Monday, September 15, 2014

How to Movie Night with Kids

So true.  With #9 on the way and all the energy siphoned out by the other 8, I have virtually NOTHING left!!! ;)

After my post on Friday about movie night with the kids, one of my readers emailed me to ask how we do that without massive fighting, given that my kids are almost 5 years apart, and don't necessarily like the same movies anymore. 
When we first started movie nights, I never really thought about their age difference, honestly.
Movie nights started out as a seasonal thing, watching Halloween movies every Friday in October leading up to Halloween, and then watching Christmas movies every Friday in December leading up to Christmas. I think because it started that way, the kids got used to watching old movies, or movies that they might not pick themselves, or movies that were a little below their own age group {ahem, Lainie}, because they were holiday movies, so it was all in the spirit of things. 
Over time they got so attached to movie night, that now it's less about what we watch and more about the fact that we do it. It's not every single Friday, and over the summer we missed several months in a row actually, because no one really showed an interest in it. But we've recently revived them, and the kids are pretty stoked. 
Still, there are occasionally times when Lainie feels very grown up and absolutely does NOT want to watch a "baby" movie that Jack picks, or Jack absolutely will NOT watch Harry Potter for Lainie because it scares him, so if you're worried about fighting and bitching and finding a movie that works for every age group, I can offer you this advice:

1. Make a list of options. I do this by having the kids each write down 4 movies they want to watch each month. Neither of them get to veto each other's choices, but I get to veto anything I want if it's wildly inappropriate, too long, scary, terrible, etc. 

2. Plan in advance. We do it every week, but if you want to get crazy, you could do it at the beginning of every month, whatever makes you happy. Sit down with the kids and let them each pick one movie from "their" list of movies they wanted to see this month. For the rest of the week, I talk it up. "It's going to be so fun to watch Monster's Inc on Friday! I can't wait to see Beauty and the Beast with you guys!" blah blah, etc. Something about planning it in advance gives them time to come to terms with their destiny, and it gives the older child a chance to get in the spirit of watching a "little kid" movie. 

3. Watch two movies. We do this simply because Jack and Lainie are so far apart in age. It's a lot easier to get her to be a good sport - or even sometimes really enjoy - watching a movie Jack likes, if she knows that when it's over she gets to watch her movie. Also, most of the time Jack is passed out by the time the second movie starts, so she can watch Harry Potter if she wants without scaring the shit out of her little brother. 

4. Have snacks. If all else fails, throw ice cream sandwiches and popcorn their way until they cheer up and pipe down. Make it a whole experience, and then the pressure for the movies to be EVERYONE'S FAVORITES will be off. My kids are s'mores addicts, so we make s'mores or roast marshmallows, and make popcorn. I usually pick up something extra for each kid too, like barbecue potato chips for Jack and Rasinettes for Lainie. 

I'm not saying it's a perfect system, but we usually get through movie night with limited blood shed, so it's worth a shot. 

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