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Camping with kids

Camping with kids

Do you have fond memories of camping as a child? I know I certainly do. It’s one of those quintessential Aussie experiences. When I was a kid, camping was like some sort of Aeroguard scented heaven. My siblings and I were allowed to swim all day, eat lots of ice blocks, and generally run ourselves ragged. Our experience was unmarred by bad weather, sunburn or mozzie bites. It was wonderful.

I loved it all. The camp fires, the smell of sausages on the barbie, sandy beds, starry skies, melted marshmallows (and the subsequent mouth burns), mozzie coils, sunscreen, fishing with a hand reel, the pit toilets… Ok, maybe not the pit toilets. But you know what I mean.

I recently took my one year old on his first camping trip (and my first as a parent). I have to say, I was not looking forward to it. I’m the first to admit, that as a slightly neurotic first time mum, I was concerned that I wouldn’t be able to leave him alone for a second without him being bitten by a spider, falling into the fire/river/pit toilet (shudder), or something equally as horrifying. What if he gets cold? What if he gets bored? What if he screams the place down at 2am and everyone else in the camp ground ends up hating us?

I needn’t have worried.

He had the time of his life, and so did we. It was easy. We just had to ensure we were a little more organised, and a little more flexible with our plans.

Although I can’t speak for those with older children, here are some of my ‘top tips’ for camping with toddlers.

1. Pack a bag for the car with a few basic items to keep your bub busy on the long trip. Some rusks, crackers, a bottle of water, and a few simple toys should do.

2. Go with a group! You will always have a few extra pairs of eyes to help you out, and it means mum and dad get some much needed down time (Not that Dad needs it, just quietly).

3. Let them get dirty. Wet wipes always save the day. And really, isn’t it a child’s prerogative to get filthy when camping?

4. If this isn’t possible, don’t stress. Make sure you pack your sense of humour and downgrade your expectations. It doesn’t matter if your toddler doesn’t eat organic, fair trade, home cooked gourmet meals for a couple of days.

5. Take lots of snacks. Think you have enough? Nope! Take more snacks.

6. And speaking of food, the best thing we did was take a few frozen, pre prepared curries and stews with us in the Waeco fridge/freezer. I didn’t have to waste valuable family time with chopping, cooking etc. I just warmed it up on the gas cook top and boiled some rice. So easy and it was still a great fireside meal!

7. You can never have enough wet wipes.

8. If your toddler’s like mine, they’ll be happy to play with the leaf litter and a few sticks. Don’t worry about bringing too many toys.  Let your baby explore!

9. You do need to take lots of clothes though. We needed his thermals, beanies and mittens through the night, and he was in board shorts and a singlet through the day. Pack for all kinds of weather.

10. Bring a lot more cutlery than you think you’ll need.

11. Wet wipes. Wet wipes. Wet wipes!

12. On a serious note, it really is worth it to know some first aid. Just in case.

And my final tip? Go. Just go. Make some memories. You will cherish the time with your baby and the story about how you found him eating bird poo will be hilarious down the track, I promise.*

What are your tips for camping with kids?

*This may or may not have happened to us

Camping with Kids

Words by Katie James