Tips + Tricks: Events and Toddlers
Does the idea of taking three kids (one of which is a toddler) somewhere by yourself scare you? Certain places intimidate me more than others. I’m comfortable with taking the three kids on the Target, grocery store, thrift store, Hobby Lobby runs by myself. Although, I know I can’t do all the errands back to back. My limit is three places before I can’t fight the kids to stay with me and don’t want to repeat “don’t touch” for the hundredth time.
Crowded places that require sitting down, like an Atlanta Hawks game, where you have to sit and you can’t have a stroller, scare me.
Since Matt does video production for the Hawks and this week they had a day game, I decided to brave it and try to take my three kids to the game by myself. I knew my boys would love it, and for their excitement I decided it was worth braving it with our toddler girl. I thought worst thing that could happen is we’d have to bail and leave the game early. There were a few moments that were hard and I wanted to pull my hair out, but I was able to keep my cool, my kids loved the experience, and I’m glad we did it.
After gearing up emotionally to brave this situation, I tried to prepare the best I could. I have come up with a list of tips for big events and toddlers that you may find helpful as well!
1. Let them walk
Before leaving for the Hawks game, my boys ran around and played outside for an hour. I knew they would be sitting a lot later, so I tried to get their energy out. I let my new two-year old walk all the way from our parking spot, into the arena, and to our seats. We moved slowly at her rate :).
2. Have camera handy
Since you are on your own and carrying bags, have your camera in your pocket or easy inside purse pocket. This way you don’t have to take long digging through bags and unzipping camera cases to get the picture. The longer your hands are tied up with that, the more quickly your little one could wander off or you don’t get the picture you wanted.
3. Take your time
The whole experience is new and exciting to the little ones. They will probably enjoy the stairs and all the new “stuff” just as much as the actual attraction. We were running right on time, but we took our time wandering through the arena, letting the kids enjoy and take it all in.
4. Go to the bathroom
Make sure while you are wandering around, one of the last things you do before sitting down is going to the restroom. Otherwise, as soon as you get everyone situated someone will have to go.
5. Have kid eyes
Many events will have a special statute or mascot that the kids can see, touch, and talk to. That adds another element of discovering to their experience. We stopped for a picture with Harry the Hawk.
6. Be still
Once you get to your seats and everyone is sitting down, just be still. They will actually ‘people watch,’ ask questions, and be a little overwhelmed at first. Use that to your advantage as the tool for keeping them happy. A.K.A. Don’t pull out any of your “tools” yet.
When the newness wears off and they start to get antsy, pull out a snack. I like something that slows the eating process down. These snack cups with lids make it a little harder to pull the goldfish out than a ziplock bag where you can grab a whole handful quickly. Having her grab one goldfish at a time buys more happy time.
8. Hand over the phone
My little girl loves the “peak a boo barn” app on my phone. She has learned animals and their sounds through it. She will play with it for a while. What she likes even more though is to watch videos of her and those she loves. So, think past just fun apps to letting her scroll through your pictures and watching videos of herself, siblings, cousins. When all that failed to work any longer for me, I let her text her daddy. 🙂
9. Smart seating
Stick the toddler in the middle of your group. That way she can stand up and walk back and forth in front of you all, but still be guarded from making a break for it and getting out of your row.
10. Water Break
Take a water break, so you all can walk around and stretch those legs again. And of course, don’t forget another restroom stop on the way back.
11. More snacks
I will use mints or suckers as well. Tic Tac mint containers are hard and can take a while to figure out how to get them open, if they don’t pour all the mints out at once. 🙂 My daughter loves the lid and likes closing and opening it, while sharing and giving a mint to everyone.
12. Wear jewelry
I like to wear long necklaces or dangling bracelets, that I know my daughter will like to play with. She really enjoys this teal chunky bracelet, so I wore it and gave it to her to wear and play with at one point.
My daughter loves to color. So I packed several different types of pads of paper and pens and even threw in an Etch A Sketch into my diaper bag.
14. Rare toys
My daughter likes little cars and toys that she can move and change their shape. Little transformers or playdoh toys can buy some time as they sit and move things around. My daughter hardly ever gets the Transformer because it is her brothers’ favorite, so she was excited to play with something rare and special.
15. Board books
A toddler size board book can help as well as it gives you something new to talk about. I know with my daughter, having my sole attention (at times) can help her be relaxed and content.
16. Multi layered toys
This sort of goes hand in hand with having a rare special toy. Having little wallets or phones that move and do different things are good. You can stick pieces of paper or stickers into the wallet’s sections that keep a toddler busy moving things around and reorganizing.
17. Velcro Shoes
Playing with the straps on their shoes can help as well. I don’t know if the sound or literally just the independent act of playing with the straps is what she likes best, but it helped for a little bit.
18. The favorites
When all else fails, pull out the “favorites.” I had her favorite blanket and pacifier ready to help soothe her as she hit the really tired usual nap time. Of course, the blanket went straight into the washer when we got home.
19. Walk out
We ended up walking out of the game, before it was over. They were all a little antsy, so we went up into the top hallway and played some games in the open space. J enjoyed my phone for a while.
You can use counting at any point. We sat counting different “Autobots” that drove by. 🙂 Even my little two-year old girl knows their names and refers to “Bulkhead” when she sees a green car. Ha the poor girl knows so much more about cars and Autobots than Princesses. Can we say life with two older brothers!?
At this point, congratulate yourself that you did it!! You deserve a drink or ice-cream or maybe both! Although there were tiresome moments with my toddler, my boys had the best time and I am so glad I did something that was stretching for me so they could have this experience.
We celebrated by going up in the control room and seeing daddy and where he works during the games.
The boys loved seeing all the behind the scenes as I enjoyed getting reconnected with my partner and knowing I didn’t have to get them all back out to the parking garage by myself. 🙂
Five minutes into the drive home, this sweet girl was out…
Our big experience and mommy playdate wore her out. I don’t know about you, but sitting for two hours straight and just interacting with your toddler is rare. Having no interruptions (of laundry, dishes, etc.) rarely happens around here with two older kids in the mix. I so enjoyed my time with her and talking to my boys about the game and all they experienced. It was a great time.
When we were walking into Philips arena my five-year old said, “Thanks so much for bringing us mom!” My three-year old said “Mom, I wuv (love) you.” My little girl started praying “thank you for this day…” It warmed my heart and put a smile on my face. Each one of my kids, in their own way, was saying thank you. They felt loved, they were excited, and this was fun.
So, I encourage you. Sometimes it is ok to be scared and take a risk at a new experience or outing because we can grow and create a fun experience with our kids.
Now, let’s get this party started! Do you have a new All About the Kids activity or outing to share with us this week?