It goes without saying, kids change your life. They take up most of your time. They change your priorities. And if camping was a favorite thing to do pre-kiddo, don’t let it go by the wayside.
Kids, even infants and toddlers, naturally love the outdoors and more than that, they love being with you. So make camping a family tradition and a priority in your life. There are a lot of perks when it comes to camping, namely reducing stress. There are a lot of perks for your kids, too… such as spending a lot of time outdoors, getting away from screens, and sharing in the adventure, which bonds all of you closer together.That bond begins at an early age.
Now, you might think that camping and kids under three years old don’t mix. But they do, even if it does take a little extra work.
Here are some tips for making it easier to be a camping family with very young kids.
- Bring along things they know. Whether it’s a few favorite toys, a favorite blanket, or a sound machine, take along items that will comfort and sooth them and remind them of home. Toys will help entertain them at the campsite and in the RV. Consider getting a new toy or two that will keep them intrigued and busy in their new surroundings.
- Stick to routine. Okay, you won’t be giving the kids a bath every night before bedtime, but you can do pretty much everything else (read a story, sing a song, etc.). This is important even for babies, who get set in their ways early on and can get out of sorts if things change. The difference is the quarters in the RV are much tighter than at home. It can be difficult for infants and toddlers to transition to a new space. They might be extra wired. However, don’t be so strict with yourself over routine that you get worked up over their not being in bed by 8 p.m. like usual. Be prepared to go to bed early with the kids or to give a little wiggle room as to bedtime.
- Bring gear. Infants and toddlers need to be carted around everywhere and need safe places to sleep and play. A pack n’ play can be great to have outside the RV if you’re hanging out. Some families like to pack long portable fences that help keep crawlers and young walkers contained. Of course, bring along the stroller and some sort of pack (child can be forward facing or, for toddlers, on your back and facing the same direction as you) for hikes and other outings. A beach umbrella will help provide shade at the campsite and at the beach, and bring along plenty of towels. You’re going to need them. A tent can offer shade as well.
- Do a trial run at home. Introduce your kids to the RV by doing a dry run in the driveway. That way it’s not “all new” on your first trip, which can be jarring to little worlds. You don’t need to spend the night, but let your toddler explore the RV and get used to it. Maybe even take a nap in there. Infants are easy to assimilate, as long as you’re nearby to offer security.
- Be flexible. This is the number one rule of parenting. Infants and toddlers have their “moments” and even though they often go with the flow, sometimes they just won’t. Don’t stress, just be ready to readjust. The trail will still be there. The beach will still be waiting. Remember, you’re making memories and setting the stage for all the camping trips to come.