As a baseball fan, you’d love to take your kids to the ball park, but the thought of keeping your little ones in a confined space for three hours is daunting. Will they be bored? Whiney? Will it be a waste of money? Or worse, will you lose your patience and make them hate going to future games?
Your experience at the baseball game will undoubtedly be different with kids than without them. Expect to miss some plays and not be able to tune in to the game as much as usual. But it can be an awesome family time you all enjoy. Here are a few ideas to make your time at the ball park fun and memorable for all of you.
- Teach your kids patriotism. Stand, put your hand on your heart, look at the flag, and sing the National Anthem every game. And don’t forget to stand, stretch, and sing “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” or “God Bless America” during the seventh inning stretch.
- Let your kids take along a toy or two. Our youngest used to take her Fisher Price farm and play with it when she got bored, which brings me to my next point.
- Don’t worry about dirt. Kids are washable, so if they want to sit on the floor in front of their seat and use it as a table to eat or play, let them. That’s where our daughter used to play with her farm and it worked great. Just make sure whatever you put on the seat is heavy enough to hold the seat down so you’re not catapulting hot dogs to the row behind you which, by the way, the kids would want to do over and over.
- Listen for the organ music and clap along with the crowd. This keeps the kids involved and active. Whatever fun things are done at the park, participate. Clap, stomp, howl, wave, or do whatever the music calls for. We used to sometimes clap each other’s hands in high-five fashion just to switch it up a bit. And don’t forget to watch the Jumbotron (or whatever your park calls their huge scoreboard) for signals on what’s happening. Chase Field in Phoenix where the Arizona Diamondbacks play has a muscle cam where people show off their muscles; a kiss cam when the couple the camera lands on has to kiss; a mustard, ketchup, and relish race where you cheer for your favorite condiment, and lots of other fun stuff.
- If your child gets restless, visit the kid zone or playground found in most ball parks. This will give the kids something to look forward to if they’re not into the game. At the very least, take them for a fun walk around the park. And leave the game early if you need to. As your children get older, they’ll be able to last longer if you make this a fun excursion now, rather than a marathon.
- Teach the kids how the game is played and where to look for the score.
- Let kids make signs to hold up during the game.
- Get treats. It’s part of the fun of the ball park. Whether it’s a hot dog, ice cream, cotton candy, or treats you bring from home, make it a special outing and splurge a little.
- Encourage your kids to yell and cheer. Now’s the time for that outside voice!
- Don’t take the game too seriously. Your kids don’t need to see you angry at umpires or cussing out players who mess up. Set an example of good sportsmanship. Oh, and don’t forget to take pictures of the kids, the scoreboard, or whatever else you want to remember about your time at the ball park. If you arrive early, you may even get to snap a few pictures of players’ signing autographs for your kids!
Above all, have fun with your kids. Laugh. Enjoy the time you spend with them at the ball park because there may come a time they won’t want to go with you. Respect their choice. No pressure. No guilt. When they’re grown, chances are they’ll remember fondly the times you spent together and may even take their own kids one day. And if not, so be it. It’s just a game. The time you enjoy together is never wasted.
How about you? Have you taken your kids to sporting events? How did it go? What did you do to make it successful? Any mistakes you hope not to repeat? Let’s talk sports!