Nobody is quite sure how easy it will be to fly abroad this summer so it is possible there may be more UK based holidays. Now, I am not a major camping fan, and am definitely a ‘fair weather’ camper but my husband is the ultimate outdoor enthusiast and, as such, I decided to bite the bullet and agree to 4 days camping with a group of friends…and our children I had some provisos: I needed a ‘proper’ tent, not the one that my husband and I used pre-children to get our heads down in for the odd night that he had managed to get me to sleep away from a bed, a proper one – with bedrooms and of standing height!! And I needed facilities to wash!! He agreed – so off we went.
I wanted to share some of my top tips with you, learnt first-hand, regarding camping with a toddler (a 19 month old to be exact). His big sister came along too of course, however with 6 other girls aged between 4-8 in our group, she was pretty self-sufficient!
First up, the tent: Our friends lent us a huge 6-man tent with two separate bedrooms and a large communal living area. My husband thought this was a bit excessive at first (coming from a childhood of wild camping with his Dad) however this was exactly what we needed for our first family camping trip! I gave each of the children their own ‘bedrooms’ and bought some of their home comforts with them (pillows, bedding, teddies etc). My husband and I slept in the communal area which worked perfectly.
Secondly, the travel cot: Lots of my friends had regaled me with stories of having to abandon their camping trips in the middle of the night due to their little one’s not settling on an airbed or in bed with them…. I know my son – he would definitely be one of these children. So, we took the travel cot. Again, my husband thought this was a tad over the top and not really in the ‘spirit’ of camping… however he soon came around when our toddler slept as he would have at home! It obviously contained him, but also made him feel safe and secure in a pretty alien environment.
Next up – white noise: We were on a family friendly campsite, with a no noise policy past 11pm, so during the night it was fairly peaceful, just owls – a lot of owls!! But in the evening, it was bustling on the campsite. Our little man has white noise playing at home so for consistency we bought it along anyway. It definitely helped to muffle the sounds of the older children playing in the evening sun (and I’m sure it helped drown out the noise of the us coming to bed as quietly as we could which is difficult with limited light and what felt like a million zips to undo)!
Bath time: Our toddler is not a fan of the shower. He loves his bath, and therefore I knew that showering him would not be a fun task at the end of a beachy day! So, we took a big rubber bucket (the types that you can buy in Ikea or a builder’s yard!!), filled it up with water and let him have his fill of fun in that. A definite must have for us!
Naptime: My husband was definitely cursing me under his breath when he packed the car (which looked like a game of Tetris when he had finished) when I told him we needed to take the buggy (mountain buggy, not the most compact of models….) However, this was another lifesaver. The little man slept for 2 hours on beach tucked up in the buggy under a parasol. It also doubled up as the best trailer ever for lugging everything down to the beach in the first place!! You could also consider something like a snoozeshade and, if you mention ‘LITTLEDREAMS’ at the checkout, you will get a 20% discount!
Finally, bedtime: Although our routine was fairly relaxed whilst we were away, we still respected nap times and bedtimes for our toddler. Interestingly, we didn’t know the actual time for most of the trip as we turned off our phones and went completely ‘offline’ for the time we were away. However, I did check the clock in the car in the evenings to keep myself on track and avoid any overtiredness, and the subsequent problems this can cause for little ones, and interestingly our toddler barely waivered from his usual bedtime, telling me he was ready for bed in his own way. Our daughter stayed up a little later with her friends but still went to bed before it was dark (which was about 8:30pm at the time of our trip). Of course, they were tired at the end of the day, but not overtired and slept well in their own little bedrooms with their home comforts.
So, all in all, we had a fabulous time and I am certainly more open to future camping trips. Will I make my husband pack the car to its full capacity in order to make sure we have everything we need?! Yes. Absolutely. The things I have mentioned in this blog ensured good quality sleep was maintained throughout our little holiday and therefore everyone was happy, refreshed and ready to explore what each day had to offer!
If you’re experiencing any problems with your little one’s sleep, please do get in touch – we would love to help!