Mardi Gras has always been one of my favorite holidays … the pageantry, partying, and the general understanding that this is an event for sequins and glitter.
Now, as a parent of 2 energetic kids and married to a bartender (read: working all of Carnival season), things are a bit different. Taking my kids to the parades is a feat that I am fairly certain could be worked into some type of soul crushing reality show challenge where few survive.
After the first weekend of parades, where my crew and I caught 8 parades in 2 days from Uptown to Metairie, I feel the need to share what a parade day entails for a parent whose partner is working (whether it’s service industry or law enforcement).
6:30 a.m. Kids awake, husband sleeping, in need of coffee.
7:00 a.m. Realize I must feed myself and children; king cake it is. And fruit; now it’s a balanced breakfast.
8:00 a.m. Try to sneak into bathroom long enough to put on makeup and fix hair, but of course children sense my absence and keep running in and out my room while poor husband who got home at 5:30 a.m. can hardly sleep.
8:30 a.m. Threaten children that they will never see another Mardi Gras bead again if they so much as say my name. All I need is 5 minutes to look somewhat human.
9:00 a.m. Dress children in matching purple, green, and gold ensembles. Find shoes for everyone, make grocery list, find keys, drink cold coffee, and force little people into the car. Buy cold cuts and French bread.
11:00 a.m. Race around cleaning before parents arrive for lunch and to accompany me to parades. I may be crazy, but even I know I can’t handle a 3 and 6 year old at a parade solo.
12:00 p.m. No one will use the bathroom. Finally force everyone to “just try.”
12:10 p.m. In the car, but forgot bead bags.
12:14 p.m. Finally in the car, sweating a little, let’s just go.
12:37 p.m. Near the parade route, looking for a place to park along with everyone else in New Orleans, start referring to all the terrible drivers as “sweet potato,” a thoroughly inept euphemism.
12:42 p.m. Park, fold in mirrors, unload wagon, chairs, ice chest, and children. Pull children in wagon over broken sidewalks and potholed street. Pretty sure this is the most intense workout I have had in a month. At least I had king cake this morning, so this workout is worth it.
12:55 p.m. Scan the street for an empty space to stick our chairs and wagon. Squeeze in and employ my Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell policy of ignoring all the junk food my parents are smuggling to my children.
1 p.m.-4 p.m. See cousins, scope out more cousins nearby, watch 3 parades. Help little ones catch coveted Mardi Gras throws. Console them when plastic trinkets break in less than 1 minute. Shoot eye daggers at grown people trying to snatch stuffed animals clearly thrown to my kids. Remind kids that beads cannot go in the mouth, and if they do they will surely catch Ebola. Gladly pay $1 for clean bathrooms, stomp my foot on doubloons for my kids, talk to fellow revelers, dance along with the bands, try to sit for 5 minutes and have a Coke, take pictures of kids to post on Instagram, and finally the last fire truck comes and it’s over. Pack up, walk to the car, and stuff everything plus all of our loot back into car. Sit down and drive home.
4:27 p.m. Kiss parents, thank them for helping, carry one sleeping child inside, tell other child mom needs a break in order to make it to the night parade in thirty minutes, nap for 15 minutes, make sandwiches, try to fix makeup and hair, empty stuff out of car, reload new stuff into car, reheat last of the coffee, bathroom, wake up sleeping kid, and leave house.
5:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. Drive to Metairie parade, park, text cousins, find cousins, and let kids run wild with cousins. However, since kids mostly go to New Orleans parades there is the new factor of keeping the 3 year old away from the canal. Parade starts, little one wants to sit in ladder. Get out of ladder. Repeat 3 times before I ban her from the ladder. Try to bribe her with candy to make her forget about ladder. Now she is cranky and hyper, a delightful combination. Catch stuff, feed children, make bathroom runs, soothe kids hit by beads, talk to other adults, enjoy having so many people to help out, pack it up, go home.
7:13 p.m. Kids in car asking how much later they can stay up, while I am trying to will them with my telekinetic powers to fall asleep. Offer children deal of no bath in exchange for 10 minutes of TV time. Get home, change clothes, unload car, give kids milk, brush teeth, say prayers, and tuck in.
7:35 p.m. Collapse on sofa so exhausted it hurts, but happy. Look at pics on phone and relive the best parts of the day, while rewarding myself with chocolate. I survived.
Sound familiar? Can you relate?
Amanda Kaiser is a part-time content writer, living in Metairie. After working in book sales, at the New Orleans Bar Association, and owning a business with her husband, she is happy to finally have the flexibility to balance her work life with exploring the city with her fantastic 2 kids. A festival lover, she is proud to say that her kids have yet to miss a French Quarter Fest. When she’s not dragging her kids (and husband) all around the city she loves to read, attempt Pilates, bake, and watch terrible reality television.