It is time for another Memorial Day camping trip. We are headed to Lake McConnaughy in Nebraska where we’ll meet my mother and step father-in-law and our good friends Sara, Robb and their 10-month-old daughter Adeline. Last year we camped on the beach at Lake McConnaughy and are excited to make a return trip.
I am no expert in camping with a toddler, but I have learned a few things over the past year and a half we have taken Trey camping. Here are my tips for (car) camping with a toddler:
Embrace the dirt. Dirt and sand will get everywhere. Especially if you’re camping on the beach. Everyone will probably eat some, sleep with some, and wonder how it got where you’re finding it. Just know this going into it and try to embrace it- its all part of the experience. A pacifier clip can keep a few essentials clipped to a shirt, chair, or tent to stay cleaner. Some campgrounds do have showers, so if you’re not as into the idea of sleeping in a small tent with a child who has rolled in sand all day, try to find one with bathing facilities.
Embrace the dirt!
Try to mimic your home sleeping arrangements. Everyone will have a better experience if they get some sleep, right? If your child co-sleeps try to have them sleep between you and your partner in the tent. If your child sleeps in their own bed or crib, try to simulate this in the tent. Can you fit a pack-n-play? Can you separate them from you with some bags to make a division? Trey would prefer to sleep curled around Rob or my neck if we let him so I’d never thought about this. We camped with some friends whose daughter always slept in her own crib and had a hard time sleeping in the tent because she didn’t know what to do with all the free space!
Let the kids explore. Part of the reason I love camping with Trey is that there are endless opportunities for exploration. On the beach he is happy to run through the puddles and dig rivers in the sand. If we’re at a campground there are bugs to investigate and so much room to draw train tracks in the dirt. Kids are meant to play and explore their world- let their curiosity take over and you may find they’re asking less of you for entertainment- a nice break!
Camp with other families. The kids can play together or along side each other and parents you can get some of time together without the normal daily distractions. If you forgot wipes, chances are the other family brought 7 packages. Meals can be split and you can lighten each other’s moods when Billy dumps dinner in the dirt.
If at first you don’t succeed, don’t give up! That is if you totally love camping and want it to be a part of your family’s experiences. I think third time was a charm for us. The first time we took Trey camping was over his 1st birthday. He hardly slept at night and we woke up our neighbors (they were happy to let us know). Turns out he was coming down with Foot and Mouth Disease. Our second try was over Easter weekend 2017. Everyone and their mother were camping in Fruita, CO that weekend and once again Trey cried a lot during the nights. I was so worried about us waking up our neighbors that I took Trey and slept on the floor in the back of our minivan along with a BOB stroller. Cozy. I swore I’d never camp with Trey again. I guess my husband is persistent or good at convincing me it would get better because less than a month later we were out camping again. It was amazing. Trey got so tired exploring and running everywhere that he slept soundly. We were rested and able to enjoy our beautiful surroundings all that weekend. If your first couple trips don’t go well, it doesn’t have to be the end. Adjust what didn’t work and consider renting or buying a tent that can fit an aero bed mattress. Rob got a REI Kingdom 6 Person tent and we put an aero bed (my first bed out of college) in it. It has been life changing.
S’mores. No explanation needed. If campfires are allowed where you’re camping this is a necessity. So. Delicious. Just be sure to keep the kiddos safe around the fire. S’mores are one of my favorite foods and this weekend I’ll be testing out The Samoa S’more.
S'mores with a side of Beautiful Sunset
I LOVE seeing kids out camping with their families. Share your stories with me at firstname.lastname@example.org and or tag Nordic Goose Kids #nordicgoosekids on Facebook and Instagram so we can see what you’re up to! I want to hear your tips- especially if you have any to do with potty training and camping. That is in my very near future.
Thanks for reading- let’s adventure!