Last year, we brought the kiddos along with us to festivals for the first time, and while it was a learning experience for sure, we enjoyed the different dynamic. It was really amazing getting to share the festival life with my baby dragons. These little dragons have met so many people who have such a unique collection of skills and talents, that they have a really cool view on the world they live in. Creativity and Passion for art thrives so beautifully in intentional flow art communities, and that is 100% the type of environment I want my dragons growing up seeing is possible.
I feel that, even though bringing a child with you to a festival may seem like a stressful endeavor, if you handle the situation with a proper amount of planning & patience, it can really bring your family together & give you a chance to make some incredible memories.
I want to share a few tips on how you can enjoy the festival experience with your kiddos in tow. These tips have helped our family with young children, but yours may benefit from different tactics. Every family is different.
These suggestions are going to be different for different kiddos ages. Adjust them to what works best for your unique family and the festival you are attending.
First off, go over safety extensively with your kiddos. Pick an easy to spot location & physically show them that this is where they need to go if they become separated from you. For example, The festival ‘Playthink’ has had a bright pink tent for children to go to if they lose their caretaker. You can also use the temporary tattoos with your name and number on them so another grown up can contact you immediately if you become separated. Check out Safety Tats for these!
2. Bring a fully stocked first aid kit just like you would for any other camping trip. Don’t forget sunscreen and bug spray in that kit. Every festival I have attended has a first aid tent. Yet, It wouldn’t hurt to show your kiddos where it is located as well.
3. Our family reviews consent prior to a festival and talks about ways we can make good choices at festivals as well as things that may not be good choices.
I really recommend getting each kid a personal water bottle and actively tracking their water consumption throughout your festival stay. We also bring along gatorade and give the kids half gatorade and half water in their water bottles. There are several different options you could choose instead of gatorade. We utilize it to keep the kids interested in drinking their water. They are pretty good about drinking water at home and we do not often drink sports drinks or pop, but they will need so much more water while actively playing all weekend. So, cutting some gatorade with water puts this momma’s mind at ease.
Come fully prepared when it comes for feeding your tiny humans. There are not a whole lot of things worse than hangry kids at a hot festival. Some ideas are apples, oranges, watermelons, clementines, grapes, their favorite snacks from home, veggie chips/straws, hummus, uncrustables or PB&J ingredients, and more.
This will really reduce stress on your family. When an upcoming festival releases its workshop schedule for the weekend, my partner and I figure out which workshops are a priority, when one of us is teaching or volunteering, and then we figure out the ‘who takes the kids?’ question. For example, at Playthink 2018, while I was taking an advanced fire eating workshop, my partner was playing with our kids in the creek. After my workshop, I ran down to the creek and tagged myself in and he went to instruct a dragon staff workshop! It might sound chaotic, but we had weeks to plan this out and understand what to anticipate.
Please understand that bringing kids will change the dynamic of attending a festival. If you look at this in a positive manner, you and your kids could have the time of your lives and make some really wonderful memories. If you focus on what you cannot do because of your kids attending, you could really hurt some feelings and lose out on a unique experience for you & your family. It is one of those things where ‘it is what you make of it’. That being said, the only thing that has been different for us is that we cannot just ‘go with the flow’. My partner and I have a predetermined plan so each of us can reap the best of the festival and feel supported by each other.
If you are going with your coparent(s)/partner, it is so important to have open communication with one another. If you are struggling, feel burnt out (emotionally or are quite literally sunburnt) try to voice this to your partner as soon as possible so you can have a conversation & problem solve before it becomes a confrontation. My partner & I have made this mistake previously & I promise you it is far easier to have an open conversation amongst each other before you are sunburnt, thirsty, sleep deprived, and swarmed by hungry kids! When you know better, you do better! The communication extends to your children too! Make sure you are open with how you are feeling and what you need from them. Sometimes, as parents we have expectations that were never actually voiced to our children, and when they fail to meet them we get frustrated. Yet, they didn’t have the chance because we didn’t communicate. I could probably write a novel about this subject, so I will leave it at, Respect and Love one another.
We call ours the ‘Dragon Wagon’ because our children are little dragons and my partner uses it to transport multiple dragonstaffs and other props from our campsite to his workshops. During the day, the wagon is hauling around water bottles, snacks, sunscreen, extra kid clothes, props, and etc. After workshops are over for the day, we head back to our campsite, unload, eat dinner, then pack the Dragon Wagon up for the fire circle.
Our night time Dragon Wagon set up has the kids’ throw blankets, their smaller pillow pet pillows, snacks (Don’t travel anywhere with children without snacks, they are worse than hobbits), water bottles, and our fire gear/props we plan on using that night. We park the Dragon Wagon by the fire circle, set up our folding chairs, and enjoy the night!
At Playthink, we even had a small LED wire wrapped around the wagon for a little extra pizazz & it made finding our spot so easy! The kids always end up falling asleep in the wagon and we just roll them back to camp when we are finished.
Our family is very selective about which festivals we bring our kids to.
One way we are selective is choosing to attend Sober Festivals. These are festivals that actively support the sober community & attendees by holding festivals that discourage or prohibit drug and alcohol use. (For more information on Sober Flow Arts Follow This) I have found these are the best festivals to take kiddos along with us.
Some festivals can get pretty rowdy, and that is totally fine for others looking for that experience! Yet, as a momma, if I am bringing my kids with me, I chose to be selective about what and how much my kids are being exposed to.
If you are wanting to share the festival life with your kiddo(s), I would really recommend looking into festivals similar to Playthink. It is MEANT for families and it would be a great first festival for you to try out bringing kids along.
Are you a parent who has brought kiddos along with you on festival adventures? What was a game changer for you? What advice would you share with fellow parents?
I welcome you to share your stories about attending festivals with kids!