Yes, You Can Have A Good Time Camping With Young Kids
On our recent camping trip to the Scenic Rim, we spent two nights camping with our two, energetic, little toddlers. The end result was a very pleasant trip, but still exhausting (there’s no fix for that, sorry.) Camping with children is a great way to explore and appreciate the outdoors. Its also a lovely way to spend time together bonding, away from the distractions of normal busy life.
It doesn’t have to be that hard. Here are some tips that will make your next trip an enjoyable one for all, and that will hopefully leave you excited for future camping trips.
Let them get dirty
Every kid is different, but mine almost always can’t resist an ashy old fire pit - to the point where my youngest was powdering her whole body with the fine grey foundation. We just let this happen. After all, we needed to set up our campsite and we knew a swim was not too far away. Sure enough, after we had finished our set-up and went for a swim, they were disinterested with the fire pit and we’re more interested in what food was on offer. Make sure you pack clothes that you won’t mind getting dirty and stained, its inevitable, try to embrace being out in the wild.
Feed them what they like
Don’t risk trying “camper friendly” food for the sake of “camper friendliness”, think about how you can make the food you know you’re kids (and you) love while camping. This will make your trip a lot more pleasant if you are all satisfied with full tummies - especially the kids. Here is a list of dishes we made during our most recent trip:
Lunch Tuna pasta salad (pre-made)
Dinner sausages, mash and steamed veg
Breakfast Pancakes with banana and strawberries
Lunch Tuna Sandwiches
Dinner Pan-fried garlic chickpeas, tomatoes and spinach
Breakfast Scrambled egg, mushrooms, olives and veggies
Snacks a jar of nuts, fresh fruit, pretzels & a sneaky packet of vege chips
It’s a great idea to also think about how you can minimise your waste while camping, you’ll most likely have to take away your rubbish with you to dispose of at home, and no want wants a long car ride with bags full of stinky trash - the Earth will also thank you. Ditching the disposable plastic plates and cutlery is a great place to start. Instead, use what you already have at home, pack the minimum amount of utensils and plates you will need for any one meal. Don’t be afraid to wash and reuse them. During our trip we used 1 fry pan, 1 pot with steam rack, small chopping board, 2 knives (one big and small), silicone spatula, tongs, 2 forks, 2 table spoons, 2 teaspoons, 2 butter knives, a kettle and 2 keep cups. I took a small bucket, dish washing liquid, a sponge, 3 tea towels and filled up a water container to create a small washing station. This worked a treat, it also made me really conscious of how much water we were using to wash up - something I hope to practice at home too.
Take their favourite activities
This is an important tip for anyone who wants to remain sane while camping with young kids. My girls love to draw, so we took their colouring books and crayons with us. Whenever we needed some time and space to cook / clean / prepare, these would come out for them to use. With this in mind, don’t take too many things for your children to play with. You’re out camping and you’ve got the best playground for them to explore - Nature. Let them have fun and enjoy creating their own games with sticks and rocks, in old ashy fire pits, in mounds of dirt , in the creeks and whatever is surrounding them. This is so good for your children, you’ll be surprised at where their imagination leads them.
I’m usually the worst offender when it comes to over packing, I like to think of it as being very prepared. Don’t do this. Pack as light as you can and take the bare minimum. It saves space and the hassle of more cleaning when you’re back home and spent. Check what the weather be like on your trip and pack your clothes accordingly. You don’t actually need to take that much with you. Apart from clothes and food, Here is what else we took:
tent (we found ours on Gumtree!)
2 camping mattresses (the self-inflating foam ones)
2 fold out tables (a small one for food and activities, and a large one for the “kitchen”)
pillows and sleeping bags
gas burner for cooking and extra gas
a torch, 2 headlights and an battery-powered lantern
first aid (a must)
a lighter and some fire wood
a small dustpan to clean the tent
a container for ‘pantry’ food and esky for ‘fridge’ food
utensils/pots/plates/ containers for snacks
aeropress for coffee and drink bottles for water
clean drinking water
dish washing supplies and tea towels
your choice of bug repellent
a hammock and a good book to read was a must for me
Don’t give up
Camping can be pretty full on with kids and routines usually get a bit disrupted. Embrace the change and find ways to make it work for your family, the first camping trip with children is usually the hardest. Don’t give up if your first time isn’t as smooth as you’d hoped, It gets easier the more you do it, like most things in life. Whilst we’re camping our days start earlier, pretty much as soon as the sun is up. We all get pretty exhausted after day full of adventures around the campsite, so we make an effort to get to bed earlier too. Bed time used to be a bit challenging with the girls, but we made it work by each sleeping with one of the kids. This way they are comforted throughout the night by one of us, sleeping in new environments can be a bit daunting for them - we all get much better sleep this way too.
I hope that I’ve left you feeling inspired to give camping a go! The fun that you have and a memories that you make are so worth it. It’s great to get out of our comfort zones and do something a little different. I’d love to hear about your experience with camping, or where you plan to head to next. If you’ve got any questions for me, or suggestions, feel free to leave a comment below.
I hope your next trip is awesome for you all!