Super Bowl: A Parents' Survival Guide

Josh Farnsworth
Sure, playing with the little goofballs is cool, but this is the game.

Fourth down. The camera pans to the teams breaking their respective huddles as the tension spills over. As the squads line up, a call rings out through the intensity…

My oldest son: Dad!! Come quick! I have a question for you!!

I had been waiting for this. The professional football championship is my area of expertise. Maybe he has a question about the play call coming? A player? The drama? I sprinted around the corner to meet up with him.

My oldest son: Want to come see my pillow fort upstairs??

As the cheering erupted around the corner, three thoughts immediately crossed my stream of consciousness: 

1. That was the play of the game. I didn’t see it, but I know it. (It was.)

2. I need to find a way to get him to share in this interest of mine. (He wasn’t.)

3. This better be one epic pillow fort. (To be fair, it was.)

Perhaps a scene similar to this one played out at a Super Bowl party near you? Sure, playing with the little goofballs is cool, but this is the game. Unfortunately, there is nothing interesting enough to keep their attention for 3-4 hours. I once watched as my boys checked out of a 15-minute fireworks display because they were “starting to get bored, so bored I might fall asleep.”

Let me say that again. They were ready to move on from the exploding lights directly overhead because it was approaching the point of boredom for them. Yawn. What else?

The Super Bowl should be a celebration - together. If you are well prepared to get creative, you stand a chance to not only soak in all four quarters of the action, but make the entire weekend something your kids will look forward to.

Weekend of the big game

Consider starting a day or two early to set the gridiron mood. Have them make posters with drawings of the two teams involved. Find a still image of the star players and have them paint their portrait to hang up before the game. 

If you are watching at your house, find streamers with colors that match the two teams and put enough paper mache up on the walls to make a party supply store blush.

Sunday - noon

For even the strictest of football-loathing party-goers, a great selection of food can get them ready for the gridiron. If you have the ingredients - and most importantly the time and patience - allow your kids to plan out part of the party menu.

Put them in charge of assisting you with a green-frosted rectangular cake that can look vaguely like a football field. Let them design out the menu they hand out to your party guests when they arrive.

Hilariously oversized chefs hats are a must.

First quarter

We get our first glimpse at the uber-priced commercials. Give your kids papers, cards, anything numbered 1-10. Have them exclaim how they rate each commercial - and if they are old enough - write down their favorites.

If your kids can write, have them script out their own big game commercial and have them present it during a commercial break. Bust out your video recorder and capture the ad. Maybe they stumble their way into a hilarious child acting career.

Second quarter

Most people are familiar with squares - that contest where names are placed on a grid where the big game’s score dictates who wins some sort of prize. Skip the money and have them grab their action figures, stuffed animals, dolls and/or other characters they currently play with that are lightning rods for their love.

Have the kids arrange these characters somewhere together and have one of the kids fill out a grid with all the characters’ names. The stakes? Winner gets to have the coveted “Big Grid Super Prize.”

Quick note: Have your kids draw or construct the Big Grid Super Prize prior to kickoff.

Halftime

You have two moves here: dance party to the halftime performance or Puppy Bowl. Give them the choice. After all, they’ve probably been asking a few times to change the channel anyways. Here is their (limited time) chance.

Third quarter

The sight of the same two teams is probably beginning to gnaw at your goofballs. Bust out the crayons, paper, pencils and all other art supplies. Their mission? The league needs (number of kids you are trying to distract) new teams. They are the new marketing department (and after all, isn’t making a marketing team the biggest treat of all?). 

Have them design the new team logo, name and have them design the jerseys. Third quarter dragging on with penalties and injuries? Well, each team nowadays does have a home jersey, a road jersey and three additional alternative jerseys. Be sure to be stocked up on paper.

Fourth quarter

If the game is a blowout, that bed is calling. If they are having a difficult time of it or the game is close (and it should be considered a misdemeanor crime to send someone away during the Super Bowl), take my kids’ advice: allow them to build a pillow fort. For football’s sake, refer to this fort as the indoor practice stadium.

Away from the TV. With pillows not currently being used. 

If the game is very close, people might be pacing or only using the edge of their seats anyways. 

Let’s recap that gameplan

They may not care what team is holding the trophy when the game ends, but if they have a chance to manage part of the fun, they’ll be holding this weekend in high esteem.

However you choose to celebrate the big game - really go for it. Even if football is not your thing, making a plan like this can liven up your weekend. 

So, good luck. Enjoy that game. And if they have trouble getting to sleep? No worries. 

I hear they are planning fireworks at the conclusion of the game.

Josh Farnsworth is a husband, father of goofballs Cooper and Milo, goofball himself, and award-winning writer and columnist living in Worcester. He can be reached for column ideas at josh.farnsworth@yahoo.com.