We love camping here at Kidunk and we know our customers love our kit for camping adventures. With staycations on the cards this summer, we asked Rachel Mackinnon (BEd) an Early Years teacher of 15 years and a newly qualified Forest School Level 3 Leader (and family camper) to share her top family camping tips!
Whether it is your first family camp or you are a seasoned pro, there’s some top tips for everyone here for carefree family camping this summer.
The first summer we took the plunge and went camping with our two girls, Isla was 3 and Heidi just 6 months old. We’ve had lots of experience camping as a couple, but we were both nervous about taking our children for the first time. But, with the encouragement of some friends with their 3 children, we bit the bullet and went to Snowdonia for our first camping trip.
I have learnt that children love camping, no matter what age they are. Camping allowed our children (and us) to experience an enormous sense of freedom and space. We were outside from the moment we woke up, to when we went to bed. I loved how we could switch off from the outside world, there was no TV or mobile phone signal. Once the tent was pitched, I instantly felt relaxed as there were no jobs to do apart from the BBQ and washing up. In fact, even the chores are a novelty when camping, and I had at least three toddlers desperate to do the washing up with me! We spent quality time together, chatting, went for a walk, built a fire and toasted marshmallows. It sounds idyllic and for the most part it really was!
We have camped every summer for the past 4 years although most of last year was in our back garden.
Here is my tips on what I’ve learnt along the way that might help you ‘Go Wild’ this summer.
1. Practise Before You Go!
Not only did we practise putting the tent up, but we road tested our sleeping equipment and arrangements. We realised that we needed to take the bedroom partition down and that the girls settled better when we were altogether in the same room. It was also clear that trying to stick to the usual bedtime routine was a non-starter and they were definitely not going to sleep a wink while it was still light!
2. Book a Family Friendly Campsite
We always try to book campsites that are more relaxed, allow BBQs and are family friendly. We don't necessarily need a playground, the children spent hours playing in the trees and in the field. We have been to a couple of sites that allowed or rented fire pits and this really 'made' the camping trip as we were able to toast marshmallows and sit around the fire chatting at night.
Fire pits are definitely on my wish list when booking a campsite from now on.
3. Comfy Bedding
We make our bedroom cosy and more importantly comfortable. We have double air beds and take real pillows and duvets. I even take my feeding pillow so I can sit up comfortably when doing the night feed. We sleep on top of the duvets in sleeping bags, which is a real novelty for Isla.
4. Be Flexible and Go with the Flow
We quickly realised that the bedtime routine went out of the window when camping with children. Besides, all of the other children were out playing till it got dark. We found it much less stressful for everyone and far less of a battle to let Isla play until she dropped. Then she was far more willing to snuggle up in bed.
Sure, it was 10pm but the next night she was exhausted from all the fresh air and went to bed (slightly) earlier. The first night is always the hardest. Ewen always says he sleeps badly on the first night. After that we tend to settle into a rhythm and routine and sleep much more soundly the next night. I'd definitely recommend 2 nights, it's easier than 1 believe it or not!
5. The Right Clothing
The All Seasons Kidunks are just the ideal camping kit! We have always taken all of our waterproofs and wellies but now we don’t need to worry so much. Once you get wet it's impossible to get dry or warm again and Kidunks are water resistant but quick drying too (should they decide to swim in them!). Take plenty of layers and warm fleeces/ hoodies for the evening, again Kidunks are perfect for layering – it can really get cool in the middle of the night.
And to make life even easier here’s a quick list of camping essentials to help make your night under the canvas child's play!