July 9, 2013

Jazz on the Green With Kids? You Bet.

Jazz on the Green has held a special spot in my heart now for about a decade. Young 20-somethings, my husband and I would pack a picnic of overpriced cheese, chocolate and bread, bring a bottle (or two…) of wine, and hang out with friends. Or just ourselves. The music wasn’t what you think of when you think of jazz ( it still isn’t). The music was good. And the atmosphere made us feel alive and relaxed and just plain happy.

Now we’re parents at Omaha’s favorite free outdoor concerts and while I chase Mooch around, I catch glimpses of our former selves in the young couples swirling their wine. I want to shake them and shrilly scream “HOLD ON TO THESE NIGHTS!” But I don’t. No time. I have beautiful children that love to take food from friendly strangers that I must keep tabs on.

Anywho. That’s neither here nor there.

Every year I look forward to Jazz on the Green at Midtown Crossing (more so now that I’m working for the organization that puts it on – and no, this isn’t a sponsored post. I just loves me some Jazz on the Green.). It begins the Thursday after the Fourth of July – that’s in two days, in case you can’t count. Held on Thursdays for six weeks, it’s where thousands of Omahans and others from surrounding cities earnestly gather.

Mooch wasn't quite 1 when she went to her first Jazz on the Green concert.

Mooch wasn’t quite 1 when she went to her first Jazz on the Green concert.

Here are some things we’ve learned about bringing kids to Jazz on the Green at Midtown Crossing:

Pack more than enough food

We’ve never actually made it to the end of a whole concert with kids in tow – the concert starts at Mooch’s bed time – but it always seems like we never have enough food no matter how short our stay is there. It’s around dinner time, so bring more than just snacks. But BRING SNACKS, because we’re talking about your kids here. Options are good, so consider something salty, something sweet, something healthy. Snacks make everyone happy.

Bring drinks

I’m talking drinks for Mommy and Daddy, but also for your little ones. Sippy cups or water bottles work best for portability.

Bring toys

Bubbles are always a hit. Pack some old stand-by toys, be it cars or dolls, and maybe a surprise. Leave the balls at home, there is no room for catch, soccer or whatever it is you’re thinking of playing. Plus, do you really want your kiddo running through a crowd to find a ball you threw over his head?

Bring PJs

If your children are really young and not shy about undressing, it’s always handy to change them into PJs at some point in the night. It makes for an easy transfer from your car to their bed later on. You can leave your PJs at home; that’d just be weird.

Bring seats for everyone

I like sitting on a chair when it’s just me and Mr. Wonderful (it really is a good date night), but sitting on blankets keeps you at arm’s length of your kids. Consider what works best for your littles ones and be sure to bring it.

A lap also makes for nice seating for the under 2 crowd. Photo was taken by my friend, Jenae Neeson.

A lap also makes for nice seating for the under 2 crowd. Photo was taken by my friend, Jenae Neeson, just weeks before Mooch was born. Farley had no idea he’d no longer get all the attention.

Sit near a port-a-potty

Maybe your parental survival instincts are strong and you know this already. Maybe not.  I’m not afraid to state the obvious.

Be conscious of your neighbors

Some people at Jazz on the Green are there to drink, catch up with friends and enjoy the music. They’re not at all interested in your adorable food-stealing toddler. Most people are OK with inquisitive kids, but some aren’t pleased with your kid trampling through their picnic. Keep close tabs on your little Hulks, and be prepared to swoop in if it looks like they’re annoying your neighbors.

Last, but not least

Relax. It’s meant to be fun. If it’s not, you’re doing it wrong.

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