Festival tips for first timers? Ok. Sit back and listen up. Festivalling with kids is great and all the time you spend prepping beforehand will make sure you love every minute. Go unprepared and there’s a strong chance you’ll end up divorced or in a corner rocking muttering, “Tell me when it’s all over…”
Firstly…check your equipment. Sounds obvious, I know, but don’t be the idiot (me!) who turns up on their own with two kids, a tent and NO TENT POLES. Don’t be that guy. Trust me, it does nothing for your sanity or your marriage, so you, check you’ve got everything. Also, buy well, buy once. Don’t skimp on a tent – if you’re blessed with sunshine you might, might, get away with it. If, on the other hand, it’s blowing a gale and serving up apocalyptic rain (like last year) you don’t want to be the douchebag gaffa-taping the gaping hole in their tent in the middle of the night (also me!)
Don’t feel you have to do ‘proper’ camping. No one is going to give you a medal for sleeping on the floor, hunting and gathering and rubbing sticks together to make a fire. Festival days are wonderfully long, but when you do go to bed, you want to make sure you’re all going to sleep. Invest in good blow up mattresses, take sheets and duvets if you can and try and make it home from home. Also, you are DEFINITELY going to want coffee STAT when you wake up so make sure you can get some water boiled. That being said, you’re hardly in Outer Mongolia so you can just trot off to the breakfast van for a cup of builder’s and a bacon sarnie.
Other essentials include: foldaway chairs for outside your tent, rucksack, bumbag, ear defenders for the kids, a hipflask (I mean, it’s still a festival right?), refillable water bottle, sunscreen, back pack, hand sanitiser and wet wipes. While I’m sure you’ll be bathing in glorious sunshine, take waterproofs with you because, you know, England. If you can stretch to hiring a wagon to pull the rugrats around in I would HIGHLY recommend it. Remember, you don’t just have to drag the kids around in it. It also makes for a great cider carrier too.
Check the programme before you go – there’s so much more than music and everytime you go, you’ll discover something new. Activities, shows, panel chats, magical trails, adventures, animals, kazoo lessons, theatre, fairground rides…the list goes on. It’s every kids wildest dreams on crack…go and explore it with them. Going with other families can make the world of difference. The more kids you get together the more ‘self facilitated childcare’ you can benefit from meaning they pretty much look after themselves, while you sit at ‘base’ necking a cider.
Finally…adjust your expectations. Festivals with kids are amazing, but they are not like the festivals of old. Festivals with kids can be better: you see more, you’re likely to end up doing things that you would never do pre-kids (mainly because you’d be sleeping off the night before) and you’ll make some mega memories with your family but you are still parenting, your kids still need to go to the loo at really annoying times, they get tired and grumpy and over stimulated but relax the rules, in fact throw the rule book out. Stay up late (they’ll sleep in those wagons while you party…#triedandtested), eat chips for breakfast, forget about showers, teeth-brushing is way down on the list of priorities and most importantly, buy all the glitter you can, dress up and don’t think that just because you’ve got kids, you have to hang up your festival shoes.
Gayle Haddock and Cat Sims
Cat Sims & Gayle Haddock are the founders of creative marketing agency Hustle & Fox. They popped their Camp Bestival cherries last year and brought their families along for the ride. Hardened festival goers pre-kids, these two ladies know how to festival with the best of them and now, they’re sharing their top tips for bringing the kids along too.
Camp Bestival From One Mum to Another