Camping can be a delightful family experience. With beautiful canopies and ethereal sunsets around, it can be a time to rediscover your relationships, to laugh, to share the happiness, and also go through the tough things together. Think about roasting s’mores around a warm fire or going fishing in a beautiful lake. Think about the starry night skies above your tent and the wonderfully comforting sounds of ocean waves crashing against the shore. Sounds exciting, doesn’t it?
Having adults around you makes your work a little more comfortable – you need not stress over them. But having kids is an entirely different ballgame. Children are dependent on us for everything, and we understand how hard it can be to look after them in such a situation (when you are already away from home!). But we are here to help you out.
- Better safe than sorry
It’s always important to plan your trip and know exactly what kind of activities you will be having there. Are you planning on trekking through forests or hilltops? Did you have a bonfire in mind? What about the creepy crawlies – and especially the dangerous ones? It’s always important to plan your safety net. Know what you’re doing so you can prepare for it. Tackle the list – bug spray, full clothing, mosquito nets, repellents, medicines especially if there’s a toddler on board, who is more susceptible to dangers. And do not forget the first aid kit – with Q tips, band-aids, antiseptics, iodine, antibacterial ointments, tweezers, and gauze.
- Pack for every weather
You might have some idea about the weather wherever you’re going. But Mother Nature might have different plans. That’s why you need to be prepared for any emergency that might arise – it can be rain, high temperatures, or even chilly winds.
Going to a ‘cold’ camping site? Pack extra socks, sweaters, mufflers. If you’re going somewhere tropical, take umbrellas, extra dry clothing, and additional pairs of whatever you wear as a backup. Toddlers cannot stand being wet! Or uncomfortable in any form.
- Pack more food than you think you need
If you thought you would only take two boxes of Oreos and you’d be okay, you’re wrong. When going with children, anything can happen. That means they could fling food across the pond, they could drop whatever they’re eating, they could flat out reject it, and they could be raucous with hunger. Whatever your situation is – pack more. Take extra plates, spoons, cups, and napkins too. Think of it as a party you don’t know how many people are really invited to. So, you arrange for a little bit more food. Granted, it’s a hassle. But it’s better than your kid crying at 1 am asking for goldfish cookies. If you feel like you will be reaching your destination at the end of the day, prepare a light, easy meal that is quick to assemble. You don’t really need to become a master-chef so late at night!
- Pack games to keep them occupied
Sometimes camping requires long hours of car rides or even waiting. Have some fun activities or board games planned out to keep your toddlers occupied. You can use books or card games for older kids and toys for younger ones. Simply put, provide them with something they can work on.
If your camping site allows it, pack their tricycles or scooters or skates to keep them moving about and busy. Pack some fun décor work with different equipment like chart paper, paints, brushes, and glitter. Bottom line is, figure out what keeps your kid busy and happy so you can enjoy some relaxing time with your partner while the kids keep themselves entertained.
- Going poo-poo
Even if your toddler is potty trained, or in the process of being potty trained, it’s always better to just pack diapers and wipes. And yes, extra-large plastic bags to carry dirty diapers until you can dispose of them properly. Remember to always keep lots of wipes and napkins that can be used for poop disasters and bedwetting. In that case, pack some extra blankets too!
- Get the right camping equipment
This goes without saying of course, but you’d be surprised how many people can ruin their trips just by getting cheap tents and camping gear. There are so many factors you need to keep in mind before selecting a camping tent.
Always make sure there is a tarp under your tent. Make sure it’s big enough for your family to stay comfortable, and one that is sturdy and can withstand wind and rain. Pack reliable lamps or flashlights that are bright enough to illuminate your space. There are many essential camping gears and gadgets that you need, so it’s better to have a checklist. This way you won’t miss out on anything important.
Camping can be a great learning experience for children. It can enhance their mental development as kids see things differently when outdoors. More importantly, children learn a great deal when exposed to nature, and this learning is better than handing over smartphones or tablets.
Getting in touch with nature and wilderness really refreshes the soul, even of a five-year-old. It enhances family relationships as well, and brings your child closer to you, whereas at home your kid was probably spending his hours in front of the television or throwing a tantrum to get hands on the iPad!
Camping also helps children become more aware of outdoor life. It’s a great way to detach them from too much screen time and spend more time with their siblings, playing outside and getting some exercise in. You can teach your children so many things – like fun facts about flowers and dangerous plants, little animals you may see along the way, how to build a campfire, and how to go fishing.
One of our favorites is obviously tying a knot – teach your child how you’re putting up the tent and how you plan to cook your meals. When a child is entrusted with a job, they feel more responsible and can be a bigger source of help than you thought. But lastly, be ready to really connect with your family on a deeper level and enjoy quality time with them!