I have been pestering my husband about camping for YEARS! To me, camping is one of those things where there is always a reason not to do it, but it’s always so worth it when you just rip off the bandaid and make it happen. Unless you just despise camping, which I know there are some of you out there.
For me, being outdoors and in nature is one of the easiest ways to fill up my cup when I’m feeling drained. I’ve noticed this with London as well. If she is acting exceptionally defiant we will have a picnic or snack outside and then I just give her free rein and let her explore our backyard on her own.
Well, the camping itch finally became strong enough that I went ahead and pitched our tent in the afternoon last Friday. It’s been a long time since we had gotten our tent out and our older two have used it more for play than actual camping. Surprisingly, London helped me set it up but didn’t have a ton of interest in playing in the tent. In hindsight I think this was a blessing, I’ll explain why later on.
I really wanted to do a full blown meal on the fire and have Marshall bring his guitar out and really fulfill the idyllic image in my head. In reality, we made it SUPER SIMPLE and I think anyone could pull this off. Here’s how our night went.
There were a few things that we wanted to grab before we decided to spend the night outdoors with London (she’ll be three at the end of October). Air Mattress being the main thing. I’ve never been the type of camper to need an air mattress, but with small kids we decided that comfort was a good investment for our experience. We bought a few other things like tent stakes and smores ingredients, but that was it for us.
Dinner ended up being eaten out after errands, purely for the sake of time. When we did get home we went straight to work so our tent was ready for bed time. Marshall started building the fire while London and I got ready for bed. London was beyond thrilled at the idea of camping, no apprehension at all. I anticipate this might be a little different when we go to an actual campsite, or maybe it’s just the benefit of starting young?
Once the sun started to go down we sat around the campfire and listened to music. London had the best time watching the stars come out. It was a really beautiful to watch. London goes to bed pretty early and when we do stay up late there are usually lots of distractions. On this night, London was able to experience the sun set, the stars slowly waking up and then the moon popping up over the trees. Every time she looked behind her or above her she found something new to show us. It was a great parenting experience to sit back and let her point out her observations rather than trying to show her everything. Does that make sense?
While we were star gazing we did make some s’mores. The melted chocolate was a hit and wet wipes were a must! We did let her roast her own marshmallow over the fir (with a little help from Dad). And then she snuggled up in the camping chairs with us and we decided to try and put her to sleep.
Like I said earlier, London goes to be pretty early, usually around 7pm. While camping we didn’t tuck her into bed until 8:30. The two of us laid down and I told her a few stories I made up about a little girl camping. She was pretty squirmy but I knew she was tired, so I thought I’d try to let her lay by herself and if that didn’t work then I’d just hold her by the fire until she dozed off. MIRACLE, she stayed in her sleeping bag and fell asleep all by herself! So Marshall and I stayed up late and kind of had a date night around the fire, talking and listening to music. It was pure magic!
I doubt we will ever get that lucky again, but it was a perfect evening and I can’t wait to hit up a campsite soon. She did wake up at 4:30 ready for the day, because the moon was so dang bright, she kept telling me that the sun was awake so it was okay that she was awake too. That made for a long day following, but I think we could tweak a few things to avoid this next time.
You guys have to try it!!! Marshall and I even talked about having a family camping sleepover in our backyard with some of our close friends or families from London’s school. It would be so fun!
Here’s a list of things that I wouldn’t backyard camp without.
- Tent– We used a 4-man tent and had plenty of room for the three of us. We’ll need to upgrade if the 5 of us go camping together.
- Air Mattress We got ours from Walmart and it came with an battery powered air pump. In my Amazon list I included a similar mattress and an air pump.
- Fitted Sheet- I keep extra sheets in our linen closet so didn’t need to purchase. I would just test out the sheets on your air mattress depending on how tall the mattress is. May have to go up to a King.
- Comforter or Sleeping Bags
- Campfire Skewers– These are similar to what we have. I like them because they are extendable and are color coded. Both great features for kids.
- Wet Wipes
- Camping Chairs or blanket
- Firewood and Tender
- Bug Spray
It was so simple and we both are excited to do it again soon. How do you feel about camping with kids? Do you have any favorite places to camp?