Sometimes we get ideas about doing things that sound fun… and then we get there and we realize “What was I thinking???” Yeah, we took 3 small boys (ages 1, 3, and 5) tent camping last week.
Thankfully, we had the foresight to only reserve a single night at the camp site. We figured it’d be better to end on a high note – or to just cut our losses while we were ahead. 😀
We tried to anticipate *every* possible problem. We packed extra blankets in case the boys got cold. We brought a big tent so we’d all fit comfortably. Plenty of food and snacks and chocolate? Check. We brought a variety of foods – just in case the fire danger was too high and we couldn’t have a fire. We brought toys (the kind that, if they got lost or left behind, it wouldn’t be too heartbreaking) and extra clothes and stuffed animals.
I even brought the Pack ‘n Play* so that Jazz could sleep in the most crib-like thing we had. Of course, I wasn’t sure how well that’d work… our youngest doesn’t have a roommate, so I was sure he’d be confused by having all of us in the same tent.
Well, with tent camping, preparation is only half the battle. Then there’s reality.
When we got to the campsite, we somehow managed to pick the steepest campsite possible. We’d thought we were getting one in a nicely wooded section… and sure, there were plenty of trees. There was also just a steep little hike up to the tent site. Yay.
The older two boys ran up to inspect the spot where we’d put the tent. Then Bee came running… and then sliding… down the mountain. Yup. We made it two minutes before the first injury. Thankfully, it was just some scraped-up knees (and I’d brought the whole first aid kit, because little boys).
The tent site… wasn’t big enough for our whole tent. So we positioned it as best we could, and just knew that the bottom foot or so of the tent was on a steep incline and made that the no-man’s land, er, tent space.
The kids didn’t like what we had packed for dinner (even though it was chicken nuggets and granola bars! seriously!), so instead all 3 ate M&M’s for dinner, because chocolate. I just reminded myself we were camping and that not every following dinner would be comprised of melt-in-your-mouth chocolates and peanuts.
Bedtime went well enough. Well, except for the part where a neighboring camper broke out a chainsaw and cut up some deadwood for their fire. It scared the boys – especially Bee. Jazz couldn’t fall asleep with the weird new environment, so I just set him in the pack ‘n play and laid down next to it so he could see me.
And then, there we were… all of 8 PM and we were in our tent for the night. Thankfully, I’d loaded some books onto my phone so I read for an hour or so. I should’ve done the same for my husband. Oops.
The 15 month old only woke up 3 times that night (which is 3 times more than usual, I’d like to point out), screaming bloody murder because he was so confused about where he was and why we were there with him! Plus, I think he was cold. We’d gotten him a cute little Baby Sleeping Bag,* but he didn’t calm down until he was back in my arms. So, either he was freaking out, cold, or a little bit of both.
Thankfully, the baby settled back into his pack ‘n play so I didn’t have to walk him all night or go rolling down the hill to sleep in the van with him.
But come 6:15 AM, baby Jazz was DONE. DONE done. He wanted OUT of that tent and he wanted to be fed and see something familiar. I’m pretty sure we woke up most of the camp site in the few minutes it took to get him dressed enough to take him out for some yogurt and a cereal bar. I just rolled out of the tent in my flannel jammies and called it good. Better to get the screaming banshee placated and fed than to get dressed myself, am I right?
After breakfast (and more M&M’s), the boys were DONE. Prime and Bee wandered over to the minivan, opened the door, and climbed into their carseats. They just sat there, holding their blankies, as Protean Guy and I finished eating, packed up the camp, loaded the van, and headed out.
All in all, I’d have to say that it was a mixed bag. It wasn’t as big of a disaster as we feared it would be – but it wasn’t an idyllic campout by any means.
But if you *are* going to take some littles camping, make sure you’re prepared. In fact, I’m pretty sure that there’s no such thing as being “over prepared” when kids under the age of 5 are involved.