This week our elder is performing in her first ever dance show. I am, of course, hugely emotional about this, being a dancer myself. Alright, alright, so I'm also deluded. Not having danced professionally for 15 years probably means that should be ex-dancer!
It was the dress rehearsal last night. 1 parent with up to 3 children each, to dress, put ribbons in their hair, keep them quiet whilst waiting their turn, take them to the toilet when required and not lose any of them! It was fun, but I wasn't prepared at all! Although I've been involved in this kind of thing many times in the past, I have obviously never done it as a parent! So here's some tips that I've very quickly had to pick up, for when you find yourself responsible for a batch of children in a similar situation!
Firstly; ensure to pack snacks.
Not just any snacks. Chocolate covered fingers near a pristine white tutu isn't a good idea! Dried fruit seems to work well (raisins being my choice). You do have to watch out for the resulting greasy fingers though - which again, don't go well with Lycra! Bread sticks are a good plan. Bananas (but hold them yourself and allow only one bite at a time!). Bite-size sausage rolls. Drinks are needed too, but not blackcurrant! That's one stain you don't want to have to deal with. Flavoured waters are the best bet, colourless that is!
I totally forgot this at the dress rehearsal. And because the dress rehearsal also included official photographs, the waits were longer between dances. So I found myself telling the story of Aladdin to four 3 year olds, which quickly turned to a group of about 8 children, some of which were 6 or 7 years old. You need to be very clear about the details of the story you are telling if you've got a group that age. Every single tiny mistake is picked up! I kept them entertained alright, but it was hard work. For the actual show I'll be taking a story book and a portable DVD player! I'm pretty clear which one will be used, but the story book is mainly a back up in case we run out of battery power for the DVD player!
Thirdly: Costume organisation!
If ribbons are required in the hair, connect them to hair slides/grips before you even get there! Ensure ribbons for shoes are laced in before you get there. Take an old t-shirt. One of your own. To slip on top of their costume whilst they are sitting waiting and possibly eating. It pays to stop them wiping their fingers on their costumes even if you've been extra careful with snack choices.
If you've got more than 1 child to dress and undress, you need to keep their bags at least a metre away from each other, and ensure that the costumes get put directly in the correct bag as soon as they come off, even if it means telling the children not to get undressed themselves, and to wait their turn for you to help each one, one at a time. Similarly shoes can easily get mixed up, and ballet/tap shoes often wear down, so that you can't even tell what size each one is. If you take them off you know exactly where they've been put! And of course, it goes without saying that you need to put each child's costume in their hand directly, and not allow them to grab whichever one they see first. Otherwise you'll have some looking like they've squeezed into their costumes, and others looking swamped!
Fourthly, get your parent:child ratios right.
If they are 3 or 4 years old, don't have more than 2 children per adult, if there's only 2 adults. 3 adults can perhaps manage 8 children as a group. But after that, you end up needed to separate the groups again, so you're back to 1 to 2.
Finally; stock up on essentials.
I've no idea why, but you'll end up needing most of the following; safety pins, needle and thread, hair grips, hair spray (even if your child has really short hair!), baby wipes (of course), tissues, hair slides, hair brush, drinks for the adults, snacks for the adults, mobile phone, spare elastic for ballet shoes (same colour as tights/socks), spare ribbons, spare laces for tap shoes, spare socks (and underwear) for the children, socks for the mummy (I got cold toes as I took my shoes off to sit down with the girls!)
And I think that's it!
There you go. Tips on how to survive backstage at the dance show.
Now how to be yummy whilst you're doing it? Go straight from work like I did! My work outfit's probably my smartest, and I was at least still made-up!