Would you use child care in theaters? Would it make you see more movies?

Recently, Entertainment Weekly offered suggestions for how to improve the movie-going experience and one of their ideas was for theaters to offer babysitting.

(I just searched the bathroom to find the old EW and I can’t find the right magazine. And I can’t find the link online either. However, I am pretty sure this theater in Portland is the one EW wrote about.)

The Academy Theater in Portland offers babysitting in the theater for children ages six-months to eight years at a cost of $7.50 per child. You can to make a reservation and fill out their babysitting release form.

Another Western theater chain, Harkins, also offers babysitting in the theater. It is $6 per child for the length of the movie. They’ll take kids ages 3 to 8 in their playcenters. Reservations are not required but encouraged. Parents are given vibrating pagers to alert them if there is a problem.

I didn’t find any of the East Coast, but there may be some I missed. I have never seen it  in Atlanta at theaters. (Have you guys?)

For someone like me with three kids, I would get a better deal by hiring my own sitter as long as I was back in 3 hours but for a  particularly long movie then it might pan out economically to leave them at the theater. (Actually my oldest would be too old for either of these programs.)

While it seems convenient and you could just go without getting a sitter ahead of time I think I would feel guilty leaving the kids in the lobby while I enjoyed a movie. If I got them as far as the theater I think I would have to take them to a family film.

It reminds me a lot of stores that offer childcare – like IKEA, Macy’s (used to have it when it was Rich’s not sure if they still do) and some Kroger’s stores used to have it. I would have less guilt there because I am trying to to accomplish a task like buying the groceries. It’s going to go faster if I don’t have them with me.

Now maybe if they showed the kids a new release or recently released movie where they were doing something as fun? Maybe that would seem fun for them and not like you were just leaving them in the lobby. (Essentially you are paying the price of a kid’s ticket with the babysitting fee.)

What do you think? Would you leave your kids in care run by a theater (the system sounds a lot of like what churches use (with the beepers)? Would you feel mean taking them to the theater but not to a movie? Would that type of service encourage you to go to the theater more often? Would it work out to be cheaper than hiring a sitter at home?

– Theresa Walsh Giarrusso, AJC Momania

63 comments Add your comment


March 15th, 2011
3:22 pm

Wait..what the heck did I miss???? Theresa moved to Arizona?? When did this happen?


March 15th, 2011
4:20 pm

I would LOVE to hear folks’ take on giving money to adult children.

Back on topic – I don’t understand how every topic pertaining to a parents’ leaving the kids at home (or wherever) becomes a “you need to parent your own kids” discussion. Sometimes a person needs a break. Notice I said person and not parent. Parents are PEOPLE first and foremost…or have I missed something. Good grief. Parents who go to the movies are not candidates for worst parents of the year anymore than parents who never leave their children’s sight are candidates for best parents of the year. It’s a personal choice so stop being so judgmental just because someone else does it different than you do/have done/did/will do/etc.

As for this idea, I’m ambivalent on the service but I know I wouldn’t leave a child under age 5 or 6. On one hand it offers a good option for parents who have no other babysitters available but it also puts the parents on alert that at any moment the buzzer can go off and they have to get up and get their kids. If the kids were at home with a sitter more than likely they’d not find out that Timmy peed his pants until they get home. Like everything else, you have to do a risk analysis and make a decision that is best for YOU and YOUR KIDS and go from there.


March 15th, 2011
5:58 pm

Denise, I am with you. Every time we have any kind of babysitting discussion it turns into, why don’t you watch your kids argument.

I am sick and tired of hearing from people that because you get a sitter once in a while you are the worst parent that ever walked the face of the earth.

I am still reeling from Grandparent’s comment. And notice how he trolled and ran. Typical.

Reading is fundamental

March 15th, 2011
6:39 pm

So despite grandparent’s statement: “If I had to go to the grocery store then Dad got to take over”, you decided grandparent is a he.



March 15th, 2011
7:37 pm

Wow…I did not take the grandparent to be a “he”…

I absolutely think parents need to get out and away from their kids, sometimes! Everyone needs a bit of space! We did get sitters when ours were young. We just never had enough money to afford the movies and also pay for a sitter. So, we typically interacted as a family. maybe wnet out once or twice a month as adults. That was when a sitter was $4 per hour for one and $6 for two.

Movies are just not on our top 5 things to do together. We are empty nesters and we still do not go to the movies.

Sorry if I came across as anti-babysitter!


March 15th, 2011
7:38 pm

ooops typos sorry!


March 15th, 2011
8:29 pm

Photius, I normally enjoy your comments, regardless of whether or not I agree with them, so it pains me to have to say this, but you have really acted like a jerk today. And your not-so-cryptic remarks regarding where Theresa may or may not be living was completely out of line, and a little creepy. Where she lives is none of your concern. You sound like an obsessed fan, and it is beneath your dignity. As for the content of this blog, if you’re so unhappy why don’t you pull that long, silky hair of yours back into a scrunchy, plop your gravity-defying butt down in front of a computer and start up your own damn blog. I might even read it.


March 15th, 2011
9:03 pm

when my older 2 kids were young their daycare had a all night on friday and saturday night service. i used it fairly often. there was a rooler skating rink in the bottom floor and the kids absolutely loved going there. i also had grandparents (mine) who loved to keep them. i never considered that i was not parenting because i went out occassionally. sometimes even 2 weekends a month!! yes 2!!! lol…

i also would love to see some current event issues as topics here-i know this is a parent blog-but my kids are all out of the house-i would also like to see topics concerning adult kids-their issues and how they are handled. when do you stop helping? what if your adult kid is on drugs. what if the mother of your grandchild is not being a good mom…there are lots of undiscussed topics we could get into. i think there are plenty of people here with older kids-all of us dont have young kids anymore-and it seems these days older kids are a huge issue-whether its moving back in-money issues-drug issues-whatever.
when the topics concerning younger kids there are plenty of us who have ‘walked on that sidewalk’ as mjg puts it–so i think that topics on all age ranges would be good and helpful.


March 15th, 2011
10:24 pm

I’m with mom2alex&max- what’s the deal with Arizona?

I’ve only been following the blog for about a year and a half and some of these might have been discussed previously but here are some ideas:

Anyone seen the previews (or actually watched) The Race to Nowhere: The Dark Side of America’s Achievement Culture? Are we burning out kids before they’ve had a chance to grow up?

How do you raise a child to excel when he/she seems to lack initiative or motivation? Are external rewards or incentives ever enough? Do some people suddenly get initiative or are we just born that way?

Does your spouse want more children and you don’t?

Do you regret the number of children you have? Did you only have 1 and now realize you wish you had more? Did you have 4 only to realize that life was just way easier with 3. Not saying that anyone would consider giving their kids up now but do you look back and wish you had made a different decision?

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

March 16th, 2011
12:54 am

I think multiple people came up with some great topics today that I can pull for future blogs. I am always happy to use your relevant ideas. I think the adult kids coming home is particularly relevant.

As far as I where I live, my husband changed jobs within his company. During the school year we have moved to Arizona. It has been a very tough transition and we are still getting used to it.


March 16th, 2011
8:23 am

The only thing that will get me back to movies is lower tix prices. I will pay premium price for very few films..Harry Potter for instance. However, many films that are worth seeing like Romana and Beezus, Life as We Know It–yeah I know Josh Duhamel is in both of those ;)–anyway, I would go see those in the theatre but not at $7 discount price or $12 regular tix price. At the $1.25 theatre (but no concession stand stuffs) sure, on video ($1 redbox) or netflix, sure….plus my popcorn and soda are cheaper at home too.


March 16th, 2011
2:05 pm

@Shaggy: I’ve got to say it — your comment directed at Theresa regarding a move to Arizona is ugly, tacky and completely uncalled for. I notice that no matter how scathing you might be about her blog, you always show up. Who do you think you are, W.C. Fields? (”I would never belong to any club that would have me”) Don’t screw around with people’s marriages, even if you think you’re only kidding — that comment about “gee, do I move or get a divorce” was uncalled for. TWG provides a blog playground that we all seem to enjoy in our own ways, because we keep coming back, but some manners are called for, and making speculative remarks about your hostess’ marriage is over the line.

Personally, I tend to think that TWG, who shares a great deal with us about her family (probably more than we would be willing to share if we were in her shoes!), possibly had a damn good reason for not mentioning a move like that until she was good and ready. If it’s true, then “outing” her on her own blog is unkind at best, and could be downright destructive at worst. And even if it’s true — SO WHAT? No one cared where Dear Abby lived, but they still enjoy(ed) her column. Both you and Photius need to get a freakin’ life, if your idea of fun is stalking blog writers and their participants.


March 18th, 2011
2:19 pm

I’ve actually used the Harkin’s service. It’s phenominal. I asked a LOT of questions beforehand, but they’re background checked, fingerprinted child care professionals. My daugther loves not only going to the play center in but enjoys the staff there as much as her own homeroom teacher. Crafts and toys and educational games and g-rated films. She has a blast every time she goes. Twice she didn’t want to leave when our movie was over, so my wife and I made it a double feature day. I went in advance to talk to the staff there and after feeling really comfortable with them a few extra things sold me on the concept. There are large windows that face the lobby so my wife could sneak out of the movie to quickly take a peek to see how our daughter was doing. The play center staff to child ratio is wonderful. That facility is NOT staffed by the regular employees that sell the popcorn, these are child care staff only. The pager they give us is a nice extra offering to help us relax and enjoy the movie. It’s very secure – only the child care staff is allowed inside the play center. Not even parents can enter. Finally, our daughter and I are given matching wristbands – only the parent dropping off the child may pick that child up. It’s very open, bright, clean, safe, secure and VERY inexpensive. For those of you knocking the idea, you clearly have not been to a Harkin’s Theater. Maybe your theater is scary, but we’re spoiled out here in Arizona with the classy Harkin’s play center.