10 Tips for Surviving Movie Night With Kids

by Rita Templeton
Originally Published: 

Ahh, movie night: the perfect opportunity to gather the family around the screen and snuggle up together, enjoying some quality time with the kids.

… Until someone puts their foot in someone else’s face, and an argument ensues. Or someone decides that the high point of the film would be the perfect time to poop. Or a massive spill renders a blanket unusable – and that was the one and only acceptable blanket in the house because the other blankets are all hot and itchyyyyyyyyyy.

Let’s face it: most of the time, the real-life version of events doesn’t always match up with the idyllic pictures we have in our heads, especially where kids are concerned. But that doesn’t mean family movie night has to rank up there on the parental suckage chart with, say, “overly scheduled trip to the theme park” or “library at nap time.” We’ve put together these ten handy tips to make movie night manageable – and, dare we say, enjoyable – for all parties involved.

1. Stick to the status quo. Broadening your kids’ cultural horizons with more experimental films is an admirable goal – but if you want to watch a new-to-them movie and ensure a fuss-free family night, look for what’s popular. It’s popular for a reason. If other kids are going gaga for a certain flick, chances are yours will feel the same. There’s nothing wrong with introducing your kids to your favorite foreign cartoon or a classic you used to love, but you might wanna save it for a time when an interruption-free evening isn’t your main goal.

2. Fall back on a familiar favorite. Have your kids watched Frozen so much that “Let it Go” plays in your head on loop? Is The LEGO Movie on your TV so much that you can’t hear the word “awesome” without bursting into song? Good: those are the movies you’ll want to watch for family movie night. Something they’ve seen a bazillion times means you don’t have to answer incessant questions “WHAT DOES THAT MEAN?” and “WHAT ARE THEY DOING?” But best of all, when you nod off and someone catches you mid-doze with, “Mommy, did you see that?” you’ll be able to know exactly what you missed. Stealth napping level: expert.

3. Avoid awkwardness. Another reason to be familiar with the movie you choose? You can sidestep potentially cringe-worthy situations brought on by an unexpected scene or piece of dialogue. The movie Hocus Pocus comes immediately to mind: it’s wildly entertaining, and kids love it, but it mentions virgins approximately 8,647 times. And while there are definitely times to explain sexual activity (or lack thereof) to kids, family movie night isn’t it. If you really know the movie beforehand, you can have a well-timed coughing fit and drown out any questionable parts.

4. Snack smartly. Meaning, don’t choose anything that could possibly derail your enjoyment. Popcorn, for example: rookie mistake. It might be the traditional movie night snack, but have you ever had a child chomping it loudly two inches from your ear and then complaining that they can’t hear over either their own chewing or their annoying sibling’s and griping because someone won’t pass the bowl and spitting husks all over the place? Yeah. That. The ideal movie night snacks can be chewed quietly and served individually.

5. Bring out the bedding. If all goes well, chances are someone is going to fall asleep. (You, them, whoever.) Let the kids drag their comforters and pillows off their beds and arrange them into makeshift floor-nests – or bring out the special-occasion sleeping bags. Either way, if they conk out, you can leave them where they lie. No throwing your back out trying to lug them to their beds – and no risk of waking them up at bedtime refreshed after their little movie-night siesta. That being said …

6. Practice strategic arrangement. Cuddling together on the couch is great, but if you don’t want to spend half the movie with your arm pinned numbly under a sleeping kid, or your chest saturated with their excessive head-sweat, be really enthusiastic about how great it’d be if everybody camped out on the floor! (Everybody except the parents that is. Because, COUCH.)

7. Minimize pop-up pee breaks. You know how it is: everyone is into the movie, all is well, and then suddenly someone decides they have to pee and demands that you push the pause button, leading to vocal complaints from the rest of the audience. Before the movie starts, declare your living room off-limits until a visit to the bathroom, or schedule a mid-show intermission where everyone can get up and tend to business.

8. Extend an invitation. Who says movie night has to be only your family? Invite another family to join in the fun. The adults can indulge in a little grownup conversation while the kids watch the movie – and if the kids aren’t watching the movie, nobody cares as long as they’re occupying each other.

9. Think of a theme. Are you crafty? Do you spend a disproportionate amount of time on Pinterest? Great – you can create a movie night theme! Design fun movie tickets, make theater-style signs, get creative with lighting. Not artsy? No problem: use food to create a no-brainer theme, like pizza while you watch Ninja Turtles or gummy fish for Finding Nemo.

10. Shelve the screens. Make your living room a no-phone zone. (Or tablets. Or iPads. Basically, no screens other than the one you’re watching the movie on.) This way everyone is really and truly present – because family bonding can’t happen when your faces are in Facebook. Even if you’re not that into the movie, you can use the opportunity to watch your little angels’ precious expressions while they’re engrossed in the moment, and file the memory under “Things to Remember and Cry About When They’re Leaving for College.”

… You’re welcome, kids.

This post has been brought to you by Keurig Kold & Coca-Cola to celebrate the debut of their Keurig Kold machine, which allows you to make a Coke in the comfort of your own home. Wouldn’t that make a nice addition to your next movie night?

Buy one here or share this post with the hashtag #CokeAtHome on Twitter or Facebook to be entered to win Keurig’s new Keurig KOLD Drinkmaker, valued at $400. Winner will be chosen at random and announced Friday, November 6th at 4PM EST on the Scary Mommy Twitter account. (US only, please!)

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