Austin just got its first professional soccer team! Yay! Nate and I got season tickets, and we decided to make it a family event last weekend and bring Milo along for the fun. He was such a little trooper and did a great job cheering on Austin FC (and staying up way past his bedtime) on Sunday night. Here’s a little recap of our evening.
Logistics of bringing a toddler to Q2 Stadium:
I’m going to start with the logistics, because those are what I’d be most interested in reading about. 😉 Some of you are veteran parents who have brought your babies to sporting events plenty of times, but this our first experience. So if you’re new to the parenting game like I am, here’s what worked for us:
We picked the earliest evening game start time. Some of this season’s games start at 8:30 pm, which would be way too late for Milo. He goes to bed around 8 pm in the summer, so a 7 pm game was still late, but it was the best option. I also didn’t want to suffer through a hot afternoon game with him (ugh, can’t mess with those nap times!) so the 7 pm game was our best option.
We had a two adults/one child ratio. My due date is about 6 weeks away, so we snuck this game in before baby boy #2 arrives. Since we had two adults (Nate and I) and one child (Milo), the ratio worked out pretty well. I’ll be honest: if I was going to this game solo or with a group of my girlfriends, I wouldn’t have attempted to bring a toddler.
Children under 2 are free at Q2 stadium. Milo just hit 20 months, so he qualified as a “lap child” and got in for free.
If you bring a baby, you can bring a diaper bag. Bags aren’t allowed at Q2 Stadium (except for small clutch-sized purses), but we were allowed one diaper bag since Milo was joining us. I wasn’t sure what the policy would be for what was allowed inside the diaper bag, so I played it safe and just brought his water, one snack, and diapers/wipes. But they had no problem with that, so next time I’ll bring lots more snacks for him! I just didn’t want to have to throw away a ton of stuff if they had said that no food was allowed.
Strollers are allowed, but you can’t park them in the aisles. Milo loves walking/running and had no problem walking himself from the parking lot to the stadium, so we didn’t bring our stroller. But I saw several families with strollers at the stadium. You can check it at the gate and then pick it up after the game so you don’t have to worry about folding it up and storing it under your seat. (Another option would be to bring a tiny travel stroller and fold it under your seat for the game.)
We went into the game with a scheduled plan. On the drive to Q2 Stadium, Nate and I made up an official tag-team plan for watching Milo. That way whoever wasn’t watching him could be fully invested in the game and enjoy it, and whoever was watching him would be on 100% lookout for Milo to keep him safe. Soccer games are made up of two 45-minute halves, so for the first half I watched Milo for 20 minutes, then transitioned him to Nate, and then Nate watchdd Milo for the next 20 minutes. We both watched him during half time, and then we repeated the same schedule for the second half.
Q2 Stadium has a sensory room, a mother’s room, and an air conditioned beer hall. We got lucky and had a breezy, 75-degree cloudy night at the stadium, but some summer nights are 95 degrees and sunny and HOT. If you’re there with a red and sweaty toddler who needs to cool down, there are some places to escape in the stadium. There’s also a mother’s room for moms who need to breastfeed/pump. And all of the bathrooms have baby changing tables.
Ok, on to the game! I like to arrive early to the games so I can get some food and say hi to friends, but this time we got there pretty close to the start time. Milo LOVED running down the ramp to the stadium! He kept trying to run back up so he could run down again and again.
His little legs just go so fast!
So excited for our first family soccer game!
I always talk about how much he loves running in our neighborhood and pushing his little yellow tonka truck around (he’ll easily run a half mile with that thing before stopping!) It definitely wears me out to run around with him, but…it’s nice at a game that he’s pretty independent! Nate has a bad leg and I’m 34 weeks pregnant, so while either one of us could carry him, it’s definitely more comfortable for everyone if he runs. And he’s happier that way.
All settled in and ready for our game! I downloaded some Daniel Tiger on my phone in case he needed it, and he sat on my lap for a nice long 30-minute stretch. And he really wasn’t very interested in watching Daniel – he was so engaged with the game! (Well…he was mostly interested the supporter section with the drums and flags and noise!)
#ATX for pride month!
Oh my goodness…my favorite little view! He was sitting on my lap and has his chunky little ankles propped up in front of him. So sweet.
Like I mentioned before, we tag-teamed with the schedule. So once my 20 minutes were up, Nate watched Milo for the next 20 minutes.
Milo got to sit in my chair and I ran to the Verde store to pick up an Austin FC toddler shirt for him.
And on my way back I saw that Otoko was the weekly food vendor at The Austin Table! This booth rotates each week and it’s always a local Austin chef. Otoko is a very high-end sushi restaurant in Austin, so it was pretty cool to see it at Q2 Stadium.
Also see: FOOD AT Q2 STADIUM: HERE’S A LOOK AT WHAT’S ACTUALLY OFFERED IN AUSTIN FC’S SOCCER STADIUM
AWW! He looks so handsome in his Austin FC shirt!
The second half of the game was SO much fun because Milo got really engaged! He started watching the game and cheering when the crowd cheered.
At this point we had passed his bedtime so I was bracing myself for a total meltdown at any moment. But you know what? He kept getting happier and happier! Ha! Maybe we have ourselves a night owl?
Between the hours of 8:00-9:00 he just got happier and more engaged with the game. So strange! But he was loving it! He started dancing to the beat of the drums in the supporter section, and clapping and yelling “YAYY!!!” whenever the crowd got loud. I was honestly watching Milo as much as I was watching the soccer players.
We snuck out a few minutes before the game ended to avoid the crowd congestion. It was hard to leave because Milo was doing so well and having a great time! But I snapped this picture on our way out, and when I looked at it I thought, “oh yeah, he’s exhausted. Good thing we left when we did.” Haha. Sleepy little boy.
It was way past his bedtime but he still wanted to run back to the car! Blurry pic because he’s running so fast. 😉
I keep saying this with all of my parenting experiences (like Milo’s first international flight, his first road trip, and now this soccer game), but as long as your expectations are different, you’ll have SO much fun having these experiences with your little ones! If I had gone to this soccer game hoping it would be a relaxing evening of watching all 90 minutes of the game, I would have been disappointed. But I knew that it would be about 50/50 of watching the game and chasing a toddler around. I know that these memories are something I’ll cherish, and I’m really thankful we got to bring the entire family to a soccer game.