Jen Charron: Control Freak


Take Your Kids to the Auto Show

With a bit of planning you can survive and have a great time

Going to the auto show is an annual tradition for Mr. Org and the Kid. For the Kid who has been fascinated with cars since infancy (see a fraction of his Hot Wheels collection here), it really is second only to Christmas morning! So his Dad has been taking him since he was 3 and it is a great bonding time for the "Dudes." So I asked my DH to write about going to the show and what he does to make it a terrific experience for the two of them. Here's what he had to say...

It’s Canadian International AutoShow in Toronto time again (Feb 18-27). And around our car-crazy house, this annual car show is one of the highlights of the year. And like any “holiday,” it has its great moments and not-so-hot moments.

As our son has a long-lasting fascination with any and all vehicles, the auto show is a particular highlight because it allows us to see, climb in, and climb on pretty much every regular vehicle out there (we haven’t hit the motorcycle, boat or RV shows yet, but I’m sure that’ll happen one day soon). To put it bluntly, we go twice, and spend a minimum of 10 hours at the show every year. And I know we’re not alone on this one. So, here are some tips we’ve picked up over the years that make this sort of thing work smoothly.

 Travel Light
Spend the extra money to park close to the show so you can wear shoes (instead of warm winter boots) and leave the winter coats in the car. This way we don’t overheat as we climb into yet another variation of the Dodge Ram pick-up to pretend to drive to an imaginary construction site. And leave the backpacks full of extra clothes and snacks in the car, too. Suck it up and eat the bad pizza—it’s part of the trade show experience!

The auto show is a busy place filled with objects (uh, cars) that are great at blocking views of kids as they walk around to the driver’s seat to climb in. And while I’m no expert on child safety, one thing we make sure we do as we walk in is talk about sticking together, and talk about what to do if we get separated.

Most of this excursion is about fun, and ‘driving’ as many cars as possible. But, because of the nature of the event, it’s also pretty easy to sneak in a few lessons about taking turns, using manners, and how to properly have conversations with people (the salespeople, other show-goers, etc.).

 Auto Show vs. Indoor Playground
The Toronto show takes up several levels in a couple of different buildings. Getting around involves a lot of walking (and yes, sometimes running); and checking out the vehicles (especially the bigger trucks) requires a lot of climbing. It’s a work-out for the kids, for sure. There’s no need to hit the indoor playground that day.

 Take Frequent Breaks
Make sure to stop for the occasional rest to recharge, re-focus, and check the map to make sure you’re not missing anything. This is a good time for the three-dollar water and bad pizza.

If things are getting out of control, or if you need to check out a vehicle or two solo, the Toronto auto show offers a free childcare centre. Using a registration process that involves pictures, passwords and computer-generated coded wristbands, you can be certain your kids are safe there. Plus, they promise lots of crafts, costumes, quiet areas and movies. Plus, they even give every kid a tree-in-a-box kit—a red maple to plant at home. Very cool.

Have fun, and see you there!

Nathan Farr (aka Mr. Org)