I had never planned to take my children to protests. I had thought that road was long behind me in my twenties. Naively, I thought there would be no need.
I thought about getting a sitter but could not stretch my budget to accommodate. Instead, I decided to bring them with me. They were going to learn and be a part of our political process whether they wanted to or not (they did not).
I figured it would begin conversations about the reasons people protest, the history of protest in our country, and of course why we were going to protest now. I want my littles to ask questions and consider multiple views. It did open up a slew of questions (a blessing and curse).
I was nervous about the logistics of including my littles. That they would be bored, and I would regret (and everyone around me) bringing them. I learned that taking them to protest was a lot like going hiking, with some specific differences.
Tips to taking Littles to Protests, Rallies and Marches:
1. Always bring a backpack
You should fill it with snacks, water, sunscreen, extra clothing, and toys. My oldest now carries his own backpack that he packs (I supervise and make suggestions).
2. Talk about what and why you are protesting
They will want to know and deserve to know why you are dragging them around with you. It is a great way to discuss values, other people’s views, and lets them know why they are losing a day of play.
3. Bring stuff for them to do
As stated earlier, they are time consuming and often boring (especially for littles). I bring one or two toys they can play with like cars, bubbles, a favorite doll, stuffy, or action figure, etc.
4. Play games
We play a lot of Eye Spy; Finding Letters, Numbers, or Colors; Pop the Bubbles. This helps keep them entertained during speakers and down time. We also read the different signs and T-shirts and discuss what they mean.
5. Talk to the Police
If there are police present, I have my littles go talk to them. We thank them for being there. We also reiterate that we are peaceful protestors and will not riot or hurt others. This also gives me a little hope that my kids will not be targeted if the protest turns violent or the police decide to disperse all with rubber bullets and tear gas.
6. Go over Rules
My rules are my littles must hold my hands if we are marching and stay next to me if we are at a rally. In large crowds, it is easy to be separated. We set a designated spot to meet up if we are separated. My children also know our address and phone number.
7. Have Fun
We sing songs, chant the slogans, smile, talk to other people.
8. Be Prepared to Leave
If you feel uneasy or unsure if the event is going to be peaceful, leave. I no longer attend the all-day protests, rallies and marches. It is too much for all of us. When they have had enough, become whiny, tired, and hangry we leave. We participated and offered support for our beliefs. That is what matters.
These are some of the things that have worked for us. Including the littles is a great way to introduce them to the political process while also supporting a cause. It fosters questions and learning. Do not be afraid to support your ideals and make that a legacy for your children.