This morning, I took my three young children — ages 4, 2 and 3.5 months — to a movie theater by myself.
And I survived to tell the tale.
See, originally I was going to bring just the older two for an 11 a.m. showing of The Secret Life of Pets and leave my infant daughter at home with daddy. But breastfeeding-mama anxiety got the best of me. Because my baby still doesn’t have the best relationship with bottles, I decided to just take her with us. No big deal, right?
Actually, it wasn’t.
If you have a baby and are thinking about venturing out to see a movie, here are 7 tips to make the experience run a little bit more smoothly:
1) Pick a morning showing. I say this for a few reasons. One, tickets before noon are generally cheaper. (We paid 7 bucks apiece this morning.) Two, fewer people tend to be at morning showings — and the people who arethere tend to have children with them, too. (Thus, they are slightly more forgiving if other kiddos happen to chat excitedly a few times through the movie.) Finally, my kids are at their best, behavior-wise, earlier in the day. So it was a win-win-win for us.
2) Check into your movie theater’s policy for young kids. If you’re planning on seeing an R-rated movie with your baby in tow, don’t make the same mistake these moms did. Movies that are rated R [U/A in India] require an accompanying adult in order for minors to attend. BUT, some theaters — like Regal Cinemas — have additional policies prohibiting children under age 6 from attending R-rated movies. Like the manager in this story, the theater could choose to enforce the policy even though your baby can’t tell the difference between an F-bomb and “I love you.”
3) Prep your diaper bag. Diapers, wipes, bottles, extra clothes — bring plenty of ’em! Baby A decided to shove her entire fist in her mouth and then spit up all over her outfit this morning. (Fun times.) Because I came prepared, I swiftly cleaned her up with some wipes and put on a fresh body suit without having to drag all of the kids to the bathroom with me. Catastrophe averted.
4) Make sure other young children aren’t ravenously hungry. As seasoned parents probably know already, hungry kids in a public setting = recipe for disaster. Since our movie was at 11 and would run through our normal lunch time, we had brunch a little after 10 a.m. That way, their little bellies wouldn’t be starving during the movie. (Bonus: Cheapo mama didn’t have to fork over an additional $30 for movie theater popcorn and junk food.)
5) Choose your seat strategically. An aisle seat near the exit is probably your best bet, in case baby gets fussy and you need to get outta there ASAP. There was one point during our movie when I left my seat because Baby A was tired of sitting on my lap. She wasn’t fussing yet, so I walked a few feet away behind a half-wall barrier to stand/bounce with her. This way I could still watch over my two older kids, but I was out of sight from other movie-goers.
6) Consider bringing distractions for toddlers. My nearly-5-year-old stayed interested in the movie the entire time without issue. But I knew I couldn’t expect my 2-year-old to do the same. In addition to bringing a sucker for each kid to enjoy during the movie, I brought along a tablet from home (with the screen brightness and sound all the way down) as an emergency back-up. I’m glad I did! I ended up pulling it out about two-thirds through the show because she wanted to get out of her seat.
7) Accept that things could go wrong and you might have to bail. Know that even with these preparations in place, you might have to pack up and retreat. The reality is, other people have paid to enjoy the movie, too. So if your baby and/or young children are having a rough time, accept that it’s just not happening today. Consider a round two in a few months, or when your kiddos (and you) are ready to try again.
Source: Baby Center