Apr 07 2009

Rules for Parents at Children’s Museums

We’ve been to a lot of children’s museums, and the kids always have fun.  As a parent, however, the crowds, costs, and other parents can get under my skin.  As a result of much experience and observation, I present these rules for adults, in the hopes that it will make the trip more enjoyable for everyone.
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  • Dress your kids in comfortable clothes.  The last time I checked, the children’s museum was not a fashion contest venue.  Your kids will be crawling around on the floors and getting wet in the water area, so let them wear clothes that you don’t mind getting dirty.
  • Put away your cell phone, homework, and whatever else you brought along.  The museum isn’t meant to be a babysitter.  You brought your kid here; actually take some time to pay attention to him.
  • Supervise your child’s play and make sure he plays fairly.  Be sure he takes turns, especially when there’s a long line of kids behind him.  The only thing that’s ever really upset my kids at a children’s museum is waiting in line behind a child who doesn’t take turns.
  • If possible, leave your stroller behind.  It’s much easier to navigate without waiting for elevators and having to weave your way through the crowds with it.  If you do bring a stroller, opt for a smaller stroller instead of the double jogger if you have a choice.
  • Let your kids do what interests them.  If that means that you spend an hour in one exhibit and miss two others, don’t sweat it.  If your child is having fun in that one exhibit, don’t drag him away.  Save the other areas for another visit, or conveniently neglect to mention to your child that you didn’t see every inch of the museum.
  • On the other hand, realize when your child has met his limits.  It’s hard to pull away from a museum after a few hours when you’ve paid $50 for admission, but if your child is tired or hungry and nearing meltdown mode, neither of you is going to have fun until after lunch or a nap.
  • Wash your hands frequently while at the museum.  Look at how many kids are there, how many of them have colds, and how they touch everything–it’s what they’re supposed to do.  Wash your hands to help prevent bringing everyone else’s illnesses home with you.
  • Just go!  Even if you don’t like the crowds, or the price is high, or you really don’t have time, your child will love a trip to the children’s museum, and you’ll be glad you spent this time together.
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13 comments so far

13 Comments to “Rules for Parents at Children’s Museums”

  1. jamie on 07 Apr 2009 at 9:47 am

    Hear! Hear!

    jamie’s last blog post..Downtown Atlanta: 5 Family Favorites

  2. Beth/Mom2TwoVikings on 07 Apr 2009 at 11:47 am

    Preachin’ to the choir here! Thankfully we have a small children’s museum right in town within walking distance…a year’s membership is $60 for a family and WORTH EVERY DIME! LOL We probably go 3-5 times a month!

  3. wandermom on 07 Apr 2009 at 11:50 am

    And if you can, become a member of the museum!
    With a membership, you can literally come and go as you please – not worrying about whether or not you’ve seen all the exhibits on any one day.
    And many museums have reciprocal memberships so paying for membership at one museum can get you member privileges – or at least reduced entrance fees – at others. Here’s an example of reciprocal memberships for the Pacific Science Center (www.pacsci.org) in Seattle: http://astc.org/members/passlist.htm

  4. Sharlene on 07 Apr 2009 at 11:59 am

    Great post. So true. Except for when you have child who is literally obsessed with balls to the point where his life revolves around them. Then you may have to drag him away from the exhibit kicking and screaming. I plan on posting about that little moment of fun o my blog tomorrow.

  5. Traveler on 07 Apr 2009 at 12:32 pm

    If only every parent followed this, especially about the strollers. Unless your kid can’t walk even two steps, the stroller should stay outside or in your car/room/home. The things just fray everyone else’s nerves who is trying to move around, including the other kids.

  6. Carolina on 07 Apr 2009 at 5:53 pm

    Hee, hee, so you shouldn’t be playing Ms. Pac Man while you wait for your kid to pry himself away from an activity? I don’t know any moms who do that :)
    You know, it’s so hard to take off my teacher hat when I’m with kids, I have to step in all the time when kids are playing unfairly. Just gotta do it.

    Carolina’s last blog post..Review: Secret Lives of Seahorses

  7. Sandra Foyt on 08 Apr 2009 at 7:30 pm

    Good advice at any museum! I especially like the suggestion to let kids do what interests them, rather than the Chevy Chase tourist style of a quick nod and moving on. When visiting museums, less is definitely more.

    Sandra Foyt’s last blog post..10 Steps To A Home School Quarterly Report

  8. Mara on 09 Apr 2009 at 7:28 pm

    So would you like to have my 20 minute video of my eldest child playing the bongo drums at the Madison Children’s Museum as Exhibit A? There’s an additional 40 minutes of footage that was cut too if you’re interested. And I just sat there and watched and got sore knees.

    Great advice!

    Mara’s last blog post..Trip planning: For the grownups

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