Take Your Kids Out to the Ballgame
Soon after we discovered our first child was on the way, my wife and I had the opportunity to visit one of baseball’s famed cathedrals, Fenway Park. It was roughly a 12-hour drive for us. I jumped at the chance, not just because I had always wanted to see a ballgame there, but because I was worried I might never get there again.
After all, I thought, a baby would probably put a stop to our stadium visits, so I might as well cash in on the opportunity while I had the chance. Hey, it wasn’t realistic to take an infant to stadiums, right? The noise, nuisance, bottles, diaper changes – it would be difficult, if not impossible.
How wrong I was. Sports have been an important part of our family fun from day one. And even when my wife doesn’t want to partake, she asks me to take the kids alone. Either way, it works.
However you do it, bringing kids to a game is easy and fun. But like anything you do with your family, it helps to be a little prepared.
The only place where a hot dog costs more per ounce than a filet mignon is at the ballpark. This makes for an expensive way to feed children. So unless you want to spend nine innings fending off begging children, strongly consider bringing your own food along. Many stadiums allow this but check with their policies. Usually, coolers or bags have a size requirement. Regardless, there’s nothing wrong with sneaking in a few fruit snacks or crackers.
One surefire way to quell the hangry beast in all of us is to feed your face beforehand. Once before a game, we took our kids to a cheap pizza-by-the-slice joint just a few blocks from the stadium. It wasn’t until the game was nearly over that we finally heard, “I’m hungry.” At that point, it was easy to play the “we’ll be home soon” card, and we saved a lot of dough.
You never know what’s going to transpire while you’re at a ballgame, so don’t just bring along the baby basics in your diaper bag. With a Boy Scout mentality, you can be prepared for anything that comes your way. Band-aids, bee sting cream, sunscreen, and ibuprofen might save a trip to the First Aid station. You should consider stashing away drawing pads or small toys to keep the little ones occupied. Also, a nice set of binoculars will help them stay engaged even if you’re in the nosebleeds.
Strollers get the assist
I’ve learned that strollers can be a huge benefit while at the ballgame, especially if you’re bringing the kids solo. Not only do most stadiums make it easy for strollers, sometimes you get through the turnstiles quicker via wide-entry gates, or have access to often-unused wheelchair seating sections. And some stadiums offer a stroller check service. All of it comes in very handy when your hands need a break, or for hauling all your extra cargo.
I have great memories of my own dad teaching me about sports while at the game. So, don’t tap on your phone. Instead, take the time to help your kids understand what they’re watching. Tell them stories about the players, show them fascinating nuances about the stadium/arena, point out where memorable sports moments took place, meet the team mascot, and teach them when to look for a sacrifice bunt. The more they’re invested in what they’re watching the ballgame, the more they’ll be engrossed and want to come back.
There’s something cool about seeing photos of something in a book, and then seeing it in real life. Doing so draws your children into the reality of something important, and makes them feel like a part of the here and now. If you’re headed to Wrigley Field, for example, show them pictures of the hand-operated scoreboard, the ivy walls, the rooftops. Then, when they lay their own eyes on it in person, it will have more meaning.
Potty breaks and diapers can be a tricky thing, so you have to be on your game. Most of the newer stadiums and arenas have family bathrooms, but not all do. And some venues still don’t even have changing tables in men’s rooms. So when it comes to bathrooms breaks, take them while you can, lest you regret missing a crucial moment in the game.
Do you have any tips for taking your kids to the ballgame?