Live Performances with Kids: A Survival Guide


theater survival guide 400x423Don’t you just love live performances?!  There is something magical about watching talented and passionate people perform live on stage.  I love that we can be transported to another time and place, one without cell phones and distractions.  Because of this (and a million other reasons), I try to expose my kids to live performance as often as possible and I hope you will consider doing the same.  Below I’ve compiled a few tips that I’ve learned along the way.

  1. Secure an aisle seat if possible.  This will make a quick escape easy in case of a meltdown or a stinky diaper situation.
  2. Pick a performance time that works around nap time.
  3. Expose the kids to as much about the performance as possible before you go.  Read the book and/or watch the movie before the play, for example, or have a dance party with the type of music they will hear.  The more kids get excited about what they are about to see, the more engaged (read: the better behaved) they are likely to be.
  4. Pack some quiet snacks.  Nothing is worse than that crinkle of a wrapper or the crunch of a pretzel during a quiet performance, so consider things that are already out of the wrapper and can be eaten quietly and independently.  (Of course, be sure to comply with the facility’s rules on food.)
  5. Plan ahead for souvenirs.  Once you are a captive audience inside the venue, you’ll be paying top dollar for, well, not great quality items.  Consider buying a toy or other related item from the store before you go, and everyone will be happy.  At very least, have a discussion with your little one about what/if/how much will be spent on snacks and souvenirs.  (Trust me on this one!  We walked into Frozen on Ice with no plan the first time and left with a small mortgage!)
  6. Arrive early to explore the venue, find your seats, and get settled.  But, not too early if you have kids who are anxious for the show to start.
  7. Use the restroom immediately before the show.  And again if there is an intermission.  Also, stretch your legs during intermission.  Check out the venue, get a closer view of the stage, the instruments, or play some old fashioned eye spy.
  8. Model appropriate theater etiquette, including quiet voices, clapping when appropriate, and staying seated during the performance.
  9. If you are unsure that your little one is ready for live performance, try some that are geared toward kids first.  Many agencies have created shows specifically for the younger crowd, which usually means shorter performances and earlier show times as well as language that is easier to understand.
  10. Have fun!  And enjoy some quality time with your kids!  Turn your cell phone off, and instead watch the twinkle in the eyes of your kids as they experience live performance.

Try putting some of these tips to use at one of Columbus’ awesome upcoming shows!  Be sure to check out my Spring 2016 Round Up for a TON of kid-friendly live performances.  Our city’s arts program rocks!

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When Jen is not trading sarcastic jabs with her husband or hanging out with her kids, she can be found bargain shopping, digital scrapbooking, or *gasp* sleeping. She lives by the Golden Rule and tries to teach her kids to do the same. Jen is a school counselor and loves being an advocate for kids. She is mom to two awesome girls: a rule following, empathetic-beyond-her-years 5 year old and a spunky and sweet 1 year old. She has been married for ten years and has lived in Ohio forever. She was born and raised in the Cleveland area and established roots in Columbus 15 years ago. Her basement is full of "stuff" Including deals too good to leave at the store and childhood memories. She is a recovering people pleaser and a current Pepsi addict. She loves people watching but hates cleaning the bathroom. Jen is hopeful that Columbus Mom's Blog can help families in central Ohio connect while also creating that lost feeling of community that she craves.


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