At Home Column- The Busy Mums Festival Survival Kit!

If ‘festival season’ brings to mind 20 year olds in denim hotpants, Wellington boots, portaloos and flower garlands in your hair, you’d be right! But having just ‘done’ my first festival at the ripe age of 36, I can honestly say it was the most fun I’ve had in ages and I think- even better that I’ve done it with my kids!

We went to Camp Bestival last weekend in Dorset, which is a very family oriented festival – equally great for the kids as for the parents. ‘They’ got to see the Zingzillas, Mr Tumble, Peppa Pig and Dick & Dom whilst the adults could rock out to Blondie, Mark Ronson, Ed Sheeran, Katy B and Primal Scream to name a few.

I was pre-warned by my more laid back husband that the kids’ routines would have to go out of the window- I couldn’t worry about whether they were put to bed ‘on time’ or what time we ate lunch, but as it happened because I had done loads of pre planning, once we actually got there, I became the essence of laid back and was amused to see that on the two occasions that tempers flared over the weekend, he had one of the tantrums and the children had the other! I know for a fact that they thought ‘Mrs Routine and Order’ would blow, but I was so organised that every potential event that could cause a ruckus had been planned and catered for, so I’ve put together this essential ‘festival survival kit’ for busy mums so that you too can also enjoy a cold beer on the lawn on a hot day, listening to live music and chilling out!

The main thing to note is that the moods most likely to originate an outrage, are tiredness, hunger and a lack of cleanliness so I prepared for these before I went. I knew that my 8 year old daughter would be the first to complain about having to walk long distances over a field to get to the various shows (unlike her 3 year old brother who you’d expect to have the least stamina but is content walking) so after seeing on the festival forums that it is useful to have a wagon to pull kids around in, we found a fantastic retro Radio Flyer wagon on a second hand website, and bought it last year in preparation. This was the single most used item in our arsenal over the weekend. Not only did we use it to bring the tent and camping equipment from the car to the pitch, but we pulled the kids round in it all weekend and it made a useful seat for us at the main stage when we didn’t want to sit in the floor! The size of it was also great for ‘marking our territory’ which sounds a but un-festival like, but when the fields get really busy as they did over the weekend (there were 30,000 festival goers at this event), you need to create some space of your own on the grass or else you’ll end up with none at all!

Even though normal ‘bedtimes’ are ditched at a festival, young children still get tired- despite trying to fight it so they can stay up late! However the music plays into the early hours and so it can be hard work trying to get kids settled and calm for bed with the noise. I took some Peltor Ear Defenders with me (£13.99 from www.clasohlson.co.uk ) which cut out the noise for them enough to get to sleep on a night, but were also used a lot in the day when we were near the front of the stage and the noise level was at its highest. We saw so many kids wearing them and should definitely be considered a ‘must have’ when going to festivals with children.

To combat the hunger tantrums I did a supermarket shop before the festival where I bought food that wouldn’t perish easily such as tortillas to make wraps with tins of tuna which I could take into the festival each day to have to hand when the kids got hungry. I found a great little invention called the Wrap N Mat (from www.wigglywigglers.co.uk). It is so simple but effective that you wonder why no-one has thought of this before but it is a gingham checked cloth pouch that is lined with a wipe clean inner, so you pack your sandwich into it rather than using clingfilm, and at lunchtime it folds out into a handy placemat on which to eat! I used a red one for my daughter and a blue for my son so I knew which one contained the right sandwich and doing this meant I spent less on food purchased from the festival which was sold as you’d expect- at ‘festival prices’!

My Jugglista tendencies were in full swing now so I looked at the cleanliness factor! I’d heard that wet wipes are essential for keeping clean when you can’t get a shower, and although I usually managed to be up early enough to beat the long shower queue, I did use 2 packets of wipes over the weekend. But it is easy to forget antibacterial hand gel, and I’d advise any busy mum to pack this! They do have dispensers with gel outside the portaloos, but these run out fairly frequently and I didn’t really like the smell of the gel. I used a Cuticura hand gel which smelled of cucumber and was nice and fresh. You can pick one up for around £1 at chemists and it will last all weekend. It’s also wise to pack a loo roll for the end of the weekend when the toilet paper provided starts to run out!

For the kids, I got a Morrck Splasha which is like a hooded poncho with arms and was a cool item that multi tasked! It could be worn as a bathrobe by night when the temperature dropped, but it also doubled as a towel for the kids, so it meant less packing for me! The children looked so cute in theirs, my son’s blue stripy one reminded me of one of the ‘three wise men’ from the nativity, so it will also come in handy in December if he gets cast in he school production! This item was so versatile that I’m also taking it with me on our holiday to the sun later in the year as it will be easy for by the pool. It costs £19.95 from www.morrck.com and I only wish I could get an adult sized one for me!

Fortunately the weather stayed dry most of the time except for one small shower but it wasn’t the mud-bath I was dreading. I’d packed waterproof ponchos for everyone and got a nifty BeachBuoy waterproof case (www.proporta.com) for valuables in anticipation of rain, but it wasn’t the weather that made this case useful. We put my husband’s iPhone into it to keep it dry and one night as I was trying to get off the airbed mattress to get to the loo and I tripped up, spilling my mug of tea all over the tent floor. I’m so relived that we did have the phone protected as it didn’t get wet at all. This case was worth the £14.95 just for that, but we did have to wear tea stained jumpers on the last day!

For the weekend we borrowed my mums’ larger car as it has so much more boot space than our car but we still packed into every inch, and couldn’t see out of the back window! My hubby’s wardrobe usually takes up quite a lot of space as he tends to overpack whereas I choose one outfit per day for me and the kids (with a couple of extra trousers for my son in case of an ‘accident’) but I managed to convince him to ditch his bulky trainers in favour of some new Dude lightweight shoes which were so light and thin that we easily freed up some space in the car by taking those. These shoes are so light that if you were going on a plane you could get 80 pairs in your luggage although I’m not sure you’d need that many shoes on holiday! He looked really on trend in the shoes – see stockists at www.heydudeshoes.co.uk

It was about a six hour drive for us to get to Camp Bestival so in the car we took the portable DVD player to keep the kids entertained but after one movie they both get bored so I whipped out some old fashioned fun! In a cute version of ‘I Spy’, the “I Can Spot” Flip Books (www.2littleboys.co.uk) proved to be an easy way to keep the kids happy as they looked out of the car for ‘a motorway sign’ or ‘someone in uniform’ and they also played with them at the festival where they spotted ‘a kid eating an ice cream’ or ‘a stripy jumper’. The books were only £3.50 each – actually cheaper than a kids magazine from a service station, but you’ll need to buy in advance online.

The only thing I didn’t have and wished I did at the festival was a portable mobile phone charger. We all ran out of battery life during the weekend and to re-charge at the event cost £4 per hour, so this will make it into my kit for next time. However as far as the daily juggle goes, if you take everything I’ve suggested, anything else you need can be bought there and all there is left to do is have an awesome time!





I write a fortnightly column for At Home - the Premier UK celebrity and lifestyle magazine, and this one appeared on their site www.AtHomeMagazine.co.uk a month ago. Do visit At Home and leave me a comment on the post there so they get to see your opinions too!
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About the Author
Nadine Hill is a busy working mum (“Is there any other kind?!”) who has a fascination with time management which borders on the obsessive! She loves to find more effective ways of doing the daily juggle whilst enjoying the journey and has lots of practise through raising her two children, managing her small business, being a best-selling author, running her home, public speaking and finding time to get to the gym! Nadine’s ambition is to help busy mums claw back a bit of ‘me time’ so she shares her tips with at home in these fortnightly columns and her own life stories on her blog- Juggle Mum.
She also micro blogs on Twitter where she is @Businessmum. You can learn more about Nadine at www.NadineHill.com

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