Wow! I can't believe we've been home from Summerfest in Milwaukee for two weeks already! It's been a full two weeks, but our two weeks in Milwaukee were definitely worth writing about! I mean, it's not every day that you hear about a 4-month old spending 11 days at a music festival!
With our two travel days and a day off in the middle of the festival, we ended up being away from home for two full weeks. It was a long two weeks, but overall it went very, very well! I was amazed at how well Oak rolled with the craziness of the festival and the new surroundings. Dan played two shows each day of the festival (22 shows in all!) and we were there for each one of them. The way the festival is set up, we didn't have the opportunity to come and go as we pleased, so we all went in to the festival together and most days we all left together. One thing that made the trip very manageable was that we stayed in a studio hotel room less than a mile from the festival grounds. This made for a very easy commute in and out of the festival each day and provided us with a lot of quiet downtime each morning. Here's what a typical day looked like while we were there:
- Early morning: Oak woke us up pretty early most mornings, which made us rather exhausted throughout the trip.
- Mid-morning: Dan and I would make breakfast in the kitchen of our little studio hotel room. With a Whole Foods just a few minutes away, we were able to eat good food like we do at home. Our breakfasts included eggs, sausage, and homemade scones that I mixed up and baked at the hotel. Oak would take a early nap during this time as well.
- Late-morning/early afternoon: We would take care of music related business, run errands, make food to bring into the festival, eat a light lunch, and clean up. Oak was able to get another nap in at this point.
- Mid-afternoon to early evening: Each day we'd leave for the festival around 2:30. Once we parked, we'd get a ride into the festival on a shuttle and we'd get set up for the shows. I would generally feed Oak right before we left the hotel and he'd be ready for a nap right around 4:00 when Dan's first show would start. I'd then plop him into my Boba wrap, where he'd fuss and protest for a few minutes and then he'd fall asleep. Since he usually got two really good naps back at the hotel each day, I didn't worry too much about how much sleep he got while we were at the festival. My goal was at least two 45-minute naps. This happened most days, but sometimes they were only 30 minutes and other times they were over an hour. Dan would play for about 45 minutes and then we'd spend 15-30 minutes selling CDs and connecting with the audience. When Oak was awake during this time, he was mostly very content to watch the people. A few times he got pretty fussy, which was challenging with how busy I was, but we were able to manage. After Dan's set, I'd feed Oak backstage, we'd either eat food that we brought into the park or find something somewhat substantial among the fair foods, and we'd relax a bit. It was pretty warm most days that we were there, so a bit of relaxing in the shade was much needed! Then around 6:30 we'd start the whole routine again. I'd get Oak to sleep and we'd start another set. After that set ended, we'd pack up and head out of the park together and back to the hotel. A few of the nights Dan stayed at the park to listen to other bands or connect with other musician friends while I went back to the hotel with Oak. This was super easy to do since our hotel was so close to the festival and Dan was able to walk back at the end of the night.
- Mid-evening/Late-evening: Once back at the hotel, I'd feed Oak and put him down for the night. Then Dan and I would stay up for awhile longer in order to relax and settle down from the busyness of the day. It was hard for us to get to sleep before 11:00 or 12:00, which made the early wake up cries of our baby a bit hard to handle for two weeks straight. I must say, that by the time we got home, I was VERY ready to get back to our regular routine!!
A couple things that made this whole trip workable:
- We kept our mornings super low key and made sure Oak got good naps.
- I worked pretty hard to keep Oak's normal Eat-Play-Sleep routine in place each day even while we were at the festival. This helped me to be able to generally know what he would need while we were at Summerfest and helped me to be able to plan our time around him and his needs around the set schedule.
- We cooked quite a bit of food at the hotel, which kept us feeling pretty good while we were there, even though we weren't getting good sleep.
- We had family and friends help us during a few of the days and we appreciated them so much!
- We stayed in a hotel close by the festival, which minimized the commuting time and optimized our time in the hotel.
- We brought a few things from home to make our hotel feel more homelike for all of us (ie. Oak's quilt, lounger, basket of toys, pantry items, a delicious bar of handmade body soap, etc.)
- Babywearing! I'm a big fan of babywearing for convenience! While we brought a stroller with us on the trip, we only brought it into the festival grounds on one of the days (when my dad and stepmom were there and they were in charge of Oak). On all of the other days, I wore Oak in a wrap during the sets and then Dan would carry him around in our Baby Bjoern between sets. This kept Oak much happier than the stroller would have, made for better nap times while at the festival, and limited the amount of strangers who wanted to touch our baby. ;)
For those who are wondering, Oak's earmuffs are called Baby Banz. So many people commented at the festival on how cute they are, which, don't get me wrong, I do think they are adorable. However, Oak did not wear them to make a fashion statement, he wore them every time he was close to loud music at the festival (which was pretty much the whole time). Hearing damage can be permanent, especially at such a young age. I saw so many babies and kids at the festival without ear protection and it made me sad for them. Parents, if you bring your kids to places with loud noises, protect their ears!!!
In the end, the festival was a great success for us and we are so glad that we chose to go as a family. It was hard work, a lot of hard work, but it was fun too. Cheers to another year of Summerfest under our belts!