#1 Go for cheap.
Make the first movie you take your kids to one at a discount theater. Or, in the summer, Regal Cinemas has a program called Summer Express where they show second-run movies for only a dollar or two. If they can’t make it through the show, you won’t feel badly about leaving early if you didn’t spend very much.
#2 Arrival time matters.
If you get there too early, your kids use up all their sit-still time waiting for the movie to begin and watching the previews. This is tricky when it comes to a Summer Express movie because those are usually really crowded and you need to get there ahead of time to get a decent seat. If you are going to one of those with friends who have older kids, see if they will go early and save you some seats. If not, throw some form of entertainment into your garbage-bag-of-a-purse to keep them busy until it is go time. My friend, Megan, is intentionally late to the movies with her kids. She factors in the previews to the start-time of the movie, which is totally smart and something I’m going to try next time.
#3 Picking your seats.
If you are at a discount theater, maybe it’s an older one with seats that go all the way to the wall. Those are IDEAL for taking little kids to the movies. Choose one of those rows and sit on the aisle. That way if your little one(s) want to get up and roam they are trapped between you and the wall.
#4 There are boosters.
Most movie theaters have booster seats. The ones at our movie theater have a cup holder in the booster which I think is handy.
#5 Bring your own snacks.
Take something from home or make a stop at the dollar store to let your kids pick out a treat for the movie. Not only will this save you a small fortune, but you can establish your good behavior bribe up front. That’s right, People! Sometimes I bribe my kids. Why? Because it works! Don’t judge me (or sit near us in the theater with your rowdy unbribed kids!)
#6 Bring (or ask for) extra cups.
We used to just open up a napkin on our laps and have popcorn on it, but you can actually ask for empty cups at the concession stand and fill those with popcorn for the kids. It’s a lot easier to manage that way. If you have some at home and think of it, throw them in your bag. That way you are covered if the theater doesn’t have any.
#7 Beverages for your thirsty clan.
Sometimes I bring drinks from home like Capri Sun’s or juice boxes because they are easy to pack. If you don’t mind carrying or keeping track of them, a greener option is a reusable thermos like the ones my kids use for school. Also they hold more liquid than a juice box which doesn’t last very long up against pop corn. My kids aren’t soda drinkers, but if they were, instead of just getting more straws, you could always bring their containers and split a drink with them (on the sly of course). I know you aren’t supposed to do that, but c’mon a small beverage at a movie theater is enough to quench the thirst of a small village. If I buy one, I always end up throwing most of it away which is so wasteful.
#6 If the natives are restless.
I have one child who usually gets restless towards the end of a movie. I usually start out by pulling him into my lap. That works for a while and then when he is restless again I start whipping out the secret weapon. Some animal crackers, fruit gummies or M&Ms. I only give him one every few minutes to placate him and that usually gets us through the end of the movie.
So, do you guys have any tips for taking little kids to the movies? And at what age do you recommend taking a child to their first movie?