Tips for taking tots out to the ballgame
A friend of mine was so excited to take her toddler out to his first Tampa Bay Rays game on a recent Sunday, which are dubbed Family Fun Days because for a $23 ticket you get a hot dog, drink, snack and the kids get to run the bases after the game. (The next ones are May 20 and June 3) But then it hit her: A little one is just as likely to get antsy and meltdown -- and probably just as the game was getting good.
She turned to her veteran parent friends for help and here's some of the advice she got, from snacks to a debate on whether electronic devices like iPads ruin the experience you are trying to share with your child.
Access: Make sure to get aisle seats so you can "walk it off" if he gets antsy.
Snacks: Bringing a snack that takes some work, like a bag of unshelled peanuts, helps pass the time (and yes the Rays let you bring snacks in).
Be realistic Brace yourself for the possibility that you might end up leaving in the 7th inning. "My feeling was that if I made the boys stick it out, they'd hate baseball for it, defeating the purpose," one friend advised. "Have fun while you're there, but I wouldn't push to the 9th." One family I know opted to not even show up until the 4th inning. That way they could see the end of the game before their tot got bored.
Bring electronics? Here's the debate: If you are really into baseball and really want to see the whole game, it might save a family fight to hand over your iPhone or let the kid bring his electronics when he gets bored. But other moms made a compelling case for why they hate to see electronic devices taking away from the experience that you're actually there to see. "It's like the tree-in-the-forest argument," one mom said. "If you went to the game, but he spent the game with his iPad and not in the moment, did you ever go to the game?"
Look for the diversions They have a lot of kid diversions already built in to the Trop, from the games set up before the game in the alleys off the Tropicana Field entrance, to the touch tank of sting rays to the Rays mascots, Raymond and new this year DJ Kitty. My friend proposes that the Rays build a playground outside (with TVs) so parents can hang out there with their kids until partway through the game and then come inside for the rest. Are you listing Rays?!
Let them eat junk Half the fun of venturing out to the ballgame is getting cotton candy, ice cream or some other treat they can't find anywhere else.
Let them yell My kids' favorite part was that it's perfectly OK to yell your head off, so get him involved in all the cheers (CHARGE!) and the games on the jumbo screen.
So what are your tips for getting kids to love a football or baseball game as much as you do?
--Sharon Kennedy Wynne
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