August 20, 2009

Vacation with Kids-Summer ’09-How to Camp with an Infant

It started sounding more crazy as we went on.  Camping.  In the Upper Peninsula.  In a tent.  On the ground air mattress.  For two days.  Without personal running water.  You know, when you’re making plans you can be all brave and shit and then when it comes time to do it you’re wondering what you were thinking.

I admit I was thinking “what was I thinking!!??!” when we pulled up to the campsite.  Well, honestly, I started thinking that when I was packing, but it really hit me when we pulled into the camp ground and tent came out.  I felt full on senile.

Full on, folks.  I was sitting in my fold up campy chair, nursing the baby who wasn’t even six weeks old and wondering if I was on ludes when I’d agreed to do this.

But, if you can handle camping (and I can) camping with kids isn’t hard.  It’s actually kind of fun. Littlebit was in her element.  She’s so busy and active that camping and being out doors and walking and swimming and hiking and climbing suits her.  Bed times WERE difficult, but bedtime is always difficult for Littlebit (which I will have to post about some day), but otherwise, things were fun.

First, you have to pack well. I started making lists weeks in advance to ensure that it was a good, comprehensive list.  Compounding our personal camping situation is that we were going some place with few shopping options (so few that when we ran out of diapers for Littlebit on Thursday night we had to buy Luv’s in a size too small and hoped for the best until we were able to drive 20ish miles the next day to the nearest largeish town to buy diapers that fit her. I won’t get into the cursing that ensued when Littlebit managed to squeeze out two drops of pee and the too small diaper leaked).  Do a little research before you go so you know what you must go in with.  And bring more diapers than you think you need.

Kids like to cook over an open fire, so keep food simple.  We made bratwurst and corn one night and hobo pies the next night. Breakfast was simple fare; eggs and hash one day and breakfast sandwiches (made with eggs and bacon) the next.  Lunches were fruit and leftovers.  We used paper plates to minimize the washing and I brought in our cast iron dutch oven and skillet which can be easily cleaned by boiling water in them (in fact, that’s how they SHOULD be cleaned)  Again, we shopped before we went into the campground because I had visited the area and knew of the limited resources.

We also bought as little as we could that would need to be

We used a tripod to cook over the fire and frankly I can’t recommend it enough.  The only thing I can say is to be sure you have long arms.  If you have short arms (and therefore a short body) it might not be too successful.  THe best thing about our tripod is that it came apart and folded flat into a box.  Space was at a premium.

But how did we camp with the infant and two year old?  Step one was ensuring that our processes were streamlined as not to make it more work. I outlined that above.  Step two, packing the right things.  That meant an air mattress for the big kids, sleeping bags and what it takes to put Littlebit to bed (aka the laptop so she could watch a “show” to help transition her into sleep).

The biggest problem we had is that it was cold.   REALLY cold.  For August it was practically sub-zero (really, around 45 over night) and we were COLD.  Well, okay, *I* was cold and I worried like crazy about the other kids being cold.  One lesson I learned is that I will bring along lightweight, but warm fleece blankets to provide an extra warm layer on cold nights.  Also, our baby sleeping situation wasn’t great.  I was afraid to have her sleep with us on the air mattress in the sleeping bag, but just as afraid of leaving her to be cold in her moses basket.  Big Daddy and I tried sleeping with moses basket between us at our heads, but that didn’t work room wise in a double sleeping bag (not a queen. A double).  I then tried putting the basket at our feet (well, my feet) which worked room wise but left me worried about how warm she’d be without our body heat.  Usually, around midnight, I’d be tucking Baby Bee onto my chest and laying super still until Littlebit got cold and joined us. I’d then pass Baby Bee off to Big Daddy who’d take over baby on the chest sleeping duties and snuggle Littlebit.

Long story short, next time we’ll pack the porta-crib and find the best throw blankets like we did when we camped with Littlebit last year.  I had no concerns about Littlebit being cold over night.  We put her on top of the electric blanket.  Since Baby Bee sleeps on her back, I’m not worried about smothering but to be extra safe, we can tuck the electric blanket under the prota-crib mattress to ensure she says snug as a bug (or a baby bee) in a rug.

Which means, camping with electric service is a must.

But what about the Princess?  Frankly, camping with a nine year old should be easy.  They should have fun. Having a few episodes of “Sonny with a Chance” on iTunes (no Internet service, just locally cached) or something similar gives them a little bit of rest/down time activity, but the Princess loved the freedom she had.    There was just that one night when she ended up in bed with us too.  (Sleeping quintuple in a double bed….someone should write a song).

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One comment on “Vacation with Kids-Summer ’09-How to Camp with an Infant

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    I enjoyed reading this as we embarked on our first camping trip with the kids last weekend. My insanity hit after the tent was up. I kept saying to Mike over and over again, “what was I thinking?” (I took the boys for a walk to look around so he could set up the tent without the boys’ brand of “help”.) We put them in the tent to set up some other things and it was trashed within a minute. I had what I thought was a phenominal idea of setting up a screen tent with some toys for them to play with while we were cooking or cleaning up. Unfortunately our campsite wasn’t very level and when we put them inside they realized they could climb right out from underneath it in less than two minutes. Seriously, every time we needed to do something, we had to put them in the van with a movie on the DVD player. It was easier than chasing them until we were exhausted. Everything we did at the campsite was just a disaster, but everything else was awesome. We didn’t even attempt a fire as we were fearful of injury. I don’t think we’ll be camping again for awhile, my nerves can’t even handle the thought of it:-) It was certainly a learning experience!

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