So last week our little family set off on our camping holiday. This was the second year we have taken Sam away in the tent and so we were a bit more prepared this time around. Honestly, it can be hard work camping with a toddler sometimes, but it is so much fun (and so much cheaper!!!) that it is worth the effort. For those of you who are more skeptical about camping with small children, here are my top tips:
- Location is everything. We chose our campsite knowing that there would be plenty for us to do with baby/toddler and both years have gone to a Haven Holidays campsite. This has meant there have been plenty of play areas, a swimming pool and evening entertainments to keep him busy when cooking needed doing or early in the morning. Yes it may not be the type of relaxing beach holiday we might opt for, but if toddler is happy then we are happy! You can view all of the haven parks around the UK here: www.haven.com
- Pay for electric hookup. Ok, so I wish I could be happy doing everything old school, but actually having electric hook up in the tent was amazing. We had an electric cool box to keep milk and other essentials fresh and we were also able to bring along Sam’s gro clock this year which helped a lot with keeping him in bed until a reasonable hour. Also being able to boil a kettle quickly rather than waiting for the gas stove to warm it up is very useful for babies (bottles etc..) and hungry toddlers who want porridge for breakfast…..
- Black out. We bought some of the gardening material that you put under gravel to block out the sun and kill weeds underneath. We put this outside our sleeping pod just to make it that little bit darker and aid with going to sleep and early wake ups. Very very useful!
- Take a toy for the showers. If you are anything like me, your toddler will probably only have had baths up until now. But there aren’t many campsites with that added luxury. So this year I packed Sam off with his dad to have a shower, along with his new fishy toy who also “needed” a shower. This proved a useful distraction whilst trying to get everyone showered and dry in the confines of a little cubicle!
- Plan ahead. Meals, itinerary, clothing. Make sure you plan ahead for every eventuality so that you have enough food and activities to keep toddler happy. There’s is nothing worse that trying to keep them quiet whilst having to make decisions (this leads to arguments and bad decisions!) so plan your menu in advance if cooking or where you might eat and have a few ideas about potential day trips out for different weather before you get there.
- Mark your territory. Take a load of wind breaks and make a toddler friendly outdoor play space around your tent for when you need to cook etc. this will mean that you don’t have to worry so much about them running off.
We have now been camping two more times with Reuben too. The last two years we have used Parkdean Resorts, which are very similar to Haven, with swimming pools and arcades on most campsites. Skipsea sands was a great campsite this year with large pitches, most seperated by hedges too to help you “mark your territory”. Here are a couple of extra tips from my last two years:
- Take a slow cooker. If you already have electric hook up then really consider taking a slow cooker with you. As long as it is positioned away from the sides of the tent on a flat service, it will be fine, and means that your dinner (or most of it!) will be ready when you get back from holiday fun. This cuts down on cooking time and you can spend more time with the kids.
- Pack a special holiday box. You don’t want to take millions of toys with you when you are going in a tent, so instead pack a special chest with new toys, magazines, sweets, a camera, books and other treats for whilst they are away. That way they have some new things to play with whilst on holiday and a box to keep them tidy in. We used a pirate treasure chest.