Enjoying Camping with Toddlers
Have fun camping with toddlers? Is it possible? If you're
looking to get away and have a relaxed, stress-free vacation,
then you probably don't want to take your toddlers with you. If,
on the other hand, you want to get away and spend some quality
time with your family, then these tips may help you keep your
active toddlers safe and entertained.
You probably already know if your toddler is a good little
traveller. We have twin 2-1/2-year-old boys. One likes to ride
in the car and will nod off when he's tired. The other one has
disliked riding in the car since he was a baby. He will under no
circumstances sleep in the car (maybe for five minutes by
accident). When he decides he's done riding in the car (every
fifteen minutes or so) he cries and whines incessantly until
daddy threatens to pull the car over.
If you have a toddler that doesn't like to travel, don't torture
yourselves with a long car ride. It just isn't worth it. Three
hours is about our limit. If we stop when we're about half way
there and let the boys run around and play for a few minutes they do a
lot better. Make sure to bring plenty of snacks in the car. Daddy's
no-food-in-the-car rule was dismissed quickly when we started taking
two toddlers on road trips. If you need a
quick lunch Lunchables are great. One Lunchable is enough food
for two hungry toddlers.
Something else you need to think about when you camp is where
your toddlers are going to sleep. If they're used to sleeping
places other than their beds you'll probably be fine. Our boys
have always slept in their cribs and don't know anything else.
Our first camping trip was a disaster.
The boys were 18 months old and we tried to get them to lay down
with us on an air mattress in a tent. It took hours to get them
settled down at night with a lot of crying involved. They didn't
nap at all for two days and then we endured six hours home in the
car. I have heard others tell of similar experiences with this
aged child. If you're not sure how your child will do you might
want to wait until he or she is a little older.
Our camping trips this year have gone much better. The boys are
still sleeping in their cribs at home, but we recently bought an
RV. My husband slept with one boy in one bed, and I slept with
the other boy in a different bed. They still went to bed much
later than normal (after dark) and refused to take a nap, but
there was no crying and they had a lot of fun. Two days is all
they can handle with that little sleep, but they did great. We
have gone on two two-day trips this summer and they slept very
well (although I can't say we did).
If you are tent camping, you might try a portable crib/play pen.
I wish we had tried this last summer, I think it may have helped.
Once you get the sleeping thing down, there are some other things
to consider when you take your toddler camping.
Make sure there aren't too many hazards where you will be
camping. You might not want to camp right next to a lake, river,
etc., anywhere that would be too tempting for your toddler when
you're not looking. When you are camping you can't take your
eyes off of them for even one second or something could happen to
them. It happens that fast! On our first camping trip this year
one of our boys tripped and bonked his head on the camper steps,
and then the same day stepped off the edge of a swimming pool
into the deep end! And I was standing right there both times.
On the other hand, you do want to go somewhere where there are
fun things for your toddler to see and experience. Rivers and
lakes are great places to visit with your toddler. They love to
throw rocks in the water! We drove up to a scenic mountain area
where there was still snow and the boys had a great time throwing
snowballs at us. There were also many waterfalls to look at.
The campground where we stayed had a lot of easy walking trails
that were great for exploring with the boys. We wish we had
brought a wagon with us. They would have loved being pulled
around in it.
Another thing that we found a necessity when taking two toddlers
camping was to bring other family members with us. The boys got
to enjoy camping with two grandmas, two grandpas, and an aunt and
uncle. It is a great opportunity to spend time with your
extended family, and they love spending time with their
grandchildren, niece, nephew, etc. This is big help for mom and
dad and takes some of the pressure off.
Hopefully I haven't discouraged you from taking your toddler
camping. We are glad we did this year. It was a great
experience for our boys. You don't need to bring a lot of toys
with you, they will have fun exploring with you and experiencing
new things. Have fun, they grow fast! Oh, and don't forget your
Rachel Paxton is a freelance writer and mom of four. For more
inspirational articles and tips for everyday living, visit
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