Our latest Helpful Hints & How To article is from the lovely Liz Stanley from Say Yes to Hoboken. Liz, her husband and darling son Hank reside in San Francisco. They've camped in Yosemite, under the Golden Gate Bridge, and in the Uinta Mountains. All with a babe in tow. That makes her an expert in my book.
Many people shy away from camping with toddlers but we've loved it! I'm here to share some of my tips so it can be fun for your family too.
1. Talk it up days before. Get them excited about every part of it. Play camping at your house. Make a tent under your blanket and make s'mores on the stove. Get out the sleeping bags and let them lie down inside. Maybe even set up the tent in the living room (as you can see, we do!) Getting them really excited about the event will make them love it even more.
2. Plan meals they'll like and don't get to eat often. Roasting hot dogs and s'mores are a hit with young kids. Bring lots of snacks!
2. Unless you're backpacking, there's not real reason to truly 'rough it'. We always bring our queen air mattress and lots of comfy blankets and pillows with us. We also bring camping chairs and lamps. Let your toddler help carry easy stuff. They'll love feeling useful.
3. We've tried several ways to get our toddler to fall asleep depending on what his mood has been. We've driven him around until he falls asleep and transported him to his bed, we've let him watch movies on our phones, we've even let him wander around in the tent and just ignore him until he finds a comfortable place and it tired enough to lie down.
4. One of the best tools for keeping a kid occupied in a tent (and to fall asleep) is the iphone or a similar portable video device. If you're in the market for a tent, check to see that you get one with a mesh pocket at the very top. It's a perfect place to put the phone or dvd player to entertain them or get them to fall asleep.
5. Pick a place that would be fun for the kids to explore. Does your kid love to collect shells? Throw rocks into streams? Dig for worms? There's a lot of downtime when you camp, so keep in mind what your toddler likes to do to keep them entertained. Maybe bring a couple simple supplies like a bug catching kit or bubbles to do with them when you arrive.
Be creative when you're there. Treasure hunts, nature walks are always hits with young toddlers
6. The bottom line is that you have to lower your expectations. They'll get dirty. They might hate it. Don't plan on things going smoothly, if it does go well you'll be pleasantly surprised! Especially sleeping. You might get a decent night's sleep, but you probably won't. So don't plan anything too big the next day.
Thank you, Liz !
ps. don't forget, we want YOUR submissions. if you have an idea and want to share some little gems of knowledge, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org!