How to have fun tailgating with your kids
Tailgating is a time-honored tradition throughout the South and especially here in the Upstate. There comes a point in your tailgating life, however, where you turn in a keg of draft for a case of diapers. Then what?
Whether you’re a Tiger, Gamecock or something else entirely, getting in the spirit of the game is only half the fun with kids around. That’s why Upstate Parent polled local parents to share some helpful tips for tailgating with children.
One of the most common pieces of advice from parents who regularly tailgate with their children is to go to the more family friendly games. Sam Parsons of Greenville is the father of Greyson, 6, and another little boy due this month. He said when he was younger the more high charged games were his style, but all that changed with a child in tow.
“As a parent, Emily and I focus on the more family-friendly games. Our favorite is (Clemson) versus South Carolina State as their half-time band performance is absolutely outstanding,” he said.
Savannah Roach of Clemson agrees. A former University of Georgia dancer, she said taking her daughter Lydia, 8, to tailgate in Athens can be a very tough experience, citing rowdy crowds and seeing things inappropriate for children. Having a more family-friendly atmosphere is a must in her book.
For Clemson fans, keeping kids occupied is important and there is no better way to do that than to see Tiger Band. It’s popular with families with little ones and older children alike. The Crader family has four children ranging in age from two to eight, and mom Debbie said the band was one of the main attractions for her children.
“We end up at the amphitheater for the band concert 90 minutes before the game,” she said. “It's amazing how popular the concert has become since we started going after we moved here in 2012. After the concert, we follow the band's parade to the stadium. The kids are so thrilled by the band and by the sights that we don't have to do much to keep them occupied.”
Another way to keep children busy during a tailgate is to visit campus attractions. In Clemson, kids can watch the parade, visit the Class of 1939 bell tower and run loose on Bowman Field. Tossing a ball, board games and games such as cornhole are popular with tailgaters, too.
Clemson fan Jessi Rivera said she tailgates for every home game with a group of friends that includes five children. Food plays a central theme.
“We have a big table for food, everyone brings something to contribute, and anything on the table is fair game,” Rivera said. “Some of our friends live at the coast and will bring fresh shrimp to boil. Some games we will grill. We have had everything from spaghetti in a crock pot to baked potato bar. And we’re always down for traditional tailgate fare such as dips and fried chicken. Early games, people often bring donuts and mimosas.”
Parsons said hot dogs are a must.
“Kids must always have access to hot dogs. You can never forget the hot dogs,” he said with a laugh.
The food is the favorite part of the tailgating experience for Hope Walters, 13, and her brother Hunter, 10. They both said they enjoy getting to eat the sweets they don’t normally have at home.
Their mother, Erica, said now that her children are older, she lets them explore a little more. They can visit nearby friends and play more openly. But for the Walters family, tailgating is all about community.
“It is a great time for friends and family to come together and make memories,” she said. “We have family that come in from out of state and use one of the tailgates as a semi family reunion. Community friends unite with a common cause and my kids can be a part of that.”
The main point for anybody who wants to take their children tailgating is to have fun and be ready for anything.
Other pieces of tailgating advice given:
- Wearable carriers are great for toting babies.
- Have a strategy for diaper changing since there are no changing tables.
- Never forget sunscreen and snacks.
- Baby wipes can clean food messes, grubby hands and feet, and be used in the latrines.
- Take a picture each year with the mascot or in front of the same landmark to mark your children’s growth.
- Have a kid-friendly music playlist so your children don’t hear the cursing from the tailgate down line.
- Scotchguard everything, even if it’s not forecast to rain.
- Be prepared for the worst to happen, because it probably will happen.
- It’s chaotic, but remember to sit back and bank those memories. They’re only children for a short while!