I used to love going to the movies. In fact, I still do. I just don't get to visit a movie theater very often. You see, when you're kid-free seeing a movie doesn’t require much thought or planning. But when you’re a parent, suddenly the price goes up, the film options go down, and a million things can go wrong. Still, I’m enjoying turning my son into a movie fan, too. And if you’re getting ready to take your little one to the theater, know there are ways you can make your kid’s first movie theater experience great. No, really. It is possible.
These tips' success rate might vary depending on when you decide to start taking your rugrat to the theater. I’ve had friends who decided to take their babies to a big screen flick just weeks after the were born. Me? Well, I waited a long while. My son had a rough start to life and, simply put, I was paranoid about germs and taking my son out in public. He was also skittish about loud sounds, so I knew he wasn’t the sort that would enjoy being in a dark, loud room for hours at a time. At least not until I could explain to him that what was transpiring on screen was not, in fact, real.
These tips can be used for most kids, though, and no matter what age you decided to start turning them into a cinephile. So with that in mind, here's how you can take your kids to the movie theater and, you know, actually enjoy the experience:
Pick A Movie That’s Been Out For A While
You don’t want to be the parent who shows up on opening night with their kid only to have to walk out halfway through because said kid is bored or cranky or tired. You also don’t want to be the parent who shows up on opening weekend and has to shush their kid 50 times, and to the detriment of everyone around you. It’s not cool. Don’t do it. The emptier the theater, the better for everyone l involved.
Go On A Weekday
If you do insist on going to a relatively new movie, odds are less people will be there on a weekday. If you’re taking a baby, weekdays are also good, since there’s less people around and, as a result, less germs to protect your newborn from.
Sit In Back & By The Aisles
Trust me when I say you don’t want your kid sitting way up close to the screen. You also want to choose seats that make it easier to walk out of the theater, or facilitate a quick bathroom break, with minimal disruption.
Take Advantage Of Reserved Seating
Did you know many movie theaters now have reserved seating? It’s pretty awesome. Take advantage of this new feature if you can, and select the best seats (read: near an aisle and in the back).
Take A Variety Of Snacks
Movie tickets cost way more than they did when I was a kid. Same goes for theater snacks. Pack up all your kid’s favorites in a backpack or diaper bag and enjoy. Bring a large variety, too. You might still spring for some theater popcorn, to be sure, but this way you’re all set when they spill it on the floor or decide they don’t like popcorn after all.
Bring A Sweater, Blanket, Or Favorite Comforting Item
Some theaters can get pretty cold, so a blanket or sweater is always great to have on hand. Additionally, if your kid happens to get freaked out by something happening in the movie, they’ll definitely appreciate having something comforting to hold onto. Other than mom, of course.
Invite Another Adult Along
Honestly, it just makes everything easier. It can be your partner, a friend, or whoever your kid is pretty fond of. If another adult is around, and someone needs to leave the theater for a minute, you won't have to pack up all your belongings.
Talk To Your Kid About What They’re Going To Watch
If your little one is old enough to understand, let them know you’re taking them to the movies for the first time, and what "going to the movies" actually means. Get them excited about the experience, and remind them that movies aren't real, and they’ll likely have a better time.
Let Your Kid Know It'll Be Loud & Dark
If you know your child is afraid of the dark, or has trouble with loud noises, make sure to prepare them for the experience. Let them know you’ll be there throughout the film and that it will be fun. Remind them that it’s totally OK if they want a break and that while they should try to remain quiet during the film, they can always ask you to take them outside, too.
Don’t Be Heartbroken About Having To Leave
Not every kid is a born cinephile. Some take time, and some never like the experience of going to a movie theater at all. So be prepared to whisk your child away if they’re not into it. After all, you can always try again and when they’re ready. At the end of the day, you should want to make their experience a fun one.
Check out Romper's new video series, Bearing The Motherload, where disagreeing parents from different sides of an issue sit down with a mediator and talk about how to support (and not judge) each other’s parenting perspectives. New episodes air Mondays on Facebook.