Now that the weather is warming up for most of us, you’ll notice there are a lot more opportunities to get outside and have some fun with your kids at organized events such as farmers markets, music festivals, art festivals, and other local or civic events. We are particularly blessed to live in a large urban area that offers a ton of family friendly activities. One of our favorite activities is a nearby art festival, which we can walk to from our house.
Over the past few years, we’ve taken our children as babies and toddlers to various events and venues and learned from both our mistakes and successes how to maximize outdoor events at this time of year by being fully prepared. Of course, you’ll probably already have your sunscreen, diapers, and wet bag, but what else do you need to consider to make it a fun time for everyone?
The perfect stroller. Of course, “perfect” is different for everyone, but if I might insert my opinion, I don’t recommend the old-fashioned umbrella stroller for outside venues. That style of stroller is particularly difficult to steer, has a tiny or non-existent sunshade, and no storage underneath. My favorite stroller is a configurable tandem style double stroller (since we have two little ones), but find what works for you! Look for rugged wheels and a tight turning radius for use in large crowds. We have even used a Radio Flyer wagon now that our kids are both preschoolers.
|In our wagon at an outdoor event|
Wear your baby (or your toddler!). Sometimes in a highly crowded area, you might want to skip the stroller altogether and use a carrier instead. But even when we do take a stroller, we stash our Ergobaby carrier in the basket underneath. One or both of our kids will inevitably get tired of walking, but too fussy for the stroller. They want to be held! Which is great, but what if you need those extra arms for food, activities, pushing the stroller, and opening doors? Babywearing is the perfect solution and the carriers like the Onya baby carrier even allow us to wear our 3-year-old at 30 lbs. I can tell you that 30 lbs. is heavy when you’re holding him in your arms, but it’s not so bad when the weight is evenly distributed between shoulders, waist, and back as it is in the two carriers listed above. And your arms are still free!
|Babywearing at an outdoor art festival|
Bring your own amusement. Although you may enjoy perusing artwork at an outdoor festival for hours, it’s probably safe to say that your 18 month old might not share your fascination for watercolors and sculpture. In this case, it’s often wise to have a few toys or engaging books along with you in the stroller or your bag.
Think about your timing. What time does your baby or toddler take a nap? Try to time your activity around the nap — either before or after — so that you are not setting yourself up for a meltdown as the time runs out on your little sleeper. A baby might sleep anywhere, but an older child is often stimulated by their surroundings and can’t sleep in a busy environment even when very tired. Very tired and unable to sleep is a combination that always ends in meltdown.
Be prepared with food. Timing is also important when it comes to food, so make sure you bring finger food snacks and a bottle or sippy cup so you don’t have to leave early with a screaming, starving baby.
Have fun! Going to a music festival with a baby in tow isn’t going to look the same as it did pre-kids, but that’s OK! Children add a fascinating dimension to any event by giving you a fresh perspective about everything around you. Maybe you have to leave after 3 hours instead of staying all day, but the look of wonder on your little one’s face and the benefit of sharing something you enjoy with your child is equally valuable.
And who knows, after spending all morning outside at an exciting venue, your child might reward you with an extra long nap!
How about you? What outdoor festivals or events do you enjoy with your children, and what are your favorite tactics for helping it be fun for everyone?