We are about to embark on our first festival of the season- I am so excited about making plans. I’m not the only one who loves to make these lists, surely?!
When it comes to getting our camping kit together, happy memories leap off the tin plates and who doesn’t love a gadget? The kit to me is all part of the fun.
Also, these days we want to be comfortable- once upon a time we probably just used our tent as a place to collapse into slumber.
Times and expectations have changed. Seeing every band isn’t going to happen- trying to do too much can result in meltdown central so we pick our favourites and are prepared to make compromises. Take turns doing what each person in the family wants or tag team childcare with a partner/ friend is a good idea if you can. We can still do this, just in a different way.
There might be times when you take the kids out into the fresh, night air- an evening of magic lying ahead of you.
Then the kids might vomit/ wee everywhere/ jump in a massive puddle which is actually cow poo- and you have to retreat back to your tent wondering why you bothered to try to have fun in the first place? All is not lost- put on your big girl pants and claw it back. If I can, you can.
Festivals with children ARE different beasts, but being organised helps and flouting normal routines catapults everyone into holiday mode. Relax, let everyone get filthy and explore whilst staying safe: you will find that the magic can still happen as you see the place unfold through their eyes.
Safety and security:
Losing a child is every parents’ worst nightmare. It probably won't happen though- and if it does there’s a few things you can do to help.
Firstly, introduce your child to a steward- show them what a high-vis looks like and tell them to find one of these kind people if they get lost. OR find another Mummy who will help. Either is good.
I take a permanent marker with me, and write both parents numbers on their arm- in case one phone is out of reception/ battery has died. In truth I have never needed to use this, as the one time I DID lose a child, the security/ steward team radioed their colleagues ahead and found the youngest in just a few terrifying minutes. Yes, it felt like hours.
Valuables: just be sensible. Don’t flash your ipad in the door of your tent etc. Pop it into the lock up if you have to bring it.
Ear defenders for the children are ESSENTIAL. Keep them in the wagon- you never know when a marching band/ banging Jungle set might kick off around you. If this does happen, you’ll shock yourself at how fast you can move…
Next is my favourite subject: KIT. What to bring?! kicking off my list, I am starting with the essentials:
If you can get a tent you can stand up in, it makes things so much more comfortable- when was the last time you tried to put on jeans on one leg whilst wobbling on an air bed?
Our tent is canvas, which is heavy, but means it doesn’t get overly hot in the morning sun and it stays stable in wind.
You could always opt for a caravan or campervan- though as these fields tend to be further away we often opt for the tent.
Whatever you choose to save those little legs, make sure it is all terrain as small wheels get clogged up easily.
We have used just about everything in our time- wheel barrow (Back breaking,) red waggon (for us this resulted in an emergency trip to the chiropractor on our return…) mountain buggy (great) and cycle trailer (even better as the rain cover made it like a little wendy house)
All the above help you carry your kit and give your children a portable chill-out space. I used to fill the side pockets with sticker books and torches for the children to play with when they got bored between bands in the evenings.
If your child is young, slings are best in crowds- but if you do take a buggy out at night remember to decorate it with fairy lights and flags. People tend to crowd into a space if they don’t see something at head height! Make your buggy stand out so it doesn’t get fallen on. It happened to us several times before we embraced the bling.
Self inflating mattresses are essential in my book. Less trampoline- like so last well beyond the first night.
Our children love their sleeping bags- us adults like a light duvet.
Don’t forget your pillows and blankets for cosying up around the campfire.
Wellies, over trousers and anoraks are essential for the whole family.
Bring layers to wear for the evening and clean clothes for each day. You’d be surprised how mucky you get having fun- face paints, sun screen, ice cream, and if it is a wet year, putting on muddy trousers from the day before is really really horrible…
Gas stove- ours is in a carry case, which works great as we try to cook 1 pot meals anyway.
Cool box to keep food cool- beyond the first day everything will be thawed out.. so we use it to store open food away from ants and rodents.
1 sharp knife, tongs and spatula.
Washing up sponge & liquid
Black bin liner
Bucket/ washing up bowl
Festival food can be expensive and unhealthy. We try to get as much fruit and veg into the kids as we can before letting them loose at the pizza van.
Jars of hot dog sausages
Bread rolls or tortilla wraps
Pasta & pesto
Tinned sweetcorn and peas
Eggs for scrambling
UHT or powdered milk
Coffee for adults! (it’s a festival- you could pop a slug of brandy on there if you wanted. Go on, treat yourself.)
Fruit (nothing too fragile- apples and bananas are always a favourite)
Boxes of raisins and dried fruit
Fruit juice cartons- freeze these ahead of the event to use as ice packs in your cool box.
Flapjacks/ cereal bars
Posh Crisps (for when the kids go to sleep…)
Torches (one each is easiest)
String/ cable ties/ Gaffer tape
Ear plugs for adults- ear defenders for children, see above.
Permanent marker (for writing your phone number on your childrens’ arms. If you don’t like doing this, you can write with biro and paint over the top with a liquid/ spray plaster)
Fully charged power bank- you’ll be gutted if you can’t take pictures of all the fun you’re having.
Toothbrushes, toothpaste, flannel, soap, towel
Wet wipes- though we are trying to do without these this year after learning about their negative impact on the environment… wish us luck.
POTTY. Ok, a bucket with a lid on.….. it’s not just for the kids either- I don’t like a long walk in the middle of the night or getting up early to take the boys for their first wee of the day. Once I got over the embarrassment of taking my bucket to the loo in the morning, I never looked back. Trust me, it’s worth it.
First aid kit; plasters, antiseptic wipes, calpol, piriton, dioralyte, paracetamol (for adult headaches just in case you get one)
Now you’ve got the practicalities sorted, its time for the fun bits- none of which is STRICTLY essential, but may give you some fun ideas.
Fancy dress/ dressing up gear
Flag and telescopic flag pole. Put this by your tent so you/ the kids can find it easily in the crowded campsite.
Solar fairy lights- for the same reason.
Fake flowers/ bunting for decorating the camp/ buggy/ yourself.
Glow sticks (for night times)
And last but by no means least, don’t forget the quiet games/ activities. However much fun you are having, it can get overwhelming. Sensory overload IS A THING, so make sure you have a few activities for the tent. Drawing stuff, Uno, activity books and a few bits of lego usually does it for us. Also if you have space take a football. Last Nozstock, the children of the family field had a massive football match whilst the adults all kicked back with a nice (warm!?) beer… it was sweet joy to behold.
So now you’re set. Remember though, whatever you forget someone onsite will probably be selling it, so don’t get too stressed out or bogged down by the ‘stuff’. Most of what you need is normal everyday things- don’t let the fact it is a ‘festival’ send you into a panic.
Hopefully with this list though, you should be all set. All you need now is to throw off the shackles of daily life, grab your dancing shoes and you’re good to go.
See you in a field somewhere, we’ll be to the right of the mixing desk, yeah?