Little Kids and Big Screens
Today I’ll be talking about taking kids out to see a movie.
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Once you’ve chosen your movie and you know when you want to go, it’s time to find the most accommodating theater for your needs. When choosing your theater the things to consider are, price, distance, roominess, movie volume, and whether or not it’s child-friendly. Most theaters are child-friendly, but some are friendlier than others. If you aren’t sure about a theater, give them a call. Some theaters advertise these great sound systems which are just loud. Loud movies can be painful or scary on some little ears. Find out if the theater offers any lower volume movies. You may also want to consider earplugs. You could also bring a pair of earmuffs to cover your child’s ears during the louder scenes. Another suggestion I received from a fellow parent was to bring special headbands which parents use to cover children’s ears when they are swimming. These may not offer a great deal of sound protection, but will reduce the volume slightly or hold a cloth in place to cover and protect the ear from the loud volume of the theater. Picking a theater closer to home can save you from having kids fall asleep on the ride. Also, if children are going to be expected to sit still for a long period, you won’t want them to have to be belted down for too long beforehand. Check with your local theaters, parenting groups, and newspapers. Some theaters offer children-specific showings of movies. These theaters often have extra lighting during the movie as well as lower volumes. Most new theaters have the moveable armrests to allow for more spacious seating. If you go at a time when the theater isn’t as busy, the younger kids might be able to catch a nap while the older kids enjoy the film. I also recommend sitting as close to the aisle as possible. The view may be better in the center of the theater, but the restrooms and exits are always closer to the aisle.
You are probably wondering when I’m going to talk about what to do when you get there and your child wants to run up and down the aisles. Well, if you’ve covered all the bases above, at least you’ve limited the chance of that happening somewhat already. Before the movie begins explain the rules of behavior you expect your child to follow. Let your child know that if the rules are not followed, you’ll have to leave. You may want to talk to the manager before going into the theater and let him know that this is your child’s first “big movie” and find out what the refund policy is and if there are any time limits on being able to leave and receive a refund due to your child’s behavior. The manager might be more compliant than you think. He’d probably much rather give you a refund than have you in the theater disturbing other patrons who might complain and demand refunds. Pick up a theater-provided booster seat for any children who need a boost up to see over the seat in front of them or who are not heavy enough to hold the spring-loaded theater seat down. The extra weight of the booster can help keep your child stable. Almost all theaters will let you bring your own food in nowadays. Pack some yummy snacks for everyone and fill up the sippy cups and water bottles. Theaters rarely provide healthy snacks and most of them are over-priced. Popcorn is a choking hazard for young children. You’ll be in the dark and you want to make sure your children are safe so bring snacks that your kids are least likely to choke on. Cheese slices, cereal, crackers and diced fruits are great choices. Once again, if you are concerned about theater rules, talk to the manager before you enter the theater and clarify everything up front. If your child does act out during the movie, you should remove him from the theater. If he’s been behaving for a while, let him walk around the lobby for a little bit to get his wiggles out. When he’s ready to give the movie another try, head back into the theater. If he doesn’t make it through the entire movie the first few times, don’t give up. He’ll get there eventually.
Finally, always try to use the buddy system. Find another parent or adult to attend the movie with you if you are taking more than one child. If you have to leave theater for any reason, you’ll need to pack up everything of value and all of the kids unless you have another adult to stay behind. My husband and I took our kids to the movies and I settled everyone into their seats while Daddy was buying himself some overpriced popcorn. Once we were all comfortable, my daughter decided she had to use the restroom. I had to gather up two kids, drinks and a diaper bag. I left the booster seat behind, but by the time we returned, someone had taken our beautiful aisle seats. Thankfully, my husband had come into the theater, realized we weren’t there and found us some seats on the other side. We all made it through the entire movie and had a great time. Next time we’ll know. Make sure everyone goes to the bathroom before you choose your seats.
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