Independence Day with Young Kiddos

How I used to love the 4th of July! I’m so fascinated by fireworks–my family used to go to Galeton, PA, every year and watch the fireworks explode over the lake in a canyon. The sound reverberated across the mountains, there was zero light pollution out in the PA Wilds, and the experience was magical.

Since moving to Pittsburgh, I’ve been thrilled with the numerous fireworks displays throughout our city. Heck, there are fireworks most weekend nights all throughout summer. It’s pretty spectacular to watch from one of the bridges as they launch from a barge downtown.

The last 4th of July before I had children, I was 40 weeks pregnant with my first baby. I sat on a yoga ball at my friend’s house and waddled to the lookout on Mt. Washington to watch the fireworks with my husband. We stayed out past midnight enjoying the shenanigans.

Now…I have small kids, and the 4th of July has taken on a different set of challenges. For starters, noise. Oh! The noise! This lady who used to love fireworks now tenses on holidays involving the booms. Will bedtime be ruined??? I always think. Will they wake up in terror and be screaming for hours??? Local fireworks have a way of booming louder than any sound machine I’ve found to pump white noise in their room.

So there’s that. But I also have had to let go of my old definition of a 4th well spent, instead adapting my celebrations to accommodate kids who go to bed at 7pm, well before dark.

Last year, as I sat on the sofa glimpsing brief flashes of fireworks above the trees, I made my husband promise me that one day, we’d be out past dark sitting on a blanket, enjoying the fireworks again. One day!

For now, we try to celebrate our nation’s independence in other ways. We ride our bikes during the day and teach our older son to shuck corn on the cob. We make red, white, and blue fruit platters with berries and bananas and we watch This Is America, Charlie Brown if it’s raining.

It’s just another one of those holidays where I’ve had to shift my perspective and really think about how to compromise so our whole family has a good time.

How do you celebrate loud, nighttime holidays with young kids? Leave us a comment to share some ideas!

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