I am breaking no new ground by telling you that there is not enough time in the day for all of the things I would like to get done. It is a challenge that most of us suffer from. My approach to 2017 is to find those things that overlap several interests. Bonus points given if they combine to advance a major goal. For example, let’s say I have four overall goals: saving money, exercise more, cut back on alcohol consumption, and to catch up with old friends. Let’s also say that my overall goal is to lose 20 pounds. If I’m not careful pursuing one of these goals could impact the others. A dinner might bring me closer to my friend but could impact my efforts to lose weight, save money. A happy hour could encourage me to drink. Both could pull me out of a new workout routine. With a little creativity, it can all be done. Rather than the customary meeting up for food or drinks, what if I suggested that we meet for a walk at lunchtime, or that we check out a free local talk or exhibit? Even better, meeting up for a run or at one of the many free DC workouts would support each of my goals and my overall goal of losing weight. That is what I call a Secret Weapon.
So far, the biggest weapon in my arsenal is the Thursday Night Dance Party. With winter in full swing, regular park and playground visits are shelved for at least a couple of months. It’s easy for kids and parents alike to fall into a rut of relying on the TV and the computer for entertainment. While not the worst thing in the world, it probably means that we’re being entertained separately because there is very little programming geared for 5 and 40 year olds alike. Sporadically, we’ve done dance parties since the kiddo was in diapers. While she loves them, I usually suffer through them physically, just chalking it up to one of the things parents grin and bear, knowing that their kid is having a good time. Not anymore. I challenged myself to up the ante and make these dance party mutually beneficial. Here’s what I came up with:
- Bonding time with Ella
- She’s able to “show me her moves”
- We are able to explore music together (we both add songs to the list)
- It encourages her to be creative and comfortable with her body
- It gives her something to look forward to
- We dress up in silly clothes
- It let’s her make fun of me
- Promotes physical activity through play
- It free
- It’s fun at home
- It’s only 30 minutes (or however long we want)
Armed with that list, last Thursday before school, I invited her to a Thursday Night Dance Party. After assuring her that it was indeed a thing and that we’d have one that day, she left for school excited. From there my day went downhill. Work was taxing, my commute was gridlocked and by the time I got to her school (3 min late) I had already wrapped my mind around pushing the dance party to the weekend. As Ella collected her belongings and gave her goodbye hugs, one of her teachers said, “have a great time at your dance party!” The statement was a gift (read: the kick in the pants I needed). Without it, I was fully prepared to let my day spill over and derail something my child had been looking forward to. We had the dance party. We used a Youtube video playlist. It was not without its hiccups -I bet you would be surprised at the number of Vagisil commercials connected to Taylor Swift videos, but we endured. Half way through, I got the idea to use a fitness tracker to chart my calorie burn. On the last 5 songs of our playlist I burned 305 calories! The biggest perk is that at bedtime, Ella was out like a light and slept the whole night.
It’s fair to call the Thursday Night Dance Party a home run, but I’m already looking to make tweaks for this week’s throw-down. Commercials are a great time for mini breaks and I’ll make sure that we have plenty of water and healthy snacks to chomp. It also makes sense for the dance party to be a pajama jam for easy bedtime transition. I’m also steadfast in my desire to keep the party during the week as it give both of us something to look forward to on a week day.
As Secret Weapons go, this is the Death Star. I cannot reasonably expect every effort to go so well, but I’m excited to get in the lab and see what else I can come up with.