My husband has been coaching high school football for almost 15 years, and since we have six children, I’ve been sitting in the stands with small children, “watching” football, for a long time. I’m not sure how much of the action I’ve really seen, but I have learned a few things about how to enjoy the time with my children.
1. Build excitement for the game by wearing your team’s colors, applying face paint and hair ribbons, and letting the kids throw a football around the yard.
2. Plan for accidents by packing Pull-Ups for little ones, extra clothes and a bib in the diaper bag, and baby wipes for sticky fingers.
3. Autumn nights can be chilly, so bring warm blankets and jackets. Snuggling feels great as the evening wears on.
Football Tastes Better with Food
1. Help hungry tummies by bringing simple snacks in your purse, such as packaged “fruit snacks,” candies such as Skittles and bubble gum, or small pretzels and corn chips.
2. Practice math at the concession stand. Bring one-dollar bills and plenty of quarters so that kids can learn to count out money and pay for their own snacks.
3. Prevent soda-pop messes by bringing extra straws and sippy cups.
4. Celebrate touchdowns, field goals, and special team achievements with a special treat all around, such as a candy bar or Smarties.
Show Your Spirit
1. Make noise when spirits lag. Clap and yell with the cheerleaders, stomp with the band, and applaud when your team does well. Bring noisemakers from home, pom-poms, or a colored towel to wave in the air.
2. If children are old enough to begin understanding the strategy of a football game, bring magnetic checkers and try to arrange the football players into their formations. Kids will learn about offense, defense, running and quarter backs, referees, special teams and more.
3. If you’re given a program with the names and stats of players, try to find each player on the field or sideline, or play a guess-how-much-that-player-weighs game. Collect player autographs after the game.
When Kids are Bored
1. Many bleachers are open to the ground below, so tie toys from home onto long pieces of string or yarn. Good toys to bring include Hotwheels (that can race up and down empty seats) and stuffed animals (dressed to match the cheerleaders).
2. Bring a digital or video camera, and plan photo events throughout the game. Bored children will enjoy being the photographer for a few minutes each quarter.
3. Play “I Spy” with all the numbers, colors, and shapes you see. Counting games are fun, too.
Showing support for a parent or older sibling can be a real drag for young children, but with a mom who’s a good sport, everyone can have fun at the game!