Our family of five just returned from a week at the America's National Teenager Scholarship Organization (ANTSO) pageant.
Two of my three daughters competed and I know firsthand how stressful and crazy it can be for a family at a national pageant.
We drove 8 hours to Philadelphia for the pageant and I wanted to share some tips with you that made our pageant life a bit easier this week.
Tip 1: Fill one suitcase with food. Put the food in a large suitcase for a couple reasons. First, it looks more professional than a bunch of plastic bags when you're checking into the hotel; and secondly, things won't fall out as you're taking them into the room.
My pageant food list is instant oatmeal, vacuum packed tuna, raisins, plain almonds, peanut butter, whole wheat/low sodium crackers, energy drink (Ocean Spray Cranenergy low sugar/low calorie) cases of bottled water, plain Cheerios, Goldfish crackers, and snack pack of prunes.
Except for the water, I pack this even when I fly. This food doesn't require refrigeration and will fill in the gaps with protein and complex carbs when you don't have time to eat at the restaurant, or when a restaurant isn't close enough to the pageant sight. When I drive, I also bring under ripe fruit like bananas and peaches. Trust me. You'll save yourself time, money and stress by bringing some of your own food.
Tip 2: Make sure you have AAA or some auto plan before leaving home if you're driving to the pageant. Dead batteries, flat tires and locked in keys happen more often than you think. Also, take about $200 in cash for toll roads, fast food and other misc. expenses that don't take credit cards, or if their computers are down.
Tip 3: Get food for contestants while they're in rehearsals. If you don't bring food with you, then get carry out food while the contestants are in required activities. This is a great activity for husbands, dads, boyfriends or other family members who are there to support you. That way when the contestants break, they can eat and relax a bit in the room before they start activities again. Always have bottles of water with you. You don't want the contestants to get lightheaded or get a headache due to dehydration.
Tip 4: Buy a box of gallon and quart sized storage zip lock bags to take to the pageant. Use these to organize everything from jewelry to wardrobe malfunction kits. I put all parts of each competition into a separate baggie and labeled it. You see, no one was allowed backstage at the national pageant. The contestants had to be completely self reliant and organized-even the nine year olds. Baggies will save your sanity.
Tip 5: Put some safety pins, double stick tape, tissue, and moistened towelettes in a baggie to send back stage with your contestant. Stuff happens. But if you're ready for it, the stress is almost non-existent. I always have a small sewing kit with me too.
Tip 6: Pack a small rolling suitcase, one lightweight hanging bag and extra hangers for each person that is going to the pageant.
This way, each person can handle their own luggage. Even a small child can pull a small roller bag and wear a back pack.
Write an inventory list of what is in each suitcase so anyone in the family could pack or unpack the contents to make sure nothing is left behind or forgotten. I even use to take a picture of the contents of the suitcase for my kids when they were little and couldn't read. All they had to do was look at the picture of everything that needed to be in the bag, and they could pack themselves.
Tip 7: Buy a makeup carrier that can organize and hold all of your makeup in one place. Set up your makeup area by the window in your hotel if you can. Natural light is the best source for you to get the right amount of color on your skin.
Tip 8: Consider two hotel rooms if you have young children or a large family. Contestants need time and space to prepare and get ready. If baby Sally is getting tired and fussy, dad can take her to the other room so mom can finish getting Susie ready for the competition. Or if dad wants to watch TV, he can do that and let Susie practice interview or talent without the distraction and noise. If you only have one room, then have a second adult available to take the other children out of the room to do something while your contestant is getting ready.
Tip 9: Allow extra time for elevator congestion. If your pageant is in a big hotel, you need to allow extra time to get on and off the elevators. When everyone is trying to get to the same place at the same time, this creates a problem. At pageants, you don't want to be late. When the production crew or directors say "be here at 10AM", they mean 10AM. It's better to be early than late. 10 minutes early is considered being on time.
Tip 10: Do your complete hair and makeup for the day before you leave your hotel room. Allow for touch ups for remainder of the day. Many times in pageants there is very little time in between events. If you think you'll have plenty of time to completely do your hair and makeup before the show, think again. The only control of time you have is the early morning before the pageant schedule starts. Plan accordingly.
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If your schedule allows, come a day or two early or stay a couple days following the pageant so you can relax and do some sightseeing. There is no time to relax during the pageant. Your body and family will love having some down time together when the pageant is over.
Rhonda Shappert is an expert pageant coach and an iPEC trained personal development life coach. She created Winning Through Pageantry™, to partner with pageant contestants and their support people to provide complete pageant preparation and achieve winning results in life through pageantry. She was Mrs.Ohio America 2005, and has held multiple titles at the local, state and national levels. Rhonda graduated Cum Laude with a Bachelors degree in Musical Theater from The Ohio State University and has performed on stage in 15 countries on the Asian, European and American continents. This mother of three home educates their children and has been married 21 years to her husband Stephen, is the former mayor of her community, and serves on the Board of Trustees for the Ohio Virtual Academy. She and her husband perform original contemporary Christian music. Their music CD entitled Cana is available through www.cdbaby.com/cd/shappert or on her website. For more information on Rhonda, visit www.WinningThroughPageantry.com.