"Is It Really A Family Night Out"
"What are your views regarding children under age 5 attending formal events such as funerals, concerts, and weddings? What about church services? What tips or tricks have you developed that make these events go well for you and your little ones?"
As a single mom of 2, I certainly have my own view on this subject... and it might be somewhat of a surprise!
To me, a family night is a night spent with family doing something that everyone can enjoy. If it only entertains some of the family then it will not be as pleasant an experience for those who are not entertained! My babies are 11 and 3 and that is a big age difference. What one may like, does not always appeal to the other! So, I have to put a little more thought into it.
If it will be an enriching experience and I feel like they can understand and appreciate the event, then I would love to take them. However, I don't find most formal events appropriate for either of them! If it is an event that I would like to attend but don't think they would enjoy, it is probably best that I find alternate arrangements for them. If I am unable to find alternate arrangements, I would rather not go, than to take them and ultimately end up only frustrating them and myself. (As well as others that might be attending!) Both of my children are well behaved, and obedient; but that doesn't make it necessary or appropriate that they attend!
I have found that the most memorable experiences are things that we all enjoy, and it is pretty easy to cater to them both and make everyone happy. We often go to the book store for a bit. Little man loves to play on the trains, and me and NaNa love to read and drink our Frappacino's (sp?), so we will get our coffee, and a good book or 2 and then head back to the train area. Little Man will play away, while we read with each other, or on our own!
We also enjoy bowling, and skating. Both of these require a little more patience when it comes to Little Man as he is smaller, but, we always bring along one of NaNa's friends so she has someone to skate off with, or to talk to so that she doesn't get frustrated.
There are lots of ways to spend time as a family, and there are also lots of ways to go out and enjoy being a grown up. I take this time seriously as it "fills me up" so that I have plenty to keep me going being a mommy, and so that I don't lose sight of the person that I am inside. The more complete I am, the better mommy I can be!
If I absolutely have to go, and have to take them with me, I take lots of snacks, toys, and goodies to keep them entertained and busy. None of us like to be bored! If we (grown ups) get bored, we can always let our minds wander and think about what we need to do, where we would like to be, or just plain daydream. Our little ones aren't able to do that as easily, so it is important that we give them something else to do that doesn't distract others around us!
Respect ourselves, or little ones, and those around us!
Now, I am not at all saying they should NEVER go. I have taken them to funerals, weddings and concerts. They were (aside from the funerals) happy and enjoyable experiences! They were enriching and fun and we have the best memories of those times! The most important thing for me was to communicate with my babies, let them know what to expect and spend the time enjoying their discovery! We are raising adults... and I always remember that...but I also remember that we adults all have a little kid inside of us, and as a parent I want for my babies to always be able to be that little kid too! It is a balancing act, but as parents, we are required to juggle, and to be good at it! If we drop the ball, we pick it up and keep going!