How to Prepare Kids for Mardi Gras
Many kids enjoy the busyness of Mardi Gras filled with king cake, really big and exciting floats, and free toys falling from the sky as the Krewes toss out their throws! Mardi Gras can be a time of excitement for many but is also a time of fear and uncertainty for others. Kids thrive off predictability and direction when it is coupled with care and empathy.
Behavior is Communication
As we move into the heights of Mardi Gras season it’s important to come to an understanding of how to listen to our kids. Oftentimes we notice kids are not speaking in words.
How do our kids speak if it’s not in words? That’s a great question! They often speak through their behaviors.
- Refusing to follow directions;
- Screaming when their emotions are too much to handle or are hungry;
- Covering their eyes and ears even when we say, “it’s really neat, you need to see it or hear it”;
- Sitting quietly and not moving,
- Moving close to you when seeking comfort,
- Smiling and laughing while having fun
There are many ways a child will tell you what they are thinking, feeling, or experiencing. Kids are constantly talking to us in their primary language of play.
Planning and Preparing
Why is it important to focus on our children during Mardi Gras? It’s important that kids feel safe and are able to trust those individuals they are with.
Here are some suggestions for how to keep your Mardi Gras celebrations predictable, fun and safe for your little ones!
- When making parade plans, share with your child prior to parade day where you will be going and what will be happening.
- Review the plan the day of the parade to remind them what to expect.
- Encourage kids to ask questions. This creates predictability and safety knowing that you will be with them.
- If you plan to go to a parade route for the majority of the day, bring snacks (maybe some grapes, carrots, granola bars) and drinks (possibly water or milk if you have a way to keep it cold). Keeping a child’s stomach full and hydrated allows for a child to focus on the fun and less on physical needs. This creates a sense of safety and a more enjoyable time for both you and your child.
- Know where the nearest restroom is, and be sure to have the ability to bring your child when needed. This creates peace of mind as you and your child know a restroom (or porta-potty) is available.
Check-In and Adjust
Check-in with your child’s needs throughout the day. Do they seem to cover their ears or eyes frequently? Notice if they are staying hydrated. Are they becoming overstimulated and can you help them with their needs? If it’s too loud, help them cover their ears – bring noise-canceling headphones, or consider not going to the loud parades. When your child becomes tired it may be time to bring them home, even when it’s hard because the adults are having so much fun.
Mardi Gras is a great time to celebrate fun times with family. When going to parades, eating King Cake, or any additional activity, prepare and pack all the things your child may need while you are out and about. This will provide relief to you when your child is having a hard time and will provide felt safety to the child because you had everything he or she needed while away from home!
Laissez les bon temps rouler!