We LOVE going to the movies.
It is definitely one of our favorite family activities. We started taking the boys to the movie theater before they were even potty trained. So I have learned my fair share of life-hacks to get by with kids at the theater.
Number 1. Do your research on the movie.
This might seem like a non-important task, but just because a kid’s movie has bright colors and cartoon characters doesn’t mean that it will hold your kid’s attention. There have been many-a-flicks that were geared towards families and younger kids, and my children had zero interest in them.
The internet is a beautiful place, and you have great YouTubers who provide really in-depth reviews on a lot of kid/family movies. I personally like Jeremy Jahns and Chris Stuckmann. If there is a movie my kids have been excited to see, or I think they might like, I spend 5-10 minutes checking out reviews. Rarely, and I mean rarely have the two aforementioned movie reviewers steered us wrong.
Number 2. You can bring your own stuff.
By stuff I mean things that will make your life easier – bowls, sippy cups, wipes, plastic bags, a blanket, etc. Whatever your little one needs to be comfortable and sit down, you can bring it.
I ALWAYS bring the following things
- Small bowls for popcorn. One per kid. I get mine at Ikea in the kids section.
- Cups with lids for dolling out drinks.
- A Ziploc Bag. Generally I use this to have my kids pass trash down, or to dump extra popcorn in when we leave. On the rare occasion your kid eats too much popcorn, it can double as a puke bag. Parenting, am I right?
Caveat. Don’t roll up into the theater with a giant bag of toys, obnoxious smelling snacks or iPads…people will hate you.
Number 3. Be strategic with your time.
Anymore now, theaters are offering earlier movie times to accommodate families. Especially if it’s a movie geared towards that audience. I have found that the sweet spot is the 10:30 or 11:00 showing of anything. The kids have been up long enough to not be hyper, they’ve eaten breakfast and are almost ready for a snack (enter popcorn) but they aren’t quite ready to go into full gladiator battle with one another because it’s past nap time.
I honestly don’t even remember the last time we went to a movie in the evening with the littler humans.
Number 4. Reclining seats are where it’s at.
If you have a theater that has reclining seats close to you – do that. Always.
Kids are wiggly AF and the reclining seats have space in front of them for them to get up and stretch legs without disturbing other movie patrons. Also, the seats recline, and kids are little, so they can lay on their bellies and wiggle in their seat until their hearts are content.
Also – with reclining theaters, your kids are guaranteed to be able to see. The way they are set up, even if Andre the Giant sat in front of your kiddo, they’d still be able to watch Marlin find Dory.
Number 5. Prepare for them to act like kids.
When Jack was little, I took him to the movies. He had gone to the bathroom, eaten lunch, had a nap – we had snacks, all the essentials and by damn, I was prepared. It was a matinee movie that he asked to see, and he was excited about it.
We both walked out of that movie crying – before it was even over.
Kids are kids. Meltdowns happen. Sometimes they show the nice lady sitting next to you their belly button. They dance when Gaston sings on the big screen – and sometimes they even sing at the top of their lungs.
Don’t let other people’s judgement discourage you from taking your kids to places and enjoying adventures with them. Wave at those judgey people, smile, and enjoy the moments when your kid is behaving like a kid.
They won’t be this carefree and little forever.
See you at the movies, lovelies!