How to survive a Cubs game at Wrigley Field with the kids

Tuesday night we took the kids out to the Friendly Confines to watch the Cubs beat crush the LA Angels in person, not on TV. I believe one memory every child should have before growing up is a trip to the ballpark to watch a live MLB game.

But beliefs have a price, and I’m not talking about the money I shelled out just to make it past the metal detectors at Clark and Addison. Dealing with young kids at the ballpark with 40,000 others is not for the faint-hearted so I have some tips that will help make creating those memories more tolerable so everyone can have fun.

1. Stick to the day games. 7 PM seems like an early start time, but once you factor in 3 hours for the game, maybe more if they go to extra innings, then the time to get out of Wrigley Field, then the ride home, it adds up to a late night for an 8-year old and a 4-year old. And the 41-year old and the 46-year old. We didn’t get home until 11:30 and it showed as the kids were extra cranky. Last year we went to a Sunday afternoon game and it was much easier on everyone.

2. Feed them as soon as you get there. Unless you live in the neighborhood it’s going to take some time and effort to actually get to Wrigley. For us, we took a bus from the suburbs but even that took almost two hours thanks to afternoon rush hour traffic, an accident and some unexplained delay that left us on the shoulder of the Kennedy Expressway for 15 minutes. All of those “Are we there yets” made them very hungry by the time we actually got there. Two hot dogs later and two little smiles were restored. Game on.

3. Leave the baby at home. Cubs tickets work just like the plane, kids 2 and under do not need a ticket if they sit in a parent’s lap. But why would you want to deal with your squirmy baby or toddler on your lap for 3 hours without being able to put him or her down? If you are going to spend the equivalent of a week’s worth of groceries on a ticket, you want to be able to enjoy some of it, right? Okay, that is a slight exaggeration but not much. Fortune¬†places Wrigley Field as the second most expensive ballpark in MLB in 2016, even edging out my beloved Yankee Stadium. Of course you could buy the ticket and have that extra seat but I keep coming back to the week’s worth of groceries argument. I mean, your baby or toddler isn’t going to remember any of the game and will generally be very miserable. Also you can’t assume you will have a few extra seats around you because these days everyone is coming out to see the best team in baseball. Plus, Wrigley is a much older stadium without the family friendly bells and whistles like a Kids Zone featured at venues like newer MLB ballparks and our local minor league team. So just get a sitter and wait a couple of years for the big leagues. That’s what we did when the girl was 1 and we wanted to take her 5-year old brother to his first MLB game, which brings me to my next point.

4. Be sure to get the First Timer’s Certificate. Now this is the part of the post where I am supposed to post a picture of my kid’s certificates. Except I am not. Because they don’t have one. Yes, epic mommy fail there. I knew I could go over by Gate D on the main concourse to memorialize their first game and it’s more important now that ticket stubs have more or less gone the way of the rotary dial phone. Speaking of phones, put a reminder in your phone to remind you during the game so you don’t forget like I did.

5. Put a pull-up or diaper on a newly potty-trained child. My daughter just turned 4 and while she is proud to go potty, I made her swallow said pride the other night and put a nighttime diaper on her. I wasn’t about to trek out to the bathroom with her no fewer than 5 times. It was bad enough when I needed to go I missed two of the five total runs the Cubs scored during the game.

6. Bring tons of wet wipes. As clean as the staff keep the facilities, 40,000+ people milling around for 3+ hours means tons of germs. Plus it didn’t help someone kept coughing and sneezing on me during most of the standing-room only bus ride.

7. Skip the games with promotions if you can. Between this and leaving the baby at home I am sounding like a real drag but trust me. Unless it’s a Jake Arrieta bobblehead or something else that might have some real value someday, skip it. It’s just more crap for you to carry and believe me, most of it is crap that will end up in the garbage bin. Last year I ended up with four Made in China wall charts that are just collecting dust in both kids’ rooms so when I had the opportunity to grab tickets to Tuesday’s promotionless game, I jumped at the chance quicker than you can say “Cy Young”.

8. Do stay until the end if the Cubs are winning. Many parents like to get a head start on getting out of the stadium, especially Wrigley Field where the concourse transforms into a solid mass of humanity after the 9th inning. But the kids love to sing “Go Cubs Go” as the W flag is hoisted, so let them. I do too. It’s a special moment.

9. Cash is king. Definitely hit up the ATM before heading out to Wrigley. The food lines are always crazy long so you are much, much better off flagging down the vendors from your seat. Even if your group is large enough that you have someone to watch the kids for the half hour you are going to wait in line, you will still be stuck navigating a crowded concourse and all the steps to your seat with their food and drinks plus anything you may want. No thank you. While you can use your credit card at the concourse concessions, the seatside guys and gals are still cash only. Speaking of cash…

10. Don’t forget beer money. Lots of it. Not for them, for you. Because you are going to need it.

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Here is more info about Wrigley Field to plan your next trip.

What is your survival strategy at the ball park?

Aside from a few ball games at Wrigley Field we’ve been getting around the city quite a bit since moving here two years ago. Check out my posts on taking the kids to the Shedd Aquarium and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.

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Tags: city outings, parenting

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