- Talk it up! About a week before we went I started talking about how excited I was about going and what a special treat it is to go to the theater. I really wanted them to get it that this was different than just going to the movies.
- Explain what will happen. There's a lot that two and four year olds don't know and sometimes we forget to explain things that seem really basic to them. I made sure to talk to both of them about the mundane things: how we would probably wait in line and that they needed to stay with me and be patient, that we would be in seats and real live people would be putting on a show, how and when to clap, what intermission is, why and when they turn the lights off, how to talk to me if they want to say something etc.
- Utilize older siblings if you've got 'em. What was great was that I didn't really need to worry about Sam's behavior because he was all puffed up with self-importance because he had already been to the theater and I had specifically asked him to explain to Vivi how we needed to act. Truthfull, Vivi's usually better behaved, but this time they were both on best behavior, in part because Sam saw himself as the older, wiser brother, setting an example.
- Dress for success! I put both the kids in extra-nice outfits and emphasized how we dress nicely when we go somewhere special. Something about being in fancy clothes puts them in a mindset to match their behavior to their clothing, if that makes sense. Vivi's whole outfit is here: Dress, leggings, sweater and here are Sam's pants and awesome retro polo that I love. His sweater is handknit. (The picture below is actually them in their theater outfits, but they were taken by my sister-in-law on a different day.)
- Come Prepared! I brought snacks for intermission as well as books. Everybody went to the bathroom before we left so we didn't need to brave the lobby during the break. Instead we read Salamander Room and Possum Magic.
Have you taken your young kids to any performances? How did it go? Once I tried to take both of them to a free symphony performance and that didn't go nearly as well. It involved me slinking out, dragging them two of them, head ducked in shame, and making an hour long drive home. You win some, you lose some. But overall, the more I take them to things like this, the better they get. And you should have seen Vivi's eyes as the lights dimmed and the play began. She was enthralled the entire time. Do you have a children's theater near you? We love ours! I've promised the kids that when they are three and five I will take them to see the Nutcracker at the grown up theater. I can't wait!!
A huge thanks to our local theater who offered complimentary tickets, and to Tea Collection who never fail to make the kids look classy. I only ever share things I love and The Children's Theater and Tea Collection are at the top of my list!