Well what a lesson that weekend turned out to be! Against all odds (aka torrential downpours, intense humidity and mud for as far as the eye could see) we had the most incredible time. For all our worrying the kids took everything in their stride. They slept when they were tired, we ate when we were hungry and we danced when the mood was right. They had their minds blown at the sight of so many different people in wild costumes, the art work, the glitter, the music... these little people of ours just absorbed it all.
I forgot to mention that at this point Nico was just a year old and Ayana celebrated her fourth birthday on the last day of the festival.
On the whole we were very happy with how we had prepared for the weekend. Since then we've had so many people asking for tips, I thought I'd write a little list of what we found useful.
1. Go with the flow
I can't really emphasise how important this is! We learned that kids are actually so incredibly adaptable. If you're relaxed and having a good time, then so are they. Let them sleep when their tired, eat when their hungry, and throw all their clothes off to dance in the mud if the mood so takes them.
2. Prepare for anything
If you're at a festival it's likely to be out in the middle of nowhere so don't leave anything to chance. We threw together gumboots, raincoats, swimwear, cool singlets, warm jumpers and used them all. I also put together a small pack to always have on us containing band-aids, insect repellent, iodine, energy food, calendula ointment etc just in case.
3. Warn your neighbours
Be prepared to be putting your kids to bed just as everybody else is heading out to party, and having your kids waking up to start the day just as fellow festival goers are crawling into bed. Warn anybody who is setting their tent up right beside you, give them a chance to move somewhere child free!
Having this amazing trolley was an absolute lifesaver for us. The kids could sit in it when they got tired (Nic tied an umbrella to it to protect them from sun/ rain) and we could throw all the gear we needed for the day into it. I also brought my trusty old ergo with me which we used if Nico wanted a nap while we were out. Making sure that they always had a place to rest seemed to be key to a great weekend.
5. Home comforts
Sleeping in a tent surrounded by all night music and drunken conversations can be a little overwhelming when you're used to the calm of your bedroom. It seemed worth lugging a favourite blanket, soft toy and white noise machine with us for the evenings.
6. Baby earmuffs
Festivals are LOUD and little ears are sensitive, so giving them each a pair of child size noise cancelling earmuffs turned out to be very useful. You can get them at most hardware stores.
Don't skimp on the food! Although there was good food at the festival, the queue's were often long which is never good when you have cranky kids. Pack a good supply of nuts, corn chips, snack bars, anything that won't go off easily (we realised that fruit isn't ideal).
Okay I won't sugar coat this, the come down can be rough. The first night back is fine, you've unpacked the car, everybody has had their first bath in day's and scrubbed off more mud, glitter and body paint than you knew was possible, you fill your bellies with a big bowl of pasta and fall into bed. But the days that follow sure have their ups and downs as everybody tries to settle back into everyday life. Hang in there, you'll be back to your normal routines in no time!
I hope this has made the idea of taking your kids to a festival (or a road trip, camping adventure etc) a little less daunting. If there's one thing this weekend taught me is that sometimes you just have to go for it!