Camping with toddlers: Take II

It appears we got over any ill feelings towards camping with toddlers pretty quickly, because before we knew it, we were on the road again!
This time, it was what I refer to as “soft camping,” because we were setting up the tent trailer in the yard of Darling Husband’s grandparents’ 145-year-old home (now technically his parents’ summer home). It still involved a two-hour drive both ways, sleeping in the trailer, and packing a whack-load of stuff, so it was still sort of camping.
Last time we struggled with the daytime portion of the trip — keeping them safe, entertained, contained, you name it — but the night was perfectly smooth. This time? Total opposite. The daytime was great, because we had two grandparents and a great-aunt to help us watch the kids. It was awesome! 
But at night? OH GOD, THE NIGHT. 
D was hysterical about going to bed. We locked them in the trailer and stayed in the house for a bit (don’t worry, the trailer door was about two feet from the door of the house), and when I went outside to go to bed, I stepped outside to hear silence from inside the trailer … and see THE TRAILER DOOR WAS OPEN. Like, wide open, swinging in the pitch-black night.
I think I had a momentary heart attack as I flew inside the trailer to see if they were still there. C was sound asleep in her playard, and when I pulled aside the curtain to see D sound asleep in his bed, I don’t think I’ve ever been more relieved. 
Lesson learned: D can unlock the trailer door. Good to know!
Little Miss C ready to go camping (wearing one of my latest sewing projects)

On the road again!

Exploring the beach

Fun times on the lawn tractor!

I think this should be my new Blogger profile pic, don’t you? It’s so outdoorsy of me!

On the second day, we were treated to a wagon ride by a neighbour two doors down — gotta love small-town connections! D was in his element, because the boy LOVES horses, cows, and any other farm animal you can name.

In the tradition of these let’s-learn-from-our-mistakes camping posts, let’s revisit the trip …
What went wrong:
  • We nearly lost a kid. D unlocked the trailer and (possibly? nearly?) could have escaped into the night (luckily, he did not — or if he did, he came back!)
  • We didn’t pack any warm PJs. In my defense, it was 30C when we left our house, so I didn’t expect it to be soooo much cooler just two hours away. But it was pleasant during the day (instead of sweltering), and pretty crisp at night. Poor C had nothing but a flimsy tank nightie, and I didn’t even have a long-sleeved top or sweatshirt to put over it. Lesson learned: even in the hottest part of summer, the trailer can be very cool at night.
  • We didn’t pack enough bedding. See above. Luckily, we were above to borrow (gorgeous, handmade, antique) quilts from Darling Husband’s grandparents’ house.
  • D had night terrors. This isn’t a “camping thing,” because D often struggles with things like this at home. It seems to happen when he’s really overtired/over-TVed/oversugared, which goes hand-in-hand with grandparent spoiling and all that jazz. He screamed and cried off and on throughout THE ENTIRE NIGHT, which woke up all three of us. He couldn’t even be reasoned with (i.e. threats/bribes hissed across the trailer) because he was still asleep. Brutal with a capital B.
What we did right:
  • We didn’t overpack. Yes, I didn’t pack warm PJs. But I also didn’t pack a lot of other crap that we didn’t need. I was faster throwing our bags together, and when we got home, I unpacked everything fairly quickly, too. That was a huge help, because I loathe unpacking.
  • We did what we could to get the most sleep possible. With D’s crying/screaming episodes at one end of the trailer, and poor C next to him in the playard, the trailer was NOT CONDUCIVE TO SLEEP, to put it mildly. He would cry/scream, she would immediately wake up, stand up in the playard (uncovering her poor, underdressed self from the blankets) and cry, too. So we broke down and took her into bed with us, where she curled against me and slept like an angel. When D cried, she’d stir, but not panic. Yes, it was harder for me to sleep — I’m not good with sleeping with babies — but it was better than listening to her cry. Plus, then I could keep her warm! #forgottenPJfail
  • We were quicker about packing and unpacking. Camping feels like a lot of work (and IS a lot of work) if you let it. But if you throw your stuff together and go — and in return, unpack quickly as soon as you get home — it doesn’t weigh on you as much. 
  • We kept C in the car during the unload process. This sounds totally random, but it made a huge difference in our moods as we returned home from a two-hour Drive From Hell. We left her buckled into her seat (with all the doors of the van open) as we ran trip after trip into the house, and D played in the yard. She was happy to be home, so she just sat there watching us. And it was MUCH easier to drag in armload after armload without someone needing to keep an eye on her every move while she destroyed the house. Because of this speedy unload, we actually had almost every single thing unpacked and put away within an hour of being home!
  • Mommy got some alone time. While Darling Husband and his family were playing with the kids, I snuck to the trailer to “make up the beds” a.k.a. throw the beds together and then lie on one of them reading Pretty Little Liars, drinking Diet Coke, and eating chips. I don’t know if this will be possible on every trip, but it made a world of difference to my mood during a busy, hectic, out-in-the-sun too much trip.

What we’ll do differently next time:

  • Pack warm PJs (just in case)
  • Pack as many blankets as I’d packed for the first trip (we’re learning that the trailer really, really has good ventilation and we should worry about being too cold rather than too hot)
  • Make sure D is tired out from fresh air and exercise, not too much television/grandparent-spoiling, so we hopefully avoid night terrors (this won’t be an issue on a real camping trip, since there won’t be TV or a pantry full of cookies/candy)
We’re booked to go camping again this weekend, so let’s hope that the third time is the charm!

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