This weekend, we went on our first camping trip ever with the kids. There were scrapes, there were giggles, there were spooky stores about polar bears eating people, swimming, sand castles, ice cream – and we even found a caterpillar. This was much more than I expected, as my close friends know, I was under the impression that camping was going to suck.
It didn’t. It was actually kind of awesome. We had the chance to hang out with the kids, cross a few things off of our summer bucket list – and I learned a few things along the way to rid us of our #campvirgins status.
Space is Your Friend
When we were searching for a tent we were lucky that it was late in the season when we decided we were going to start camping and that there were hoards of tents on clearance. We ended up with a 20 foot tent and it worked great. There was easily enough room inside of the tent for a king sized air mattress, a pack and play for Violet to sleep in and a kids cot. In a couple of years, there will still be more than enough room to add another cot and still have space for the toys, the clothes and all of the other ‘stuff’ you need to bring. My favorite part? The sectioned off “storage” space where you could “store” the kids that weren’t listening for a time-out – that was awesome. Plus, it rained and we didn’t get soaked, so there’s that. For $100, it’s one of the best things we’ve purchased all summer.
Update: Over the course of eight trips, I’ve learned that I hated setting up the tent. It sucks, we’ve sacrificed space, grabbed some cots and ditched the air mattress and have started using a tent that sets up in sixty seconds. It’s been life changing.
Related: Lock the kids in this space for four minutes and they’ll tear apart all the suitcases and scavenge for snacks
Always Make Lists
There were a few things that we forgot along the way. Olivia’s cot – we weren’t even out of Sherwood Park but we decided that she could just sleep with us. Next time, we make a list and ensure that we have everything. I am assuming that this would make the tedious process of getting ready easier too.
Our Kids Like to Pee Outside
Who knew that our non camping raised four year old had such a passion for peeing in the woods. Every time she peed in the woods, behind the tent, behind the picnic table or behind the vehicle she proudly screamed it across the campground. Yeah, we have that kid.
Next Time, I Get the Mini Cereals
You know, the ones that aren’t going to require you wash a bowl when you’re finished the cereal. The last thing that I wanted to think about was doing dishes while we were camping. We had no time this week to go to Costco and get mini cereals, but before we head out next weekend, we’re going to make the time.
There Must be a Beach
This weekend we were camping at Pigeon Lake Provincial Park. It was a great campground for the kids with a playground and nice beach area, but you couldn’t go swimming because of the blue green algae. Instead, we drove the hour to Sylvan Lake and had the bonus of getting shaved ice. I like the Waterkeeper Swim Guide app to keep you up to date on which lakes are swimmable, and which aren’t. There is information, directions and close by beaches if you turn on the location settings and even pictures of the beach to help you to plan your trip.
The Kids Loved It (And so Did I)
If you’re one of my friends on Facebook you may have noticed my angsty rants on Friday afternoon about my confusion of why people spend all this time packing and unpacking to go and sleep in a tent. It’s a hell of a lot of work to get out there for the weekend but all the work was worth it when I realised just how much the kids loved getting out of town and into the wilderness (well, sort of wilderness) and despite the fact that I was sure I was going to hate it – I kind of loved it. Just don’t tell Jamie he was right.
It’s Dirty out There
Also called, don’t wear your favorite neon yellow jeans to the campground because they’re comfortable for the hour-long road trip there. It’s likely that they’re going to get wrecked and even the most powerful of stain remover can’t take out that camping dirt. Roasted marshmallows, raspberries and plum juice, Gatorade, grilled cheese on the campfire and dirty hands are going to make those your official neon yellow camping jeans.
Mummy Sleeping Bags are Not for Me
I was really excited last week when I found a great deal on Amazon. The sleeping bags that we’d had our eye on were on sale for only $31 with free shipping. They had some great reviews and were comparable to ones that were double in price in local stores. I picked them up, excited to use them this weekend. I hated it. Sure, I slept all night because I was exhausted chasing after the kids but I vaguely remember being half awake arguing with Jamie as he was trying to zip me up, it was terrible. I am one of those people that needs to sleep with my feet outside of the blankets. You can bet that we’re going to be searching for sleeping bags that are less ‘mummifying’.
Related: We’re not hardcore enough for Mummy sleeping bags
After a Day of Camping, Bedtime Takes Exactly 37 Seconds
Maybe a combination of the fact that bedtimes were extended by a good hour, I laid down with Olivia and she fell asleep in a record of 37 seconds. It wasn’t soon after that and I was asleep too. Friends warned me that bedtimes were going to be tough, I’m glad that the kids proved it wrong.
Related: The kids wake up at 8 am – like alarm clocks.
Rain+Tent: It’s Like Songza without the iPhone
You don’t even need your iPhone to get the rain sounds. The rumbling of thunder in the distance, it was almost like the real Songza.
You Don’t Have to Drink to Get Camp-hungover
We arrived home Sunday afternoon and to say that I was irritable was an understatement. It was only a couple of days, but those air-mattress-sleeps and days in the sun must have caught up with me because to say that I needed a nap was an understatement. Bedtime couldn’t have come soon enough on Sunday night. Tell me it gets easier, lie to me.
Forego the Kid Leash – Bring the Playpen
The pack and play is one of the best decisions that we made. It held Violet while we were taking down the tent and with a blanket, she laid right down and slept in the great outdoors when she was tired. Plus, it worked wonders for sleeping inside the tent at night. If you have the space, a pack and play is a must.