Go Ask Mom

More State Fair tips for parents, kids

How to avoid sticker shock? How young is too young to go? What age can a child roam the fair on his own? Some thoughts.

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Sarah Lindenfeld Hall
I was on the news on WRAL-TV this morning to talk about the State Fair. I spoke with Sloane Heffernan and Renee Chou about some of the tips I shared earlier in the week.

But we talked about some other things, which I thought I'd share here.

How to avoid sticker shock: I think one idea that I heard from another mom is a great one. Give the kids a budget. Let them know before you go exactly how much they can spend at the fair. Tell them they can spend it on whatever they like, but that there won't be any more (and stick to that). If they come back to you asking for one more ride, one more game, one more ice cream cone, remind them of the conversation and budget and ask them where their money went.

How young is too young to go: I think that's up to you really. I wouldn't bring an infant to the fair primarily because when I had an infant, getting out of the house for a walk was a triumph. But I think there's just too much going on for a wee one. I would set my expectations low for toddlers and preschoolers. Some can handle a big day at the fair. Others can't. I took my older daughter when she was 18 months old and within about 90 minutes, we were both done and we hadn't even made it to the rides.

And one question that we didn't have time for ... At what age can you let a child roam the fair on his own? Again ... I think that depends on the child. Some 11-year-olds would have no problem with this. Other 11-year-olds would get into a lot of trouble. I think late tweens to early teens generally would be about the age when they'd be ready for some freedom. I might start with one of the exhibit halls first and make sure my child was with a group of friends that I trusted.

So those are some of my thoughts. I'd love to hear yours on what's worked for you!

(And thanks to Renee and Sloane for talking with me!)

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