Dispelling the top five fears of wannabe family campers
There are a number of families wondering how the heck they are going to go on holiday when Coronavirus and the continued disruption means you don’t want to/ can’t go abroad, but there is an option you may not have considered…
It may be that the idea of ‘family camping’ conjures up images of kids delirious with lack of sleep, smelly toilets, rainy evenings and an undercooked Pot Noodle (I’ve been there) but camping doesn’t have to be an exercise in endurance.
Lucy Bartlett, founder of Bundle Beds, has some top suggestions for Mush.
“Choosing to camp as a family can be absolutely brilliant,” says Lucy. “It’s a chance to drop the agendas and the to-do lists, get out and enjoy nature… plus it doesn’t have to mean basic, uncomfortable and exhausting.”
These are the five myths she wants to bust based on years of experience with her husband and young family.
The kids will never sleep in a tent
This doesn’t have to be true. In fact, my kids sleep better. They are early risers at home but they regularly sleep past 8am on a camping trip. Here’s how:
Keep bedtime familiar
Whilst camping is often about exploring new places, creating a familiar sleep space keeps kids feeling safe and secure at night. Bring a favourite pillow case or blanket from home (our boys have their own Bundle Beds with bumpers) and consider a practice camp-out in the living room with any new gear.
We stick to a similar(ish) bedtime to the one we have at home. For bathtime, many campsites have lovely warm showers, or you can give the kids a bath in a large plastic box. Once they’re asleep, we have some evening left together for a game of cards and a little glass of something.
Block light and muffle sounds
Using a Bluetooth speaker to play audiobooks (we love Winnie the Pooh and The Tractor Who Wants to Fall Asleep) whilst they drift off distracts from the general campsite noise – and a blackout inner tent for ‘bedrooms’ is a non-negotiable to avoid being up before the lark.
We will all freeze at night
Not true as long as you are prepared… Keeping cosy under canvas is a number one priority, especially to ensure everyone has a great night’s sleep.
Pre-empt the cold
Even on the sunniest days, evenings can be chilly. As kids go from having fun to teeth chattering-ly chilled very fast, pre-empt the cold. Pop on their coat, or put them in a onesie, as soon as the sun begins to dip – and try and to keep something on their feet! Crocs or wellies can be great to slip on and off quickly, especially for a dash to the toilet. For bed, we dress our boys in long sleeved PJs, with a onesie and a pair of socks over the top. If we can convince them to keep it on, we’ll also add a beanie hat.
It’s also worth getting them through the shower a little earlier whilst the day is still warm. Dress them for bed, then pop a waterproof cover-all over the top, that way they can still have a run around without getting soggy or filthy.
Insulate from the ground
As well as adding layers on the top of your kids sleep set-up, don’t forget to insulate from the groundand add blankets underneath – a picnic blanket with a waterproof layer is brilliant. I’d recommend ditching the double height airbeds which let the cold in from under you and opt instead for a self-inflating mattress.
Cooking will be difficult and my fussy toddler won’t eat a thing
False! We have had the most memorable (and enjoyed by all) meals whilst camping. By keeping it simple, and with a little prep, you can all eat well.
Pre-prepare favourite meals at home
I love to make up a family favourite the night before I leave for easy heating up on arrival day- a spag bol for example. Serve it up with some pasta, rice (we often take the pre-cooked packs and fry them up in a pan) or even in wraps for a very quick post-set up feed for the whole family.
Freeze another meal that everyone likes, perhaps a curry or some soup, to pop in the cool box. It will help keep everything cold whilst defrosting for your second night, and means that you don’t have to prep much.
Take a simple camping stove
Sitting and eating around an open fire is wonderful, but always have a second way to cook. A simple camp stove is inexpensive and a life saver when it’s wet, or you need a cuppa quickly. We also love taking ours on walks for hot chocolate breaks, or a lunch on the go.
Have a ‘kitchen’ space
Bringing a small fold out table where you can unpack your utensils, and any ingredients you brought with you, makes it easier and quicker to feed hungry bellies. Keep it all protected in the tent porch, or, even better, set up a separate day tent as a kitchen. It’ll also mean you have somewhere to retreat to for cooking and eating if the weather is wet.
Make cooking the event
One of the benefits of camping is that you can take a little more time over the everyday things. Everything cooked and eaten outside is more fun too – which means the kids enjoy getting involved (and might eat a little more!)
You could ask them to wrap potatoes or apples in foil for you to bake under the hot embers. Top with lots of butter – plus cinnamon and raisins for the apples. Bring along pre-made puff pastry, slather it in chocolate spread and wrap around sticks for the kids to cook themselves a pastry breakfast.
And, of course, toasting marshmallows is a must, but maybe at lunchtime to avoid a pre-bed sugar high…
Rain will ruin it
(Mostly) False. Whilst I’d love to be able to, I can’t guarantee that it won’t rain! You can though, be ready for it.
Maximise your space
If it looks like a day of deluge, maximise your space by rolling up bedding in the tent to make room for games, colouring, and playdoh. Our boys have been known to use their Bundle Beds as a soft play – thankfully the bedding is zipped into a protective outer layer so we avoid little muddy footprints!
Prepare for all weathers
Bringing waterproofs and wellies, however sunny the forecast, is a camping must. If you can keep yourselves and the kids dry, rain need not stop play!
Research a few wet day escapes
Have a few indoor activities and places to visit in your back-pocket. It’s not defeatist to decide on an afternoon at the local family pub, or a visit to a tourist attraction.
Don’t forget you always have the car too. Set the kids up with hot chocolates and their tablets for their very own in-car cinema. (Just in case you might need a reminder, it is perfectly acceptable, should you want to, to bring your children’s devices for some downtime all round. This is your holiday, not a score sheet for staying off-grid!)
I can’t fit all the kit in the car
Yes, you can. Because you really don’t need it all! Take a look at my camping gear essentials or borrow from friends and family to test out what you like.
If you’re wanting to get the basics, then my top recommendations would be a decent sized tent, comfy beds, a good cool box and a camping stove.
Hope to see you under canvas soon. (And I promise the toilets are really not that bad!)
Plus, if you’re looking to buy a Bundle Bed, then we’ve been given a fab deal of 10% off using code MUSH10. Valid until the end of June.