Football season is finally upon us! If you grew up in the South, there is nothing quite like tailgating with friends on Saturdays, especially in Knoxville. But what happens when you have to take the kids? We have been taking our kids to all kinds of sporting events since before they could walk. We especially have a lot of experience tailgating with our kids for UT football games, even some that were out of town.
It really isn’t that bad, but if you are hesitant about taking yours kids to the next tailgate party, hopefully you will find the following tips helpful.
1) Scope out the nearest restroom.
Seriously, this is my number one tip because my kids have to use the bathroom all the time and they do not like porta potties. Throw some tissues, baby wipes, and hand sanitizer in your bag as well because you just never know about restrooms, especially with such large crowds.
2) Bring canopies and chairs.
If you are tailgating in a not-so-shaded area, be sure to bring a canopy tent. Kids are the worst about complaining when they are hot, and the last thing you want to hear is, “Mommy, I’m so hot!” You may want to consider bringing fans or those fans that also spray water. Kids love those things! Bring plenty of chairs because you also do not want your child complaining because he or she is too tired and has nowhere to sit and rest. If your child is not walking yet, you should bring a portable crib that you can set up under the canopy. This will prevent you from having to put the baby in a stroller or baby carrier.
3) Prepare kid-friendly foods.
Another thing you probably don’t want to hear your child complain about while tailgating is that he or she is hungry or thirsty. I suggest planning ahead and letting your kids help you choose and prepare the food and snacks for your tailgate party. My kids enjoy football themed snacks, such as these cupcakes. If you don’t have a lot of time to plan ahead and make something fun, just make sure there are lots of food and drink options available so your kids will have plenty to eat and drink without complaining.
4) Bring games to entertain your kids.
While most adults enjoy watching other football games, chatting with friends, and playing cornhole while tailgating, this can be boring for kids. At the same time, it is not fun to hear your child complain about being bored. With that said, bring plenty of kid-friendly games or items that will entertain and occupy your kids for an extended period of time outdoors. My kids have a smaller version of cornhole that they can play so they do not interrupt the serious, competitive adult games. My son is pretty easily entertained with just a football to throw with friends or some of the other adults. Think about what your kids like to do and try to incorporate that into the tailgate party to prevent boredom.
5) Research fun events and traditions.
Most teams have traditions that include a schedule of events on game day. At UT, the Vol Walk is something that you may want to consider taking your kids to see. It gets crowded very fast, but it is a really fun experience. Here is a list of some other UT game day traditions. No matter where you are, research the fun traditions and take some time out of the tailgate to check them out with your kids. Tailgating makes for a long day for both parents and kids, so just be prepared, be flexible, and have fun!