How to Take a 2-Year-Old to the Movies

17Apr12

We took Henry to his first in-the-theater movie this weekend (“The Muppets,” if you’d like to know). With no small amount of prep-work on the part of his parents, he sat through (mostly) the entire film without complaint. How did we manage survival in the movie theater with a 2-year-old? Here are some tips along with some things I wish I’d done.

1.) The power of advertising and familiarity. By any normal stretch of logic, he should’ve been bouncing in the aisles 20 minutes in. Having never really seen the Muppets in any form outside of “Sesame Street,” Henry wasn’t going in with a vested interest. Henry’s basically seen one movie that he loves — “Curious George 2: Follow That Monkey” — and I figured part of the reason he loves it enough to continually request a viewing is that he knows it. Enter commercials and trailers. During his usual daily ingesting of home movies on our computer, I slipped in many of the trailers, commercials and clips from “The Muppets,” and tried to lay down the ground work for pre-screening love. If you want your young child to be interested in a movie, show him as much of the movie as you can ahead of time. It sounds crazy, but it’s the only reason I can think of as to why we’re still watching “Curious George 2.”

2.) Showtime. This is an easy one: pick the most ideal screening around meals and naptime. If your kid naps at 1:00pm as ours does, a 2:00pm screening is a crap idea. We chose a 10:30AM showing, which should have easily preceded the nap (more on this later), but cut into the normal lunch time (more on this now)…

3.) Bring snacks and or lunch. I suppose this would be officially frowned upon by the movie theater establishment, but I can’t think of anyone really declaring, “You can’t feed your 2-year-old that banana.” We’ve all snuck in candy and treats, so what’s a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and some easy-to-grab veggies and fruits.

4.) Consider Timing. Beyond the “printed” screening time, remember: if you want your kid to sit through 90 minutes of movie, then don’t challenge them to sit through 30 minutes of previews beforehand. Like we did. My original rough plan was to have me scout out our seats while Rachel walked around with Henry, awaiting a call from me that the movie was about to start. This did not happen, and while Henry patiently watched trailer after trailer after TRAILER for movies he’s probably not going to see, and calmly asking for “Frog?” his legs began to get wiggy. A 10:35 screening let out around 1:00 — that’s a 90 minute movie with 30 minutes of trailers and a Pixar “Toy Story” short ahead of it. He got too antsy around an hour into the movie –  I just know if it hadn’t been for the non-movie movie stuff, Henry would have sat through the entire thing.

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