Anywhere else in the country, if you ask a child what their favorite holiday is, “Christmas” is the answer heard most often; BUT ask a New Orleans kid what their favorite holiday is, and a whole lot of them are going to say “Mardi Gras!” I mean, who doesn’t love Mardi Gras?!? Parades, marching bands, king cake, and making new friends on the neutral ground, those are my favorite things about Mardi Gras.
We have now survived two Mardi Gras without any major meltdowns, no war wounds to show, and successful parade route naps. I call that, a "parenting win," but that success didn’t come without major planning. So here are just a few of the big items off of my packing list, besides the typical diaper bag, that made our lives a little bit easier.
A Mardi Gras Ladder – While this definitely isn’t needed for their first Mardi Gras, we did have it built by Henry’s second Mardi Gras (22 months old), and he loved it. Don't want to shell out the money to buy one? Stay tuned next Thursday, when I post our DIY plans for making ours. It really wasn't too complicated.
DISCLAIMER: USE AT YOUR OWN RISK!!! This introduces us to a quick word on safety. There is literally NOTHING safe about a Mardi Gras Ladder. (Except maybe keeping a toddler contained and preventing them from getting stepped on.) While I have never known anyone personally that was injured because of one, let’s be honest, Mardi Gras can be quite dangerous and nerve racking for a toddler and their mom. As if the large crowds weren't bad enough, throw in the 5+lb. bag of beads being thrown by that one angry drunk man on the float trying to throw them as hard as he can to prove Lord only knows what, and it's a party! That being said, if that is a concern of yours, maybe consider a helmet for your tot? (We had friends that used Saints football helmets. Fashionable and safe!) Make sure whoever is standing behind them has mad hand-eye coordination skills. I have a rule that drunk people (including dad if he has had one too many) are not allowed to stand on our ladder with our kid. (You would be amazed how many random people ask if they can stand on it “for just one float.” Hell-to-the-NO!) Also, we installed "seatbelts" of sorts in our ladder, to help keep a squirmy kid in their seat at best.
Wagon – We have this awesome-ly ridiculous wagon. Not only will it hold a toddler and all of our stuff, but it also has a 1000lb weight limit, and will definitely hold 2 grown adult women, and said toddler. (We’ve tested it, more than once.)
Pea Pod – This was one of two ways we succeeded at parade route naps. It fits perfectly in the wagon when you take the end rails off, and kept festive projectiles from landing on him while he slept. Now... will this still work now that he is almost three and hates to nap at home? God I hope so! The other way we succeeded at napping was putting him down in the wagon and sliding it under the folding table so nothing could hit him.
Boba Carrier – This was a LIFESAVER the first year. Henry was a breastfeeding snuggle bug, and while it took a lot of practice, I did learn how to feed him discretely while he was in it. Added BONUS: it will hold up to a 60 pound toddler on your back. Henry is only around 30 pounds but we still use it for Piggy-Back rides quite comfortably.
Baby Banz – Protect your child’s hearing to the best of your ability! I know, I’ve heard it, and I’ve been there. “My child won’t keep them on, so I gave up.” Did you know that repeated exposure to sounds over 85 decibels, can cause hearing loss? Yeah, out of curiosity, I recorded one of the dance groups at 105 decibels last year, just saying… I now tell him he can’t get in the ladder without his “head phones,” although I will let him take breaks from them between the marching bands and groups.
A Good Variety of Drinks and Snacks - Just remember they will have junk food coming out of their eyeballs by the end of Mardi Gras, so try to keep some healthier snacks on hand that you know your kids will eat (think protein to balance out all of the sugar.) I also kept Pediasure in the cooler for him. Unfortunately with so much going on, and so much junk around, getting him to eat anything of substance proved to be difficult, and there is NOTHING worse than a hangry toddler.
Last but not least, an amazing group of friends and family to party with. The more hands and eyes around, the better! Toddlers can be sneaky!
I have been told I have a pretty down to earth kid, and I really think that appearance has a lot to do with the thought and prep I put into major outings such as this. What other tips and tricks do you have?