Pre-kids, you used to hoist a bunch of stuff onto your back, portage a canoe and enjoy a romantic long weekend in the woods. Suddenly, there were three of you. Or four. Do camping and kids mix? Absolutely and we’ve got tips for camping with kids and babies so you don’t have to throw away your old life when you have children – you just have to adapt. By integrating the things you love into your parenting approach, your kids will learn from your excitement, and you will be a happier person. We interviewed avid woods-Mom Carrie Roxburgh, a Canadian mom of boys who was a skilled camper pre-kids. She’s helped us compile the UrbanMommies top 20 list of stuff you need to know when camping with children:
1. Car Camping. Drive in, leave the cooler in the car, and don’t even try to hike into a campsite with the amount of stuff you need. There are lots of great fun, kid-friendly campsites.
2. You’ll need a bigger tent, 6 x 6 x 6. Mountain Equipment Co-op is always reasonable and great quality. And grab a tarp while you’re there.
3. Get a cooler on wheels.
4. While a 7 oz camp stove used to suffice, you’ll need something a bit larger, like a Coleman 2-burner stove.
5. Invest in a Kettle.
6. One of the biggest differences post kids for Carrie was meal planning. In considering nutrition for her kids, she realized that you can’t just eat hotdogs and freeze dried food (darn). She pre-cuts veggies and loads up on tinfoil so that there are always healthy sides for the kids.
7. Bring your old smaller tent and split up your children at bedtime to make getting them to sleep easier. Transfer them into your own larger tent later.
8. Make sure you bring a few comforts of home for the kids: teddy bears and pillows are great.
9. Shopping for special new kids’ sleeping bags makes the experience all the more memorable.
10. Don’t forget the toys! Trucks, sand toys, and sports stuff make outdoors fun, and board games can be played in the tent during rain.
11. Speaking of which… don’t forget rain gear.
12. A Wagon – that way the kids can help schlep stuff too. (And it can make for some super-fun photo ops).
13. Bug sprays are a must, but with kids, you have to be careful. If Avon Skin so Soft isn’t your preference, you can try: Buzz Away, available at Lavish and Lime.
14. Lifejackets: if you’re by a lake, save yourself a panic attack and make a rule that life jackets have to be worn at all times when near the water.
15. Baby Wipes. No explanation needed.
16. Lots of warm clothes.
17. Sunscreen: Badger and Green Beaver are great picks, available at Raspberry Kids
18. Buy milk in tetra packs that doesn’t need to be refrigerated.
19. Glow sticks (and flashlights with extra batteries).
20. First Aid Kit for the little boo-boos. And while you’re at it, program emergency numbers and the number for the campground or park into your cell phone.
– Keep a journal
– Talk about the birds and the bees. No really.
– Talk about bear awareness and maybe a game of charades would be fun at this point
– Give each child a disposable camera
Kid-friendly Campgrounds across Canada:
Try the Canadian Tire Campsite Selector
Alberta: www.TravelAlberta.com 1-800-ALBERTA).
– Jill Amery would love to take the kids camping, particularly if it means that we don’t have to pick up Lego pieces.