Thursday, June 28, 2018

The Truth About Camping With Tots

We have always been keen campers and walkers. I did it from young and then me and Anil have always enjoyed escaping into our tent in some of the most beautiful spots in the country. You will struggle to find a better view than what you get when you camp. In an open field no houses in the way beautiful surroundings preserved and looked after. And at night starlit skies and no noise. BUT when you have children, camping somewhat takes a less peaceful approach and turns into a military operation and the desperate attempt at trying to suppress yelling at your child (who is currently thinking it is a great idea to roast their brother on the camping stove) for fear of disturbing the peace and quiet. However, as stressful as it can be it is also so worth it when you see the opportunities you are giving your cherubs; the chance to explore the wild freely, no ipads, phones or any other daily stresses. You get the time to talk, laugh and make up inventive make believe games embracing your inner child.


 The first difference in our 'adulting' camping and our 'parenting' camping trips is the tent. Now believe me when I say a tent can make or break your trip. You need something quick to go up because you have all of 10 minutes before your children are ripping the skin off each other or waltzing into someone else's tent to say HI!. And then there is the dilemma do you have a tent with pods? do you take a pod each with a child? do the children have their own pod and you get the luxury of you own pod? or like us do you know that your children will be standing on each others shoulders in order to reach the zip and escape into the open field and leading your husband to run out in his boxers shorts to retrieve them (further note always ALWAYS take pyjamas!). I am not ashamed to admit I get a lot of mother 'anxiety' the thought of leaving them alone in a pod in a tent scares the beejebus out of me; there is some part in me that is convinced they could be stolen (although I am sure they would be returned in less than an hour ha!) or that they will wander off in the night and get lost. So for me it is a one pod tent and okay there are draw backs (you can say goodbye to any adult alone time ha!) and yes they are so hyped up that you are all in the same pod and the most exciting bit you are all sleeping on the FLOOR ( for some reason this just sends them crackers). So we settled on the 8 man octagon tent by Coleman's. It is basically one big teepee tent so therefore, everything is in the same room. So if you have anything running on gas and no electrical hook up it may not be the right choice for you. Yes we did cave to an electrical hookup for the main reason I am worried about driving with the kids in the car and a massive can of gas. We don't have a trailer so the mum 'Anxiety' kicks in and for my own sanity we forego the gas. So we use an electric camping oven ( another Aldi middle aisle wonderment purchase). We also have a few home comforts such as a kettle and a fridge. I am all for back to basic camping and will definitely go back to that but whilst the kids are young electricity just makes camping that bit more comfortable and easier. We don't use ipads or phones so they make do with playing cards (well Alfie spent the majority of the holiday nibbling the card corners and hiding them).
 A major must on our list is you need some kind of containment for any child under 4. We went without a playpen, pushchair, highchair thinking of the space in the car. Well in hindsight I would have sat on the roof to fit it in because putting a tent up with an 18 month old running around like a lunatic yanking his clothes off and fully embracing his natural state whilst simultaneously biting his sister and boom major fights is just not fun; And ended up with poor dad putting up a tent by himself whilst I did crowd control. Alfie also struggled to settle at night because he had way to much freedom in the tent and liked to spend the majority of the evening poking his sisters eyes to wake her up or sitting on her head and bouncing.  However, by day 3 mission tire the kids out was taking an effect and they were pretty much collapsing into bed as soon as we got back to the tent. We did everything with them hiking, exploring and beach days. 
 Another must is thermals. It doesn't matter how warm it is in the day if you are camping in the UK it is cold at night. And in a tent you feel everything. Thermals are a game changer and although not the most attractive clothing I would rather look ridiculous and be warm than sporting fashionable clothes and freezing my boobies off. It is also horrific enough having to go for a wee in the middle of the night and walking to the toilet block without freezing to death on the way up. We did struggle to find any thermals to fit Alfie so we layered him up with baby vests and a thick baby grow and he seemed comfortable in this. Although he is 18 months old he is still in 9-12 month clothes the dinky little guy.
 Now shoes yes they will be ugly and no you wont feel pretty in them but hiking boots are a must especially for the kids. As my mum use to tell us wet feet make cold feet and cold feet make miserable children (only now do I really understand the term miserable children and the need to avoid it at all cost). No one wants blisters so make sure you get wearing them around the house to break them in and team them with some thick walking socks. And the best bit is they can't undo the laces on walking boots to throw them at each other in the car or as Alfie loves to do take them off when you are carrying him only to put him in his car seat and discover those expensive clark shoes you brought (because apparently all children need to wear clark shoes! hmmm) are 3 miles back. 


 Now if you have the angelic children that don't squabble, scream and be general pests in the back of the car this won't apply to you. But seriously think about the distance you are driving. If it's a 7 hour trip to Cornwall for a bank holiday weekend just avoid it because those 7 hours in the car is like listening to someone scraping their nails down a blackboard continuously. To the point I had to sit in the middle to break them up, fine if I didn't have so many things piled on me and a camping chair between my legs, the potty balancing by my head and all manner of cuddle toys that we couldn't bear to leave behind because they would get lonely (thank you toystory is all I have to say there!). We have a people carrier and it is still not big enough or more long enough so I can't hear them fighting. Why no one has yet invented cars with pods to separate children I don't know. 
 But and it is a big BUT don't be put off yes it is hard work, and mostly stressful but there is so many more positives. Ava and Alfie really enjoyed each others company with no distractions from toys, television, ipads or electronics they have discovered new games to play with one another. They worked together to terrorise me and Anil (a skill they are now very fond of) but they really bonded and learnt to appreciate one another. Ava found great enjoyment in the freedom camping allows you; being able to run about in a field whilst mum cooks breakfast and then spending your lunch time fishing in rock pools with a ham sandwich in one hand just can not be over looked. There were some great learning opportunities such as reading the map, learning about wildlife, climbing trees, paddling in streams and in this day and age engaging with the world around her rather than being more interested in the modern technology of today. So you may be nervous, you may be scared and you will at times wish you were back home. But I can't stress enough for you to try it and if like us all the negatives will be forgotten about ( with time) and you will be planning your next camping trip ( just don't forget the containment contraption of your choice!).

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8 comments

  1. Enlightening, I have always wanted to go camping but was to scared, I want to take the kids but would never know what to bring! I applaud ya for camping with littles!

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  2. Alexis do it ! You won't regret it and it's amazing how little you can get by on. I am doing a piece along side this of the things I packed so may have some tips in there for you x

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  3. I have always been adamant about camping. I am not an outdoors person but I really do want to do it at least once. Great post! :)

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    1. You really should give it a go so many options now as well such as camping pods and cabins if you want to keep a few home comforts xx

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  4. I wish I could write like you! You cracked me up the most with dad putting the tent up while you did crowd control!

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  5. Great post with lots of info! We have not tried camping with our one year old yet. Maybe now we will!

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  6. I love going camping, but taking my motley crew is a littler anxiety ridden. Great post.

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