Tips for Tackling Your First Movie Theater Trip

We recently brought my six year old and three year old to the movie theatre for the first time! I had been waiting for just the right movie to bring them. (Side note, it was The Super Mario Bros. Movie, and it was adorable.)

I haven’t been to see a movie in theaters since 2018, y’all. And I’m kind of a Nervous Nelly who likes to plan for all possibilities. I had been collecting little tips I’d heard from friends on what they do when going to the movies with their kids.

There will be some of you for whom it is easy to just get up and go to the movies with your kids, and this level of planning will seem silly. But if you’re a planner like me and want to bring your kids to the movies for the first time, here’s my compilation of tips for bringing littles to a movie:

Empty those bladders!

I instructed my kids to pee before we left the house. But because one of my kids is still mastering the delicate art of potty training, I packed an extra pair of his underwear in my backpack just in case.

Get to the theater early.

There’s probably two schools of thought here. If you’ve got extra wiggly kids, you may want to arrive last minute and avoid having to sit through the trailers, which adds to the time they’re expected to sit still. But some kids may want to be there before the movie starts to acclimate and get familiar with the space. I’ve got one of each kind of kid. My oldest can take a while to warm up to a new surrounding, so we got there in time for the trailers so he could feel comfortable before the movie started.

Bring a blanket.

This may seem crazy extra, but someone had suggested it in case the theatre was cold. But it worked out well in a different way for us. My three year old got a little overwhelmed with some of the louder scenes, and he wound up in my lap for a good portion of the movie. With those comfy reclining chairs, he snuggled on me with the little baby blanket I packed and didn’t seem as scared as before.

Partition out the popcorn.

We had promised popcorn at the movie theaters, bought the largest tub they had, and asked for extra empty bags to split it up. (They gave us empty nacho trays, which worked great, too.) Everyone got to eat from the one giant bucket, but with their own individual trays, no one was fighting over it. I just refilled their trays as needed throughout the movie. We all got more than our fill for just $10. My kids also knew going in that we would NOT be buying any other snack, so they didn’t complain when they saw the display cases full of candy.

Sit in the back row.

We got to book our seats when we bought our tickets, so we picked the back row. We thought our three year old might be a wiggle worm and didn’t want him to disturb anyone sitting behind us if he got up or got squirmy. We weren’t worried at all about being in anyone’s way at all. (Bonus tip: if you’re able to, go during a weekday matinee. It’s cheaper AND way emptier.)

Set low expectations.

We were prepared to leave at any moment, and both my kids knew they could ask to go at any time, and we’d respect that. My three year old did ask me multiple times to leave, but each time I offered to go sit in the lobby with him, he declined and chose to stay. I think he just felt good knowing he had the option. And we made it through the whole movie!

Everything went as smoothly as we could have hoped for! It was a really special treat for my kids, and they did great. I was especially worried about my three year old, but even he did better than expected. If you haven’t braved the movies with your kids yet, I hope these tips help!

Erica Tran
Erica lives in Kenner with her husband Michael and her three sons, Benjamin, Joshua, and Elijah. After graduating from UL Lafayette with a degree in advertising and landing her dream job, she left her chosen field and now works part time as an administrative assistant for a Catholic retreat movement. She spends the rest of her time at home with her boys, finding lost toys and actively ignoring various messes. In 2019, she self-published her first book, The Sister. There's not a lot of free time between working, reading and writing, and chasing her kids, but in those moments she's usually sprawled on the sofa in casual denial about just how messy her house is.


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