Wednesday, 9 August 2017

7 things you need to take camping with kids



We’ve only been camping once this year (it rained and I cried, it was not a dignified camping trip). We just don’t seem to have had enough time at the weekends to escape to the countryside. I was hoping we’d manage another trip before the end of the holidays but there isn’t really any time for us to go (and also, the weather is rubbish). So we might need to put that on hold until next year which is disappointing but also will probably be much easier when Ember is able to wear wellies and walk at the same time (at the moment it is a strictly either/or kind of affair).

We first took Ebony camping when she was three years old. Laurie got loads of camping gear for his 30th birthday so we took a few trips that year, getting to grips with our tent and accidentally snapping pretty much all of the poles (we are not natural campers). We didn’t go at all last year because I was pregnant and not suicidal. But this year, we took Ember when she was nine months old. We discovered that there isn’t enough room in the car for camping stuff now that we have two kids, that cold nights are no fun for camping but that a good barbecue can solve pretty much all of this.

Here are a few of the things I think you need to take when you go camping with kids:

1. The essentials
This sounds obvious, you always need the essentials when you go camping, but it is all the more important when you have kids with you. Why? Because it is a fine line between fun family camping trip and parental mental breakdown in a field, don’t tip the balance by starting off on the wrong foot. You need to make sure you have all your air beds, a water container so you can store water in the tent, pans, gas, whatever. Just make sure you have it. Write a list and laminate it (not really. No, do. Laminate the shit out of that list) and use it every time you go away so you never have to make a last minute trek to find a camping shop when you arrive at the campsite and discover you have no tent pegs (I have done this).

2. All weather clothing
Your packing light days are well and truly over, it’s time to pile that car high with each and every item of clothing your kids own. They’ll need wellies, waterproofs, winter coats, sun dresses, sun hats, umbrellas, spare underwear, woolly socks, jelly sandals, Rapunzel costumes (no? Just my kid then). Just take it all. Don’t worry about space. It’s way easier to sit in the car under a pile of clothes than it is to carry a crying child through fields of mud while they winge about wearing inappropriate attire.

3. Outdoor accessories
We took a kite camping once and Ebony had the best time. Also, it was fun watching Laurie trying to climb that tree to retrieve the tangled kite. Again. We usually take balls or a frisbee or a ring toss game so we can keep Ebony entertained by the tent. My parents just took her camping and they all went for a bike ride which Ebony loved, so we’ll have to take her bike one day (maybe the day we wake up and discover our normal sized car has been replaced by a lorry).

4. More food than your kids could ever eat...
… because they will eat it. How? I have no idea. Camping turns children into starved maniacs. It might be the fresh air or the walking or the fact you didn’t pack enough food and they can smell that weakness on you, but they will eat you out of tent and awning. Pack as much food as you think you’ll need, then double it. Then double it again. Then make sure you’re camping near a chip shop, just in case.

5. Cleaning things
Camping is always muddy, but this is arguably more apparent when you have children. Children are always muddy, even when there is no mud on the ground. And they don’t notice when they are muddy, so they unknowingly smear it all over the tent. I always take plenty of baby wipes when we go camping. And sanitiser because it’s not always easy to convince Ebony to trek all the way to the toilets to wash her hands, she will quite easily stay dirty forever if it means she doesn’t have to walk.

6. Warmth
When we went camping this year, we didn’t take enough bedding. The car was too full and we hadn’t quite realised how cold it was going to be at night. The first night, I cried. The second night, Ebony cried. When we got home, Laurie said he was never taking us camping again. It was just so cold. Even after a sunny day, the temperature dropped and the tent went arctic and we all froze. We should have taken more blankets and more pyjamas and a heat and the sun and a house. I will remember all of this for next time.

7. Wine
You’ll need it. Camping with kids is great, but it’s wine worthy. There are bugs and mud and tears and walking and meltdowns and snapped tent poles and daddy long legs in the toilets. Take wine. Lots of wine.

I fancy a camping trip now.

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