Happy Campers: Camping with Toddlers. - Pretty Real

Happy Campers: Camping with Toddlers.

1:45 PM

I grew up camping.  It was basically our family vacation every year or two.  I have such fond memories of family time, roasting marshmallows (of course), and even traipsing through the dark-- terrified-- to get to the bathroom.  The great outdoors. What's not to love?

Over the last couple of years Joe has gotten very active (me not so much but that's another topic for another post).  And while I'm not the most active or athletic mama I know, as a kid up through my early adult years, I was.  As a kid we went on long bike rides, camped, and constantly had picnics (complete with kickball) at the lake.  My dad was a sports fanatic so we'd play tennis, basketball, softball, etc.  So when Joe declared that he wanted us to be an "active" family, I was all about it.  Did I realize at the time, that active = sleeping in a tent with two little animals (known as Genevieve and Nadia) + waking up with the sunrise at 5:00 am?  No...no, I didn't. But it's all good.  We survived.  Wanna know how?

My takeaways for camping with toddlers 
(some of this advice is relevant for camping in general).

Make sure your camp ground has activities suitable for kids.  Ours had mini golf, basketball courts, hay rides, and parks.
Ideally the camp ground would have a body of water to swim in.  Ours didn't.  But we were a short drive from the beach which was a total LIFESAVER.
Make sure the campground has clean bathrooms and find a spot close to them.  I'd say this applies to little ones but those of you mamas who have had little ones might be like me: shot bladder.  I joke that as annoying as it is to take Genevieve potty every 40 minutes, I usually end up going since I'm there anyway!  Obviously being far away from "traffic," is nice but I'll take convenience over that at this phase in life.
A-38 was literally across the road from the bathroom. Score.
My memories of camping involved playing cards, telling stories, staying up late, and just being silly.  But I was much older than the girls.  The younger kids need entertainment for sure.  I brought books and coloring books.  We also brought our beach toys for fun at the beach.
This brings me to my next point:
Camping is a great activity to do with friends or family.  We went with Joe's sister and brother and their families.  So the cousins kept each other entertained as well.
Bring lights.  One thing I didn't see on lists were lights. While lanterns are great, stringing Christmas lights adds a lot more light all over.  They looked pretty and were so effective at lighting up our spot! I brought cute little paper lantern lights but not nearly enough strings.
Camping requires a LOT of stuff.  It's annoying really.  Joe and I also forgot a LOT of stuff.  All I can say about this is to be organized in terms of who is responsible for bringing what.  And even though exhaustive lists (like this one) are great, in some ways I think there was so much on it we ignored that we didn't end up catching all the relevant stuff.
Speaking of packing and lists, make sure to physically check off every item as you put it into your suitcase or the car.  And try to keep one list (or one per person but I wouldn't include even older kids)  rather than four like my uber organized husband and I had floating around.

Bring lots of food. Duh. Roasting food and eating fun snacks is an activity in my book.  I might have forgotten some stuff but I had the muddy buddy chex mix and sticky popcorn ready!
Expect little sleep.  And roll with it.  Lucky for us the girls at least do okay on little sleep as long as they are sufficiently distracted (they seriously have an insane amount of energy) so it didn't ruin everything.  But it was definitely enough of a drag to come to this conclusion:
We're a bit too early for camping! ha! I'm sure everyone we told already knew that. And deep down we knew it too.  At least I did.  But we were so excited about going and didn't want to wait another couple of years.  But next year?  I'm thinking cottages on the beach.  Who's with me?

That said sleep deprivation notwithstanding, we had a great time!  It's so nice to get away with people you live near but don't get quality time with as often as you'd like.  We were on the cape so it's a beautiful setting; the beach was awesome and the food was delish.  We might have been a bit early but the memories we made were priceless.  
I think that's it....Have you gone camping with little ones?  Did I forget anything?  

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  1. Oh goodness. I love your honesty. I think the idea of camping is more lovely than actually camping. But backyard camping, I could possibly do. I love the idea of string lights. Very cute and a little bit magical, right?