"Leave your watch at home." A mum's 6-step guide to surviving your kid's end-of-year concert.


It’s the start of awards season, and that can only mean one thing.

Alas no, I’m not talking about the Golden Globes, Oscars or Emmys. It’s end-of-year concert season.

Which means a whole year’s worth of your kid’s learning, practising pirouettes in the lounge and trombone in the bedroom boiled down to four hours of your life that you’ll never get back.

I could talk to you about fashion (if you want to stand out, don’t wear Kmart because you’ll see five other mums with the exact same outfit.) But as a well-weathered awards season veteran – 10 years and counting – I’m here to give you my top tips on how to survive.

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1. Pack snacks.

These events are a marathon, not a sprint (literally: last year my daughter’s dance concert was over five hours long.) The average US men’s marathon finishing time in 2016 was 4:22:07; the median finishing time for women was 4:47:40. And believe me, after that concert, I deserved at least a participation medal.

The snacks also need to be of the low crunch and crackle variety. Nothing kills the mood of the nutcracker being performed more than hearing actual nuts being cracked.

And stay hydrated – this is also important. I hear some venues have an open bar…


2. Pack Tissues.

Every year I steel myself for the end of year photomontage, I know its coming, and every year I vow to stay stoic. To not cry. Every year I fail.

It could be the emotion of the year’s achievements inspiring me, or it could be the fact I have been locked in a dark room for four hours and have developed a mild form of Stockholm Syndrome.

All it takes is the opening chords of the current year’s inspirational power ballad (my pick for this year is Choir by Guy Sebastian) plus the cute faces of the Kindergarten children and I sob like a baby. I would also recommend a waterproof mascara, or as I do, just cut to the chase and wear zero makeup.

3. Leave your watch at home.

They say everyone has 15 minutes of fame, and if you times that by however many children are in this concert, well let’s just say it’s going to be a long night.

At one point during said dance recital, my husband messaged me requesting a proof-of-life text.

It’s going to be lengthy, and checking your watch or phone every five minutes is not going to make it any quicker.

4. Mark your spot.

By this, I mean tell your child or children where you are seated in the auditorium so they know where to wave – just give them a general direction so you’re covered. I know a mother who told her children that her tickets to the annual choir concert were way, way up the back. Then she and her husband snuck out to dinner without her kids knowing.

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5. Study the form guide.

Know when your child is going to be on stage. If you have observed tip one, you may require a bathroom break. And you don’t want to miss their big moment.

If they’re performing, ask them where they will be on stage. This saves valuable time looking for your child amongst the other 15 children dressed in the same outfit.

6. Find the Joy.

Outside of watching my own children perform or receive awards, I always try to find the joy in these shows. Yes, they drag, and yes, external validation for a select few may not always be the best way to boost everyone’s self-esteem. But I am yet to sit through an awards season and not be inspired or entertained.

Inspired by the child who, despite crying for most of the concert, continues to sing through the tears.

Entertained, like the time my best friend’s son was vomited on during a choir performance from way up the top of the scaffolding. (The teachers spent the next two songs mopping up the mess.) Did he stop singing? No. Did he ever sing in the choir again? Also no.

So why do we do it? Sit through year after year of awards presentations, concerts and recitals?

The love of the art form? Not really. I remember sitting through my daughter’s band performance and my mother uttering, “This isn’t music.”

Are we living our own dreams through our children? Maybe sometimes. But nine times out of ten it’s bigger than that.

"Are we living our own dreams through our children? Maybe sometimes, but nine times out of ten it's bigger than that." Image: Supplied.

We were there when they said their first word; now we watch them perform a monologue from Shakespeare.

We were there when they took their first step; now we watch them do a self-choreographed dance piece.

We were there when they first banged the pots and pans in the kitchen, and now we cry with pride as they smash out the bongo solo on Africa by Toto (true story).

I have the privilege to sit in the front row and watch my children grow in confidence and knowledge. To see them become young men and women they want to be.

I would gladly sit through another 10 years of that. Just need to make sure I pack snacks.

What would you add to the list? Let us know in the comments below!