Coping with mud and rain

muddy festivals … oh joy.

Of course, we all hope and pray that the sun will shine all weekend and we can bask in the glory of its soft warm glow, chilling with a cold beer, lazing on the grass, kids dancing around happily to the beats from the stage… ah bliss!

But occasionally the dreams just don’t happen and it’s a good idea to have some plans in place in case of wet weather.  It doesn’t take much rain for several thousand pairs of feet to turn a grassy field into a mud bath.

I have been to some horrifically muddy festivals in my time…  But amazingly enough – it rarely spoils the fun and so, rather than waste the price of your tickets, think twice before you stay at home.  It is harder work of course (especially with littler ones) and it does require a lot more preparation and equipment, but for kids often the muddiest festivals are the most exciting (just as little Dimples is discovering in this cute picture, courtesy of the award winning Mummy Whisperer)

Waterproofs and Thermals

So the first thing you need is good waterproofs.  By that I mean ones that keep persistent rain out all day.  None of your cheap showerproof kagouls – you will be wet to the skin in under 15 minutes in a deluge.  I recommend PU for kids or something with a hydrostatic head of at least 3000.

Make sure you get trousers/dungarees too.  That way you can still sit down… spending all day on your feet is really exhausting, especially when you have spent half of it wading through a foot of mud.  Waterproof trousers should go OVER the wellies – otherwise all the rain will just run down straight into your wellies and you’ll have very wet feet.

We recommend the gorgeous Swedish-designed Kozi Kidz range of high quality waterproofs, wellies, soft scrummy fleeces, and thermals.

Ponchos – a good lightweight solution

If you don’t have good waterproofs, a bin liner with arm and neck holes over your clothes helps… but much better than that would be an emergency rain poncho.  You can open them out to sit on too once the rain stops but the ground is still wet.  Disposable ones are too thin and tear too easily, so are a bit of a false economy and harsher on the environment because they end up in the bin so quickly.

Wellies – essential

The second obvious necessity is wellies… and do make sure they don’t have holes in them before you get to the festival, otherwise you are going to end up paying an arm and a leg for a pair at the festival.  If it is your child that needs a them you’ll be lucky to even find a pair in their size. Take a look at the kids wellies available on Amazon, there are some great designs.

Pay attention to how deep the mud and puddles are for your toddler – I have seen many poor little ones in mud so deep it goes right over the tops of their tiny wellies!

Transporting kids

Although walking in the mud can be really good fun for your kids, littler ones do get exhausted eventually so now is when you may need transport more than ever.  Unfortunately thick mud is also very difficult to get buggies and wagons through.  You’d think an all-terrain wheel with fat tyres might be best but you’d be wrong… they are great on dryish mud, but if the festival is so wet that the mud is liquid then big thin wire spoked tyres are brilliant – they just glide through.  So if the weather looks wet try to get something like a second-hand Urban Detour off your local free-ads.

For babies and smaller toddlers you may be better off ditching the buggy or wagon altogether.  This is where baby-wearing comes into its own.  Using a sling or baby carrier helps keep bubs warm and reassured.  You will have to take extra care to wrap up though because you won’t have the luxury of a rain cover and your baby could end up quite exposed.  We have found a universal waterproof cover for baby carriers which does seem to fit most carriers well.  Waterproof ponchos are great if you can fit one over both of you, but depending on the position of your child’s head this may not be practical – you don’t want to risk suffocating them!

Head for covered spaces

When it’s tipping down you will inevitably seek cover in the shelter of marquees and big tops.  You and everyone else that is!  It will get very crowded anywhere out of the rain but if you find a nice spot then you’ll probably end up enjoying a performance or activity that you would have missed if the sun was shining.

Sometimes the rain is a good excuse to go back to your tent and chill out for a couple of hours – perhaps giving everyone a much-needed siesta.  And let’s face it – there is something very cosy about being tucked up in a tent listening to the raindrops overhead 🙂

Lock down – keep your tent dry

When you do get back to your tent you should pause before rushing in. Think about how to minimise the destruction of 4 sets of muddy wet waterproofs being pulled off in a hurry.  I found a great method (felt a bit like a submarine airlock) using one of those big blue IKEA bags (or a funky MoonBag if you’re feeling lavish!):

I put the bag at the entrance of the tent, stood child 1 inside it, peeled off their waterproofs and lifted them out of their wellies into the tent, leaving all the wet muddy items inside the bag.  Push them to the edge of the bag and repeat with child 2… etc.  If you have more than 3 people to deal with then you may need more bags.

TIP: Leave the muddy boots inside the waterproof trousers too. Just roll the trousers down round the boots and step out of them, leaving the whole lot ready to step back into next time you venture out.

Trust me, you will appreciate keeping your tent relatively dry and mud-free.  Oh and it goes without saying, a tent with a porch is almost essential in wet weather.

Umbrellas – rubbish!

Personally, I am not a great fan of umbrellas at festivals for several reasons.

They need to be held, so making it more difficult for you to look after your kids and help them with zips etc.  They are rubbish and unwieldy in the wind.  They get in other peoples way when you are walking around.  And they block the view of the stage something chronic if you are behind one!

However, if it’s not a busy festival they can be very useful, especially if you are using a sling to carry your baby or if it is just showery, so use your own judgement on that score.

Wet Weather checklist

  • Full waterproofs, non-leaky wellies, reusable rain ponchos. If you get leak in your wellies, put a carrier bag inside them – it will keep your foot dry!
  • Spare socks: cold wet feet = misery!  I was given a free sample of some Smartwool socks, and they are fabulous!  I never would have considered investing over a tenner for Merino wool socks, but now I have some I would argue it’s well worth it.
  • Towels – take at least two: an old one for mopping up the floor of your tent, and one for bodies so you can indulge in a hot shower and wash all the mud off – getting clean again feels SOOOO good!
  • Wet wipes – for muddy hands and faces, take more than you think you will need.  Festival stalls charge a premium if they have them at all.
  • Suitable transport for little ones
  • A good sense of humour and loss of cleanliness neuroses!
  • Plastic matting or small tarpaulin to sit on once the rain has stopped (or a good poncho or decent waterproof trousers)
  • Big IKEA type bags or if you want to invest in something more stylish, then a Moonbag does a great job too.
  • Tent with PORCH area – this really helps to keep your bedding relatively clean and dry.
  • TravelJohn, Boginabag or Travel Potty etc so you don’t have to venture out for a wee in the rainy night.
  • Absorbent Trainer Pants for newly dry kids. Getting all that wet weather gear off in a hurry can sometimes take slightly too long!
  • Bin liners for keeping bags and gear dry while getting them to and from the car park.
  • Waterproof covers for expensive gear like mobile phones.
  • Games and activity ‘rainy day’ packs (cards, puzzle books, I Love Festivals Top Trumps and dry wipe activities)
Festival Mud