Let’s go camping!
WITH the kids!
Let’s do it.
This is the perfect weekend to try it out. Now, I realize camping is a bit of an acquired taste. I do. And, honestly, there is always a moment (or 5) on our trips when I think maybe I should just wander into the woods and leave the madness behind. BUT. The other 95% of the time? Camping is a good time. You just need to be prepared. Living simply doesn’t necessarily mean you can just walk out the door without a plan. Or a list. Or, in our case, spreadsheets. What DOES camping mean?
Break from the usual schedule
new parks and adventures
mandatory beach time
mandatory campfire time
poor cell phone service
freedom from regular chores
I’d gladly trade the extra work it takes to make meals happen outdoors for that list above. In a heartbeat. Even with my children involved… and they’ve all been ten-camping since they were 5-months old… EVEN WITH THE KIDS, it’s a good time.
We leave tomorrow for a quick trip down the Michigan coastline to Hoffmaster State Park. I’ve actually never camped here overnight before, but it’s close and it’s a long weekend and it’s time to break out the gear.
Absolutes for me:
- baby powder – baby powder gets sand OFF and OUT of everything/one. It soaks up the moisture and allows the san the just brush right off. There must be a large bottle of baby powder in the vehicle at all times.
- pickle wraps – I’ve talked about pickle wraps before, I know… but these are a Mulder Staple when camping. If you’re eating a pickle wrap, you must be camping. It takes the burden off of meal-planning lunches everyday. Lunch = pickle wraps. And what’s a pickle wrap? A tortilla with cream cheese, a couple slices of lunch meat (roast beef or turkey or ham), and a pickle slice. BOOM. Portable, delicious, and super fast to make. Add some fruit and a juice box and you have yourself a meal.
- cots – our family happily slept on sleeping pads for years until I was pregnant with Abby and just couldn’t get off the ground anymore. Now, the kids sleep in bunk cots (yes) and Curt and I each have our own. The cots have kept our tent sooooo much cleaner now that everything is up off the floor. Our clothes boxes (regular ol’ rubbermaid boxes for each person0 slide under the cots easily to leave lots of space in the center for changing clothes, dance parties, and time-outs.
- really decent food – Y’all. We eat on real plates with real silverware. We don’t eat baked beans from a can and hot dogs. Well, the kids do, but only because they choose to. Our meals are fantastic. We eat well because I plan easy meals with real ingredients and I don’t make shortcuts. This means we take trips to the local grocery store for ice updates and eggs or milk as needed… even if that means every day. Tacos and fajitas have sour cream and fresh salsa. Spaghetti includes garlic bread and corn on the cob. IT CAN BE DONE and it doesn’t have to be hard. Promise.
- Lighten up. I have to tell myself this 4 times every day.
[we only played this game one time]
But what about the kids, you say. Yes. The kids. Basically, you have 2 options when there are Little involved: keep your home schedule (afternoon naps, meal times) or push the limit (no naps) and stretch it to an early bed time. We’ve done both depending on the child/ren involved. There is no point in pushing it to the limit every day… part of camping is about relaxing and being flexible. Sometimes, that means hanging out in the campground while Abby sleeps and the other kids decorate the parking spot with sidewalk chalk. Seriously changing up the schedule for kids affects the whole family. Try to keep things like eating times and sleeping times as normal as possible.
Sleeping? Right. Bring the pack and play. Yes. Put it right in your tent, and pack a lightweight king-sized comforter to secure over the top. It get dark later and light earlier when you’re sleeping in canvas walls. The cover will let your Little keep to their 8pm bedtime while you sit around the campfire a little longer.
Kids don’t care where you go. The location is totally for the adults. All kids want is dirt and water. If you can find a stream or lake or ocean to play in daily, a hammock to swing in, and ice cream within walking distance… it’s a win for the kids.
This Memorial Day Weekend, we’re headed right down the road and there will be FRIENDS! Friends with KIDS! Other families camping at the same time! We’ve never been able to do this since we’ve had kids other than within the family. So. WE’RE EXCITED. Gideon has been packed for a week. I still have ALL of my stuff left to do… because I do it at the last minute. Because I need my toothbrush until we leave. Because I like to put my marriage in jeopardy every single chance I get.
What’s stopping you from getting out into the woods?
I bet I can talk you out of it.
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