Tips for camping with little ones? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 19 Old 05-30-2013, 04:52 PM - Thread Starter
 
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What are your best tried and true tips for camping with littles? We'd love to get out more this year, but I have a feeling it's going to be more challenging with a toddler than an infant! It ends up being not relaxing for me at all as I'm doing toddler chasing the whole time as you cannot let them out of your sight for a moment! 


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#2 of 19 Old 05-30-2013, 06:41 PM
 
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#3 of 19 Old 05-30-2013, 06:49 PM
 
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Ooooh I gonna follow this one because I want to know as well!

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#4 of 19 Old 05-30-2013, 07:15 PM
 
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We have not been tent-camping with the kids, but we do like to go camper-camping. If I were you, I would use some type of locking system for the tent. Maybe a small padlock on the entryway zippers? Lock the tent at night so the kids can't wake up early and sneak out while you're sleeping. 

In our camper, I have a lock for the door so my 3yo DD can't sneak out while we are fast asleep. She is a major flight risk, and we like to camp right at the water, so I don't want to take any chances. I know what you mean about not being able to enjoy your trip, due to the toddler-chasing!  We've taken her to the lake every summer since she was 7-8 months old, and while it can be fun, it is SO much work!


 
 
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#5 of 19 Old 05-30-2013, 07:20 PM
 
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First, choose your destination to be toddler-friendly:  choose to visit smaller creeks instead of big rivers.  Beaches are always toddler-heaven.  I like to choose campsites next to a tiny trickle of water, or some little trails through short undergrowth that they will follow incessantly but stay close to the campsite (they feel so big!)  

 

Even if they are somewhat potty trained, I like to bring a little potty along, to make it easy, both for the trip (make it accessible for #2) and the stay.  I would argue until I turned blue for dh to make space for the potty in the trunk, and he never ended up regretting it.  Travel and camping always screw with my own system, for little tykes, it can make the whole trip miserable.  Miserable. A familiar potty, station right outside the tent makes life sooo much easier (trick:  place it under the vestibule so you can get them on the potty at night withot you ever leaving the tent!)  For the same reason, I like car-camping sites near restrooms.  Besides being close, the lights from the windows (which normally I hate!) make for nice night lights.

 

Let them take a small bag of toys--they will want to play in the tent, if they are anything like my girls.  What a novelty!  They also loved making play fires with sticks of wood.  

 

Make sure your partner is on board with taking turns watching them.  Then, after following your little one for a couple of hours, you can roust your sleepy dp and say "Your turn" and be "off" for a bit.

 

Don't plan on any big walks or hikes that you can't just cancel.  Little walks can satisfy a child for whom any rock and rivulet is a plaything to keep them busy for hours.  So, instead of a "destination" walk, choose one that has plenty to see along the way, so you can turn back at any time (assuming you even left the trailhead!)

 

Pack every freakin' pair of toddler pants you own and at least half of the shirts.  Make sure you have some cozy fleece winter pants and pullover, cozy toes and hat for "camp clothes" at the end of the day.  Pack crocs or other "camp shoes" to encourage easy-on, easy-off, so they aren't tempted to walk them into the tent.

 

I'm sure I'll think of more....


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#6 of 19 Old 05-31-2013, 07:07 AM
 
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Make sure your partner is on board with taking turns watching them.  Then, after following your little one for a couple of hours, you can roust your sleepy dp and say "Your turn" and be "off" for a bit.

 

I wanted to come back and emphasize this.  It makes your trip more relaxing if you and your dp are explicit about who is following your kid/s around.  Be fair, take turns, but don't be nitpicky about it.  But the words "can you follow him for a bit?" or "is it your turn for a while?" need to be asked and followed by an explicit "yes".  That's how we always dealt with little roaming toddlers.


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#7 of 19 Old 05-31-2013, 08:15 AM
 
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So far we've done camping cabins (a log structure with beds inside) instead if tent camping, and it's definitely been a good way to start. I'd say definitely plan your accommodations to maximize sleep for all. Even at 3, I don't think we could have a successful trip sleeping in a tent with my very tricky sleeper. We might brave it this year... Then there's also the issue of rainy days. Make sure you have a plan for those. Lastly, I like having a few more amenities on sure thxn I might choose for myself. A playground or swings, a swim area, and a public game room are all helpful diversions.
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#8 of 19 Old 05-31-2013, 10:23 AM
 
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We tent camp. I think pretty much everything SweetSilver said. I'd also add: We find shorter trips somewhere close work much better for our family than longer trips further away. Yes, it means we don't necessarily go the most scenic places, but we can always go somewhere like that when the kids have matured. Also, we always opt for somewhere we can either park the car at our campsite or have a very short walk.


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#9 of 19 Old 05-31-2013, 11:31 AM
 
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I recently tried to revive the camping tribe - I hope you all join the thread there! smile.gif

 

http://www.mothering.com/community/t/1074285/camping-mamas-its-finally-spring/40#post_17371465
 


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#10 of 19 Old 06-01-2013, 08:16 AM
 
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One more: go with your toddler's flow (and your kids, FWIW).  Our best camping vacations have been when the girls got to decide whether we would stay put on the beach, or hop in the car to visit a different one (perhaps with more tidepools).  Maybe you have a happy-go-lucky toddler who would go with anything, but I didn't.  Fighting their wills in this regard just put a damper on the whole trip.  If your little one doesn't want to leave the beach for a walk in the woods, then maybe just let that go.  I know especially at that young age they don't really understand, but I went by that notion and hauled my unwilling toddler anyway, and you know, she would not give up except for brief little bursts of energy, then back to grumping.  Believe it or not, there did come a year where they wanted to be more adventurous and see other places nearby.  In the meantime, keep it simple and go with the flow.

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#11 of 19 Old 06-21-2013, 04:27 AM
 
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Cleanliness matters.  To me at least, if not the kids.  Our tent space stays clean.  Once you leave in the am, you don't go back in until it is time to sleep for the night.  (or nap) 

 

I fill a Rubbermaid bin with water in the am and place it in the sun.  By evening it has warmed up enough to bathe the kiddos in.  Relaxing for them to sit in the tub, and they get clean.  That way they are clean and I can sleep much better without a sticky toddler snuggling up to me.


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#12 of 19 Old 06-21-2013, 07:52 AM
 
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Cleanliness matters.  To me at least, if not the kids.  Our tent space stays clean.  Once you leave in the am, you don't go back in until it is time to sleep for the night.  (or nap) 

I respectfully disagree, though it certainly keeps the tent clean.  Quiet playtime in the tent can give the parents a much needed break from keeping a hawk's eye on their little ones.  Naps do, too, but I found that whatever time they spent in the tent was rest time for me.  They either changed their pants, or we brushed them off, and we taught them how to get in the tent properly--after brushing off pants in the vestibule, sit down in the tent with feet outside and remove shoes and socks *and* brush feet.  Yes, the tent got a little bit messy with needles and a little bit of sand, but all-in-all it was fine.  Bedtime they got into fresh, warm clothes before getting in.

 

Of course, some kids are real-life Pigpens and seem to have some gravitational pull that dirt cannot resist, so I think at some times I might think "Well, yes, of course keep littles out except for sleep", but otherwise I found the benefits of letting them in there outweighed the small amount of detritus that followed them.

 

For longer stays than what we do currently, most dome tents can be lifted and shaken out without disassembling.  


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#13 of 19 Old 06-21-2013, 08:17 AM
 
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Oh, we set up a little pup tent for playing, reading if buggy, etc.  But the sleep tent is for sleeping- no food, playing, etc.   Our camping trips are also typically 6-9 weeks long, setting up breaking down many, many times.  For my sanity I need thing to be cleanish.  9 weeks without a hot shower can intensify any gritty, sticky feeling.

 

We call it the play tent which has become a pet phrase in our house because it is also where us parents can "play" after everyone is asleep at night! Sheepish.gif

Sex in a tent with a baby/toddler is one thing.  Feels very different with the teenager snoring nearby!

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#14 of 19 Old 06-21-2013, 01:24 PM
 
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I take a door mat to put in front of the tent. I also do the dome shake Even use a small hand broom.

Also do play tents.

We do mostly car camping. With our car nearby, we would let the kid play in the car while we set up. Only bad thing, was once a squirrel got in during this. We didn't find out until after coming back from a long hike. It was Yosemite so way too many friendly animals. Only damage was it ate an entire camp towel ( the awful felt type)

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#15 of 19 Old 06-21-2013, 01:58 PM
 
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I take a door mat to put in front of the tent. I also do the dome shake Even use a small hand broom.

Also do play tents.

We do mostly car camping. With our car nearby, we would let the kid play in the car while we set up. Only bad thing, was once a squirrel got in during this. We didn't find out until after coming back from a long hike. It was Yosemite so way too many friendly animals. Only damage was it ate an entire camp towel ( the awful felt type)

What's a dome shake?

I have to share a Yosemite story similar to yours. We once unknowingly shut a squirrel inside our bear locker overnight, and when we opened it to make breakfast in the morning we saw the most surprised, full-cheeked, happy squirrel ever -- he probably couldn't believe his good fortune! Lots of our food was ruined, but it was worth it to see the hilarious look on that thing's face. lol.gif

There are some great ideas in this thread! I love the idea of letting a large bin of water warm in the sun all day for bathing in the evening.

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#16 of 19 Old 06-21-2013, 03:17 PM
 
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What's a dome shake?

 

Lift up the entire tent (door unzipped) and shake it all out.  Helpful to have second person nudge the crud towards the door and out by tapping on the floor of the tent.  Then set down and restake.  Because a dome is freestanding (the stakes are only there to keep the thing from flying away), the whole contraption stays together during the operation.  This works best with the smaller higher-quality (REI, North Face) domes rather than the mini-mansions I've seen.  I couldn't imagine doing it with some of those!


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#17 of 19 Old 06-21-2013, 04:50 PM
 
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Yes. I only have backpacking dome tents. (Can't stand up in). My rei tents even has spots that seem made for holding and shaking. So those with larger/higher tents might not be able to. I have also rolled up the sleeping bags or put a sheet over the bed to limit dirt in the sheets

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#18 of 19 Old 06-21-2013, 05:26 PM
 
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I have to share a Yosemite story similar to yours. We once unknowingly shut a squirrel inside our bear locker overnight, and when we opened it to make breakfast in the morning we saw the most surprised, full-cheeked, happy squirrel ever -- he probably couldn't believe his good fortune! Lots of our food was ruined, but it was worth it to see the hilarious look on that thing's face. lol.gif

 

 

Wow, the squirrels at Yosemite must have a lot of stories.  I once sat in the car (in Yosesmite) with two sleeping toddlers watching a squirrel cross in front of me with full pieces of fruit in its mouth.  First a peach.  Then a plum. Then another peach.  Finally I caught on that it was taking them from my car!  From right under one kid's feet.   I never heard it just a few inches from me!

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#19 of 19 Old 06-21-2013, 06:55 PM
 
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Wow, the squirrels at Yosemite must have a lot of stories.  I once sat in the car (in Yosesmite) with two sleeping toddlers watching a squirrel cross in front of me with full pieces of fruit in its mouth.  First a peach.  Then a plum. Then another peach.  Finally I caught on that it was taking them from my car!  From right under one kid's feet.   I never heard it just a few inches from me!

Lol, I love it! Those are some fat, happy squirrels. orngbiggrin.gif

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