With Shrek Forever After, Marmaduke and Toy Story 3 all hitting theaters in the next few months, it's a great time to pack the kids up for a fun trip to the movie theater. On rainy days, there is nothing more fun than escaping to another world with a fabulous new movie on the big screen.
But if you have young kids, it can be hard to tell if your kids are really ready for that first movie experience. "My oldest child barely breathed through his first movie on the big screen. He sat with his popcorn, wide-eyed, practically frozen in time. I'm not sure he even blinked! Years later, my younger son, who is generally in constant motion, not only found it difficult to sit still, but had to get up no less than 5 times to go to the bathroom," says mom of two, Michelle.
Not sure if your child is ready? Here's what you need to know.
Before you plop down the big bucks for movie theater tickets (and let's face it: movies do cost a lot these days!), you need to assess your child's readiness and ability to handle the intensity of a movie theater experience. To do that, ask yourself these questions:
Now, if you answered 'no' to questions 1, 4 or 5, then chances are that your child just isn't quite ready for the movie theater. However, if you answered yes to questions 2 and 3, it's still doable. For kids with limited bladder control, be sure to cut back on drinks before the movie and have them go right before it starts. You might still have to get up for a bathroom break, but it won't be as frequent or early on.
For kids with sensitive ears, take ear plugs -- this will limit the sound they hear, so that it won't be so overwhelming.
So, what time is best? "Try to go to the earliest matinee. The theater will be emptier if your kids are noisy, and you'll save money," says mom of four Anamarie Seidel. And above all, avoid the evening! That's when the theater is most likely to be packed.
First, make your expectations of their behavior in the theater clear. It's important that kids understand how they need to behave. "Remind them of all the rules while in the car before going into the theater," says Seidel. But, still remember that they are kids and things may not go as planned. "Go with the mindset that you are going to have a peaceful excursion, but expect interruptions. This will keep you patient."
Also, even if you are going to buy popcorn, pack a few snacks that you know your kids will like. It will help if they get restless or bored. A small, quiet toy or two can be a good item to bring as well.
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