10 Tips for the Ultimate Family-Friendly Festival Experience
Originally posted by Suzy on 6/2/2015 at hipmountainmama.com
We love going to music festivals each summer...before kids it was easy and after kids, it's easier than you'd think. Just follow these 10 tips to be sure and have a great family-friendly festival experience.
Before we had children we enjoyed the freedom of hitting the road, exploring new places, meeting kind folk, and seeing live music. There is nothing like leaving responsibilities behind to enter the festival world....where livin is easy, people are happy, the energy is contagious, and good vibes surround you. If you have never been to a music festival, I can tell you it's like nothing else..I often think if real life were like this, maybe there wouldn't be so much hate in the world. Festivals are much like going to a concert, but your connections with other people, mother earth, and all of your surroundings is so much stronger.
Now that we have children we still attend festivals and enjoy all that comes along with it, we just do things a little different. We may only go for 1 day instead of 2, or go to festivals closer to home, or leave early even though we really want to see a certain band. We are very aware of our children's happiness and needs and make sure to show up prepared for anything. Instead of a small bag filled with sweat shirts and water we now walk in with multiple bags filled with clothing, food, water, blankets, toys, child carriers, sunscreen etc. Just because you have children, doesn't mean you need to miss out on your favorite festivals. Sure, there are times when you will want to leave the kiddos at Grandma's, but seeking out family friendly festivals and going prepared can make for a super fun time that your kids are going to look forward to each year.
We have been taking our kids to festivals since they were babies and although it is a different experience, we still love it! *Be sure to check out our list of family friendly festivals!
1. Clothing & Sunscreen: Always bring extra clothes for the kiddos and dress them in layers. The day may start out sunny, but there is always a chance for rain or cold weather and a cold child is not a happy child. If you start them out with flip flops, make sure to bring socks and shoes as a back up. I always bring a few pairs of kid leg warmers as they can be worn on legs and arms. Think about all scenarios..it is unlikely, but if your child spills a drink on themselves, you will want an extra t shirt...eliminate all reasons for your child to be unhappy and wanting to leave. Even if you don't usually wear sunscreen, a day at a festival is a time you are going to want to wear it. Spending all day in the sunshine can leave you and your children with a pretty bad burn, so find a natural sunscreen and slather up! Hats are also a great idea!
2. Shelter: We have never done this, but I have seen many families who will set up a little tent or shelter for their children to go to. This provides shade and a safe place for them to go to. If your child needs to nap during a festival then this is a great option. We always bring a blanket so we can have a designated place to call our own. This helps our children feel safe and comfortable.
3. Show Up Early: Again, this is not something we do very often, but if you want to set up a shelter and get a good spot, then showing up early can make all the difference.
4. Food/Drink: Make sure to bring tons of snacks that your kids enjoy. I usually sneak in a few suckers or some other treat to give them at some point in the day. If your kids are like mine, they will be telling you they are hungry all day long and you will want to be prepared. There will be vendors selling food, but it can be pricey if you purchase all your food from vendors. We plan to eat one meal purchased from a vendor during the day, allowing the kids to choose, then eat from our snack stash the rest of the day. Make sure your kids drink enough water! My daughter got dehydrated a few years back after a festival and we have not made this mistake again. Pay attention to what your children are drinking and if you don't think they are getting enough fluids, make them drink water. We bring in several water bottles from home and if they run out there is usually a drinking water station where we can refill them.
5. Ear Plugs: If your children are really young, sensitive to loud sounds, you plan to take them close up to the stage, or just want to take extra precaution, use ear plugs.
6. Child Carriers: These are a must! We have used our Ergo and Moby Wrap carriers at every festival we have been to since we have had our kids. I even carried my 6 year old in a carrier last summer. Trust me, these are a life saver at festivals, especially if you have a child under 2 years. I recall one summer at Rocky Grass, Sienna spent 90% of her time in the Ergo on Andy's back. She had her naps there, danced along with Andy, and took in all the sights, all while safe and snug on daddy's back.
7. Camping: If you are camping at festivals, make sure to bring along a few special comfort items for your kiddos. Some kids are fine anywhere and everywhere, and others not so much. You know your child and know if they are going to be OK with being away from home in a somewhat crazy environment for a few days. Some kids may need some down time during the day or in the evening. Bring their favorite books, toys, blanket, journal, or comfort foods. Take cues from your kids on when they may need to leave the festival and head to camp for an hour break. In some cases it might be wise to camp off site. Often times camping on site at festivals can be loud until the wee early morning hours. At certain festivals with kids it is smart to find a campsite close to the festival, but away from the chaos.
8. Be Responsible: Getting crazy and wild is something that a lot of folks do at festivals. While most of the scene is very happy and peaceful, there are folks who will get out of hand. It is your job to take care of your kiddos safety and to realize when you may need to remove your family from a situation. Take care of your child's needs first. There have been several times when we have had to leave a festival hours before we wanted to because our kids had just had enough. Yes, we missed out on a few things, but it is more important to make sure our kids are taken care of and happy...if you push them, they may get a bad feeling about going to festivals and not want to go back.
9. Potty Time: If your child is still in diapers make sure to bring plenty of extras. Bring some sort of blanket or changing pad, wipes, and a bag for dirty diapers. If your child is potty training, bring extra clothes, and take them to the potty when you feel it is necessary...or put them in diapers for the day and hope it doesn't ruin all your work :) If your child is potty trained, then, yes, you will have to use the porta pottys. I have 2 girls, so I take them and as unpleasant as it is, it is just a part of the experience. These days most festivals have little hand washing stations outside of the potty's with soap and water or hand sanitizer. If you are not sure if this will be provided, throw in a little bottle of hand sanitizer.
10. Have Fun: Yes, there are many things you will need to think about when bringing a child to a festival. But, don't stress! If you set out to have fun, go prepared, and don't push your kids to do more than they want to, everyone will have a blast. Have special things that the kids get to do only at festivals. Maybe they get to eat a certain festival food, or get to wear a certain costume, or get a new toy or get to jump in the bouncy houses (many family friendly festivals will have a few fun things just for kids). Make it something they will look forward to and want to go to. Invite friends that have kids the same ages. If my kids have friends with them, they will enjoy the experience so much more. And don't forget to document the event with photos!
Happy Festival Season!
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