What’s MommyCon? MommyCon is a conference for green parenting. Babywearing, breastfeeding, cloth diapers, and eco-friendly baby products galore. The event includes a MommyCon gift bag, vendor hall where you can shop for goodies and sessions where you can hear speakers like the owner of cottonbabies! If you’ve ever felt alone in your eco-friendly parenting journey, MommyCon is the place where you connect with your people.
I’ve attended MommyCon the past four years in a row. Each year I learn something new and am better prepared for fun the next year. My tips? You need to put on your game face, have a plan and make sure to hit all the hot spots before the event is over!
Here are my top secret tips for attending MommyCon and having the best possible time. With these tips you can tackle MommyCon like a pro and leave with amazing memories and products.
The first time I attended MommyCon I didn’t know what to expect. My husband and I went unprepared and walked into the giant convention center a bit lost. At the last moment, he decided to attend with me. Best decision ever! He comes with me every year and helps carry my stuff, wrangle the babies and takes pictures and notes. Every year I learn more and go to the next conference better prepared. Here’s what I’ve learned and what you should know:
1 MommyCon is two days.
Day 1: VIP Day (usually Friday) and this is an additional purchase after you buy your main day ticket. Now, for 2018 things have changed a bit and you can buy multiple ticket options ahead of time. These spots are limited and they sell out fast. The main MommyCon VIP gift bag, usuall around $100, is phenomenal and includes a full-size baby carrier. Each VIP session has it’s own goodies. You can’t buy a VIP spot unless you purchased a main day ticket ahead of time. VIP day is less busy and has small class size exclusive events with excellent goodies. Some retailers offer MommyCon exclusives that go for sale as soon as doors open. There are often Moms waiting and if it’s a hot item it is usually gone in a flash!
Day 2: Main Event day. This is the busiest day. First, get to the convention center on time and head to the ticket table. You’ll have to show a print out of your tickets or a copy on your phone. They do not sell tickets at the event, only online. Second, once you have your pass, get in the next line for your goodie bag. Third, after digging through your goodies, head to your session or straight to the vendor hall.
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2. Bring Food
One major thing we noticed at each MommyCon event was the lack of food. This sent us searching. We left the MommyCon convention centre to find a restaurant and tried to order food to be delivered without luck. As a breastfeeding Mama, I found myself very hungry. After a few hours of walking around, I would have eaten just about anything that came within arm’s reach! Anything.
Truth? It’s convention centers. Don’t think this is just for MommyCon. As an Occupational Therapist, I attend big conferences packed with attendees. For some reason, convention centers are not usually well equipped with food. Luckily there were some snacks: Kind bar generously handed out bars ( I believe I ate 5!). We did get a pouch or two for baby however, if you’re looking for a sandwich or something heartier you’ll need to plan in advance to bring food or research surround restaurants. After waiting in line for one hour to purchase expensive, low-quality Italian food…I make sure to mention food to attendees.
The best venue for food was Philadelphia (4 years ago I believe) because there was a Panera right outside the convention centre and the Reading terminal market. An attendee told me that the Orlando location had some food within the hotel too. Make sure to plan ahead because hunger can ruin fun!
3. Wear Comfortable Shoes
This may sound like a no-brainer but your shoes should be made for walking. Convention centers are huge and you’ll cover lots of square footage in no time. If you’re wearing a baby or toddler, your feet will be taking on extra weight and you’ll need something supportive and comfortable. Two years ago I wore my Crocs, which are comfortable at home… but I found out the hard way that they’re not made for walking a whole convention center pregnant with a toddler on my back. While I consider myself to be pretty in-shape, they definitely weren’t a match for MommyCon!
4. MommyCon Exclusive Products
Some companies put out MommyCon exclusive product you can only buy at MommyCon. Smart Bottoms had the most adorable diaper from Abby’s Lane. Even though I got to their table when the event opened, literally running through the convention center, I found myself in a big line. Be prepared. Bee-line to the table you want to buy from and carry cash. Any issues vendors are having with their IPad cash registers won’t impact you and you’ll quickly stash your purchases in the MommyCon goodie bag and move on to the next stop!
5. MommyCon Session Guide Pamphlet
After you check in, make sure to get a pamphlet listing all of the events and sessions. Make a game plan. Spend a few moments deciding what you really want to attend. If you’re interested in menstrual cups there’s a session for you! Kim Rosas, from Dirty Diaper Laundry and Put A Cup in It, has a great session with a plastic vagina demonstration (Kim pictured below with a Donald Trump reusable menstrual pad).
In most events, there is a small area for children to play (supervised by you) with first come first serve toys. Get to the events on time (or early) to get a good seat and to avoid walking into the event late and searching for a seat. Balance sessions with trips to the vendor hall or go session to session all day long! Nursing? Breastfeed literally anywhere. You could sit in the hallway at MommyCon topless pumping or nursing and it would be 100% normal.
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6. Plan on Handling Your Stuff
The first year I felt overwhelmed with stuff. While MommyCon has a no-strollers preferred policy, many parents bring strollers for multiple children and they’re great for carrying stuff if you can’t do a drop-off at your car of hotel. My husband and I both got a MommyCon gift bag each, and our hands were quickly full. While the MommyCon gift bag itself is a great item, each event has different goodies based on what company sponsors give to attendees.
We found that sending hubby back to the hotel, or to the van, right after check-in to do a drop was a huge help. At first, the bags weren’t any trouble, however after a few hours lugging bags around can be exhausting. Even if you don’t plan on making any purchases, that’s pretty unrealistic because once you see the goodies you’re bound to leave with something!
7. Vendor Hall
Don’t dismiss the Vendor Hall. You are speaking directly with the PR reps and company owners! If you’re a blogger it’s a great time to share a business card and make contacts. If you’re not a writer it’s still a great opportunity to be in awe of the very people who designed and promote the products you love! I literally can spend the entire event in the vendor hall looking at new products and seeing everything in-person that I’ve looked at online. Oogle baby carriers and wraps, diapers, and baby goodies galore!
8. MommyCon Hangover is Real
The MommyCon hangover is real! You will be taking in so much visually, physically and across all senses that your brain will be in overdrive. The next day or two should be used for rest. I found that I felt pretty wiped out for about two whole days after MommyCon events. Plan to stay hydrated and look back on photos and memories from the event. It goes by quickly and can leave the whole family feeling a bit drained.
9. Stay Overnight
If you’re not in close driving distance, it’s really worth staying close-by overnight. While we stayed the night before MommyCon, I believe staying the night after is ideal too. We drove home from MommyCon DC (event no longer at this location) and after a very busy day, it was strenuous. Our toddler got carsick multiple times, I really appreciated taking extra prefold diapers for cleaning up vomit, it took longer then we imagined with traffic and we dreamed of still being in our hotel room resting. In addition to being a sanctuary after the event, a hotel room is also a great place to drop off stuff you get during the event. MommyCon does book blocks of hotel rooms but we were able to find great deals even closer to the location online.
10. Post-Conference Prizes
There are giveaways at the end of each MommyCon! Vendors give out prizes, often displays, from their booths and the person on the microphone will use your ticket number to draw responses. First year we went, they drew 4-5 names before someone was around to claim a prize. We won a single stroller! Next two years the room was more packed. Packed. Last year prizes were handled poorly and they were tossing them to the people sitting right in the front by the stage or asking for due dates (giving a Mama with a newborn, baby or toddler a zero chance of winning). I really felt like we wasted time and since we didn’t stay another night this prolonged the drive home.
Last year, they also gave out products from the MommyCon gift bags as the giveaway session ended and the crowd was not super polite. There was pushing, some greed and after waiting for what felt like forever (without even getting up close) I walked away with a little tub of cereal a kind Mama passed back to me. That being said, if you’re a lucky person it may be worth staying. If they’re tossing prizes into the audience sit in the toss-zone. If you have a long drive it might not be worth staying.
Photo of 3 women in collage credit © Can Stock Photo / photography33