Long gone are the days of showing up on dirty 6th and aimlessly wandering, catching free shows and downing free beers for a week straight. And you know what? I’m totally fine with that– it sounds kind of exhausting! (good grief, I’m basically a grandma in a 29 year old’s body)
I had all but given up on taking part in any South by Southwest activities once my kiddos arrived on the scene. I can actually vividly recall being super judgey when talking about people bringing their little ones to SXSW activities. But admittedly, the longer I’m a parent, the more often I find myself eating my words. This year I took the plunge and decided that maybe exposing the kids to some new music and some SXSW might actually be good for everyone. With a little help from Do512 Family and Austin Moms Blog, I created us a bad-ass itinerary of kid-friendly morning/early afternoon events and hoped for the best.
The verdict: IT. WAS. AWESOME.
Here are some of the highlights:
- Free treats (including cold brew): I’ve upgraded my free (i.e. cheap) beers for cold brew, ice cream, and popsicles… and I’m not mad about it. We also had the chance to stop at local restaurants/coffee shops while we were downtown, which was an added bonus! Oh, and if it’s your thing, some of the kid-friendly events are BYOB, which is *sort of * like it being free.
- Free swag: We accumulated quite a bit of swag from just a few events! I’m knee-deep in the middle of trying to purge useless junk, but the kids were lit up with joy like it was Christmas morning, so I’ll allow it (for a little while!). We collected free t-shirts, coozies, coloring books, stickers, big rubber balls, and frisbees!
- Seriously good music: I whole-heartedly expected that the events specifically targeted to little ones would have the kind of obnoxious music that you suffer through because you love your kids. Y’all– the music was pretty dope. Every event had a mix of indie and folk singers (even an incredible Jazz band!) along with kid-specific musicians. If you’re interested in some of our favorites from the week, check out Red Yarn, Kyle Craft, Preservation Hall Jazz Band, and Superfun Yeah Yeah Rocketship.
- Exposure to new experiences: Think about heading to any music festival and the types of people and situations you’ll see. Now, think about heading into downtown Austin and think about the types of people and situations you’ll see. Now COMBINE them! I really loved this opportunity to discuss diversity in all forms and everything from good manners to homelessness.
- It forced me out of my comfort zone: Like I said in the beginning, for the past few years I avoided SXSW. The crowds, the parking, the loud music… it all seemed like a hassle with the littles. After exploring the city, navigating events vs. nap times, figuring out the perfect balance of just enough “stuff” to bring… I’m feeling damn good! Bring on the next event!