The joyful, life-altering benefits of a toddler dance party

The music could be heard throughout our home, as my daughter turned up the volume for her favorite singer. Justin Timberlake’s popular song created a catchy beat my child couldn’t resist.

As I was busy whipping up lunch in the kitchen, I heard Peyton hollar at me, “Mom! Come dance with me!” I was too busy, my mind set on our schedule of when to eat, when to sleep and when to shower or brush our teeth.

As I raced to get lunch on the table at our normal time, I felt a tug at my sweater. “Mom! I want to dance!”

I looked at my child’s face, her excitement and love for music wrapped up in her giant smile. At that moment, I dropped what I was doing and skipped over to the family room.

Hands flailing in the air, I jumped around with my daughter to the chorus of Can’t Stop the Feeling.

Several minutes later, as we collapsed on the ground in laughter, I had an epiphany: We all need a toddler dance party in our lives!

Dance parties are a fairly new thing in our household and it took some getting used to.

I’m a planner and cringe when things don’t go as scheduled. My type “A” personality is on full display in nearly everything I do. From our monthly calendar filled with appointments and activities, to our weekly menu options, I like to have a plan.

Pre-children, that worked magically. But, as I have learned post-children, chaos is the name of the game.

Some days, I don’t know how I survive. As a working parent, I balance my time between shuttling my 3-year-old around town, working a full time job in the television industry and running our family’s charity.

My day starts at seven in the morning when I hear a faint yell down the hall, “Mom! I’m ready! Time to get up!” From there, the hustle and bustle of life takes over–breakfast, preschool, gymnastics, then back home…and that’s all before lunch!

Before I know it, I’m kissing my daughter goodbye and heading off to work. Four hours later, I stop home for a quick bite to eat and kiss my family goodnight. Then it’s back to anchor the nightly news.

My day doesn’t end until I arrive home at 11pm, ready to relax on the couch with my computer and my only chance for quiet time. I head to bed, then a few short hours later, the cycle starts all over again.

While the controlled chaos of life is often exhausting, there is one thing that I always make time for: my daughter’s daily request for a dance party.

It’s a few minutes a day when our free spirit takes over; a time when the stress of the day gives way to carefree excitement.

Peyton has always loved music and dance, so much so, we enrolled her in ballet and tap class this year. She may not listen to her teacher, but she can be found happily dancing to her own beat.

At home, our life revolves around the stereo speakers. After years of Old MacDonald and Itsy Bitsy Spider, my ears are thrilled to have graduated to the likes of Adele and JT.

Much like the progression of music, our daily dance parties have matured. It started out with my child putting on a show, her uncoordinated body looking more like a girl with ants in her pants than an actual dance. But, the more I watched her, the more I adored her uniqueness.

I spent so many years worrying too much about what other people thought of me. As I witnessed my daughter throw caution to the wind, I embraced the unusual moves. My husband and I found ourselves dancing alongside her, our bumbling arms trying to mimic her moves.

Over the months, our dance moves have progressed, and so has my willingness to let loose. As long as there is music in a room, my daughter is guaranteed to bust a move.

A Bar Mitzvah with hundreds of people? No problem! You can find us in the middle of the dance floor creating our own choreography.

The grocery store? Sure! The elevator music is perfect to practice our ballet moves.

It doesn’t matter where or when, my daughter is always bouncing to the beat. And as I bounce along with her, I smile with pride.

It’s easy to get caught up in the rat race of life and it can be hard to slow down. But, life is too short.

I don’t want to be the mom watching from the sidelines, I want to be right there with her, crazy dances moves and all. And as long as Justin Timberlake keeps telling us to “Dance, Dance, Dance”, there’s no stopping me.

Stacey writes at Perfectly Peyton. Her family’s story has been shared on Yahoo!,, and Redbook. She and her husband Ryan are the founders of the Triple Heart Foundation.

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