I am not a camping girl, far from it! I way rather be sitting in a plush hotel room bed with down comforter and cable TV. However, my husband likes to camp. He grew up camping and it was important to pass that along to our kids. I recently decided to meet him half way when we rented a KOA cabin for a weekend getaway. However, we choose to do this when we had my niece with us. Yes, we had three kids (three years old and under) camping with us. How did we do it and still had a wonderful time? Let me tell you, it was not easy! However, here are a few things I found extremely helpful along the way.
Glow sticks Activities
We made nightlights by placing glow sticks, we had bought at the Dollar Store, inside bottles of water. We ducked taped the tops back onto the water bottles. This worked great! The glow was dimmer then the lanterns, however was still enough light to keep the little ones from getting scared.
We also made bracelets out the glow sticks and made a ring toss out the them and a few bottles of water. This was a great game for later in the evening as mommy got the sleeping bags out!
*** make sure to supervise these activities to ensure that the kids don’t break the sticks open spilling the chemicals all over
The Camp Fire Bath Time
Our kids get a bath every night as part of their night time routine and after a day of playing at the playground, rolling in the grass, and finding every patch of mud possible, bath time was needed more than ever. The two toddlers were ok to throw on their swim suites and go shower in the camp ground showers. However, I was not about the wrestle a slippery baby in the shower.
I used a tin pan from the Dollar Store to heat water over the camp fire, then I emptied a plastic tote I had packed camping supplies in. We bathed the baby right there in the tote and it worked great! To this day, it was our toddler’s highlight of the trip, bathing the baby outside.
I had a pail full of fun things, with a few extras packed away for later. I bought a massive amount of bubbles, little toys we had bought at the Dollar Store (which we did not care about losing), Cups and wooden spoons to dig in the sand at the park. I added Velcro to mittens and a tennis ball toss, blow up beach ball, a bucket of water to splash in, and water color paints (I let them paint their naked bodies and washed it off with baby wipes). All these items where in a tote and we just kept pulling things out of the bucket as they got bored.
I had originally bought this play area at Walmart; however, you can buy them here. This play area was great to lay out for the baby! It gave him a safe space to crawl around without the worry of him finding acorns or sticks to put in his mouth. He was able to get the wiggles out without me having to worry about him getting trampled by the toddlers or going near the fire. The bonus was it did not take up much extra space in the car since it folds up to be the size of a lawn chair.
** Using our play area at our old house!
Unless you want to sprint the half mile to the bathroom with a 30-pound toddler in your arms fifty million times a day, have a potty station at your camp site! I had a potty chair with baby wipes and plastic bags. It was a life saver!
The Miracle of the Pool Noodle
We camped in camper cabins, so I put a fitted sheet on the twin bed with a pool noddle under the side that was not against the wall. The kids slept in their sleeping bags like “big kids”. However, the pool noddle prevented them from falling out. We also grabbed the pool noodle when we went swimming too!
My husband cut a slit in one side of the noddle, length wise. We slipped over the edge of the picnic table to prevent injury from them whacking their head on it. We also put one on the cabin door preventing the repetitive slamming of the door and preventing little hands being smacked in the door.
The most important part of camping with kids is not having expectations. Let loose, enjoy the moments, and let them make memories. At the end of the day, things may not have gone according to how you wanted or how you would have done it at home, but they were able to make memories that will last a lifetime!