Braving a Festival with a Baby
Being an adult means waking up one day and realizing that life as you once knew it, has changed. Just yesterday it seems you had hardly a care in the world, free to sleep in past noon, eat ramen every day for weeks on end (without even considering what havoc all that sodium might be wreaking internally) and most importantly, free to go to as many shows and festivals as your body could handle. Yes, once upon a time, music was life. You lived and breathed it. So here you are, years later, with a family and responsibility. 1991 – You long to hear Mike Patton belt out anything off The Real Thing. 2015 – You wake up with
Cheerios stuck to your face and a toddler that has been crying for an hour straight because you wouldn’t let him eat a stick of deodorant. 2000 – You want to get nostalgic listening to Alkaline Trio do “Enjoy Your Day” while remembering that first real break up, the one that left you reeling. Current – You are still reeling most days, only now it’s because you’ve got a mortgage and a, shall we say, energetic brood with the one that came along and didn’t break your heart.
Just because you have kids doesn’t mean that you have to skip going to shows and festivals. In fact, exposing your offspring to music early on is an awesome way to bond and show them how important it is to your life, in hopes it will be important to theirs too. My husband is a musician, so at the tender age of 15 months, I’ve schlepped my son to no less than a dozen shows. There’s no doubt about it, hitting up concerts with little ones in tow requires some foresight and planning, even for the most seasoned parent. Fortunately, with a bit of scheming and a lot of luck, the experience can be relatively pain-free and (gasp!) fun.
So dust off those albums, pack up that diaper bag, and let new and old you get acquainted once and for all, with these tips on taking your littlest ones to a music festival.
Know Your Child
Is yours a tolerant, flexible munchkin who does okay pushing back a nap, sleeping on the go and eating in new and unfamiliar places? Or does your bundle of joy prefer the comforts of home and refuse to close his or her eyes outside of the crib with the sweet sounds of a lullaby tinkling in the background? A stressed-out child means stressed-out parents, so know your child’s limits before testing them in a place where your resources (ie: running water) may be limited.
Play That Funky Music
So you’ve decided your kid can handle the change of pace. Now it’s time to get them involved in the music before you go. In the weeks before the show, try playing the albums of the band or bands you’ll be seeing, in the car or while hanging around the house. Sing enthusiastically (and in such a way that you’d be slightly horrified if anyone other than your children saw you.) Pick them up and dance around the room. Throw devil horns at each other. Head bang. Browse Netflix for recorded live shows and watch together. If they’re familiar with the tunes, there’s a better chance they’ll be engaged when they hear it live.
Pack All The Things
This rule applies ten-fold when attending a festival, where things like weather and terrain come into play. Load up on the essentials like food, diapers and wipes, as it’s highly unlikely you’ll be able to pick up anything on-site, should you run out. Don’t forget protection from the elements. I love sunblock wipes, like MD Moms BabySafe 30 SPF Sunscreen Towelettes because they are travel-friendly, don’t leave your hands covered in white goo and are made with gentle, natural ingredients. A sun hat goes a long way too. Toss a lightweight, gauze blanket in your bag in case your babe needs full sun coverage, a handy place to change a diaper on the grass or a wrap in case it gets chilly. If you plan to stick around past sunset, pack a pair of cozy pajamas to change them into and ease the bedtime transition. Bring a carrier and the smallest stroller you own. Leave the gigantic carriages at home, friends or you’ll be running feet over left and right. Nothing kills a good time like a giant baby tank rattling through a music festival. Hearing protection is also a MUST. Baby Banz makes great noise-canceling headphones for older babies and kids. If you have a very small tot, try Em’s For Bubs. Finally, if they’re walking, make sure they have good shoes on, as they will most definitely demand to get down and run at some point. Festival grounds usually involve dusty rocky fields or concrete parking lots, so you’ll want to protect those bitty feet. Dr. Martens makes sturdy (and damn adorable) boots for babies and toddlers…and who can resist a kid in tiny Docs?
Do Your Homework
Research the venue beforehand. Most festivals have very detailed websites that layout the grounds and even help you put together a schedule of the shows you want to see (so you can map out the best plan of attack to get from stage to stage with family in tow.) Find the bathrooms, locate where to go in the event of an emergency, the best place to park close by. Plan to steer clear of large speakers and mosh pits. Be mindful of acts that might inspire a cloud of *questionable* smoke on the ground. Get seriously acquainted with where you’ll be spending your day. Husband needs a bottle of water? Toddler demands a pretzel? Whatever. You got this, Indiana Jones.
Get In And Out
Maybe it’s because I’m a New Yorker, but the idea of finding parking anywhere seems intimidating. That said, now, with a kid who requires a carseat, it feels even more daunting to try to coordinate a plan that doesn’t involve driving. With all the traveling we do, many times it’s a necessity to find alternatives and luckily, they do exist. If you want to expedite getting in and out of the grounds, booking a car ahead of time could be just the thing. Most car companies have car seats and will happily bring one if you request it in advance. Be sure to confirm that you will need it both ways. Another good option is Uber Family. For a $10 fee, they will send a car equipped with a seat (child must be at least 12 months, 22 pounds and 31 inches.) There are limitations on maximum weight and height, so look into it beforehand. Your chauffeur awaits.
Take No Less Than 50 Pictures But No More Than 51
I may or may not mean this literally, but it’s important to remember to document the moment…and then put down the camera and live in it. It’s easy to get so overwhelmed with getting the perfect shot that you forget to breathe it all in and get to rocking with your mini.
Plan To Throw Out The Plan
When children are involved, it’s always smart to have a plan. If you’ve been around any child on earth, you also know that when kids are involved, it’s completely futile to have a plan. Do your best to be prepared, but understand that anything can happen. You might have to deal with a diaper blowout in the middle of your favorite song. That pretzel the toddler demanded might come right back up just as you swear you’re locking eyes with Iggy Pop and connecting on a deep, cellular level. You might be relegated to the outskirts of the grounds with a baby who, between the lights and the thumping bass, has hit a sensory wall. But as you’re walking out of the venue, a tiny, vomit-covered hand in yours and the thumping bass bouncing through the night air, hopefully you’ll feel that in this moment, the effort alone was all worth it.
Have fun, be safe and keep on rocking that parenting thing!