Camping with a toddler is so much fun, don’t let the initial thought of it put you off. If you’ve got a outdoorsey child, it’s a no brainer! You may have already read my post about camping with a baby, things have since moved on a bit for me – ie babe has grown up and presented us with some slightly different challenges. Some of the top tips I mentioned in the post on camping with a baby are repeated, but with slightly different justifications – check out the previous article here.
1) Ditch the every day routines
Honestly, does your child NEED a bath every day? Might a quick shower with mum or dad do the job? I must admit, one evening when there was a choice between going to the pub for a drink and giving babe a wash basin bath, we opted for the pub – what the heck she can shower with me in the morning, I thought. Now I type this, it sound really bad – but a bit of grubiness kind of comes with the territory of camping. Unless your child works like clockwork, you can bank on your usual routine of going to bed going out the window – but you can use this to your advantage, like I said, by going to the pub – we wouldn’t usually entertain this idea at all at home. Strict no going out after 7.30pm! But camping, we’ll happily stay out till 9pm.
2) Prepare for rainy days
Take waterproof clothing (a full suit is good) and prepare activities in advance. Get creative and use what ever you have in the tent. On our last trip we spent ages sorting potatoes and carrots into different tubs and playing drums with the empty food containers. There is only so much time any family can tollerate being stuck in a tent, so get out and find some indoor soft play area or something, I’ve heard this is a great wet weather day fix.
3) Take a large flexible garden trug for baths
I didn’t do this on the last camping trip as I thought I could do without and I did, but to be honest I wish I’d not cut corners here. While babe is now willing to take showers, there are times when a good soaking is only going to do the trick. I also found that the showers at the campsite where really treacherous. Babe fell over every time she showered because of the lack of grip on the floor. One time she slipped over and nearly shot under the cubicle barrier into the path of someone showering next to us – I managed to catch her in time before she hit her head and slithered out of my each. The big trug also meant that I could have a nice long shower in peace, while babe was happily splashing around. It would have also avoided that instance of when she peed on my foot in the middle of the tiny ‘getting dressed’ space of the shower cubicle.
4) Give them jobs to do
Get the toddlers involved, they love it! Babe gets a real kick-out of feeling like she has done something useful. Even if it means a bit of hard work at the beginning, it’s going to pay off pretty soon – as they become fully fledged little helpers. I’ve still got some time until the pay-off arrives with babe, and she actually hinders rather than helps. But the short-term pay-off is that she is occupied, enjoying herself – what more can I ask for really?
5) Choose your campsite VERY carefully
Rocking up to any old campsite is not going to necessarily lead to the most stress free camping experience. It makes such a difference if you research well in advance and get somewhere will good facilities for small children. When they say, ‘child friendly’ make sure they mean ‘small child or baby friendly’ – there’s some very important differences. Those sites with a good family room with proper bathing facilities makes a big difference. Most kids also love animals, so selecting a site with lots of animals on site or near-by can be very useful for the on-site entertainment. A playground with facilities for small children is also great – check the pictures on the websites carefully. I made the mistake of looking at our last campsite on the net and thinking, great they’ve got a playground – only when I arrived, did I notice that it was the smallest playground ever and only suitable for the larger kiddies. Same applied with the statement that they had a family room and baby bath available to borrow. In fact, the shower in the family room was so powerful, it sprayed the whole room and shocked poor babe and me half to death. As for the baby bath, well that’s it they could be bothered to open the door to let me make me request! If you’re heading off to the New Forest camping, give Red Shoot Camp Site a wide berth.
6) Research activities in advance
Oh we’ll find out about activities when we get there, is something that I have said many times. But to be honest, it’s not the best way of doing things. The locals you ask aren’t always keyed into the kind of things suitable for small children. And the leaflets available in the info areas, aren’t always as informative as you’d like. You really should get on the internet before leaving home and get a good idea of the suitable activities that surround you. Instead of getting that reoccurring question every evening…’what shall we do tomorrow’. And think ahead about rainy day activities, this is when things can get really hard – so be prepared. In the UK, you can pretty much bank on having at least one rainy day during your week’s holiday.
7) Teach them the do’s and don’t of respectful camping from an early age
No one wants a child running up to their tent, playing with the guy ropes and putting grubby fingers all over it. In fact my hubby would have coronary, if a kid did that to our tent – even our old tents. So get them understanding whats not acceptable from the word ‘go’. Teach them not to touch other people’s cars, cut across other people’s pitches and perhaps most critically, not to take off with other people’s stuff – hmm that could be embarrassing.
8 ) Be organised
Honestly, I speak from experience, chaos is not a good thing – it causes stress and arguments. You just don’t need that. Be organised in advance and when you’re out camping, it makes life sooo much easier. Preparation is definitely the key here.
If you’ve got any top tips, please send me your ideas.