Five Mirrors in My House04/18/2013
My Best Bits of Camping Advice
Being Happy by Meagan Francis
With five kids – four of them in school – September through May can sometimes feel like a blur of early alarm clocks, school events, practices, and homework sessions.
Maybe that’s why I love summer so much. No school, all-day sun, heat-induced napping…it all provides the perfect excuse to forget about the calendar for a while and just hang out with the kids.
Camping is one of our favorite summertime family activities. I love the feeling of having nowhere to go and nothing to do except sit around a campfire, wander hiking trails, head to the shore or maybe try to catch a fish. At night all seven of us pack into one tent, fitted in like a puzzle.
It’s amazing how much I relish getting dirty, smelling like campfire smoke, and cooking my food on sticks. I don’t even mind having to walk down a dark and spooky trail to make a midnight bathroom run! It’s all part of the fun.
I’ve taken enough camping trips with kids – lots of kids at times! – to have learned some great tips along the way. Here are my five best bits of advice for a family camping trip:
- Pack light. You’re going to get dirty anyway, so having a change of clothes for each day of the trip can be overkill. I usually pack clean undies and socks, and a warm change of clothes or a hoodie for cooler evenings. If the clothes get filthy, I hand wash and line dry.
- Set tent rules. While I’m fairly relaxed about dirt, I cannot stand mosquitoes buzzing in my ear all night. I have to thank my husband for setting strict tent rules the very first time we went camping, and enforcing them with the kids every time since. Because they have been so well trained to never leave the door unzipped and to leave shoes outside, the tent stays relatively clean and bug-free, so I know I’ll be able to get a good night’s sleep.
- Bring a stroller. When we took my son William camping for the first time, he was a little over a year old and kept trying to run away from our campsite in the pitch black. We finally took out his car seat, put it on the ground, and strapped him in. A stroller would have been easier! It’s a great way to keep crawling babies or rambunctious toddlers and preschoolers contained while your hands are full.
- Keep food simple. While hot dogs on sticks are great fun, they won’t necessarily be enough to keep your kids satisfied during a camping trip – remember, they’ll be burning lots of extra energy with all that walking! In addition to whatever you’ll be cooking over the campfire, bring easy-to-manage snacks like grapes (no cutting needed), juice boxes and Goldfish crackers. Camping is one time I love individually-packaged snacks, because they eliminate the need for a bowl or cup!
- Relax. You’re going to get dirty, and bothering with makeup is probably a waste of time. Your kids will run around with mud on their faces and go to sleep with sandy hair. It’s part of the fun! Just shake it off when you get home.
For more happy thoughts from Meagan visit http://thehappiestmom.com/.
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