Let's dance.


This post originally appeared on the JellyTelly blog...

I have a challenge for you.  Try not to crack a smile while dancing the Running Man in your socks on the living room floor.

See?  It’s impossible.

And that’s why in our family, we’ve started having impromptu in-house dance parties – 45 minutes to an hour of completely free, heart-pumping movement to upbeat music.  I tell you, it’s one of the absolute best remedies for a host of things: a mom who “doesn’t have time to exercise,” a bored child, a rainy afternoon stuck indoors, or just a discouraging day.

Admittedly, on many tough parenting days, especially as we walk through the “twos” with our spirited daughter, I want to retreat.  I want to put on a movie or TV show for her and go do something “grown-up” like catch up on emails or read a book.  Some days I do just that, as I am human.  But on the days when I can choose to combat my frustration by engaging with my daughter in a positive way rather than retreating, we do something fun like have a dance party.  As I dance next to her, or pick her up and spin her round and round, the day turns from sour to wonderful pretty quickly.

Here’s how to do it:

  1. Turn on a peppy CD or playlist or your favorite Pandora or Spotify station.
  2. Start dancing.

Yup, it’s that simple.  And by “dancing,” I mean, just start moving.  It doesn’t matter if you jump and twirl in place, do the twist, or try the Moon Walk.  This is your chance to let go, be silly, release some of that bottled emotion and adult sensibility.  This is not the time to care about your hair getting messy or to be shy about the fact that you haven’t danced since seventh grade.

On a chilly evening over Christmastime when my parents were visiting, we decided to have one of these impromptu dance parties in our living room.  Of course our daughter was thrilled and immediately donned her headband, turquoise tutu, and tap shoes. We opened Pandora and listened to everything from country to praise music to the “Kidz Bop Kids” station.

Within mere minutes, the adults were not only wearing huge smiles but sweating profusely.  At one point, I looked over at my 66-year-old mother who was completely oblivious to anyone else around, doing a crazy “dance move” that seemed to be a combination of squatting and rowing a boat.  And I burst out laughing.  I couldn’t help it – I was just so full of joy at that moment, so grateful for my mom.  Yes – dancing can be the best medicine for everyone from babies to senior citizens.

There are also many references to joyful dancing in the Bible.  In 2 Samuel 6, David rejoices over the ark of God, and Scripture says he was “dancing before the Lord will all his might” (2 Samuel 6:14).  I absolutely love that image.  It’s how I feel sometimes in our living room with the music blaring, my eyes closed, allowing my body to jump and sway and twist, pushing my muscles to their limits.  For me, it’s about embracing the moment, enjoying being with my family, and practicing thankfulness to have arms and legs that work and a body full of energy.  Besides, I want my daughter to know I’m never too old to dance with her, just as my mom has clearly shown me.

So try it sometime – dust off your socks and your pride, gather your kids, and turn on the music.  You might be surprised what a little silly dancing can do to raise your spirits and enhance the connection with your children.