The answer is YES.
But that’s all I’m going to say about that experience.
Sunday afternoon, my husband and two toddlers went forth into the great unknown and went camping. We packed way too much food, not nearly enough clothes, and just enough firewood. We played at the lake, saw a historic WWII site, and the kids enjoyed the playground at the camp site.
I survived, guys. I made it. And ya know what? I didn’t entirely hate it. It was actually kinda fun.
I was of course my usual self who wandered around picking up trash and organizing things and making sure the kids weren’t starving to death or eating too much dirt. Overall, though, it was a good time. Even when it started raining one night.
My husband and three-year-old were sleeping on the air mattress in the back of our van while my two-year-old and I slept in the tent. I was just beginning to doze off when I heard the pitter patter of rain drops on trees. It was light and pleasant sounding. Then I felt a rain drop. I began trying to think of what to do. We had a rain guard thing for the tent but I didn’t know where it was. A few minutes passed before I felt another rain drop.
I realized I wasn’t going to get out of the tent to fix the problem so I may as well just make peace with the elements. I maneuvered my son and I to the center of the tent and called it good. We woke up 99% dry and the kids had fun playing in the new, fresh, wet dirt when they started playing in the morning.
I’d love to tell you more tales, but I’m exhausted from sleeping on the ground so here are my thoughts on surviving camping with toddlers should you ever find yourself in such a situation.
1. Pack every sweatshirt and item of warm clothing they own.
I failed to do this so on the second night my daughter, who wears mostly 4T clothes, got zipped up into my son’s 2T heavy sweatshirt following a spirited discussion of possessions and sharing and being cold.
2. Let your kids eat whatever they want.
Seriously–it’s not worth the effort to try to get them to eat baked beans if they don’t want them. I’m pretty sure all my daughter ate was string cheese, graham crackers, and raisins the whole time we were there. She was happy and is still alive.
3. Your kids will pee everywhere.
My son peed in the woods, in the bathroom, on the beach, in the lake, and everywhere in between. He was pretty stoked to have the freedom to go wherever he wanted and I was pacified by the fact i didn’t have to wash out a potty.
4. Stay up after everyone has gone to sleep.
This was my favorite moment. The kids and my husband slept while I sat by the fire, drank an alcoholic beverage, and thought deep thoughts. Okay, fine, I didn’t have any grand epiphanies, but it was super relaxing to have “me time” even if I did have to share it with the occasional mosquito.
5. Remember that every trip will get easier.
We went camping last year with my in-laws and it was damn near traumatizing. This year, now that both kids can walk and talk and communicate and play by themselves, it was so much better. We still had typical toddler moments, but it was nothing like last year. The older they get, the easier it gets.
I have to go shower now for the 18th time since we’ve been back because I feel I will never feel clean ever again.