Many of you were wanting my take on camping with little kids. I’ll begin by saying that this will not be a super positive review of the experience.
I don’t think I like camping. I think I like the idea of camping. Of waking up to a chilly morning, quietly drinking my coffee by a campfire while listening to the sounds of the world waking up. A bird chirps. A squirrel whizzes by. Ah, camping. The day progresses in a slow, sedated lull. I wander with my campmates through a hike or down the coastline for a relaxing walk. In the evenings, we all don an extra layer and drink hot chocolate with Bailey’s around the campfire until it’s time to curl up in our sleeping bag and quickly drift off to sleep, the fresh air doling out to us the best night’s sleep we’ve ever had.
That didn’t happen though. Even without kids it wouldn’t have happened. Camp coffee always has grounds in it. I’m freezing cold from about 5pm until 3pm the next day regardless of how many layers I wear. I didn’t have any Bailey’s. I also didn’t have my fan who’s sole purpose is to offer white noise so falling asleep to the sound of… well, nature, didn’t really work for me.
Oh, right. And then there’s the kids.
Lillian, at two years old, actually did pretty well. She listens and obeys for the most part. She eats whatever’s offered. Sleeping in her own pink sleeping bag was the coolest thing ever. Were she to make a pros and cons list, I imagine her biggest con would be getting caught sneaking out of the tent after she was put down for bed. Talk about a deer in the headlights. Luke pointed her out to me and I said, “What do you think you’re doing?” at which point she scurried back into the tent much like the squirrel in my camping fantasy.
Levi, on the other hand, did not do super great. First of all, in case you’re unaware, camping means a lot of dirt and sticks and sand and rocks and those are four of Levi’s main food groups. I swear the kid’s going to poop out a house for all three little pigs by the time his intestines move everything from camp out of his system. Second of all, for a one year old, he listens kind of well. I’d say a 4 or 5 on a good day which isn’t anything to scoff at for his age. When you’re in a campground, though, with cars meandering past your site, when you’re surrounded by tall grass and strange people and, oh yeah, the campfire, his obedience level needed to be at a 12 and his was around a 2.
I feel like I spent most of my time on “vacation” yelling at Levi to stop heading into traffic or wander into any direction he felt like. Sure, we built an ice chest barricade as best we could, but the kid is smart and determined which will help him a lot as he grows older, but camping wasn’t the best time to exhibit those traits.
And neither kid was a super great sleeper. At home, I would let them cry it out if I knew they were okay, but you can’t really do that when you’re in a campground. On the plus side, Luke and I each got some good middle of the night cuddles with both kids so that was nice.
All in all, would I do it again? Nope. I think camping with a baby older than two would be doable. I think camping with a kid less than four months old when they’re still in the baby blob on a blanket stage would even work. But a one year old who has a whole new world he needs to explore and consume (and I mean “consume’ in the eat all of the things way)? Nope. Wouldn’t do it.
But I did do it. And we all survived. And I only cried the first night. The beauty of taking kids this young is that chances are they’ll have no concrete memory of it so I can only get better at this camping thing as they get older, right?
Gotta remember the Bailey’s next time.