We recently went to the theater to see the movie "The Lorax" with all six of our children (ages 3-19). This is not something we do very often (maybe once or twice a year), but when we do our entire trip needs to be planned out. As part of our homeschooling, we celebrated Dr. Seuss' birthday and thought this would be a great opportunity to sneak in a "field trip". We are also always looking for ways to incorporate social skills training since three of our children have special needs. Our older children (17 and 19) expressed the desire to join us, which meant we needed to go to the movie on the weekend. We decided on the first morning showing on Saturday, which was just before 11am. No problem getting up and ready since some of our younger ones routinely wake up at 6:30am. And yes, the teenagers still wanted to go. We purchased the tickets ahead of time on fandango so we could eliminate one line, the ticket booth. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the first showing is offered at a discounted price, which definitely makes purchasing the tickets online worth it even though there is a per ticket surcharge.
Since three of our children have SPD (sensory processing disorder) we need to be "extra" prepared. We do the usual routine of making sure the children have eaten something and used the restroom immediately prior to leaving the house. We know the boys are about to be bombarded with lots of new sights, sounds and smells that have the potential of causing a meltdown. Our extra wiggly child (& the same child with an intense fear of the dark) dons his pressure vest for the calming effect. I prepare a backpack with the usual supplies, along with a large supply of gummy snacks and the noise reducing headphones (just in case the theater is too loud for our auditory sensitive children). We are prepared to purchase popcorn and an Icee for each of the children, but the gummy snacks are another calming tool or at the very least a distraction to help them remain in their seats. We promise the children a reward of playing ONE game in the arcade after the movie IF they are able to remain in their seat through the entire movie. We arrive about 30 minutes before the movie is to begin to allow us a choice of seats. We are able to sit in the secondary front row (aisle seats) to allow for a quick exit if need be, it also prevents the children from being tempted to kick the chair in front of them. This is when we "divide and conquer" (our mantra). One of us stays with the children and the other one goes to the snack bar for goodies. Before the movie starts, we take another bathroom break. Both my husband and I know that we may not be able to see the entire movie and we are okay with that.
The movie finally starts. We shuffle children, gummy snacks and popcorn back and forth for a while; until the next bathroom break. And another bathroom break. And wouldn't you know it, our youngest (3 years old) is actually the one who isn't able to make it through the movie. I took her out of the theater and let her run in the hallway until the movie was over. The boys did awesome! Since they remained in their seats through the entire movie, they were rewarded with a stop in the arcade to play one game. And I am rewarded with a successful family outing!