Taking Young Children To The Movies

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Have I mentioned how much I love going to the movies? I do. My abuelo (grandfather) took me to the theater all the time as a kid. We’d get tickets to one movie then hop around the theater and see two, maybe even three movies in one day. Side note: this is how I ended up seeing Chucky. We went to go see one movie then started scanning the names of other films playing. “Child’s Play” seemed innocent enough so we went in. Yeah, hated my My Buddy doll after that.

So, right. Movies.

My daughters have been going to the movies since they were infants. The theater by us has program called Baby Pictures where the lights aren’t dimmed as much, the sound isn’t as loud and the whole thing is targeted at parents with young babies. Best part? They play adult movies! Oh. Not adult  movies but movies you actually want to see not the latest kiddie flick. So the minute I was brave enough to venture out of the house with a newborn, we went. I still have both of my daughters’ first movie tickets. It means that much to me.

The first movie I went to see with my first born. I geektastically made my husband pose
for a picture with her by the door to the theater.

I bring them to the movies because a. I want to raise movie lovers, b. I consider movies an art form and I think it’s important to expose kids to the different ways artists can express themselves, c. it’s a window to the world that lights their imaginations and opens the flood gates of curiosity and d. because it’s just plain fun – it’s such a simple thing to do on regular day but to them it’s magnificent. Some months we’ll go a couple of times, other months not at all because there’s nothing playing we want to see. But after 4.5 years of going to movies with little kids, I’ve got my own little mental list of how to make the experience happy for everyone.

A few ideas on taking young children to the movies:

  • Treats Popcorn and candy. Every time. Buy it, smuggle it in – let them nibble on something fun they don’t have every day
  • Seating My oldest loves to sit in the highest row possible making for a great view but a pain the tuckus for bathroom breaks. My youngest could care less. So the oldest usually picks. However,  if the film is particularly long (not an issue with the 4.5 yo but can be with the 2.5 yo), I sit near the entrance in an aisle seat. If kid sister needs to get up and move around, I can hang out with her in the hallway to the door and still keep an eye on both kids.
  • Potty time Rule number one – everyone must go to the bathroom before the movie! Sure they sometimes have to go during but if they go right before we can prevent a mid-movie trip and just go immediately after.
  • Movie selection My oldest daughter is easily frightened so we choose our movies carefully and do lots of research before venturing out. Google the movie you want to see and watch the trailer, either on the official movie website or YouTube. My girls can tell right away if they’re going to like it. I also do a little back end work because I’m not always sure movie ratings are accurate enough for young children. I recently found Common Sense Media and use their movie reviews to learn a little bit more about a film. I will say the reviewers (parents and their kids) tend to be more conservative than I appreciate it so at least I know what we might be walking into and how to prepare for any discussions later on. For instance, Big Miracle got an average age review of 8 but both of my girls were completely captivated by the movie and I wasn’t at all offended by any of the content.
  • Expectations Do not, under any circumstances, expect a child to sit still or be quiet during a movie. Some little bodies will need  movement and curious and excited minds will have questions and/or comments. For movement, let your kid move from one lap to another or roam up and down your aisle if you’re not blocking anyone’s view and the row is empty (this a plus of the top row). Or if you’re kid needs to walk, I’ve seen parents walk their children around the theater – up and down the stairs and around again. As a movie goer, this doesn’t bother me in the slightest. Usually the stair climbing requires concentration so there isn’t any running and it doesn’t really distract from the movie. But it’s your call if you think it’s appropriate. For talking during the film, I always tell my girls to whisper. They’re pretty good about remembering but sometimes they get super excited during a movie and shout but no biggie. As a preventative measure, I always have a talk with my kids right before we go into the theater – actually, I do this in our car ride over and right before we go in the theater. It keeps movie theater etiquette fresh on their minds.
  • Timing Try to arrive about 15 minutes before the show or enough time to get tickets, use the bathroom, buy snacks and settle into your seats. With young children, you don’t want to arrive too early and end up sitting around waiting for the movie to start. That’s precious focused attention you’re wasting which should be used for the movie! Another thing to take note of is that movies usually start a good 10 minutes after the start time due to previews. So don’t panic if you’re running late.
  • Be a critic After the movies, I love to talk about the movie with my girls. Find out what they liked and didn’t. I ask them questions and listen and engage them in conversations about what they’ve seen. After Big Miracle, I’m thinking if appropriate and easily available, we’ll start doing some activities before and after a movie if the subject matter is worth it. So for Big Miracle, I’m going to print out some goodies on whales, Alaska, etc. (I’ll include links in the review post)
  • Have fun After most movies, my daughters love to run down to the front of the theater and run circles up by the screen. Everyone’s filing out and the theater employees are coming in to clean, so we stick around for maybe 10 minutes out of everyone’s way and they let off some steam. We’ve discovered a few fun movie extras by staying until after the credits.

Our latest movie adventure was to see Big Miracle. My chicklets and I are completely in love with this movie. I’d happily go see it again tomorrow (and we just saw it this morning!).



I just finished a glass of Culpeo’s malbec, an organic Chilean red wine, and I can’t recommend it enough. So smooth and easy. Tempted to have another. We just found out this week someone we love very much has heart disease. It’s one of those things I never gave much thought to because, who has heart disease? Apparently –  a LOT of people. I pay a lot attention to cancer but heart disease just wasn’t on my radar. Now I’m knee deep in learning what I can to protect my family and support our loved one’s journey. Red wine is just a little something you can do to give your heart some lovin’. Educate yourself. It’s a sneaky son of a gun, that heart disease.

On movies, did you go to the movies as a kid? Dirty Dancing was my first love. I remember being completely swept away in it and the soundtrack became my first music purchase (and for some reason I got Richard Marx the same day…right-here-waiting-for-you-with-poufy-hair-Richard-Marx).  What’s the first movie you fell in love with?

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    1. I only go during the day. My kids would be miserable out anywhere after 5pm so it’s always a matinee =)

  1. I love watching movies and now I really enjoy taking my 3 year old nice to the movies! She loves go there and have her own popcorn and watch cartoon movies.

    Great tips!!

  2. The first time I took our oldest to the theater he was three years old. My second one whoever, went to the theater at four months! I have no expectations when the baby goes with me, but I love having the option to do it.

  3. These are all really great tips! And I love that your local movie theater is so considerate of moms with young children.

    I don’t go the movies all that often, being that the nearest movie theater is just too far away. But I used to love to go the movies when I was younger. My first movie was at a drive-in. I don’t remember the movie, but my mom usually took me to see a double feature. The coolest movie I remember watching from the back of her station wagon was E.T.

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