Here we are, just a few weeks away from SDCC. I have been reflecting on my experience with it last year, and everything I read in preparation for it (since it was my first year), and the thing that stood out to me most was the lack of posting about attending it with your child/ren. While I am not bringing my children this year, I did last year. And I have taken them to other conventions. So I thought that I might try my hand at writing my thoughts on convention going with child/ren, and what might make it a little easier for those of you will be bringing yours this year.
1) Let them pick their own snacks. A few days before we go to a convention, I take my kids to the store and let them choose a couple of snacks they'd like to have while we're traveling. I let them pick snacks for the car ride as well as the convention itself. Pre-sliced, pre-packaged fruit slices are a usual pick, so are fruit snacks and crackers. I don't buy candy beforehand, because we usually end up buying some at a gas station on the way there. Letting them choose what they get to snack on makes them more excited to go and to actually eat that snack when it comes time.
2) Give them something to take care of. It will cut down on meltdowns if you give them something to focus on. I let each of my kids bring in a small backpack. It gives them the responsibility of hanging on to something, and it cuts down (a little) on what I have to carry while there. I put a couple snacks and a water bottle in each pack, along with their DS and some crayons. Which brings me to my next point.
3) Bring some lightweight entertainment. Children aren't meant to have the longest attention spans, and they may not understand why you're looking at booth after booth and not buying anything. Since I let each child bring in a backpack, I also let them bring in their DS. I also put some crayons and a small pad of paper in each backpack. That way, when you do stop to rest or to eat, they have something they can do to unwind.
4) Be upfront about your budget and stick to it. My husband and I will tell our kids, "You can each spend $20" or something like that, and then we stay firm. If we didn't, they'd buy every toy at the convention!
5) Skip time intensive events. This is up to you, really, but I know that my kids wouldn't stand in a line for hours to get into a panel that takes another hour. So my husband and I don't attend panels when we have our kids. This could be an age thing though, and ours are still pretty young. Older children might not have an issue with the wait.
6) Ditch the big stroller. If you have a child that still needs one, use an umbrella stroller or something similar. Luckily our kids were out of strollers by the time we went to SDCC, but the first few WonderCons we attended my daughter still needed one. All we had for her was her big stroller, which was nice because I could put her diaper bag and everything at the bottom, but got to be cumbersome a few times when we hit high traffic areas.
And this one isn't so much for the children as it is for you. While the geek community is known for being pretty open minded and understanding, know this- not all of them will love that your children are there. I never experienced that until SDCC last year. My children are well behaved (for the most part) and I take pride in that. They never take things or touch things in booths without asking, they don't throw themselves on the floor causing traffic issues, they don't scream and throw tantrums. So I was really surprised last year when a group of male con goers made some really crappy comments when my daughter and I walked past them. Things like, "What kind of idiot brings their kids to this?" and "Couldn't let the hubby have one day to himself? Just had to drag the kids along huh?" Really? They probably weren't parents, so I'm sure they don't understand what its like, but it was still so rude. And yes, I know there is childcare available at SDCC, but its expensive, and it fills up quickly, so that wasn't an option for us. As long as you know that your kids are awesome, don't let the haters get you down. But know that they are there, and will probably say something really douchey.
I hope that these tips have helped. If you have any that you'd like to share, leave them in the comments below :)