As the temperatures are starting to drop, you may find yourself looking for more indoor places to entertain your family. One activity that rarely disappoints is a trip to the movies. In order to maximize your movie experience with little ones, it is best to plan ahead.
This weekend, my family met up with another family to see the newly released movie, Trolls. With our family of six, their family of five and my oldest daughter’s friend joining us we had a total of 12, with eight of those being children ranging from the ages of four to 11. Some may think that sounds like a recipe for disaster, but it honestly went great. I believe that is largely because we were prepared.
For those of you ready to take the movie plunge with little ones, here are some things you can do to make your experience more pleasant for everyone.
1. Make sure your child is old enough to see a movie at the theater
I have four children and my youngest is four. For years, going to the movies required finding a sitter. I don’t think there is some magical age when a child is ready to see a movie on the big screen. I believe it is about each individual child; and nobody knows their child better than mom and dad.
Ask yourself: Is my child able to sit relatively still, and be relatively quiet, during the duration of the film?
A great thing about children’s movies is the theaters are packed full of children, as they should be. Thankfully, this means the occasional blurting out of “that’s funny!” or “he said….insert whatever word has to do with something about going to the bathroom” is very common. Your child doesn’t necessarily have to be silent the entire time, but the majority of the time would be good.
Another thing to ask yourself: Is my child able to sit through the duration of the film?
Most kid’s movies are a little over an hour and a half. Add the previews and the time is closer to two hours. You know if your child is able to sit for that long. You don’t want to pay for a ticket and find yourself engrossed in the movie, only to have to spend the last 40 minutes letting your child run around in the hallway. Movies are way too expensive for that to happen.
A great way to test the waters is with family-friendly, inexpensive, out-of-the-box movie showings like Cereal Cinema and $1 movies offered during the summer at Regal Cinemas.
My family and are I now at a point where we can spontaneously go to a movie if we want, without forking out extra dough for a sitter, and it is great. If you aren’t there yet, you will be soon enough.
2. Movie theaters can be cold so dress accordingly
I know the saying goes, “if mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy”, but I also think “if a child at a movie ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.” The last thing you want is your little one telling you repeatedly how cold they are during the entire movie. That shouldn’t be too much of a problem this time of year as the temperatures are dropping and people are starting to wear jackets, but just in case it is one of those freakishly warm Indiana days – be sure you pack a jacket or sweater of some type. I have actually brought small lap blankets for my kids before too, and they loved it.
3. Arrive early
I am someone who is constantly running late. My mom was honesty worried I would be late to my own wedding. She had nightmares about it. But when it comes to taking kids to the movies, I have learned the hard way that arriving early is always best. Trust me, trying to find seats in the dark with a gaggle of children is not fun for anyone.
This past weekend, we arrived 20 minutes before showtime and it was the perfect amount of time. We were literally still running to get more popcorn, drinks, napkins and water cups until the previews started. Getting there early is especially important when a movie has first come out, like Trolls.
Because we were early, we were able to choose our seats in a somewhat empty theater. We were able to all sit together, which is no small feat for a party of 12. The row was exactly 12 seats long. We decided it would be better to split up and have the parents in one row with the two youngest children, while the other six children sat directly behind us in the row above. Because we arrived early, we could figure all of this out in a stress-free manner while talking, with the lights on. So much better than whispering in the dark while you trip over people’s feet.
4. Pick up a booster seat for the little guy or gal in your party
Who wants to have to spend an entire movie sitting at the edge of the seat with their neck craned in an uncomfortable position hoping to see the film? Nobody. That sounds pretty awful actually. Help your little one out and grab one of the boosters offered by the theater. They may resist at first, but once the movie starts you both will be glad you have it.
5. Have everyone use the bathroom before the show starts
We either go right before we leave the house, or right before the movie starts. You may hear some grumbles and the occasional, “but I don’t have to go!” I still recommend convincing them to try, especially if you have multiple children in tow. Otherwise, there is a good chance you could spend a lot of the movie making trips to the bathroom. This is not fun for you, or for whoever is sitting next to you.
6. Buy one large popcorn to share – but don’t forget the individual containers to hold each child’s popcorn
Let’s face it, going to the movies as a family is a lot of fun – but it isn’t exactly cheap. One way to cut back on cost is to get one large popcorn for everyone to share. Typically, theaters offer free refills on large popcorn, so you will get your money’s worth. The key to making this successful is to ask for containers to hold each of your children’s popcorn. Most theaters will give empty nacho containers or small cups. Trust me, this is something you will want to do. Otherwise, you will spend a lot of the movie hearing, “hey! can you please pass the popcorn?!”
We implemented each of these things when we saw Trolls and it was a fabulous experience. I hope that by sharing some of the things I have learned the hard way, that your family outing will be one that leaves you wanting more.
Now it’s time for a brief review of the movie Trolls as told by a mom and some small children……..
For those of you considering seeing the movie Trolls, I highly recommend it. The movie was about finding happiness and had a lot of nuggets of wisdom for both parents and children. Some great conversations were had in my family over the next few days that were inspired by the movie’s storyline. There was the occasional potty humor (which of course the kids loved) and a couple bits of adult humor thrown in that most little ones wouldn’t catch. The storyline was very engaging, the soundtrack made you want to dance in your seat (which we did) and the graphics were fabulous. The movie was done in a very creative way that both myself, and my children, appreciated. By the time we left the parking lot, we had already downloaded the soundtrack and were all dancing in our seats.
But enough from me, let’s hear what the kids had to say about it…..
The two four-year old boys in the group left saying, “I loved it! I want some trolls for my Birthday.” and “Awesome!” with a thumbs up.
The two six-year old girls said, “It was awesome!” and “It was very creative.”
The two eight-year old girls exclaimed, “It was the best movie I ever saw! I want to see it 20,000 times” and “I loved it!”
The ten-year old girl said, “I loved it! It was really fun and energetic.” and the 11-year old girl said, “It had a good plot and story.”
Don’t just take our word for it, go and see it yourself! It will not disappoint.