I was surprised at the number of kids I saw out BF shopping with their parents all night. I saw a few at the store we went to at midnight, but then we went to the mall & at 3:00 am we went to the food court to wait for the 4:00 stores to open and there were kids all over the place. I'm talking about little, under 8 year old kids at 3-4 am. My kids begged me to take them with, they are almost 11 & 12, and I didn't think they could handle staying up all night, so we were shocked to see 5 & 6 year old kids out with their parents, awake at 3:30 in the morning.
Throughout the night I saw a couple of my kids friends out with their parents so it made me think about taking my kids with next year, but then I heard all the stories about the crazy people & someone pepper spraying people and now I'm back to thinking that I won't take them out with me next year. I go out after Thanksgiving dinner & don't come home until 8 in the morning and I don't want to have to run home to drop off my kids in the middle of the night.
Was it like that all over the place, were there a lot more kids out with their parents than before? I didn't notice women by themselves with their kids, it was groups of people with kids (we saw 3 women and a very young baby or 4 adults with 2 little kids around 4-5 years old) and we thought why didn't one of the adults stay home with the children? And how were those kids up at that time of the night?
This year, because the stores opened at midnight rather than 5am, I also noticed more kids than usual, however, many of them were on the line for a while but not in the store. I had no choice but to have my kids with me on the line for a little while because my parents were going to watch them, but they went to my sister's house for Thanksgiving and couldn't pick them up until about 9 or 10pm. The choice of whether to bring the kids or not all has to be judged on an individual basis. I have been doing Black Friday for about 17 years now, and the past 8 in this area. I know exactly what to expect, I know the dangers, I know how to avoid anyone in my group getting injured, and any kids are supervised at all times and kept out of any danger. My daughter is 13 and she has gone for the past few years. At this point she is a veteran and actually able to actually help out now. In the past for the first few years she would stay with my wife and get right on the line when she got in the store and hold my place until I got the non-doorbuster items. I do not recommend any kids unless you are familiar with what to expect on BF. You mentioned you have an 11 and 12 year old, that should be a safe age to start taking them depending on your location. If you live in a notoriously rude place where people don't give a damn and would just assume trample kids to get their items (such as NYC, ie Walmart
3 years ago) then it is best to leave them home.