For many young dancers, it wouldn’t be possible to grow and thrive in their dance journey without love and support from their mum or mother 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 mums spend taking their children to and from events, hobbies, and classes. We found the average mother spends 2.21 hours a week just getting kids to and from their activities – which works out as a huge 115 hours a year and an impressive 1498 hours over an entire childhood from 4 to 16.
We found that children attend an average of 2.35 classes a week. Mums of 9-year-olds spend the most amount of time travelling to and from classes, while 15-year-olds require the least amount of time from mum.
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 mums, young dancers also often rely on a community of dance mums for support. One dancer told us:
“My stage school was 30 minutes away from where I lived so both my parents, but particularly my mum, would spend 2 hours a day, 5/6 days a week commuting me to and from my classes. My mum would make all my costumes, some of which could take around 10 hours alone to fully cover a leotard bodice in tiny sequins. My mum 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 mum 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 mums. Nevertheless, when a competition fell during a school holiday, my mum would always give up her holiday time to be there and travel the length of the country to competitions, which could sometimes be 5/6 hours away.”
Even when under pressure from work, many dancers remember their mums being their number one supporter. Another dancer told us:
“As my mum raised us, she did all the driving to and from dance classes, including competitions and shows. I always remember my mum being the mum at dance shows, the one who made costumes and altered them, and the mum who took my classmates when their parents couldn't. She did all this whilst working 35+ hours a week in the NHS.”
What are the benefits of sports and dance for children?
While children’s hobbies clearly take up a lot of mum’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 helps strengthen the bond between parent and child.
Of the mums we spoke to, 8 in 10 said they look forward to the time they spend with their children when travelling 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 travelling with children allows that.
When travelling to and from classes,
- 70% of mums said they find their child to be more open and honest when talking
- Over half (53%) said they have the most in-depth conversations during this time
- 64% said they have their child(ren)s full attention
- 67% find it easier to talk to their children
- 65% feel like their child has a lot to tell them after attending classes
- Over 6 in 10 (61%) say they love spending time travelling to and from classes with their child
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 travelling to and from hobbies with children:
“Spending time travelling to and from afterschool hobbies is never wasted time. When parents support their children's interests, by travelling 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:
“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 think 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 exploring and not presume what they will like. So, ask children, allow them to explore and find out for themselves - this may change weekly until they find out what they like doing. To do an activity with a parent that a child enjoys 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 you’re considering getting your kids 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 full of all the information you need to decide whether dance is right for your children and get them prepared to begin their dance journey.