear, shoes, hotels, and more. If your studio doesn’t have one, consider starting one ASAP.
Credit Cards—Believe it or not, a credit card can actually help you cut costs. Look for one with no interest for an extended period and one that offers cashback for purchases. Pay off any balances as soon as the bill comes in and take advantage of the cash back discounts.
Eurotard’s Dress Code Solution—One easy way to earn extra money for competition fees is through Eurotard’s Dress Code Solution. Your studio signs up at Eurotard.com, selects their dress code (can also select the entire catalog), and then dancers earn 5% cash back on any purchases. So, when you’re buying tights, leotards, or jazz shoes, you are earning back 5% of what you spend.
Check back with us next week for the third part in our series!
I wouldn’t trade my years as a dance mom for anything. I relished every minute of it, the rehearsals, the performances, all of it. But I also know how financially draining it can be.
Over the years, I’ve developed several ways to support my daughter’s passion for dance and I’m going to share them in this four-part series. So, let’s get started!
No doubt, the largest expense of dance is your child’s tuition. Depending on their level of involvement, this can range from around one hundred dollars a month to almost equaling a mortgage payment. To take some of the bite out of it, all you have to do is get a little creative with your financing.
FlipGive.com – This is an awesome site that allows you to earn back a percentage of what you spend. The earning can vary from 5-20% and you can share the information with family and friends. You earn a percentage of what is spent and can then use those earnings toward your child’s dance tuition. All you have to do:
Ebates.com - Another way to reduce the expense is to use Ebates.com. Get up to 40% Cash Back at over 2,500 stores. No points. No fees. No forms. Stores pay Ebates a commission for sending you their way, and Ebates shares the commission with you as Cash Back. All you have to do is:
Now this is by no means a complete list, but most of us are shopping online anyway, so why not put some of that money back in our pockets and toward our child’s dance education? I would love to hear some of your ideas for taking the sting out of those tuition payment! Comment below or on our Facebook Page with your favorite!
Also watch for Part Two of our series next week!
Every dance mom knows that feeling. It's the looming sense that you forgot something, that you're running late, or maybe that fear that you read the schedule wrong and you're in the entirely wrong city.
I'm talking about the mix of emotions and stress that accompany every dance competition and make us wonder exactly why we put ourselves through this. I mean, do the kids really enjoy it THAT much. (I know the answer is a resounding yes, but logic and reality have no place in dance mom panic mode)
So what do you do? Start drinking right away and just try to make it through it? Plaster on a smile and go to your "happy place"? Calm down, while I'm not opposed to either of these methods, you can relieve some of that fear and anxiety by creating and following a checklist.
Our friends at Covet Dance have created a wonderful one that you can download or even better get their app so that you can have an interactive one directly on your phone!
Dance Competition Checklist
So what's a dance mom to do? Throw the bag in the trunk? Bad news, that just concentrates the smell to one area and makes for a desperate game of "Not It" to retrieve it or anything else from the trunk.
There are several remedies on the market from sneaker balls (didn't work on my kiddo's bag), to sachets (you could almost hear the shoes laughing at the attempt), and a spray I sell in store called "Stink Free" (works really well if you do it often enough).
What is your go to method for dealing with stinky dance shoes and dance bags?
Christmas is a time for family and friends, but it is also Nutcracker season! Bring a little bit of that magic into your home with our favorite Nutcracker crafts for the season!
Nutcracker Inspired Earrings
A simple craft with just a few supplies from your local craft store. A perfect handmade gift for the dancer in your life.
Nutcracker Wooden Spoons
Bring some Nutcracker fun into your kitchen by painting some wooden spoons (very cheap at Wal-Mart) to look like Nutcrackers. Maybe take it one step further and add all the main characters!
Life Size Nutcracker
This one is our very favorite, but not for the faint of heart! You can find instructions at http://jameschristmasdecorationcraft.blogspot.com/2015_07_01_archive.html
We hope you enjoyed these quick nutcracker crafts and have an amazing holiday with your family and friends!
As several of our studios here in New Albany and the surrounding areas prepare for their holiday recitals, now would be a great time to share our recital checklist!
You can download it HERE
Dance Recital Checklist
Dance Costumes (List by Song)
Costume Accessories (Also Props, by Song)
o Flesh Tone/Beige/Caramel
o Extra Flesh Tone/Beige/Caramel
o Extra Pink
o Dance Specific Tights (i.e. Fishnets, Footless)
o Extra Dance Specific Tights
o Hair Barrettes
o Tap Shoes
o Jazz Shoes Tan
o Jazz Shoes Black
o Ballet Shoes
o Pointe Shoes
o Lyrical Shoes
o Hair Ties
o Hair Pins
o Bobby Pins
o Hair Nets
o Bun Donuts or Bun Maker
o Eye Shadow
o Eye Liner
o Lip Liner
o Lip Gloss
o Spray Glitter
o Feminine Products
o Baby Wipes
o Baby Powder
o Safety Pins
o Healthy Snack
o Water Bottle
o Change of Clothes