We finally took the whole family, including the dog, on a full weekend camping trip. It was great. Well, mostly great! I thought I was prepared and had done a lot of research into what TO do when camping with small children, but we learned quickly there are several things NOT to do when camping with kids.
- Do NOT over pack clothes. The kids repeat-wore most of their clothes. I was okay with that. They were comfortable, and who cares? We were in the wilderness.
- Do NOT pack new or nicer shoes. I had just pulled a pair of Stride Right tennis shoes out of the attic for Tiny to wear. Somewhere during the trip, we lost one. Easy come, easy go.
- Do NOT forget some kind of activity for them at the campsite. Card games, easy board games, outside toys – anything like that. While I just wanted to relax and read my book in front of the fire, the three kids were, of course, bored. So I was really glad my husband grabbed the Old Maid game right before we left the house.
- Do NOT try to pre-assign sleeping arrangements. We thought we had it all figured out. We had a little mini pop-up camper that had a double bed and a pull out couch. JD and I figured that he and I and Tiny would share the big bed and Bug and Jelly Bean would sleep on the pull out couch. WRONG. After much arguing, crying, and some yelling, we finally settled in after 11pm with me, Tiny, and Jelly Bean on the bed. The boys were on the pullout couch, feet to head.
- Do NOT assume that your kids are going to want to rest and relax like you do. Our kids were crazy excited and all over the place. However, on Saturday we wore them out with a jampacked day of hiking, picnicking, swimming, and a bonfire. We were all worn out and in bed by 8:00pm!
- Do NOT try to over plan your trip. JD wanted to also fit in a canoeing trip, but we were all beat after hiking and swimming. Instead, we opted for an early bonfire, smores before dinner, easy hot dog/burgers dinner, a couple games of Old Maid, and off to bed.
- If you have a dog, Do NOT leave your dog on a leash/chain outside during the night. I wasn’t really worried about her because we were in a fairly populated campground, but at some point in the middle of the night, another animal attacked. I heard the dog scream, yelp, and bark hysterically. I remember jolting out of my sleep, screaming “Mia!!!” and trying desperately to untangle myself, get off the bed and out of the door as fast as I could. I honestly thought she was being eaten by another animal. By the time we got out, the other animal was gone, and she was fine. Scared out of her wits, but fine. Our guess is that a raccoon came up (another don’t – don’t leave the dog food bowl out!) and got too close, scaring Mia into a fit. We packed up her pillow and brought her inside the camper. Poor puppy.
- Do NOT forget the First Aid Kit. I almost didn’t pack it, but thankfully my husband put it on the packing list. It was definitely needed on this trip.
- This 9th tip applies to all of us who are prone to get hurt: If there is some kind of a crazy event, Do NOT try to scramble outside of a pop up camper so fast that you wind up cutting your hand all up and really bruising your arm. At least, try to avoid those situations! I don’t really know what happened, but I noticed after we got Mia settled down that my hand was pretty sliced up. I noticed the bruising on my arm the next morning. It must have happened when I crashed through the metal door.
Overall, despite my crazy injuries, we had a great time. The kids enjoyed it, we learned a lot of lessons on what to do better next time, and we decided this is something we’ll do again and again.
What lessons have you learned while on a family camping trip? Any pointers on what things NOT to do while camping with kids?
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