A few years ago Clemmie Telford and I shared some lists of how to survive a festival with kids, plus what to pack for a festival with kids. I’ve had a few people ask me for an updated version. You can find the originals here and here, but here are a few dos and don’t a few years on with slightly older kids.
Have a bag of completely clean, cosy new clothes in the car. Leave it there. You will thank me for the ride home.
Bang in all the tent pegs. Even those extra ones that seem unnecessary. They actually do keep it upright.
Bring something quiet for kids to do. Kids who are bloody awake at 5am. UNO, colouring books, Connect 4. Something without batteries that can stop them from running around too early or keep them occupied while you sort camping stuff out.
Bring a small stove and ingredients for a cooked hearty breakfast. The queue for breakfast can be soul destroying. Bring something like pancake mix or eggs (or breakfast burritos) to fill everyone up so you spend less on festival food later.
Bring quick snacks so you can avoid hangry kids. They use so much energy, sometimes a well timed muesli bar can save a long walk to the chip van.
Bring a potty! Even for big kids…and sometimes tipsy mums. If the weather is bad this is a godsend in the night.
Bring a mirror and make-up remover. Don’t trust your husband to see if you look acceptable the day after a fancy dress make over.
Bring more clothes than you need. Add in some whacky ones, even if you’re not a sequinned kinda person, you might feel like wearing something wild once you get there.
Bring wellies and rain gear, even if the weather says it will be sunny. I know people who didn’t bring wellies to Camp Bestival last year, and well… yikes!
Expect your festival experience to be the same as it was pre-kids. But you will have 20 minute blocks where no one needs the loo or a snack and you feel like you’re 21 again.
Don’t park your tent like a dick. When you’re in a group of tents, if you can, arrange them so the entry points or porches all face the middle so you can have a central area. Don’t be the guy that blocks everyone’s way.
Don’t try to stick to any sort of bedtime or nap routine. But also don’t assume you’ll be staying up all night while the kids sleep in the wagon (sometimes they are overtired). Just take each moment as it comes. This sometimes means heading back to the tent when you’d rather party, but make sure you’re stocked with chocolate and red wine and make an evening of it.
Don’t forget to make your kids drink water. We had a scary moment with Elliot a few years back when we suddenly realised he was quite dehydrated.
Don’t bother having a shower if you don’t have to. Water wipes, or a wet flannel will do the trick on the bits that need doing.
Don’t bring very special teddies if you can. They just cause anxiety if you can’t find them in the tent.
Don’t feel you need to stay in a big group of friends all day. Sometimes the best moments are when you break off and do your own thing then come back to tell each other about your discoveries.
Don’t forget where you camped and don’t use another person’s tent as a beacon to find yours. If they pack up and go you’ll be lost. Look for permanent features as markers.
Don’t lose your kids!! (we lost Elliot during Fat Boy Slim!) Write your phone number on them somewhere, or give them your business card if you have one. Give them a strategy if they are lost. Eg: find a mum or dad, stand somewhere easy to see, don’t go back to the tent. Etc. When it gets dark, get those glow stick bracelets so you can identify yours in the dark.