Sleeping in a tent for several days with no showers to be had, no cell phone service and cooking all of our meals over fire. That doesn’t sound like a vacation to me, but to my husband and sons it’s like going to Disneyland. Sure I had been camping before back in middle school and high school, but camping with all of your friends is certainly different than camping as an adult with your husband and small children. It’s a challenge.
Luckily I’ve already been through it a few times so I’ve picked up a few tips to make it easier for moms who aren’t exactly the outdoorsy types.
Practice. Not sure how your kids will handle sleeping in a tent overnight? A fun way to “practice” and get ready for a camping trip is to set up your tent in the backyard. You can even make it a special “Daddy and Me” activity and sleep in your on bed while they do the practicing. If anyone gets scared they might run inside and join you, though.
Start small. Before you embark on a road trip up into the mountains or across the state, try camping locally first. You can pack for it just like you would any other trip, but have a little peace of mind knowing that you’re only a short drive from home if anything goes wrong.
Bring more food than you need. One thing I noticed is that my family ate a lot more food than normal when camping. Being outside, hiking, fishing – those activities really work up your appetite more than normal. The last thing you want is a bunch of hungry campers on your hands, so pack some extra snacks and make those meals heartier if you can.
Make a list and check it twice. When you’re packing for the big trip, make it a little easier on yourself and write out a list of things you’ll need to bring. I’m not normally a list-maker but this is pretty important for me. Have a friend or two who has camped before double check it for you. You may be forgetting something that will make or break your trip – and depending on where you camp there might not be anywhere nearby to pick up something essential that you left at home.
Ditch the electronics. It may be tempting to bring certain electronics to make the car ride go a little more smoothly, but it’s hard to drag the kids away from those things once you get to the camp site – especially when you need help setting up. Leave them at home and use the drive time to talk about what you’ll be doing on your trip. Oh, and that goes for you too. Keep your phone in your glove box for an emergency, but take the time to be unplugged as well. You need it!
The family who tents together stays together. Don’t try to have seperate tents. Even if you’re feeling a little squished, you’ll sleep a lot better knowing everyone is together. It’s great to have a smaller tent for kids to play in, but once it’s time for bed, keep the little ones with you.
Give everyone a job. Even the smallest tots can help with something. Give them jobs like collecting pieces of trash after meals to be thrown away, picking up small twigs and sticks for the fire, setting up for a car or board game to be played, or even turning off the lantern at bed time. It helps them feel more involved and they’re more likely to love camping.
Have fun. Camping trips are great for bringing a family closer together, and for really unwinding from stressful everyday life. Be adventurous and make it really fun. Let the kids get as dirty as they want! You’ll love the memories and pictures that come out of it.
Are you the outdoorsy type? Have you ever been camping with kids?