We took our first family trip this past weekend to Nashville. I call it a family trip because it was no vacation. Or as I have so affectionately answered when my family and friends asked, “How was your trip?” and I answer, “Awesome – in a ‘don’t touch that. Stay close to us. Get off that’ kinda way.” The major reason we chose Nashville was to see our favorite NFL team the Philadelphia Eagles play the Tennessee Titans. We had the bright idea to bring our two kids to the game with us to experience the thrill of a live NFL game. For reference, my youngest is three and my oldest is five.
Pre-planning before the game helped us to ensure we were prepared for any and every situation that could arise. I thought I’d save you all the hassle if you decide to bring your kids to a professional sporting event and share my tips that helped make it easier on this mama.
- Check the weather –Depending on the weather you’ll need to prepare your outfits and pack accordingly. In our case, it was going to be 85 degrees and hot, so we packed the kids in shorts and t-shirts, and I packed extra pants, baseball caps and sunglasses.
1A. I did forget sunscreen, but my mom was a gem and had some in her bag.
- Talking about bags, let’s get serious here for a second. RESEARCH people. Most professional stadiums do not allow any purses, but either a wallet size (8.5” x 5.5” non-see through purse), or clear bags like zip-locks, or official NFL sanctioned clear totes you can buy at the team souvenir shop. We did not realize this until the night before, so we ended up packing up a Ziploc and purchasing an expensive NFL sanctioned clear tote on our way in. Plan ahead and save yourself some cash.
- Come up with a game plan ahead of time for parking. With little kids in tow, we did not want to walk 30-40 minutes to get to the stadium. So, we arrived about 2 hours early to the game and found a parking space that was 1.2 miles away. It was still a long way but manageable for the oldest to walk all the way with no assistance. Strollers are not allowed inside of these stadiums, so it’s best to find a close parking space.
- Arrive early and have lunch. Arriving early to the stadium gives your kids a chance to walk around, check out the stadium, see the field and maybe a band playing or the teams warming up. This also gives you a chance to find the family bathrooms. These are usually in every section and are the ideal situation when you have toddlers that need to go to the bathroom at a moment’s notice.
- Pack sound-canceling headphones. These are commonly seen at major sporting events on babies and toddlers. If you have kids who are sensitive to loud noises, they may benefit from such a thing. Although I will warn you, in 85-degree weather, it can make your child incredibly warm.
- Download some TV shows on your phone. As a final back-up to being utterly bored out of their minds and you’re desire to enjoy the $500 ticket you purchased, download a $2.99 TV show onto your phone for them to watch. It will buy you 30 minutes to enjoy the game and give the child a little time to decompress from the stimulation of the arena.
And last but not least, lower your expectations for how the game will go. I went into this game thinking I’d spend the majority of my time wandering the concession areas and staying cool in the shade. And that is precisely what I did.