Four years ago, my parents, Mark and I took Annalyn to see Tangled. It was her first movie in a theater, and I held my breath the entire time we watched.
I had no idea if she’d behave well or freak out or get bored or noisy or WHAT – but she was awesome. I mean, she was still a kid, so there were situations involving bathroom breaks and loud talking.
But mostly she was enthralled by the big screen.
Last weekend, my parents and brother took Annalyn to see The Sound of Music. It was playing at several local theaters – all three hours of it. This was her first time to see the movie in its entirety, and her first time watching a non-Muppets live-action movie at all.
I was a little nervous about her sitting through such a long movie – and one without any furry monsters or animated princesses. But, according to my parents, she did great! And that reminded me of the movie-going tips I shared back after our first theater excursion. They hold up four years (and about a dozen movies) later, and I thought I’d share them with you again today!
Tips for Taking Your Kids to the Movies
1. Choose your movie wisely. The first few movies we took Annalyn to see were short animated ones with no scary characters. “Short” being the operative word here, because anything longer than about an hour and a half is too much for little kids. Also . . . if you happen to have chosen an especially silly or cheesy movie, more than an hour and a half might be too long for you!
2. Make sure the movie’s not too scary! Knowing how Annalyn has reacted to other Disney movies (they are long! and scary!!), I interrogated questioned all my friends who’d seen Tangled. They reported that the “bad guy” wasn’t that scary but warned me of a few frightening parts.
I wasn’t so smart when we went to a screening of Brave. She’d love it now, but the bears (and the 3D – another mistake) were too intense for her. Since then I remember not to assume any G-rated animated movie is appropriate for every kid – or my kid, and I do my research before we buy tickets!
You also might read reviews to screen for vulgar humor or other things you might decide are inappropriate for your family. I like using PluggedIn.com and its incredibly thorough reviews.
3. Take snacks. For that first movie outing, I poured trail mix into a ziploc, added some dried berries and grabbed a tiny bottle of water and sippy cup. Then I hoped she wouldn’t notice if I got M&Ms for myself . . .
These days Mark actually has started taking Annalyn on movie dates, and they splurge on popcorn. With extra butter. SIGH.
4. Visit the restroom before the movie starts. Remember that tiny bottle of water? Well, I was pretty sure someone’s tiny bladder couldn’t hold more than that! (Plus, I know well my daughter’s desire to visit every public restroom in the city – something that hasn’t changed much over the years.)
5. Choose an unpopular show time. We decided to go to that first movie on Christmas night at the last minute, but it worked out well. We had our pick of seats and the small crowd meant I could relax. If the worst happened, at least we wouldn’t be bothering too many people!
The last two movies Annalyn has seen in the theater have been on Sunday afternoons – also perfect for a more relaxing (and sometimes cheaper) experience.
6. Be prepared for inappropriate previews. I don’t remember exactly what movie’s trailer we saw that annoyed me, but one of the (many) previews showed characters using language that we don’t condone in our home. And another one was a little…intense…for a toddler. If I’d been on my toes, I would’ve been ready to distract Annalyn with her snacks or that trip to the restroom during the previews.
7. Remember her favorite blanket/toy/baby doll. Believe me. It’s just easier that way. (And warmer, if her lovey du jour happens to be a blanket!)
8. Expect questions. And giggles. And more questions. If you’re taking a child to a new movie, just plan on whispering answers to a litany of questions that can’t possibly wait until after the movie. “Why is that horse running? Why is that lady mean? How long is her hair? Why are they kissing?”
9. Lighten up. Assuming you’re taking your child to a kids’ movie, you won’t be the only anxious parent there. And odds are, if your kiddo giggles too loud or wiggles too much, those other parents won’t even notice.
10. Have fun! There’s something magical about watching a movie – and especially your first one – isn’t there? The screen is so big, the music is so loud, and the characters are so life-like – even when they’re cartoon characters. This is a special moment that you’ll never forget. Plan ahead, be prepared and enjoy the moment!
What’s your favorite musical or animated movie??
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