Families across America have movie nights each week, and we are no different. It can be challenging with small ones, but it’s so much fun! Here are my best tips.
Recently, a friend shared with me how excited her kids were for movie night each week. I long for easy and stress-free family traditions, so that week I started.
We’ve had a movie night ever since.
The kids wake up many mornings and ask, “Is tonight movie night?” My 4-year-old, 3-year-old, and 2-year-olds will talk about it all day on Fridays in anticipation. It has become something the entire family looks forward to. It’s easier with older children – as is most things – but it can still be done with small ones.
As with everything else about toddlers and preschoolers, it just requires more planning.
1. Set the scene.
We like to put a big pallet in front of the TV with fluffy pillows so all the kids lay down on the floor. My oldest gets the blankets, and everyone helps her set it up. If they watch cartoons during the week, they’ll do so from a recliner or chair, and the only time we create a big pallet is movie night. It makes it fun!
2. Choose easy and tasty food.
We always designate movie night for easy meals. Something they can eat while sitting in front of the TV on the pallet This means no tacos or casseroles. We recently went to Sam’s Club (the bulk shopping store in our area) and picked up the Tyson® chicken nuggets to eat on a movie night. We made chicken nuggets with mozzarella cheese melted on top to a great reception. You just cook the nuggets as normal, put slices of cheese on top, and bake a few more minutes.
It goes without saying we also do popcorn. We do popcorn appetizers, then a meal that can be eaten right there on a tray on the floor. Depending on what we’re eating, I sometimes allow condiments. I usually regret it.
3. Watch the classics.
My husband, particularly, loves movies. We try to watch some of the classics with the kids that are age appropriate and look forward to watching many more as they grow up. From the classics to some of the most popular from today, it’s a good idea to choose a movie you know will fly.
We’ve watched a few that were either a bit too scary, too weird or too long. For toddlers and preschoolers, a super long cartoon is the enemy. They’ll just start spilling the popcorn and run around screaming. Ask me how I know.
4. Create boundaries.
We don’t want movie night to be restricting, but there are a few ground rules. Try not to spill food and keep it close by so the baby doesn’t steal it. Don’t stand in front of the TV and block others’ view. Don’t run around screaming and distract others. You know, basic rules with little ones.
When movie night is over the kids help fold the blankets and put away the pillows as well. We attempt to leave the space as tidy as it was before, preferably tidier.
5. Everyone join in.
This is hard for me at times. I love being with the kids, but sometimes by Friday evening if they are all focused on something, I want to sit in a dark quiet room and stare at the wall. You know, zone out. However, it’s not exactly family movie night if the whole family isn’t participating, so both my husband and myself sit with the kids and ooohhh aaahhh.
Unless I have a work project looming (which is rare) we also have a no screen “rule” for adults. We want to be with the kids and be present, not there but off in cyberspace.
6. End it well.
One week we ended our movie night with a dance party to the ending credits. It was so much fun. Dancing around being silly is one of the pleasures of having small children. Too soon they’ll grow up and be too cool for school, so make the most of these moments.
For preschoolers, talk about the movie. Their favorite parts, questions they might have, lessons and morals the movie brought up. You won’t get enlightening answers from your toddlers, but you’ll be surprised what preschoolers pick up!
Most of all, have fun!
Tyson® is partnering with The Peanuts Movie, have you taken your kids to see it yet?
This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Tyson®. The opinions and text are all mine.