As promised, here’s my “hiking and camping with a toddler” and “hiking and camping while pregnant post.” I’m sure you all have been waiting anxiously for it.
Rather than run down my exciting 48 hours of Scout-like activities – er, naps, S’mores and reading – I’ll just pass a few lessons I learned.
1. Packing for a camping trip with a toddler: Toys are essential.
Sticks are good stand-ins for toys in a pinch
Yes, sticks will fascinate a kid for a short while, but bring some old favorites from home along.
Also, anything that you use during you child’s bedtime routine should make the trip with you. For us, that meant books and a blankie, but not the whole crib. A Pack N Play sufficed. If you plan on going on an outing or hike with your toddler, remember to bring a backpack to carry essentials (sunscreen, sippy cup, water for you, snacks, diapers, trash bag, camera and toys).
2. Be flexible: I was advised to not have too elaborate of plans for the weekend, and with a toddler, that’s smart advice. They run on a different schedule than us. My plan for the entire weekend involved being sure I had at least one S’more, I got to read a little and I got to sit in quiet for a while. Oh, and I wanted to hike at least once. That was my whole weekend. We planned hikes around naptime, we planned our campfire dinner for after his bedtime.
Also on the flexibility front, bathtime is going to be a whole lot different camping. We stayed in a cabin, so we had a guaranteed water source. I don’t know how tent campers do it. We had a filthy kid at the end of each day to clean. Anyway, the cabin shower scared the bejesus out of him, so we had to do a sponge bath with him each night. Whatever works.
3. Take it easy. This goes without saying, usually, when camping. But, being pregnant is not the time to take on three-hour hikes on trails marked difficult on hot afternoons. Our short hikes lasted about 30 minutes to an hour and were done in the morning. And they were on easy trails.
4. Be alert. Damn, toddlers are into everything. We were lucky that our cabin had a screened-in porch with a locking door, so junior could enjoy the outdoors without tumbling down the 30-foot slope in front of our cabin. But, even with locked doors, don’t kick back with your favorite book and forget about your kid. If things are too quiet, it usually means they’re up to something. We didn’t think of this, but with cabins, it wouldn’t hurt to bring some outlet plugs. Our son’s at the age when outlets are curious things, and I worried the whole weekend about electrocutions.
Also, big surprise here, fires are interesting to kids. Keep a very close eye on them at all times when the fire’s going.
5. Music. This one you may disagree with, but bringing music along helped a lot with entertaining a kid. Personally, if my husband hadn’t packed the iPod and speaker, I would’ve been fine without them. I like the quiet, I like to hear the birds. However, some of the most fun we had all weekend was the impromptu dance parties with our 17-month-old. He loves music and he could entertain himself for a long time dancing.
6. Take pictures.
People, reasonably, thought we were a little crazy taking a toddler camping, even if it was in a cabin. I’d do it again in a heartbeat. It’s a whole new experience, yes, but a great one. Gone are the days of drinking beer by the campfire until the wee morning hours. Those have been replaced with really early mornings with a sweet little boy in PJs bringing me frosted donut gems in bed. I loved it.