So your daughter has joined a competitive cheerleading team, huh? She’s super duper hyper fantasmagorically excited and into it, and you may be feeling perhaps less so. Not that you are being unsupportive of your daughter, but you probably didn’t plan on becoming a cast member on Dance Moms (or in our case, Dance Dads).
We can relate, and after having a few of these under our belts we offer Five Tips on how best to get through the very long weekend with our handy Parents’ Guide to Surviving Cheerleading Competitions:
- Booking the Hotel
Organizers almost always insist that you book a room in the group hotel, usually part of the mandatory competition contract in order for your daughter to compete. There are no exceptions. Or are there????
Since this may or may not be a hotel room that makes you want to sleep with your clothes on and scan the bedding with a blacklight to detect uninvited “guests,” you do have options. Go ahead and book the cheapest room you can find at that group hotel, and then research the area for an AirBnB where you would rather stay – and book there too.
Really, it’s worth paying a little more to have the hotel room for staging your daughter’s hair and makeup near the competition venue, while you enjoy a restful sleep at the better digs down the street that is NOT overrun by screaming girls full of cheerleading fervor and too much sugar.
Trust me on this.
2. Bring Your Charger
Do not – I repeat – DO NOT forget to bring your charger to the competition area. You will spend countless time on your phone, occupying yourself during all the times your daughter is not actually on the stage competing (which lasts about 3.5 minutes out of the 8 hours you will be there.)
If you are lucky enough to get a signal inside the convention center, you will have a lot of time to text friends you haven’t seen since high school, balance your bank accounts, purchase your holiday gifts on Amazon even though it’s only March, and become an expert gamer playing Halo5. And that’s before lunch.
You will neeeeeeed that charger – it is now your lifeline to sanity for the duration.
- Booze Is Necessary
Okay, I know it’s not PC but I don’t care. A little snort of vodka can go a long way when 200,000 girls are crammed into a convention center with blaring dance music, flashing strobe lights, an emcee straight from a TV game show, and screaming hoards of parents/grandparents/fans and various hangers-on.
Bring a hip flask. Quick, buy one here if you don’t already own one. If you have to, stash something in the car. Spike your Starbucks cup. Do whatever it takes to get through. You will receive no judgment from us – just a request for a sip.
***If you do not drink, please see Tip #2.
- Bring Snacks
I don’t need to remind you that convention center food is shit. And restaurants surrounding convention centers is often also shit. You must arm yourself with healthy snacks to combat the smell of rancid pizza and overcooked hotdogs.
We usually pack:
- apples and oranges
- cheese sticks
- bottled water
- pretzels and other crunchy things from Trader Joe’s
- protein bars
- Girl Scout cookies (don’t judge, they are still better than the nasty pizza)
Or if you are too lazy to bring your own eats, download the PostMates app and have them delivery something delicious to the convention center front door.
- Make Friends With The Other Parents
You may be concerned these other parents are really too into the whole competition thing – and maybe some of them are. Yet they are still really awesome, wonderful people you will be seeing regularly at every practice, competition and activity for the rest of the year. Get to know them, and they will have your backs. Ran out of bobbie pins? Check. A nearby cheer mom has a stash in her purse. Curling iron broke in mid-prep? No worries, one of the other families is bound to have an extra. It takes a village!
We were surprised at what a great community is formed around the team, and how warm and friendly these moms and dads are when welcoming new parents to the gang. It has been an unexpected side benefit, and made us so much more comfortable.
Plus who knows when you might need to borrow their phone charger, or loan them a gulp of your spiked Starbucks. Give and take, baby. Give and take.
Not so bad, right? It’s a great sport, and the team spirit is very empowering for the girls. Your daughter loves it, and you love your daughter so suck it up. Just come prepared, and you will make it through with a smile on your face and hopefully a champion cheerleader in your family.
Please let us know if you have any tips to share back in this direction. After all, sharing is caring, and this is a team sport for the parents too!
To read more about this whole experience, check out our earlier post on attending our first competitive cheerleading event.