The First Year As A Dance Mom

Dance mom. It’s still  a little weird to describe myself as such, but after our first year of dance and with the registration turned in for next year’s classes, I think it’s official… I’m a dance mom. So what does that mean, and how did our first year go? These are great questions that several people have asked me throughout the year, so here’s a quick look at the first year as a dance mom.

The First Year as a Dance Mom | Houston Moms Blog

On picking a dance studio…

I didn’t do much research when choosing a studio, but I did ask my fellow mommy friends and went with one that was highly recommended. I honestly went in blind and lucked out because we’ve had a really great experience thus far. I now know that some studios focus on different types and levels of dance and that some studios’ routines, costume choices, and rules may not align with the dance experience you had in mind, so it’s important to research these things before choosing a studio.

On the cost…

There will be a monthly fee based on how many hours of dance you’re signing your little one up for. In our case we signed up for a 30 minute beginning ballet class and paid about $60 a month. There will also be added costs if your studio, like most, does a recital at the end of the year. Most of these costs were spread out through the year, and some are optional – which I found to be helpful and very budget friendly. The added costs we experienced were: costume fee {mandatory}, recital fee {mandatory}, pictures {optional}, DVD recording of performance {optional}, recital t-shirts {optional}, and recital flowers {optional}. You will also have an initial investment in leotards, tights, and a pair of ballet shoes.

On starting them young…

We started my daughter a few months after her second birthday. She had already participated in gymnastics and swimming lessons, so we had some previous experience with her and extracurricular activities before beginning dance. I knew that she would be fine without me or her dad in the room and that she would actually probably behave better without us in there, and I was right. She walked in, picked out a pink tutu, and never looked back. Have there been times when her behavior was questionable? Sure, she’s a toddler, and luckily she wasn’t alone in having an off day every now and then. Her teacher is a saint, and I really don’t know how she does it. Not only does the class listen to her ninety percent of the time, but they are actually ready for their recital this weekend. They may not do everything perfectly, but I’m seriously impressed with what each of them have learned over the past year. I can safely say I never thought my two-year-old would even know how to say arabesque much less how to do it on command after eight months of dance lessons. Heck, I didn’t even know what that was until a few months ago. All that to say, if you think your little one is ready, go for it!  And if not, then there’s always next year.

On the makeup…

This section might not be a concern for every mama out there, but it is/was for me. This kind of falls under the category of picking a studio, but because it struck such a chord with me, I thought I’d give it its own section. For our studio, makeup was suggested for pictures and is highly recommended for the recital because of the stage lights. Nothing extreme was suggested, just some lipstick, blush, and mascara. As someone who has struggled with the societal beauty expectations placed upon women, I was conflicted on what to do. I talked it over with several of my friends and family members and was reassured that it’s just a part of their costume and goes hand in hand with the ballet and dance world in general. And while I think this is true, I still think it’s kind of ridiculous to suggest makeup for two-year-olds.  That being said, when we took her pictures last week, I did let her wear the tiniest bit of blush and some pink chapstick. I decided that was all I was comfortable with and that’s what I will do for her recital this weekend as well. As she gets older that may change, but for now I don’t want to see her with a full face of makeup in pictures or on stage, washed out from the lights or not.

On other dance moms…

The reality tv show really gives dance moms a negative image, and that wasn’t my experience at all. I realize this is only our first year and our children are still very young, but I actually made some great friends this year. At first we just fawned over how cute our kids were, but when the teacher stopped letting us watch practice, we sat in the front of the studio and became friends. I look forward to seeing each of them every week, and hopefully all of our girls will be in the same class again next year. They’ve watched my youngest daughter go from being a newborn to almost one, two announced their pregnancies to us in that studio, and one sold her house and is moving on to a new adventure. So don’t let that show scare you away because you could be missing out on a whole new set of mom friends to help do life with you.

So there you have it. This new dance mom had a great first year experience. Not only did my daughter have fun, learn new things, and make new friends, but I did too. So, if you’re on the fence about signing your kiddo up, my advice would be to go for it. Do your research, find a great studio, and then just have fun watching your little one learn and grow!

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Mandy is a former Army brat born and raised in the great state of Texas. She has an undergraduate degree in Business Management and a Master’s degree in Business Finance from Texas Tech University; she currently works as a Tax Accountant in Downtown Houston. In 2005 Mandy met her husband Travis while visiting her parents in Virginia. He took her breath away and followed her back to Texas as quickly as he could. Travis and Mandy shared seven adventurous years of married life before bringing their daughters into the world, Amelia {July 2013} and Evelyn {Sept 2015}. Mandy loves Jesus, country music, Instagram, the sunshine and all things water -- the beach is her happy place. She writes about her experiences as a working wife and mother at Letters to Amelia. Follow along in Mandy's daily life on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

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