Hiking with Babies and Toddlers

Cam was 4 years old when we visited Yosemite National Park in California, which needs to be on everybody’s bucket list by the way.  This particular hike was a 2-mile hike to the top of a waterfall. As a novice hiker, it wasn’t until about halfway in, that my burning thighs helped me to realize going to the top of waterfall meant we would be hiking uphill for the majority of the journey.

I didn’t intend for it to be this pivotal parenting moment, but there we were, a quarter of the way from the top and Cam wanted to quit. To be honest, we all did. It was hard. But Diakandrus never quit and so we pressed on, tears and all.  Afterall the best views come after the hardest climbs, right?  Most definitely.  For days, both my aching muscles and my little man would say, “Remember when we didn’t quit mom?”  “Remember when we made it all the way to the top, mom?”  Oh, I remember little one!

Image 60

I think it was after that trip that hiking started becoming our go-to family activity.  While the views of Northeast Ohio can’t compete with the views of Yosemite the benefits for us remain the same.  Hiking teaches endurance and perseverance. We push through when it is hard, and we take each hike one step at a time. It allows us to get away from the hustle and bustle as a family and just be.  And if you’ve read any of my other posts you probably know that I believe time spent matters more than anything else.  I also believe in building healthy habits for your kids.  Hiking instills a habit of exploration while keeping your body moving.

Each hike leaves us with a growing appreciation for our Creator and this beautiful planet we’ve been given.  We see His details in everything, from the leaves of the trees to the stripes of a caterpillar to the changing of the seasons.  We study the plants and creatures we come upon.  We talk about respecting the environment and encourage our kids to follow what inspires them.

DSC_0243 (5)

When the twins were born, everyone told us our hiking days were over.  You can’t possibly take two infants into the woods.  Wrong.  You absolutely can, you just can’t be quite as spontaneous.  Preparation is required.  The twins went on their first hike at about 4 weeks old, and at 18 months now they haven’t slowed down.

DSC_1216 (1)

Here are a few tips for hiking with the littles:

  • Consider your timing.  When the twins were babies we were very specific about our hiking time.  We liked to feed the babies in the car before heading out on a hike, that way we knew they were full and we didn’t have to rush through the trail.  They slept a lot in their carriers when they were really little too.
  • Bring snacks and water.  I always have snacks.  If I could write a parenting book, I’d have a whole chapter dedicated to the importance of snacks.  We always have at least one water bottles in our pack, but I started also throwing in a granola bar or baggie of pretzels too.  On a long hike, a little snack break goes a long way.


  • Leave the diaper bag in the car.  It’s heavy and you won’t need it.  Throw one diaper and a few wipes in your carrier.
  • Have the right carrier.  I started with the Classic Ergo.  But quickly upgraded to the Ergo 360.  I found that the babies enjoyed looking out at the trees and colors of the forest instead of always facing me.  Now that they are older we use a Kelty carrier.  Don’t limit them to the carriers.  Take time to let them out, let them explore, wander, and learn too.
  • Dress them appropriately.  Kids tend to get cranky when they are hot or cold.  Layer them so they can strip down if needed.  Don’t forget if you are wearing them, they will get pretty warm in the carrier quickly as they are up against your body.


  • Have a change of clothes and towels in the car.  If you are anything like me, your first instinct is probably to tell your kids to stay out of the mud and water.  Resist it. Instead let them get dirty, like really dirty and have a change of clothes when you get back to the car.
  • Research your hike.  Know the intensity and duration about what you are doing.  Keep it short while they are little, up to 2 miles max.  There are a ton of websites and blogs with specific details so you know what to expect. Google is your friend. Don’t bite off more than you can chew.
  • Let them explore.  Let them swim in the rivers, dig in the river bank, hunt for bugs and climb trees.


Local friends here are 5 great hikes for children under 5:

  1. Henry Church Rock Trail (Formally known as Squaw Rock).  If you have older kids, pack bathing suits (if weather appropriate), there’s a place to jump and swim under a waterfall.  (South Chagrin, Ohio)
  2. Cascade Valley Metro Park  has a few different trail options depending on how adventurous you want to be.  (Akron, Ohio)
  3. Twinsburg Ledges Trail @ Liberty Park is a GREAT hike for little ones.  The loop leads to a cave and nature center, as well as a nature-made playground area. (Twinsburg, Ohio)DSC_1579
  4. Brandywine Gorge Trail.  We like to veer a little off the trail and head under the bridge to throw rocks.  You can often see chickens and goats on this trail, as you pass an inn that has both.  You will pass over the top of the falls toward the end of the hike. (Sagamore Hills, Ohio)
  5. Rocky River Nature Center is a new favorite of ours.  The nature center is phenomenal, it’s free and has so much for kids of all ages.  There are several different trails to choose from.  We made a day of it, visiting the nature center, packing a lunch, and then finishing with a family hike.  (North Olmsted, Ohio)


“Of all the paths you take in life, make sure a few of them are dirt.” (John Muir).  Adventure on, friends.

XOXO,HollyHiking With Babies & Toddlers


Day Adventure Guide: Museum Scavenger Hunt (Free PDF Download)

If you have learned anything about me by now, it’s probably that (1) I don’t like to sit at home and (2) I’m obsessed with showing my kids this beautiful planet.  And since I haven’t convinced Jimmy to sell our house and all our possessions in order travel the world for a year (I’m working on it!), I still want to be intentional about exposing my children to different parts of this big world, both past, and present.


So when we aren’t off traveling and exploring a new place, we are still trying to be intentional about constantly teaching our kids about…well….everything! Some days it’s studying trees during a hike in the woods; other days we head to a museum for more formal information.  Museums are a great way to learn about people and places without traveling far.  Their galleries become classrooms to educate and inspire.  

There are art museums, science museums, children’s museums, all kinds of history museums, including one of our favorites the Museum of Natural History.

DSC_1516 (3)

The Cleveland Museum of Natural History is an AWESOME museum.  It’s very hands-on.  It has rotating exhibits so there is always something new to investigate and explore.  There is also an entire outdoor section complete with a canopy walk and several animals to study up close. It’s great for kids of all ages, my 16-month-old (at the time) twins had plenty to see and do, and my 7-year-old was completely engaged the entire visit.  There is also a kid’s discovery center in the basement that is one of our favorite parts of our visit each time.

DSC_1638 (1)

If it’s your first time heading to a museum here are a few things to consider:

  • Visit the museum’s website ahead of time: see what is allowed and not allowed.  I’d hate for you to get there and find out you can’t bring in bags (lots of art museums have this rule), or food, or sometimes even a stroller.  Better to be prepared ahead of time.
  • Go cheap the first time:  Lots of museums have specials or “free-days” or discounts days.  Pick a day where your costs will be low, so if for some reason it is a disaster, you don’t lose much when you decide to leave.  National Museums and several art museums are always free of cost for entry.
  • Expand your idea of a museum.  Think outdoor sculpture garden, old ship tours, or farm tours.
  • Know your limits.  Your child might only last an hour or two before they have had enough.  Don’t push them to spend the whole day if they’ve reached their capacity.  You don’t want their first museum experience to have a negative connotation because you’ve pushed too far past naps and snack time.

DSC_1520 (3)

People seem to have this notion that museums are a don’t touch-be-quiet kind of place. I think you will find that most museums are going to great lengths to encourage curiosity and engagement from young children.

If you think museums are boring, I’m telling you: you are doing it wrong. You are in charge at a museum. You can spend as much or as little time at each exhibit. Follow what your kids are drawn to.  “The best museums and exhibits give you the feeling that, hey, this is interesting but maybe I could do something here, too” (Paul Allen).  Engage in your child’s curiosity.  Bring up the tough questions. Challenge them to think outside of the box.  Inspire them to learn, create, and explore.

DSC_1547 (1)

All of my kids really enjoy museums, but since we had been to this particular museum before I was a little worried that my oldest wouldn’t find anything new to spark his interest. Silly me.  But nonetheless,  I had this idea to make a game out of it. Anything is better in game form, am I right?  So I created a scavenger hunt to keep him engaged on our trip.   I had hand made the hunt that morning, but I took some extra time and saved you a step.  You can find the free download for the PDF here: Museum of Natural History Scavenger Hunt.

DSC_1566 (1)

The morning of our adventure to the museum I gave Cam the scavenger hunt, a blank notebook, and this message:



You don’t have to make extraordinary outings for your kids.  My goal is to take common occasions and make them great.

DSC_1611 (3)

I love how each time we go to a museum, even if we have been there before, it is a new experience.  The exhibits and our interactions shape our conversations for the day and can challenge our thought process.  It encourages my children to ponder and ask questions.  And I’ll be honest, sometimes I don’t know the answers – but it opens up the door for a genuine deep conversation about a number of topics that wouldn’t be brought up without the time spent at the museum.

“It is so important to introduce children to museums because museums open up a world of imagination and exploration.  It is even more important to introduce children to museums at a young age because our youth is our future and museums broaden our knowledge of the world.”  –Jennifer Peters, Director of Exhibits and Education, Muncie Children’s Museum.

DSC_1609 (1)

What are some of your favorite museums to visit?  I always have a running list of places we need to visit, and I’m always looking for places to add to it.


Easiest Slime Recipe. Ever.

I feel like every post I write is a result of me testing my own sanity.  And it’s becoming a habit.  Cam and I have been wanting to try a new slime recipe we saw online.  He assumed we would do it one afternoon during nap time.  That’s a safe assumption, seeing as the main ingredient is glue.  Only today it was raining and everyone was getting a little stir crazy so I thought, what the heck, let’s all do it.  What could go wrong by letting my twin 1-year olds play with glue?  See, what I mean about questioning my sanity?




Well we,  and by “we” I mean me, the kids, and my house; we all survived.  And it was pretty much disaster free.  Here’s a the recipe (from Elmer’s glue):

6oz bottle of glitter glue.  (Or any glue – glitter adds some more fun)

1/2 teaspoon of baking soda

1 1/2 tablespoon of contact solution



  1. Empty the glue into a bowl
  2. Add baking soda, mix well
  3. Add contact solution, mix well
  4. Knead it.  Play with it.


Make sure you have everything ready to go.  Leaving the babies with a bowl full of glue while I helped Cam measure out the rest of the ingredients was the closest we came to absolute disaster.  But once the slime is complete it’s pretty much mess free.


Like I said easy, peasy.  I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again.  You can make any day an adventure-filled one.


If you try the slime, leave a comment below and let me know how your slime-venture went!


To The Mom With A Messy House


There is currently yogurt dried on my wood floors that I’ve been meaning to clean up for three days now.  My kitchen table is the picture perfect definition of sticky.  There are little fingerprints on each and every window. And don’t even get me started on the laundry situation. Yikes.  Up until recently, I used to think I was really missing the mark.  After all, I’m a “homemaker” by trade; I think it’s safe to say that includes keeping the house clean. But instead, everything is a mess – my hair, the bed, my kids: one big wild mess.


A couple of months ago, my dad sent me an email with a FaceBook post that went viral.  It was written by a woman who went to visit her aunt and was envious of her perfect vacuum lines.    Here’s an excerpt:


“As we strolled into the dining room, I remember thinking to myself, “oh my gosh! Her vacuum lines are still in her carpet probably a week or more after she vacuumed!! What I wouldn’t give to clean my house and have it stay magazine perfect for more than 5 minutes!!” I couldn’t wait for the day that I would be able to do that and not have it messed up by sticky little finger prints on the perfectly waxed dining table, or Legos hiding under the table, or walking in to discover Ryan’s latest art creation had so carefully been designed on the wall with crayons.


Here’s what I didn’t know at that time: that to have all of this picture perfect cleanliness, the kids would have to be gone. You see, I wanted those things because the everyday struggles of 5 loads of laundry, toys everywhere, mouths to feed, meals to prepare, beds to make were overwhelming to me, and the beauty of a pristine home was something only dreams were made of. Hell it took me 20 minutes in each room just to find the floor before I could vacuum it.

Then one day I woke up, went to clean my house, carefully placed vacuum lines in my carpet, looked at my beautiful dinning table with a perfect wax coating and zero finger prints and realized it would stay that way for days…..and that’s when I realized that vacuum lines are lonely.”


My first reaction to the email was “Oh.my.gosh. My house is SO MESSY, that my father is sending me articles about messy houses.  Mental note: do a deep clean before my parent’s next visit.”

But then it hit me.  The point wasn’t that I needed to clean my messy house, it was that their house was clean. My youngest brother left for college last fall and they officially became empty nesters.  They have vacuum lines.  My dad wasn’t telling me to be a better housekeeper, he was giving me the grace to cherish this season.  Because that’s what it is, a season; and seasons come and go.


It dawned on me, maybe I had it backwards .  Maybe I wasn’t failing at all.  My days spent playing, exploring, and creating with my kids aren’t wasted days, even if the day ends with a sink full of dishes.  After all, the shaping of little hearts is really the most important thing.

That being said, I can only run to Target so many times to buy more underwear before I actually have to do some laundry.  And the dishes can’t wait forever because then you will get ants and nobody wants ants.  So today I opted for a stay-home day so that we could have some clean clothes to take on vacation and so we didn’t have to spend extra money on an exterminator.



But just because we stay home doesn’t mean it has to be a boring day.  You can make adventures right where you are at with the time you have.  Today we had the simplest of adventures.  It was the kids and I and a bucket of sidewalk chalk.  Creative imaginative play at its best.  It was unscripted and unplanned and full of giggles and sunshine. There are some really fun and easy things to do with chalk.   We drew an obstacle course and a city road for my transportation loving baby.  My oldest and I got creative with some our story telling.



Before I had kids I would go over to people’s houses that had kids and each time after I left I would say “When I have kids, I’m going to keep my house in a way where you won’t know I have kids until you see our family pictures.”  Yeah, no.  As soon as you walk into my house you will see toys exploding from every corner, two high chairs around my kitchen table, and you are bound to touch something sticky as you venture in.  I’ve discovered this thing called balance.  Well, let me rephrase, I’m discovering this thing called balance.  It’s a work in progress.  Some days we get lost in the woods all day and the dishes don’t get done.  Some days we stay home and the dishes get done. BOTH kinds of days are time well spent.


In this season of life, the housekeeping has taken a back seat to living life with littles and I think that is ok.  As the littles grow to bigs I anticipate that struggle between the two will ease.

I love these words by Jen Hatmaker, “You will never have this day again with your children.  Tomorrow they will be a little bit older than today.  This day is a gift. Breathe and notice.  Study their little feet and faces.  Relish the charms of the present.  Enjoy today mama, it will be over before you know it.”


So to the mom with the messy house, you are right where you need to be.  Vacuum lines are overrated.


Day Adventure Guide: The Farm at Walnut Creek (Sugarcreek, Ohio)

We’re a sucker for all things local.  And that rings true whether we are at home, or visiting a new place.  We love exploring and supporting local, one-of-a-kind places.  Located in the heart of Amish country in central Ohio, The Farm at Walnut Creek will not disappoint.  It’s a working Amish farm, with animals to pet and feed, farm houses to explore, a play ground, and several exotic animals on display.  But the best part is the horse-drawn wagon ride out to feed the animals.

The animals come right up to the wagon to eat out of your bucket and even your hand.  And I’m not just talking about your typical petting zoo animals like goats and deer – think exotic: Water buffalo, zebra, giraffe, ostrich, elk, and so many more.  They have animals from all over the globe. Have you ever seen a Japanese Sika deer? Or an East African Crown crane?  Well, you will.  Depending on your guide, you will learn fun facts about the animals and their unique personalities.  We once had a guide that let Cam help steer the horses.

The animals seem to be more interactive the earlier in the day you go when they are still hungry and ready to get some food; and also in cooler temperatures when they aren’t desperate to sit in the shade.


Included in your wagon ride is a bucket of feed.  Make sure everyone in your party has one.   I’ll admit, it can be a little intimidating at first.  The animals are bold and come right up to the wagon and all up into your personal space.  Watch out for the horns!  They swing those things around like you flip your hair.  They will poke your eye right out.  If you have really little kids, I’d suggest putting some of your party on the interior bench at least until they warm up to the process.  The wagon ride is about 1 hour and there isn’t any shade, so load up on the sunscreen ahead of time.



Towards the end of the wagon ride you will get a turn to feed a giraffe.  If you have a choice, sit on the left side of the wagon, that’s where the giraffes are, although the guides are usually pretty good about making sure everyone has a turn.  The giraffes stay behind a fence but will reach down into the wagon to get the food.  If you haven’t had the opportunity to feed a giraffe, wait till you check out their long black tongues!


After the wagon ride, make sure to take your bucket of feed with you.  You are allowed to feed the goats, camels, cows, and other farm animals.  There are also several exotic birds and animals on display, including a walk through aviary and lemur island for your viewing pleasure.  Last time we were there, we were able to see some baby lemurs making their entrance into the public eye for the first time.  Cute doesn’t even begin to describe them.  There is also a large play ground and picnic tables if you want to pack a lunch.

It’s seriously a blast, everyone will love it.  Some more than others….


There is also a full working farm.  We’ve had the opportunity to feed baby cows, see a cow being milked, and watch a quilting demonstration.  There is a blacksmith shop you can stop by and learn about the trade, and a fresh produce stand where you can take home the produce grown right there on the farm.  It doesn’t get much fresher than that.

This is a non-electric farm, it is very interesting and educational to tour the houses and barns and see the alternatives to electric living.  There are also always some freshly baked cookies for your enjoyment in the main farm-house.  Yum.


FullSizeRender-2All is included for one price Adults: $16.95, Children (3-12) $11.75  PLEASE NOTE: The Farm at Walnut Creek is a CASH ONLY establishment.  No credit cards or debit cards accepted.  They are open every day but Sundays.

We always finish the day with some fresh Amish cooking at Der Dutchman.  You guys, I love me some custard pie and this is the best I’ve ever had.  And don’t leave without trying the peanut butter spread.  My boys go nutso over the stuff.

If you get a chance to visit, comment below and let me know what you thought of the The Farm.



Day Adventure Guide: Skipping Rocks

“Life is about moments.  Create them, don’t wait for them.” -author unknown


Those of you that know me, know this – I’m a purger.  I keep nothing. I save nothing.  My mother-in-law refuses to give me anything of sentimental value for fear I’ll throw it away.  I come by this naturally, my father’s the same way.  Well my oldest has decided to break the cycle – he wants to save everything.  I can’t tell you how many times he’s pulled something out of my trash, and headed up to his storage closet (aka his room), in astonishment that I would throw that treasured item away.  He’s currently into collecting keychains and rocks, and he asked me one day. “What do you collect?”  While I did go through this awkward stage in middle school where I collected pigs (I know, things just got weird); the obvious answer is, I collect nothing, because that would require saving things.  But the more I thought about it, I realized I do have a collection.  I collect moments, not things.


In fact, I might even be a moment hoarder.  Each day is full of so many moments for the taking.  Exciting ones, mundane ones, hilarious ones, loud ones, quiet ones, unexpected ones, dirty ones, ordinary ones – and I want them all.  Sometimes I expand my collection during a normal evening where the kids are playing, and I’m cooking dinner.  Other times we head out of the house to create new moments.



Today’s adventures was the simplest in form. While we waited for Cam to finish basketball camp.  The babies and I packed a lunch and met some friends on a riverbank to skip rocks.  Well, some of us skipped rocks.  Chase, in typical Chase form, preferred to stand watch over the snacks.  Hey, to each their own.



I think there is this stigma, that we need to have all of these organized and structured play dates for our kids.  But I’m not buying it.  That type of play date usually ends up causing me the most stress.  I’m convinced that afternoons like this are exactly what my kids need more of.  These little, messy, unhindered adventures are my favorites. The kids splashed, made old fashioned mud pies, stomped, yelled, laughed, and threw rock after rock.  And I quietly compiled more moments for my collection.


I was, however, a little unprepared for this atypical picnic lunch.  Feel free to learn from my mistakes.  I’d pack a change of clothes, towels, and a lot of wet wipes.  Water and mud are eminent. I attempted (unsuccessfully) to take my stroller.  Pack what you need in a backpack that you can throw on your back so your hands are free to help littles navigate to and by the water.  If you have room throw in some sand shovels, cups, and cars that can get wet and dirty.



Local friends – our spot is under Everett Covered Bridge, in Peninsula.  There’s a parking lot with a path that leads to the bridge, and a small path on the left near the bridge for easy access down to the river.  If you need to take a stroller, park it next to the covered bridge and travel the short distance down to the water on foot.  It’s a common horseback riding trail, so if you are there at the right time, you might even see some horses near the river.


There is so much life to be lived in the “in between.” Do something unstructured and messy today and expand your ‘moments collection’.




chase shoes
Chase’s Shoes
Chase’s Outfit (2pc set)
addi shoe
Addi’s Shoes

addi shorts

(FREE) Day Adventure Idea: Cleveland Edgewater Beach & Public Square Splash Pad


It’s no secret, Jimmy and I, LOVE the beach.  But alas, we live in northeastern Ohio, in the direct opposite of a beach town.


Last fall, on one of our Cleveland exploration days, we found ourselves at Edgewater Beach.  We were very impressed and promised to come back in the summer.   I know what you are thinking, “A Lake Erie beach is NOT the same as being on the coast.”   I hear ya, I grew up in South Florida, I know a real beach when I see one.  And while this isn’t the crystal blue sea, its a good alternative to enjoy on a sunny summer day.

There are two parking options.  An upper and lower.  We parked at the upper and walked down.  When we go back, we will definitely park at the lower lot.  The upper lot is home to the famous “CLEVELAND” sign and a great photo op.  It was a little bit of a hike down to the beach, but we made it – a kid, 2 babies, a cooler, a beach umbrella, and two bags in tow.  It wasn’t a bad walk down, but the uphill return was pretty brutal.  We did take our stroller, just for practicality purposes, but strollers don’t do well on sand.  If we could travel lighter, we would definitely leave it behind.

There’s no charge for parking or for entrance into the park.  If you pack a lunch, this outing is completely free!



The beach is large, clean, and groomed.  There are several life guards and different areas to swim.  The sand transitions from smooth to slightly “gravelish” as you near the water.  I’m not a fan of lake water, but the water felt surprisingly clean, for a lake, of course! 🙂 We were there from about 11-1 and it was not crowded at all.

We packed cold water and snacks, but not a full lunch.  For those interested, there is a beach house with a full concession stand (and it’s not as overly priced, as one would expect).  You can find the menu here. The beach house has the concession stand, clean bathrooms, bench swings, and lots of table and chairs to sit at.  Like I said, we chose to eat lunch here and we enjoyed the ambiance of looking over the water (it’s two stories), listening to music, and people watching.  On Friday nights, they open the bar and have live music, which sounds like a great date night in the making.


There were three ‘hang out’ options.  A grassy area with trees and picnic tables that overlooked the water.  A sand play area up top with smooth mounds and holes for the littles to play in.  And then of course, the large traditional beach area.  If you have little kids, this is the best beach umbrella  out there.


We had a great morning at the beach, and then hopped over to downtown to check out the new splash fountain in Public Square (10 minute drive).  It’s located right across from Tower City. You do have to pay for parking downtown, we paid 7$ for parking and were about a block away.

I was worried that my 7 year old would be bored, but he had a great time, running, sliding, and dodging the fountains.  There are plenty of places to sit and watch your kiddos play.



My only negative about the fountain area, is that there are no public restrooms.  I was hoping to change my kids before the long drive home and ended up having to do it all in the car.  The fountain isn’t far from one of our favorite spots East 6th Street.  We strolled over for an ice cream and a quick stop in our favorite T-Shirt store, Cleveland Clothing Company before heading home. All three of our kids were asleep before we even made it onto the highway!

You don’t have to travel hundreds of miles to have a day filled with vacation vibes!  You may not have the time, you may not have the money, you may not have the means to go on your dream vacation; but instead of wishing- make the most of today, because today is the best stuff.

If you have been to Edgewater Beach before, I’d love to hear your thoughts below.

Have fun!


Sooo You Want to Take a Baby to the Movies? (Here’s how to do it!)


Do it!  It never hurts to give anything a try!

When I had the twins, everyone said my life was over.  They told me I wouldn’t be able to leave the house never mind do all the things Cam (my oldest) and I were used to doing.  I was determined to prove them wrong.  I think you can do anything (ok, ok, ALMOST anything) with babies if you are prepared enough.  One of the things Cam and I loved doing pre-babies was hitting a matinée movie.  Here’s how we survived with twins (15 months) in tow:

  1. Think Cheap.  

The last thing you want to do is spend 30$ to only make it through the previews! Regal Cinemas has a summer movie program (May-July) where they show $1 movies on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.  You can find the showtimes and list of participating theaters: here. I thought Trolls would be the perfect tester movie with all the bright colors and music.  It cost $2 for all of us to see the film (2 and under are free), plus $10.00 for popcorn and a drink.  This way, if we had to leave – I wouldn’t be caught up with all the money I spent.

2. Be Realistic.

I prepped Cam on the way there, telling him we were doing an experiment, and that it might fail miserably.  He knew going in that we might not be able to stay for the film.  It helped that he had already seen Trolls, so I knew he wouldn’t be too disappointed if we had to make a beeline for the exit.  Unless your baby is less than 6 months, I’d avoid nap time.  It seems unrealistic that a baby will be able to go to sleep and stay asleep during a loud and bright film.  The last thing you want is a tired baby that needs to sit still and quiet.

3. Get there early.  (But not too early!)  

There is a fine line between being there with time to set up and your kids being restless before the film starts because they’ve already been sitting for 20 minutes.   You don’t want to be walking in after the film starts and scrambling for seats.  We were there about 5 minutes pre-previews and that was enough time to find seats together, and off to the side and out of the way.  By the time I had everyone seated with snacks, it was showtime.

4. Bring on the Snacks! 

I had oodles and oodles of snacks for the littles.  I bought a pop-corn to share and slipped some of the babies favorites treats into their diaper bag.   You’d be amazed how long a child will sit and eat popcorn and m&m’s.  I also spaced out the snacks.  I wouldn’t bring something new out until someone was starting to squirm.  I also had favorite blankets in tow for some cuddles.

5. Don’t be afraid to take breaks.

I intentionally didn’t attempt a long movie.  Trolls is about 1.5 hours.  The babies lasted about 45 minutes before they needed to stretch their legs.  Cam is 7 and we live in a pretty small town, so I felt comfortable leaving him in the theater while I stepped into the hall to let the twins release some energy.  They ran up and down the hallway for about 10 minutes before we went back in.  I got another 15-20 minutes of movie time before they expired.  Because there was only about 10 minutes left in the film I let Cam finish the movie while we waited in the hallway.

If you only make it for an hour, then thats a good start!  If you have to leave early, don’t consider that a fail –not all adventures go according to plan.  But be encouraged you made it out of the house and tried something new.  I’m a firm believer you make flexible kids by being flexible yourself.  Throw your expectations out the window and enjoy the ride.

Good luck!