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Let's go to the movies

by Amy I have always been a big fan of going to the movie theatre. Whether with friends or by myself it has always been one of my favourite ways to relax and escape. I knew that becoming a parent would mean that Joe and I would not be able to just head out on a given day and see whatever we felt might be good.

I don't remember when I first heard about Stars and Strollers, a program run by Cineplex for parents with small babies, but it has become something I look forward to and I check the schedule every Friday to see what our options are for the next week.

Basically every week some of the theatres in Ottawa (Barrhaven, the Coliseum, Silvercity Gloucester, les Galeries Aylmer, StarCité Hull and Rainbow) pick a couple of current movies and play them on a weekday afternoon. They lower the volume and raise the lights a bit, they put out changing tables, and give parents with small babies the chance to feel a bit normal for a couple of hours.

I went to my first stars and strollers when the baby was about two weeks old. I was desperate to get out of the house and think about something other than the baby and the tired for a little while. I loved being in a room full of other moms and it was clear that a lot of women made this a date with their friends. You get to talk to people, commiserate or just nod knowingly, and no one blinks if your baby starts crying during the movie because yours won't be the only one.

Stars and Strollers makes me feel like I'm not missing out. I still get to enjoy one of my favourite activities, I get to see movies I would have wanted to see, and some weeks I go and see movies I wouldn't have seen otherwise, but that I actually enjoy.

I usually go to the Coliseum because it's closest and they have a pretty good set-up. I have been to Silvercity Gloucester as well, but I really enjoy Barrhaven, because they put the changing table right in the theatre instead of in the hallway. You don't have to worry about missing any of the movie while you do a quick diaper change. All the theatres that I've been to have wipes and disposable diapers on hand at the changing stations, and some have microwaves as well, though I've never made use of them.

Now that my daughter is crawling and standing, close to walking, she doesn't sleep through the movie like she did when we started going, and she's no longer in her bucket, which means I have to hold her on my lap during the movie - which means she keeps trying to steal my popcorn. I'm also close to having to choose movies that are more kid-friendly (today's choice, Easy A, would have been inappropriate for an older child), but I'll keep taking her to the movies because she seems to enjoy the moving pictures as much as I enjoy the stories.

I'll never forget that the first time I went to Stars and Strollers there was a mom who spent the entire movie following her son as her crawled up the theatre stairs, over and over. Today, I was that mom, but I still enjoyed the movie, and I talked to other moms, and I got a bit of a break from reality like we all need sometimes.

Amy is mom to 8-month-old Maggie and a 4 year old schnauzer named Henry. You can read her blog at amyboughner.ca where she writes about motherhood and anything else that’s on her mind.