Once the weather is warm enough, Flagstaff loves to celebrate! We start with Hullaballoo and wrap up with Cornucopia. It may seem overwhelming to bring small children to a festival scene, but locals know that we are a family friendly community that welcomes all members. Here I hope to impart some tips and tricks to help you thrive at your next festival.
Be Prepared and Make a Plan
It’s not enough to remind you to pack diapers, you need to review the event details in advance! Not all festivals have the same list of rules and you don’t want to be caught off guard when you see No Re-Entry signs. Social media is a good to-go, but some of our larger festivals have their own websites where you can decide if this is worth the baby bringing effort or if you want to make babysitter plans.
Pack your stroller, seriously, load it up! Your kids might stay in, they might not. Bring a carrier. Get there early so you can get a shady spot! Make a home-base where you can leave your stroller (no one is interested in taking your diaper bag, I promise!). Know when you’re arriving, when events are happening, and what is available for your children. Decide before you get there what you plan to allow them to do and what you allow them to spend! Not only does this keep you on budget but then your children know the expectation before they get there.
Alright, now is when I remind you about diapers, hats and changes of clothes but also the most important tool in your diaper bag, snacks! Generally, your children cannot be denied their food to be brought in because festivals food only gets kids so far (and so full). Bring them a sandwich, fruit, snack bars and of course, their reusable water bottle. It is also worth bringing some just in case items if they are not enjoying your planned activities. I would keep away from electronic bribes, and instead grab a dollar pack of bubbles or another non-intrusive outside toy.
Hype It Up!/Let them be involved
Kids get excited when you are excited! And new and different things can make them anxious or nervous. So talk about what’s going to happen, let them pick out some fairy wings or whatever cool thing they’re going to wear and involve them! You can direct your children to activities that you have decided for them but let them choose which bounce house or what they want painted on their face, or what have you. Talk about the bands your going to see; sing with them, dance with them. Let them spin the prize wheels and maybe let them pick a special treat to celebrate the day.
We are so blessed in Flagstaff to have such a caring and open community. Most events have water refilling stations and sun screens but many also have the most wonderful resource; The Nursing Tent! You’ve probably seen it, a large purple tent, owned by the Flagstaff Birth and Women’s Center. Inside you can find a nice quiet, cozy area to nurse, change babies (dad is welcome for diaper time!) and on hot days has even had fans blowing.
Plan for Naps
This can be a tricky one, because I’m not saying stop your day so your kids can go home and take a nap (because I’m not a nice mom like that). I am saying to make a plan to let your kids take a snooze if they’re able. This is where your carrier might come in. Maybe you can dance them to sleep and set them down in a stroller while bands keep playing (pictured below; angel baby) but maybe you can just strap them on and they will fall asleep on their own, giving you some time to not need to entertain anyone while you are there to be entertained.
Bring another family
If I leave you with one brilliant trick, let it be this one. Attend the event with a similar family (or families) that your children know. Kids can play together and entertain each other and moms and dads can tag team taking charge of all the kids so the other couples can have adult time. One thing that I love about Flagstaff is how many people we know that we run into at a festival, close friends, classmates and community members. Don’t depend on a casual drop in that will gladly give you a break. It’s nice when it happens, but make your plan ahead of time because having another family there will really help the event run smoothly; everyone can take a turn holding your baby or watch all the toddlers dance so you can pee or grab another beer.