Getting ‘adult time’ at family festivals

If the title of this post grabbed your attention, then it’s probably a good idea to have a good think about your priorities at a festival before you go… will you feel short-changed if the adult-time doesn’t happen, or is it just an added bonus if you manage it?

One of our contributors, Louise, shared her take on adult-time with us

Some parents (like myself) take the night time as an opportunity to have a bit of ‘adult time’ especially if you have have a baby / small child that sleeps soundly in the buggy at night.

We used to take that opportunity to wander the festival site with bubs tucked up cosy and warm in her buggy. Even if it wasn’t raining we’d have the rain cover down from ‘bed time’ – it helped block out the noise a little and kept her warm when the temperature drops about 9pm.  We’d take huge entertainment in the comments from slightly ‘inebriated’ fellow festival goers: ‘Woooohhhhaaaa Space buggy mannnn’ or ‘Woooh, it’s a raving baby!’

We’d walk for hours, just the two of us watching the festival go by while raving baby was safely tucked up in her buggy-bed.

She was so comfortable sleeping in her buggy that we’d go back to the tent and leave her in the main area of our tent asleep in the buggy – the great thing about that was she was warm all night, also we’d throw a blanket over the rain cover so she’d not wake up in the early morning sun and we’d get a few extra hours kip!  A SnoozeShade also works wonders – it’s a blackout blind for prams, pushchairs and buggies.

Unfortunately as they get older this arrangement works less well.  Some children just can’t sleep in a buggy and wake easily.  And eventually all children become too big and heavy for buggies and wagons anyway.

By the time this stage comes, they may well cope with staying up a little later to watch the action and you may decide to compromise by taking them to bed when they can’t cope with any more.  This often means missing headline acts and means that you don’t get your ‘adult’ time in the festival arena.  But all is not lost…

Now that our own children are older we know there is a chance that sometimes we will have to resign ourselves to an early night in the tent, so we like to take a few grown-up treats.

A box of Camembert, some Port, some very expensive chocolates, Champagne… or whatever makes you feel decadent and relaxed and helps counteract your disappointment.

We take the Backgammon and playing cards too… and while it’s not what we really want to be doing at a festival, the children’s needs must come first and if they are not coping with being out all night then it is only fair to let them sleep comfortably in their beds.  The backlash of grumpy over-tired children the next day just kills the festival fun anyway!

You may be at a festival with babysitting?  Factor the price of a session into your overall budget and it won’t feel so extravagant and may mean you are finally able to catch that band you have wanted to see for years and remember what festivals felt like before kids.

If adult time is really important to you, have you considered hiring a personal babysitter for the weekend?  A responsible family friend, perhaps a teenager, may be more than happy to do a few stints of babysitting in return for a free ticket.  Or how about going to a festival with a group of friends so you can share the childminding duties?

But please, do not leave your children unattended in the tent!!!!

A festival site is a public place, and no matter how safe and secure you feel, anything could happen.  From a drunk falling on top of the tent, or worse, mistaking the tent for their own… an accidental tent fire next door… your child waking disorientated and needing the toilet… strange unfamiliar noises… things which wouldn’t be too much bother to us could be really scary and unsettling for a child.

Festival staff and security quite rightly do not look kindly on parents who abandon their children, or who are too ‘out of it’ to care for them, and you could end up being reported to Social Services.

I have been at a festival where a 2 year old was left sleeping in a blanket outside a dance tent.  He woke at 5am, terrified, freezing, damp and alone.  Eventually his crying was heard by a passing steward who took him to the welfare point to warm him up and reassure him but his irresponsible parents were unable to be located until the next afternoon.

They had had a great night, taken some pills, and completely forgotten they had brought their child.  This is exactly the sort of horror story that gives ammunition to the anti-kids-at-festivals brigade.  It is very rare but it shouldn’t happen at all.

If you need your adult-time that badly that you would consider putting your child in this situation, then perhaps it would make more sense, for your child’s sake, to leave them with someone they know and trust at home.


3 thoughts on “Getting ‘adult time’ at family festivals

  1. Hi festival kidz crew,

    i’m looking to babysit for boutique at wilderness festival, am level 3 qualified and have 12 years child care experience.

    was asked last year last minute by tinies
    any body have contact details,

    thank yo u

    Imogen .

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