There is never a shortage of things to do in New Orleans with kids, but Mardi Gras takes the (king) cake! If you are looking for family-friendly Mardi Gras events in New Orleans and the surrounding area, we have you covered.
The 10 Things Every Mom Needs in Her Trunk at Mardi Gras
I’m a true New Orleanian that looks forward to the next Mardi Gras as soon as the clock strikes 12 on Ash Wednesday. It’s my favorite holiday and truly the best time of the year in my opinion. As a parent, Mardi Gras notably looks different for me than years in the past, but it’s a non-negotiable for our family. I grew up as a Mardi Gras child, and I vow that my children will also. Parenting has humbled my spontaneity, and I’m well aware of how much easier things go if I prepare for our family adventures in advance. Mardi Gras is the ultimate adventure so check out these must-have items to make sure you and your krewe are ready to Laissez Les Bon Temps Rouler this Mardi Gras season.
A way to pack your stuff
Make sure you have a way to carry all of the “stuff” that comes with Mardi Gras. This may be a diaper bag, backpack, or individual bags for the kids. Make sure you have something that can carry all of the snacks, drinks, wipes, and a change of clothes, and can tote all of your throws back home.
Now is the time to start thinking about your parade viewing location. If you don’t have a plan, be sure to ask other families where they set up. In true New Orleanian fashion they may very likely extend an invitation for your family to join or share tried and true tips on certain locations. You’ll want to think about parking, distance from potential restrooms, how kid-friendly the area is and what side of the route you’ll be stuck on before and after the parade. On parade day, consider sending some family members out early to stake out an area and have the rest of your krewe join as the parade nears. You’ll want some way to mark your territory once you’re set up. This may be a tarp (don’t put it out too early!), chairs, or blankets.
This will differ for everyone, but there are some things that everyone will want to bring with them. Wipes for the inevitable. A sharpie for writing names and phone numbers on your kids just in case the worst happens, and they get lost. Cash – this will be easiest when making purchases along the route. Toilet paper – definitely.
I don’t mean transportation “to” the parade route, but how you will move about along the route. Mardi Gras requires a lot of walking. Chances are you will have a long walk from your car to your “spot.” Start planning now for how you will navigate this. Baby-wearing is my choice for young kids, and many families love wagons specifically for Mardi Gras. You can also consider the tried-and-true kid-on-your-shoulder method, but make sure someone is in shape enough to carry kids the distance.
Parade days can be long and tiring even for the most engaged children. Make sure you
have a rest plan for your kids. If you plan on being a parade ladder family, now would be the time to start making your own or looking for one to purchase. If you don’t plan to do a ladder, don’t forget to gather parade chairs for the toddlers. This is my favorite for babies and young toddlers.
No matter the age of your children, you’ll want to have a bathroom plan. If you are going to be stationed at someone’s home, you’ll luckily have bathrooms available, but make sure to factor in the walk to and from if it isn’t right on the route. Several local schools and businesses will also sell bathroom passes making their facilities available to you and your family throughout the parade. If you are venturing out with younger kids or a newly potty-trained toddler, I recommend a travel portable potty, or you may want to consider pull-ups for the day.
Stock up now for your Mardi Gras gear! Trust me, you don’t want to be on the hunt for a 2T Perlis shirt on Endymion day. Stock up on all the purple, green, and gold gear you can find! I like to purchase accessories that can be used year after year.
A plan for breaks
There can be a lot of downtime at parades. Whether it’s waiting for the parade to reach you, killing time between parades, or the dreaded broken float that stalls the entire route, you’ll want to be prepared for downtime. Make sure you have a football packed for tossing around during downtime. Bubbles, chalk, and books are also good distractors. Bring tablets and electronics at your own risk.
Pack all the snacks! Snacks are helpful to avoid lines, provide familiarity, and they are free and quick. Don’t forget to pack items like Mio to keep the family hydrated throughout the day.
Often overlooked but very important… childcare! Make sure you have enough adults to monitor and help with your littles during the parade. Or maybe you aren’t quite ready to tackle kids at Mardi Gras. Or maybe your Mardi Gras season schedule is full of non-kid events and activities. In that case, check with the grandparents or babysitters and make your childcare arrangements now.