If you have a child actor in your family, you know what a challenge it is to keep up with casting calls, paperwork, classes, and rehearsals. It can be easy to place your child’s career ahead of your needs. You’ve all heard the advice about putting on your oxygen mask first, but it bears repeating here. If you are not taking care of yourself, you will be of no service to your child.
Acting is a family business when young performers are involved. What started out as a hobby for your child has turned into a full-time job… for you. Driving, traveling, staying up late helping your child with their lines and caring for your other family members is extremely demanding. I have worked with hundreds of children, teens, and parents over the years. The kids who thrive are the ones with healthy parents who are great role models. One of the most important things you can do to help your child succeed is to take care of yourself.
Here are some helpful tips to make sure you stay emotionally and physically healthy so that you can handle the demands of your child’s career and manage your other responsibilities at home:
Find your own passion. It is exciting to fantasize about your child becoming a star but living vicariously through them can be damaging to both of you. Instead, discover what turns you on. Just like teaching your child to go after their dream, practice what you preach. No matter what age you are, you need something in your life that lights you up. If your career isn’t fulfilling, find a new flexible one. Take an online class to learn a new skill, develop your creativity in art or dance classes or even volunteer for something meaningful. It is an easy excuse to say there is no time for you. However, your kids want to see you do something exciting and interesting. Soon they will be posting your accomplishments on Instagram.
Stay physically active. You want to be there for your child—for a long time. As we all know, regular physical activity prevents many diseases, back pain, and stress management. You make sure your kids are staying active. Give yourself the same gift. If you don’t have time for a gym membership, carve out time to walk, take an exercise class, dance or practice yoga.
Be open-minded. Parents of young actors have many challenging decisions to make, especially about taking an out-of-town job or auditioning for a touring production. This can cause anxiety. There are no easy answers and many factors to consider. My suggestion is to stay open to all possibilities and look for creative solutions. Don’t just close a door without fully exploring how it can work. Talk about the implications with all family members so everyone is heard and considered. Some parents say no too quickly and then regret it.
Delegate. In a recent coaching session, a mom was distraught about the amount of time it was taking to help manage her daughter’s career. She had no time for herself. She was not taking time for friendship, her marriage, or her health. She was starting to feel depressed, lonely and anxious. My recommendation was that she hire some help so that she could carve out some time for herself and her relationships. Consider housekeepers, drivers, grocery delivery, or any other people who can take some of the load off of your shoulders. It’s a worthwhile investment.
Be financially responsible. You may have to leave your job to manage your child’s career. This may affect your family’s income, and with that comes stress. The costs add up: training, travel, audition expenses, headshots, child care, demo reels. Consult with your accountant and perhaps your financial planner. Learn about the tax implications and the record-keeping required to track expenses. Also, manage your per diem payment for expenses wisely. When you can alleviate financial insecurity, you will have one less worry.
Seek out help when you need it. Life is hard, let’s face it. Being the parent of a child actor is challenging. But you don’t have to go it alone. Talk to a life coach, therapist, or gather together with other parents who can offer support. When you find yourself feeling anxious, unable to sleep, exhausted or cranky, it’s time reach out and talk to someone who understands.
When you use these six tips, you’ll be happier, healthier, and more able to enjoy your life and your child’s acting career.