This post may contain affiliate links. However, all opinions are 100% my own.
As Iowans, we have the chance to kick off the 2016 presidential election season with the Iowa Caucus. Many parents have a newfound interest in the outcome of political decisions once they have children, as so many issues affect our family’s future. However, it isn’t as easy to participate in the political process with little ones in tow. If you don’t have a reliable teenage babysitter on speed dial, and think that your only option is to skip it this year, you are wrong. Here’s a few tips for bringing your kids along to the caucus:
If you are bringing along an infant, a carrier or sling will be your perfect accessory. During the caucus, supporters are gathered in a large room (our location is a school gymnasium) and pick a designated area to stand in support of their chosen candidate. The trick is to get other people to join your group, which involves walking around, having conversations, and it can get a big crowded. Pushing around a stroller would be pretty difficult, and not very appreciated by other attendees. During the 2008 caucus, I wore my daughter in a sling, who was 9 months old at the time, and it worked great. She was able to stay close to me where she was comfortable, yet watch everything that was going on. If you get lucky enough for your little one to take a nap in the carrier, that’s even better.
2. Come Early
Even though our caucus location is only about a few minutes from our home, we plan to get there a half our early. Who knows what the parking situation is, how far we will have to walk, and how long it will take to get inside, checked in, and settled. With kids, no matter how early you plan to be, something can always come up too, so leaving with plenty of time to spare is essential. The event starts promptly at 7pm, and doors close at that time, so there is no one walking in late. You don’t want to get prepared to go, only to have something come up which causes you to run a few minutes behind, and then you miss the entire thing.
3. Come Prepared
Just as you would with any outing with little ones, it’s helpful to come prepared. Toddlers and preschoolers can be easily entertained with simple books and toys, which can also encourage them to stay put if you are “in your corner” for a while. Even something new from the dollar store could go a long way. I have seen many posts encouraging parents to bring along plenty of snacks and drinks. We will be packing our favorite no-spill sippy cup and fruit snacks, so the school janitor isn’t cleaning up our crumbs after the event.
4. Enjoy Sharing the Experience
No matter how hectic it can get, this experience is not one that many kids will get to have in their lifetimes. There is a special energy surrounding the Iowa caucuses, and we get to share that with our kids. How great to be able to teach them about the politics first hand, which can be a dry subject. I know that I have enjoyed taking my daughter to see political candidates who have been here in the last couple months, right here in our hometown. I hope this is something both of my girls can grow up to remember (or at least see in photos) how we participated. I want my girls to know change starts with us, and the only way to do that is to exercise our right to vote!
Are you participating in the caucus and bringing your children?
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