Activity #332: Take your toddler tailgating

I was way into football in high school and college: face-painting, dating the quarterback, the whole nine yards (which might actually be a military metaphor rather than a football metaphor, but whatever!). Since moving to San Francisco from America’s heartland (and marrying a man more interested in triathlon than touchdowns), my interest has waned.

But if I were still a football chick (or had one of those football-loving partners), I can imagine a whole bunch of weekend afternoons trading naptime for tailgating.

Baby Gabriel is 3 months old at his first game
Baby Gabriel is 3 months old at his first game

Amy is a mom of 4 year-old Becca and five-month-old Beau and a sports nutrition specialist. In addition to raising her two children, she works as a nutrition consultant to brands such as glaceau vitaminwater.

Amy lives in Houston, where the temperature is hovering around the high 80’s with lots of humidity, and where football is a way of life. With the football season underway, she offered to share some of her favorite family-friendly (and healthy) tailgating snacks and activities.

Amy tells us:

With football season in full swing and temps finally becoming tolerable, I’m ready to give the kiddies a go at our tailgate this weekend. Years ago, this group was limited to a bunch of downtown young professionals making the haul back to our old collegiate stomping grounds. Needless to say, we’re all “hauling” a lot more these days. Kids, gear, food and drink, and countless activities to make the day more enjoyable for everyone!

In our group, the hubbies work the grill while the rest of us munch on snacks and prep the accompaniments. Chicken sandwiches and burgers make the menu this week, with whole wheat buns and green salad all around. Post-partum mommies in the crowd (like myself!) can opt for bun-less chicken or burger with hearty salads and carrot sticks. I’m always in charge of bringing the “responsible” (a.k.a. healthy) beverage options. I’m a big fan of vitaminwater and so are my kids, so I pack a big cooler for everyone to enjoy. We’re planning some fruit skewers with dessert as well, to delight the kids and encourage some more healthy eating.

We’ve found some great snacks that are really essential to keeping the kids going for a long day. Snacks like string cheese and apples are great additions to the cooler. We also throw red grapes in a Ziploc and keep them on ice. I’m never out with the kids without peanut butter to-go. I love the portion, and the container makes for a nice “dip” if you have crackers or sliced fruit. My daughter will probably help me make some trail mix Friday night that we can portion out into snack bags. She loves the M&M’s, and I like to mix in craisins, almonds, cashews and granola clusters. Sneaky mommy, getting that healthy fat and fiber into their snacks!

I’ll be wearing Baby #2 in the Baby Bjorn this year, which will be a nice workout for me for the day. He’ll be great. Isn’t it funny how kids sleep so well amidst the roar of the crowd?

I’ll be packing a few time-stretching activities in my bag of tricks too:

  • I’m thinking the bean bag toss will be a good game for the four- and five-year-old set, and they all love to watch the big kids throw the footballs and try to play their game.
  • Face paint has been fun in the past, but we’re holding off until it’s a bit cooler. I highly recommend that once your local weather prevents heavy sweating during playtime…We’ve got a few weeks to go on that here in Texas!
  • This week, I’m going to try out sidewalk chalk as well. Since our tailgate site is the stadium parking lot, we should have tons of blank canvas!

Anyone else have any great tailgating tips for babies through preschoolers? Please share in our comments.

Thanks to Amy for sharing these great ideas! It’s almost enough to make me pack up the kids, the snacks, and the sidewalk chalk for a Cal Bears game. Almost.

Disclosure: VitaminWater did not send us product or money but did share these tips for rookie parents. They also asked that we tell you that vw has nutrients galore, like c and b vitamins and electrolytes. Amy’s four year-old loves all the flavors and colors, and she thinks a big plus is that it’s naturally sweetened.

[Photo credit Elizabeth Sanchez]

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RookieMoms co-founder & mom to 3 boys in Berkeley, CA. Bossy big sister and project manager turned blogger helping moms enjoy their first years of motherhood. Find me on my other site on 510families.com or hiding in my minivan eating dark chocolate.