Arriving well into the evening, it's also important to have a plan for the children while we pitch the tent. Honey takes her camera when we go camping, so she tends to potter round the pitch taking photos or playing the built in games, while Ace stays in the car and watches a film on an iPad or sits in the carrier on my back while we get things sorted.
We find it helpful to pack the car in reverse, making sure that the things we will need first are the easiest to access. Once the tent is up, we get the electric hook up plugged in so we can shed some light on the situation then set to work setting up the kids bedrooms just incase they start to flake and need to go to bed!
We got them both a blow up bed in an Aldi camping event and they are brilliant, they have bumpers so little ones don't roll out and pillows don't end up on the floor. We use Ace's old cot bed sheets over the mattresses and have also bought 3 season sleeping bags for them both. We now have a fancy new tent with semi-blackout bedrooms but previously, we used a Gro Anywhere blind to darken their bedrooms. We also take a familiar, favourite toy to help with bedtime, Ace brings Ewan the Dream Sheep which is also brilliant if he stirs in the night as he can press it to help himself drift off again.
In terms of clothing, when you're camping you can really feel the evening temperature drop, even if the day has been beautiful, so layers are essential. I pack seasonally appropriate daytime outfits for the kids, then add a few hoodies and extra leggings, plus some fleecy pyjamas and bed socks. Wet weather gear is a must, whatever the weather forecast or season, wellies and waterproofs don't take up much room if they're packed properly and may well save you from being stuck indoors if the British weather does it's thing!
When we're camping, bedtimes don't exist. The first night tends to be a really late one by the time we've finished pitching the tent and setting up home and while they do tend to be ready for bed earlier as the days go on, there's no point in trying for their usual 6:30pm bedtime, otherwise everyone will be awake at first light! I often find myself getting more sleep than I do at home because I'm so tired from all the fresh air that I'm in bed pretty soon after the kids!
As with all new things, it's a good idea to talk to your children in the run up to going camping, for example, you could read stories such as 'Maisy Goes Camping' or 'Camping Out' to help them understand some of the things that will be the same and different while they're away. You can also get fab, camping themed sticker and activity books which are fab for taking away with you, as well as for introducing the idea while you're at home. If you don't know where to start with finding good quality, camping or holiday themed books and activities, I highly recommend a look at Mimi's Bookshelf, Annabelle puts together gorgeous packs.
Whenever we have enough space in the car, we take a drying rack which saves having to find trees to hang a washing line between. If your tent is big enough, you can also bring it in of an evening to stop the dew making it all wet again in the morning!
Consider taking a mini fridge or electric cool box so you can take the essentials for everyone to have breakfast in the morning without having to find a shop. We also cook a bolognaise or chilli con carne at home, freeze it then take it down with us for our first evening meal away.
A camping stove is a must for heating up our frozen meal and also for my husband to make as many cups of tea as he fancies. We also use it to make hot chocolate for our flasks if we're heading out for a walk and the weather is a bit chilly!
We also take a small toaster and collapsable kitchen unit so we have shelves to store snacks and meal ingredients, in the long run, this saves us money as we don't have to eat out for every meal. It also means that everything can have a place, which helps to keep the tent tidy and stops things from getting lost.
Don't forget the little things:
- Sun cream. We ended up with a really expensive bottle from a gift shop last year as I left ours in the tent, it does the job but it takes forever to rub in which isn't great.
- Medication. We always take Calpol, Snuffle Babe, Sterimar nasal spray and Nelson's teetha granules with us, even if there's no hint of teething or illness. You never know when something may strike and there's nothing worse that trying to calm a poorly child with nothing to offer them!
- Spare batteries. Ewan the Dream Sheep doesn't run on fresh air!
Most of all, don't forget to have fun! Once you're all set up, head out into the world and have plenty of adventures, safe in the knowledge that your home from home is waiting to welcome you back at the end of the day.
Honey and Ace sit on... Fold up chairs by Asda