Pop culture mom Niki V has tips on how to have fun (and stay sane) when enjoying a show with the family
By Niki V
My husband and I have always loved going to concerts. So, it seemed only natural that once we had kids, we include them in the fun.
Early on, we took our gang to see kid-friendly acts like Raffi and the Doodlebops, while we lined up babysitters and squeezed in “our” shows whenever we could. And, as we continued to see the bands we love, we started to notice that kids were often in attendance and thought, “hey we could do that!”
So, four summers ago, somewhat on a whim, we tossed our kids (then one, three and six) into the van and made the eleven hour trek to Quebec City to see Paul McCartney play on the Plains of Abraham. More than one person asked if we were crazy, but the show was fantastic, the kids had a blast and a new family tradition was born.
Since then, we’ve taken our kids to a live performance or two every summer. This year, we embarked on a family road trip to Montreal to see U2. And, this past weekend, we made our way to Hamilton to see the Arkells play at the Festival of Friends. Over the years, we’ve seen the Killers, Metric, Gord Downie and Great Big Sea.
So, if you are looking for a fun summertime activity to do with your kids, you might consider taking them to a live show. And, if you remember that going to a concert with kids is a different kind of experience than going with your spouse or a group of friends, I suspect you’ll have a great time. While we are by no means experts, here are a few things that we’ve learned over the years about concert going with kids.
- Choose the event carefully. Ideally, we go see an artist or band that the kids like or at least know some of their songs. We also try to choose acts that aren’t too loud (hearing protection is available for children and a good idea), have kid-friendly lyrics, and relatively well-behaved fans. Of course, we know we can’t control the actions of other concert-goers, so if we run into questionable behaviour, we see it as an opportunity to talk to our kids about bad language, drugs, drunkenness or whatever we might encounter. Fortunately, many of the festivals held around Ontario each summer are either family-focused or have children’s music and activities. Guelph’s Hillside Festival is a wonderful event that features family-friendly acts, camping, a play area and even children’s workshops. Sarnia’s Bayfest has an alcohol-free family seating area and Hamilton’s Festival of Friends has midway rides and a children’s pavilion.
- Once you decide who to see, consider the venue and where you will be sitting. So far, we have always taken our kids to outdoor shows and have opted for general admission, lawn seating. We bring a blanket and try to spread it out in a spot where the kids have room to move, dance or even nap (if necessary). Plus, with GA seating, we have the option to move if the kids can’t see, or if we end up beside smokers or we just want a change of scenery.
- We also try to bring kid-stuff. This one is a biggie for us. While our guys generally love bopping along to the music during the show, they hate waiting before and between acts. The two most common complaints we get are “I’m bored” and “I’m hungry/thirsty”, so we always pack distractions and snacks. Books, hand-held video games, card games, iPods, Pokémon cards and colouring books have all made their way into our concert backpack. Same goes for bottled water (check with the venue before you go because sometimes they have restrictions), fruit, pretzels, packaged snacks etc. And, if the concert is at night, we always go to a dollar store and buy a bunch of glow bracelets. Not only are these fun for the kids, they also make it easier to keep track of the little monkeys in the dark and keep others from stepping on them.
Otherwise, just relax, have fun and expect the unexpected. Concerts are definitely a great way to experience music with your kids, but don’t be disappointed if you encounter rain, pot-smoking, bathroom breaks during the main act, or kids who’d rather play with a beach ball than watch the show. Just consider it all part of the adventure and enjoy the show.
Niki V is a busy mom of 3 kids who loves reading, writing, laughing and technology. Aside from being Mums ‘n Chums’ new Pop Culture blogger, Niki also has her own blog, called So Apparent, which can be found at www.soapparent.blogspot.com