Last week, my husband and I took our 3.5 year old, Miles, to his first ever minor league baseball game, to see the Lexington Legends in nearby Lexington, KY. It was a proud day for my husband, one of his first experiences sharing a sporting event with one of his sons. I’m not going to pretend to understand the magic that such things hold for a father and son, but I know enough to understand it was important.
Due to his age and inability to be still for any length of time, we left Spencer, our 2 year old, home with a babysitter for the evening. He has a blast when Miss Cathy comes over to play, so I knew he would be in good hands and not miss us at all. We tend to eat dinner very early (anyone else with young kids eat super early, like Early Bird Special early??), so by the time we arrived for the 7:00pm game, all three of us were ready for some good ballpark eats.
The friends we went to the game with surprised us by buying us drinks and loaded fries (YUM), but even after eating that, we each had a corndog (Miles’s first real corndog, I believe). Miles stood with us for “The Star-Spangled Banner” and the beginning of the game and watched the game for awhile, taking in the field and stands around us. Brandon tried to explain some of what was going on, but mostly he just cheered and clapped when people around us celebrated.
When he started to get antsy, he wanted popcorn, and knowing how long it takes to eat popcorn, we decided it was worth a few dollars for additional minutes of stillness from him, so Miles and I made our way to the popcorn line. Of course, as soon as we got in line, he announced that he needed to potty, so we had to locate the restrooms and then get back in the popcorn line. Once back in our seats, the popcorn did buy us some more time enjoying the game…until he grew tired of the popcorn and wanted cotton candy. *sigh* Yes, I’ll confess that we did buy (and eat) cotton candy as well. Shame shame.
The sugar gave him an extra boost of energy, which was perfectly timed with the first scoring in the game, so Miles let out his sugar burst with some crazy dancing in his seat. When it was time for “God Bless America” to be sung, the performer ended on an unexpected high note and Miles promptly scowled and covered his ears. Oops. Sorry, singer guy, it was fabulous, really!
Just before the 7th inning stretch, Miles started to get a little restless and I had to bring out his LeapPad, and I was ever so grateful that I had put it in my bag for the trip! A little after 9:00pm, we decided to leave early to relieve our babysitter, who was successful in getting Spencer to sleep at a respectable hour.
All in all, it was a fairly successful outing, a rare one with just Miles, Mommy, and Daddy. I’m sure my husband is plotting future father-son outings to see the Legends play again, so here are a few of my tips for taking a 3 year old to a ballgame:
- Prepare them! Talk up baseball as much as you can before the trip. Watch a little on TV, play with a wiffle ball in the backyard, have him wear baseball shirts. By the time we were ready to go to the game, Miles had stopped calling it “B ball” or “basketball” and was remembering that this is baseball.
- Pack Distractions! Stash a LeapPad, a busy bag (stay tuned for a post about my busy bags for the boys!), or some other favorite distraction in your bag for the evening and only get it out if needed.
- Fill ‘Er Up! Food is a great distraction, and though it might be costly, it will probably buy you more enjoyment. To be honest, the prices at the minor league game weren’t at all bad. You don’t need an entire meal, but budget for some extras to keep everyone happy.
- Don’t Expect Perfection! Preschoolers aren’t known for their ability to be still and watch things that don’t make sense. Sure, they’ll be in awe of the stadium…for awhile, but then they want to do their own thing. If your local minor league stadium is like ours, they might have a kids’ play area (ours has a playground), so don’t be afraid to use that as a reward. However, you might want to keep that part a secret, or you might have to hear lots of whining about wanting to go to the playground instead of watching the boring game.
- Have Fun! What’s the point in going unless you have fun? Just remember that you’re creating memories, you’re not there for intense baseball watching. Your kids will love having that special experience with you if you let it be enjoyable!
Have you taken your kids to a baseball game? What age were they when you went? How did it go?