Does the thought of camping with your kids bring images of complete chaos and mayhem to your mind? While kids are unpredictable, there are things you can control to help make your trip a more enjoyable experience for everyone!
Before You Leave
Make a List
About 1 or 2 weeks before you plan to leave, start making a list. Brainstorm everything you might need while you’re away.
Camping Supplies: Tents, sleeping bags, flashlights, batteries, camping stove, camping chairs, hot dog sticks, etc.
Plan your meals out, so that you know what supplies you need for that.
Meal Supplies: Pots, cooking spoons, plates, utensils, can opener (this seems to be one of most easily forgotten tool), cooler(s), dish soap, dish towel, dish rag or sponge, etc.
Decide on how many changes of clothes you’ll need to pack, swim suits and swim diapers, diapers and wipes, etc.
Where will the baby sleep? Do you have a small portable sleeper like a Moses Basket (affiliate link), or will your port-a-crib fit in your tent?
What toiletries or other products will you need? Toothbrushes and toothpaste, shampoo, hair brush, deodorant, suntan lotion, bug spray, bandaids, etc.
Give yourself a few days to add to the list in case you forget anything.
Rethinking the Soap
Personally, if we’re just going to be gone for a few days, I skip the soap. There is no way I’m going to try to battle showers when they’re just going to get dirty right away — we’re camping! A quick wipe down with some baby wipes do a great job until you’re back at home.
Don’t Over Pack
Quite honestly, you probably won’t use everything you think you’ll need. So before you start packing, take an honest look at your list, compare it to your itinerary, and cross some things off.
….But Pack Extra Snacks
Kids are always hungry, but they seem to get even hungrier when camping. Allow for some extra snacks to keep them satisfied throughout the day. When we were growing up, the special snacks my mom would get us would always be exciting and special. I have a feeling my kids feel the same way – Virginia exclaimed to me how thankful she was to have so many yummy and fun snacks! Let’s face it – it’s always about the food.
Keep It Organized
The last thing you need is to have your supplies exploding out of everywhere! In order to maintain some control of the chaos, keep it organized. Gather all of your supplies, and then separate them into categories. What do you normally use together? How about a beach bag with the towels and sunscreen? Your cooking pots and utensils can be kept together. I even had separate bags for each of the meal types this year — one bag for breakfast food, another for lunch, yet another for dinner, and finally a bag full of the snacks. Of course, anything that needs to stay cold goes in the cooler. Even those larger items, such as your tent, can be put in categorized piles that allow you to have better clarity when packing your vehicle.
Stick To A Routine
By now, you probably realize that I really appreciate the routines we have established in our household. When you go camping, those routines don’t all have to go out the window! Yes, you’re going to want to add in some flexibility, but try to keep to your usual rhythm. I find that this is especially helpful at bedtime. Brush teeth, do showers if you really need to or wipe down the kids with wipes, and get everyone cozy. If you normally say night prayers, continue to do them. Grant it, some nights might be a little more full, and the kids might crash before their head even hits the pillow. That’s okay too.
Keep in mind your own limitations as well. Do you usually need some down time after lunch while you’re home? Then plan to have some down time while you’re camping. Maintaining these small things on vacation go a long way in keeping you sane and actually enjoying this time with your family.
Know when to ask for help
Regardless of how well you plan and prepare, there’s inevitably something that will come up that will throw you for a loop. This year for me, it was the realization that I was physically unable to do all the basic elements of camping that I thought I should have been able to do. Have you tried rolling up an air mattress in a tent at 7 months pregnant?
If you come across something that throws you for a loop. First, give yourself some grace. Then allow others to help you. That may just be your husband, or maybe you have others camping with you. Whatever it is, acknowledge the situation and don’t be afraid to make some adjustments and communicate your needs.
Don’t forget to have fun
It’s so easy to get caught up in making sure that everything is going smoothly that we forget to also have fun and relax. Don’t forget to take a step back and absorb the beauty around you, or dive in and splash your kids (or husband) when they’re not expecting it!
How About You?
Do you like to go camping as a family? Please feel free to share your tips in the comments!