Glitter chic to granny geek: festival life after kids

Days of apocalyptic rain aside, I’m packing for a festival this weekend. What a difference fours years and two kids makes.

Here’s a rough idea of my essentials packing list pre and post children.

Pre kids

Costumes x 3
Accompanying wigs, underwear, tights, jewellery, nail polish, footwear
Any necessary props
Suitable festival bag
Glitter and make up sourced from theatrical costume shop in Covent Garden
Variety of LED lights for night time
Twinkly LED umbrella
Eye mask and ear plugs
Wet wipes
Hand gel

Post kids

Eye mask
Ear plugs
Wet wipes
Hand gel
Book (!)
Hot water bottle
Ankle length pack-a-mac

I realise this doesn’t look as though I’m preparing for three days of unbridled freedom with my festival besties and that in actual fact I’m going walking in the Lake District.

This shameful display is not representative of all parents. I know plenty of festival-loving friends who are fully committed to family life and still turn up to the event bedecked in a witty interpretation of the festival theme, insouciance in tact.

Alas I’m not one of those people. Parenthood has taught me quickly and harshly that I’m a chronically awful multi tasker.

Since becoming a mother I seem to be wholly focused on that, for no other reason then I bloody love it. But it means other areas of my life – career, cultural pursuits, glitter shopping etc has all plopped down the toilet; stymied by motherhood and not having room for an au pair.

But I’m not a total stick in the mud. (Mud – dearest holy fuck, I hope it’s not too muddy or I’ll have to go home). I still love a party. I’ll be in that sweaty crowd. It’s just that instead of dazzling in glitter and costumery, I’ll probably look like I’ve just wandered off Helvellyn.

Not in any way cool. But damn comfy.

Dancing and spending time with friends is of course still high on the list of priorities.

But as for the other usual festival excesses? The idea of having an entire weekend all to myself without wiping anyone is making me so joyful and light-headed I’m not sure it’s even necessary.

Now where’s that book…

Glitter in the loo

We need to talk about camp (but my three-year-old won’t)

There was absolutely no need to book AJ into camp this summer. His nursery is open year-round and I am on maternity leave.

But, no doubt influenced by summer Facebook feeds, magazine features and parenting blogs, I got caught up in a fun-pressure frenzy that I should organise something terrific for him to do.

So he’s gone to daytime summer camp at the local school, primarily as a change from piddling about with lego at his nursery but also because it’s round the corner, it’s quite cheap and he can be there every day till 4.15pm meaning more time for me. Winning.

The camp has a great reputation and a brilliant range of activities from Amazon adventures to Zumba.

I packed his lunch and little bag and off he went. When I picked him up there he was red-faced and sweaty, bouncing up and down like a lunatic on the bouncy castle.

Ha! No need to feel guilty about shoving him in the late room for no good reason – he’s having a ball. I couldn’t wait to hear all about it.

“Well  – how was it?”
“What did you do?”
“I don’t know.”
“What was your favourite part? Any particular highlights?”

Excellent. Money well spent then.

Thankfully one of the helpers took pity on me and gently pressed a timetable of the week’s activities into my hand so I now have an iota of how he spends his time when not revelling in lunch.

I shouldn’t have been surprised by this. This sparkling exchange is no different to picking him from nursery when he has an acute attack of amnesia the minute I arrive in the doorway. (An amnesia that curiously doesn’t affect the part of his brain that recalls when Grandpa picked him up from nursery three months ago he took him to the shop across the road to buy a magazine and can we go now, please, now we need to go and buy one now, NOW.)

I remember a year or two ago, writing a Facebook status about how his nursery was having a parents evening. ‘A parents evening! For a two-year-old! What are we going to talk about? How well he poos? His advanced eating-off-the-floor skills?,’ I scoffed. It seemed ridiculous at the time but cut to a year later and I couldn’t be more grateful for them.

When you are the parent of a three-year-old it can be THE ONLY BLOODY INFORMATION you’ll get about their day.

Whenever I ask him who he’s played with that day, AJ has said, without any hint of worry, that he never plays with anyone at nursery. He’s never seemed to worry about this so neither have I. So at parents evening it was a pleasant and puzzling surprise to hear from the pre-school leader that there are two or three other little boys (No girls! No way!) whom he plays with every day. He’s never mentioned them. Not once. In a year.

I know I generalise here but I think you have better chances of not being left in the conversational doldrums if you are in possession of a little girl.

When I said I had no lifeline to the nursery that wasn’t strictly true. I have one source – my friends’ three-year-old daughter who gaily and daily provides them with a detailed breakdown of activities, who’s fallen out with who and why, the texture and quality of lunch and any staffing and budget issues. Probably.

Although head-smackingly frustrating, I realise AJ’s reticence is utterly typical and normal.

So, if anyone else wants some help in extracting any info from unforthcoming offspring, then here are some tips from my friend Tracey Blake (who hasn’t asked to promote this at all but just thought I’d include as it’s useful):





Brilliant blog posts on

Generation Why

A: Why egg for breakfast?
Me: Because they’re tasty.
A: Why?
Me: Because they are.
A: Why?
Me: Oh Lord. I don’t know.
A: Why not know, Mummy?
Me: Why are you asking me all these questions?
       Why are we having this conversation?
       Why me?
       Oh great, now I’m doing it.


Child's building block, Cazzarama blog