We've got to F in Mrs ATWWAH's A-Z of travelling with a toddler and this time she's spilling the beans on taking your tot to a festival.
Much like eating out, going to an exhibition, sitting on a plane and so on, the music festival is now seen as somewhere perfectly acceptable to take your offspring, even before they are teenagers.
At only a few weeks old Mr ATWWAH and I took Master ATWWAH to the Ben & Jerry’s Festival on Clapham Common as I had decided while pregnant that having a baby would not change us.
We spent the whole afternoon worried he was too cold, we made a drama out of giving him his bottle and then wouldn’t go anywhere near the stage scared we’d damage his hearing for life. In a nutshell it was nothing like the relaxed, cider drinking, ice cream eating and listening to the Fun Lovin’ Criminals while dancing round the pram afternoon we had envisaged.
We recently tried festivals again at Big Feastival 2013, the joint venture between ex-Blur bassist and cheese maker Alex James and chef for all seasons Jamie Oliver. And, this time we were camping. Again, I imagined it would be a breeze, will I ever learn?
At home: Make sure your toddler has had a play in the tent before arriving at the campsite. Put it up in the daytime in the garden and play in it or even sleep in it so they get used to it.
Snacks: Take lots of snacks, especially for breakfast when queues for food stalls can be long – bananas, bags of raisins, muffins/pastries, bottles of water and crisps.
Clothes: Even if the weather forecast is good, take layers. Once the sun goes in the temperature can drop quickly especially in the middle of a field.
Ear protectors: Buy ear protectors online. They cost about £15 and are well worth it.
Dance: Kids don’t generally like appreciating music by sitting or standing still. The more you dance the more room you’ll find around you too.
Be realistic: Your little ones may not make it to the headline act.
Babysit: If a few of you are going, take it in turns to babysit back at the campsite.
On high: Festival crowds can be intimidating, toddlers often feel safer on their parents shoulders rather than on the ground amidst welly stomping adults. Or take your baby carrier.
Quiet zone: If there is a family area in a campsite, camp there. You will be surrounded by other early wakers and less likely to overhear teenage acoustic sessions, or worse...
Porter: Hire a trolley if that's an option, not only do they help with getting all the gear from the car but you can use them at the festival for transporting tired toddlers and storing a bag/spare clothes without fighting with your pram.
Start small: Try a one-day festival without camping if you’re not sure how much your child will like it.
Wet wipes: Whatever age you are, these are festival essentials, you can never have too many.
Go with the flow: Don’t expect too much and you will be pleasantly surprised. Expect it to be how it was pre-children and you’ll be disappointed. You definitely notice different things when you take children to a festival, seeing it through their eyes can be just as fun.