Saturday, September 21, 2013

Taking your kids to ComicCon, or its cousins (Part One- general and little kids)

Whether you're a long time con-goer looking to start your new offspring off in the geek world, or a parent who is going to ComicCon* for the first time with your kids, going to cons with kids is a bit different from going other places with kids, and a whole different thing from going without kids. Here are a few things I've found that can make the day easier.

(*For the sake of brevity, I'll use ComicCon, but this includes any other local cons you may enjoy)

Plan ahead: and I do mean for everything. Unless you're one of those people lucky enough to have both kids *and* money, this starts with the ticket purchase. Does a gift giving holiday coincide with ticket sales? If you buy these tickets, will some important soccer game your kid can't miss force to miss out on using them? We always get out Emerald City ComicCon tickets in our stockings...much better than more cheap plastic crap!
As soon as the schedule comes out, start looking at it as a family and decide which panels or events matter most to each of you. It's easy if you have at least as many adults as kids going, but when the kids start outnumbering you, and/or having opinions of their own, it's time to compromise (I'll talk about kids old enough to roam cons without you tomorrow) Make sure EVERYONE gets to an event, panel, or signing they care about.

I dragged him to the Doubleclicks show and he ended up on stage

Then, it's time to plan how you'll spend money and what you are willing to spend it on. Decide on a budget for everyone and take it out in cash. Letting your kids know they get to pocket unused budget can make them amazingly thrifty. Be clear before you go what you will NOT spend money on: be it a particular comic, yet another stuffed animal, or con food. I, personally, will not pay for an autograph or to get my photo taken with a celebrity, but for last year's ComicCon my daughter did just that: and it was the height of her day, week, and month.

Decide how you feel about photos: If you look at the terms of service of most cons, they will say something like this:
"Badge holder consents to use of their likeness or image by media or for advertising and other promotional purposes"

What that means to me is that when I walk in that door with my kids, I am OK with their picture being taken by anyone, and published anywhere. While it's certainly rude for someone to take pictures of a child and posting them to the internet without asking the parent, it CAN happen. If this would in some way endanger your child, it might be best to stay home or dress him in a full face mask.

FOOD: It's so much easier without kids, isn't it? You go go go until you feel like gnawing on your arm, then you buy some food. Well, not me, because I'm allergic or intolerant to like 5 different things. But most people. You just can't do that with kids, as you well know (unless they're still breastfed) . Personally, I find it much cheaper to pack a day's food and spend my money on cool stuff. If you'd rather plan a lunch break in a restaurant or local fast food place, you STILL need to pack food. Believe me. When you're standing in line for that ONE panel you didn't want to miss and your kids starts melting down, you'll be grateful you have those granola bars with you.

Take into consideration your child's particular needs: If your child has special needs, I know you're already the expert and are on top of making sure your child is accommodated. But don't stop at contacting your con's disability services! Contact your local 501st Legion to see if they can make your child's day special. 
If your child is more typical, you may still have needs to consider. If she is newly or currently potty training, you won't want a difficult to remove costume, but you WILL want a change of clothing. Does your child eat or nap at a certain time? Get cranky at 3? Think of how the day will affect your child's schedule and plan meal and rest times accordingly.

Tomorrow I'll look at issues particular to older kids, such as guidelines for costumes, cell phones,  and independence.


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