There are two things that have been on my kids’ minds lately: popcorn and Monsters University. And I can’t blame them. I am a huge fan of the first Monsters, Inc., and so I am just as excited to see the sequel as they are.
We’ve taken our kids to see two movies in theaters before. The first time was a waste of an experience because we didn’t prepare them for it, and so one child was scared and one child was bored and two parents were exhausted and broke. The second time, we learned our lesson, and we put a little planning into the movie-going experience. Turns out, it made a huge difference. Here are some key pre-gaming rituals we use in our family to prepare for a night at the movies:
1. We try to buy the book version of the movie before we go, if it is available. We bought a Monsters University book a few weeks ago and have been reading it at night with the kids. These books are great because they tell the story that the kids will see in the movie theater before we actually sit down. This helps because the kids know what to expect, especially Bean Man. He doesn’t like to be surprised (especially in large, dark rooms with big, giant movie screens), so knowing the story and characters before he goes in helps him not be so nervous.
2. We get really, overly excited whenever we see promotional things for the movie we are going to see. This is not hard. My kids go CRAZY when they see Monsters University things right now. Commercials, billboards, merchandise. These kids are an advertising department’s dream. They love it all, and Chris and I try to play it up, too. We try to give names to specific characters (especially anyone who might be deemed a “bad guy”). Knowing their names before we go into the theater takes some of the mystery and anxiety out of the experience for my wee ones.
3. We usually don’t go to the movie until it has come out in the theaters for a bit. I vet it through my friends and their kids to see if it is age appropriate for my kids. I read the reviews. I ask around on Facebook. I do my own research to make sure that I’m not taking the kids to see something that is over their heads. Even cartoons these days can sometimes be hit or miss for toddlers and preschoolers if plot lines are too complex. That is one of the reasons that I am so excited about Monsters University. Those movies are fun for parents, but still understandable and funny for the little ones, too.
4. When we are ready to go, we try to make it to the late morning or early afternoon viewings. Usually, these are less crowded and more family-friendly. So, if I absolutely must get up and walk around with one of my kids or if one has a meltdown because someone ate the last piece of popcorn out of the 5,000 pound barrel, it isn’t QUITE as disruptive. We still step out of the back of the theater when one of them has an episode, but it isn’t such a big deal during daytime showings.
5. This last one is new for us, and we have been doing it with our kids specifically for Monsters University. We have been trying to interact with the movie and characters before we actually go to the movie. Kellogg’s has made this possible by creating the “Kellogg’s Scare Scholar Game” website. This website lets kids play a really fun memory game with the Monsters University characters. The characters roar in a particular order, and kids have to remember the order of who roared when. You can collect points, and become the top Scare Scholar! You can play without registering, but you might want to take the time to register because it will enter you into a $10,000 scholarship for your kids, plus daily prizes along the way. My kids have been loving the website, and it makes them really want to go see the movie now.
To help prepare your family for the Monsters University movie experience (or to celebrate if you have already been), Kellogg’s has provided FOUR fabulous giveaway packages today for Marriage Confessions readers:
The Randy Package includes (one winner): 2 movie tickets to see Monsters’ University at a participating theater, plus 1 Monsters University themed pillowcase
The Mike Package includes (two winners): 3 movie tickets to see Monsters’ University at a participating theater, plus 2 Monsters’ University themed pillowcases, and $200 “Monster Cash” to be awarded in the form of a gift card.
And the grand prize winner of The Sully Package (one winner) will receive: 4 movie tickets to see Monsters’ University at a participating theater, $200 “Monster Cash” to be awarded in the form of a gift card, and 3 Monsters’ University themed pillowcases.
To be entered to win, leave a comment below telling me who your favorite “Monsters, Inc.” or “Monsters University” character is and why. If you leave a Tweet, Facebook, or Pinterest link, you’ll receive an additional entry for each (one entry per email address per day, please, kids). The giveaway will run until Friday, July 12. For complete and official rules, click here: Official Rules.