You always knew you’d be the parents to take the kids on adventures, explore the world with them, and discover new and wonderful things together. But then life happened, and sometimes just getting out the door with kids can seem like an insurmountable task.
Fear not, parents. Your kids can enjoy concerts, sporting events, and festivals with you—and it can even be fun.
The only thing standing between you and a day of learning and memory-making is some creativity and a little planning. Let our list below guide you in making any event an adventure to remember.
Step 1 – Check the details, twice.
Consult the venue website and social media outlets as you make your plans. Is there a number to call for specific or last-minute questions? Make sure you’re clear on details like:
- Hours of operation
- Weather-related protocol, if any
- Age restricted activities, especially if there are a range of ages to consider
- Options for food and drink, and whether you can bring your own
Step 2 – Set expectations beforehand.
Don’t wait to go over safety and behavior rules until your kiddo is standing outside the gates. Sit down with him a couple of weeks beforehand and explain how great the trip will be, and what’s expected of him to make it fun and safe for everyone.
Prep work like this will help cement expectations, build excitement and ease your stress.
Make a game of it. Quiz an older kid on what to do if you get separated at a festival, or to make sure an adult always knows when he goes into the water at the beach. Younger kids can get in on the game too.
Heading to a baseball game? Line some chairs and practice sitting down for a while watching the excitement on the field. Ask her what sorts of things she’ll see at the ballpark and help her name them.
Step 3 – Pack a bag (but less is more!)
Consider what you’ll need to get through the day safely and comfortably, and try to balance that with how practical it will be to lug a bunch of stuff with you.
Heading to the beach? It’s probably no big deal to haul a couple of bags out onto the sand and make camp for the day. But what about a state park, a festival, or a day of walking and museums? Less to pack is less to carry (and less to worry about losing or leaving behind).
Step 4 – Consider alternate times/days
This doesn’t work for all events (or work schedules), but a little flexibility with dates or times could make for a less crowded, more relaxed experience for kids and parents alike. That means a shorter line at the drink stand, too. Do your research and be creative.
Hint: We’ve found the zoo is an awesome place to be on an overcast or even slightly rainy day. There’s a surprising amount of places to hide from the sprinkle, it’s nearly empty, and the animals seem to be more willing to come up to the glass and say hi.
Step 5 – Chill.
Start small, and repeat often. We’re not saying your family should pack up and head out to a five-day music festival with three toddlers (but don’t let us stop you!). Just remember: for the most part, kids who are used to being out and about with their parents—whether at the grocery store, on a camping trip or at a theme park—learn how to conduct themselves appropriately and have fun while doing it.
There will be some bumps in the road, but experience is a great teacher for kids and parents alike.
Mostly, though? When you’re at a festival or event with your kids, have fun and let the little stuff go. Your kids (probably) won’t remember that you forgot the parking pass at the football game, or that a grumpy couple at the concert glared at you when your toddler shrieked with delight.
They’ll remember being with you. The world is made for exploring, and no one experiences life with as much wonder as a child. You got this, parents. Pack a bag, get out there and make some memories with your kids. And bring some sunscreen.
Oh, and one more thing…
Day Trip Must-Haves
Tickets, passes, parking information
Reusable water bottle to share
A few simple, non-messy snacks
Phone charger/ backup battery
Small first aid kit
Any medications you or the kids might need
A notepad and some colored pencils to occupy little people during unexpected downtime
Adam Young is a father of two and the founder and CEO of Event Tickets Center. He shares his knowledge and personal experiences taking his kids to events with other parents to help them at a variety of venues and kids’ events.
Photo credits: Stephanie Morgan