ACL Mama: Laura Beck

I'm an Austin mama and lover of the Austin City Limits Music Festival. I've been every year except for the very first and the awful dust storm in 2005 (because a rude cousin scheduled her Albany wedding that same weekend). I have brought both of my girls at all ages of their lives. Once, I was even seven months pregnant. Once, with a 3 1/2 year old AND a 4 week old baby. 4 weeks old, not kidding. Boy did I get some mean looks that year, especially while breast feeding in the beer garden. But ACL is this amazing Austin thing, once a year, for three special days (now six days!). And my girls have grown up loving it as much as me. And so, in honor of the 12th ACL coming up this October, I share my Top 12 ACL parenting tips with you:

1. GO! A bonus of the 3 day wristbands growing more expensive each year is that you can take kids, unlimited kids, for FREE until they  are 10 years old. FREE! Take 'em!

2. Tag a Kid right away. Its the first place we go each of the 3 days. Register your kiddo and get your information on file. Get a cool wristband on them and convince them it is like a VIP pass for rock stars. They won't want to take it off.

3. Love the Austin Kiddie Limits. Open every day from 11:00 am to 4:30 pm, this is an area built just for kids and families. You can actually find and meet up with people there. My girls look forward each year to the Austin Kiddie Limits for rock star hair painting and tattoos. They can't wait. There are also snacks and drinks for kids - HEB and supporting Alex's Lemonade - that are affordable and with short lines.

Oh, and the port-a-pots in the Kiddie Limits are a huge step up from the ones that you share with the masses.

4. Get there early. The park isn't crowded, you can take all the fun pictures, you can walk around and not worry about losing your kiddo, you can see the whole park, all the stages, you can actually get food without crazy lines. Its a different world at ACL before 2 pm. Enjoy it.

5. Get your ACL kid-size t-shirts right away-- Friday, day 1. They always run out of kid sizes.

6. Bring empty water bottles - AND squirt bottles - to fill up. The water bottle is obvious. The squirt bottle can distract and occupy a kid, and keep 'em cool, and even if they do squirt other concert goers, odds are that'll make the squirtee happy.

7. Even if they are a little old for it, strollers rock. They become your  mobile-home to store all your stuff and your tired kid. We "grew out of" strollers last year with my youngest at 4 and I missed the storage hugely. Just bring one with rugged tires to get over the terrain, especially if it does rain.

8. Eat at off hours. Do not try to do a noon time lunch or 6 pm dinner unless you want to stand in line forever with an impatient, hungry kid. Do food at 11 am, and 3 pm, and you are golden.

9. Consider ear plugs or headphones. I haven't done it yet, but always feel guilty when I see smarter, more prepared parents protecting their kiddo's ears. We usually sit back so we aren't in the thick, but it's still loud. And after ear drum busting possibility at the One Direction concert in Houston this summer, when I was SO very glad to have ear plugs for the girls, and for me, I think I'll carry them with me for all music moments for my family from now on.
10. Don't assume they'll need to go home early. My oldest was 3 and up on my shoulders through all of the Killers rocking out and having a blast. Figure out your "escape plan" but be OK with pushing it back, adjusting if your kiddo ends up rising to the occasion and wanting to rock out til the end. They can always sleep in the next day. ACL comes but once a year.

11. Consider dressing alike. OK, I'm biased here given my business is, but I tell you, having me and my 2 girls all in the same stripes, different colors each day, makes me - and them - feel extra confidence we'll spot each other quickly if we get split up. Oh, and it makes the pictures even cuter!

12. Enjoy and embrace ACL WITH your kiddos. It's magic, and something my girls and I get excited about. I truly have more fun with them than without them there. Lifelong memories we create each year!

About the author: Laura Beck is a Boston transplant in Austin, now with 2 Texan daughters, but forever part of Red Sox Nation. She does PR and communications consulting to help fund her stripedshirt habit, starting her own company,, 3 years ago - fan-wear for women, kids and babies to truly show their colors to support a team , school, cause or holiday. 

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