Camping with Kids
If you have babies, toddlers, young kids or teenagers, there are plenty of activities to do and easy ways to keep your kids having fun and safe when they are sleeping in a tent, sitting by the campfire or exploring in the bush.
CAMPING WITH KIDS
Fishing with Younger kids (age 0-4)
We started camping with our boys when they were about 2 months old. I decided if I wasn’t getting much sleep at home I may as well have broken sleep in the bush and get out of the house for a couple of days.
I found it was easier to camp with younger babies when they were breastfed as I didn’t have to bring any food for them at all but as they grew older I would take formula and a bottle. There is also the added bonus that they don’t crawl or walking, which makes life a little easier.
In saying that, we have camped with our kids when they were crawling and as toddlers. This is probably the most challenging time as they want to put everything in their mouths and fall over very easily when they first start walking. Even when they were young, they loved going camping and enjoyed the stimulation and excitement of discovering a new environment.
The best piece of equipment I packed for my boys when they were young was a $30 Ikea high chair. It was great for them to eat at but it kept them off the ground when I needed to cook dinner and it was higher so they could see everything, which was going on. I would rely on the high chair particularly if we were moving camp, I could turn my back and know they would be safety strapped in, playing with one of their toys on the tray and nibbling away.
I would also take a screen dome tent, which I could zip up to the top. This was great when we had multiple kids and also camping with other families. We could put toys in the tent and let the kids have some ‘down time’ while they could crawl around in the tent safely and not escape. After dinner when the kids were in clean clothes it meant we could keep them out of the dirt before they went to bed and it was also free from flies mosquitos or any crawling or biting insects.
Camping does get easier the older the kids get and they become more independent, better sleepers and less likely to eat whatever they can get their hands on. However there is great equipment for camping with kids such as fabulous porta cots, hiking packs, camp high chairs and off road prams.
I treasure the camping trips we did with our babies and toddlers, as it was beneficial for us to get out as a family and despite the packing and unpacking, it was worth every minute. Breaking the routine even for a weekend was great for everyone and events such as Easter and Christmas in the bush are the ones I remember the most.
OLDER CHILDREN (5 YEARS+)
As the kids have got older, camping has become a lot more relaxed and I find time to sit back and enjoy a cup of tea while the kids do what they love best - just explore. While I still watch where they are and what they are doing, it gives them the chance to have some independence and venture further than our front gate in our suburban home.
Camping is a valued past time in our home and the boys know if they are good helpers then they will be rewarded with more camping trips. Jobs such as packing clothes bags (with some input and checking once they are done to make sure they have a jumper etc), sleeping gear and food shopping supports independence as well as being a good help to me.
Our boys have their own tent and our youngest has been sleeping with his older brothers in his porta cot since he was a one-year-old. Although the tent was right next to ours, the boys loved having their own area to play games and sleep but having the security of being right next to Mum and Dad.
When we arrive, they help set up camp, maybe gather some sticks for lighting the fire or a bucket of water from the stream as well as getting their tent and beds all done. There are always plenty of jobs around which even young kids can help with, which means more time for family time when everything is done.
We tend to bring minimum toys as we find the best activity for the kids is just creating their own games. The longer they are away from home, the less likely they are to ask for toys and the better they get at just being in nature. A set of UHF radios are a good present as the kids can talk to each other and I have a radio at camp so I can speak with them to check if they are OK and what they are up to.