Adventuring with toddlers: Camping with young kids? Try it!

As I previously mentioned (multiple times!) I love camping with my (toddler) girls. But I admit, it’s an intimidating thought at first. This post is mainly trying to convince you to go camping with young kids, because it probably won’t be as bad as you think it’s going to be. Trust me, if I can do it, you can do it.

Intimidated about camping with toddlers? You should do it!


Fear: My kids will never sleep in a tent. Ever. We will all be sleep deprived messes and no one will have any fun.

Reality: OK, it’s true that your kids may not sleep well while camping. BUT, my kids may possibly be some of the worst sleepers ever (at home), and they do much better in a tent. Out of the six families we went camping with, most of us had at least some trouble getting our kids to fall asleep, but usually cuddling them to sleep does the trick! Of course, this process can take an hour (or more!) but it eventually works. Also, bedtime may be pushed back wayyyy later. In Washington it doesn’t get dark until around 9:30pm at this time of year, so 7pm bedtimes definitely weren’t happening among our group. The positive aspect, once the kids fell asleep, they generally stayed asleep! We did have to put Isabelle into our bed every night (because I think she got cold in the middle of the night) but she slept until a decent hour after that, so we couldn’t really complain.


Fear: I have no idea what to pack and I will forget something essential. This seems like a lot of planning…

Reality: Packing for camping is a lot of work in general, and it’s definitely way more work with toddlers. Basically, just pack a ton of snacks, some warm weather layers, and bug spray, and you should be good to go! Of course, sand toys help, because then the toddlers can play in the dirt wherever you are and should be pretty happy. We also brought toddler bikes and balls and bubbles… you know, all of the essentials. *wink* Basically, it does take a lot of prep work, but you will be fine!


Fear: My kids will be cold at night

Reality: They’ll be cold if you don’t put them in layers! I recommend packing a sleeping bag (or blankets), pillows, footie pajamas (or fleece), wool base layers (for older kids), hats, and socks. Honestly, my kids wore their normal pajamas and slept with normal  blankets, but it wasn’t very cold where we were. When all else fails, move the kiddos into your bed and everyone can cuddle together!


Fear: My kids will get dirty.

Reality: YES. They will! And if that bothers you, I suggest finding a campsite that has running water so you can give them a shower. Or better yet, bring a bin you can fill up with water and give them a camp-style bath.


Fear: It sounds like a lot of work to watch the kids, cook meals, clean up meals, set-up camp… etc.

Reality: It really is a lot of work! It helps to go with friends, family, or a super helpful partner. It’s especially difficult when there’s a fire going and you’re trying to keep your toddlers out of it! Last year my girls wanted to throw things in the fire at any given moment and that was less than ideal. However, if one person can watch the kid(s) while the other does the more ‘campy’ stuff, then you can switch after a while. If you’re going camping with just your immediate family, it can definitely feel like you never have time to relax if you’re at the campsite… so I recommend making sure you leave and go on outings! Hike, swim, explore, go into town, etc!


Fear: I’ve never been camping before and the gear is so expensive… what if we hate it and only go once?

Reality: You don’t need to buy all of your own gear right away! Do you have any friends who camp? Ask to borrow all of their stuff! Our friends have camping bins

OK, that’s all I can think of right now! Basically, a lot of your fears may become reality, but it’s still worth it to go on camp trips and create memories with your little adventurers. I was pretty intimidated initially, but last year I loved it so much that we bought all of our own camp gear (we had been borrowing other people’s), and this year I made reservations in advance so we can go camping a few times over the summer! I can’t wait! My girls truly love sleeping in tents and roasting s’mores and swimming in lakes and every other thing that camping entails. If you’re pondering whether you should go camping with young kids, I highly, highly recommend you give it a shot!

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Group Camping!

Last year we went camping for the first time as a family of four. Or rather, we went camping for the first time ever with kids. (I wrote some camping advice here, if you’d like to try it with your young kids this summer!)

This past weekend we kicked off the summer with our annual camping trip with our church small group (12 adults, 9 kids, 2 dogs, 1 baby on the way), and we had a blast.

Originally I was going to type out that I’m not sure whether the kids or parents had more fun, but let’s be honest, it was definitely the kids!

We drove about three hours southeast to the Brooks Memorial State Park Campground and stayed at the group campsite. Overall, I think it was a pretty good location. It was cold and rainy in the Seattle area, so it was nice to get some sunshine, warm (almost hot!) weather, and clear skies. The only downsides were a lack of trees (so not much shade) in the group campsite, and the wind and bees were a bit overwhelming. However, we still really enjoyed it!

A recap: Our group camping trip with young kids

A recap: Our group camping trip with young kids

Both full days we were there, we drove to nearby Maryhill State Park, which is along the Columbia River in the gorge. The girls had a blast splashing in the shallow water, and it was a great way to cool off! Plus, the scenery was really pretty. I’m always surprised at how dry eastern Washington is!

Other highlights of the trip:

  • S’mores. Obviously.
  • Seeing the gorgeous sunsets and other views.
  • Sitting around the campfire with friends.
  • Watching the girls get filthy in the mud and having a blast.
  • Sipping morning coffee. There is no better start to my day than drinking coffee outdoors.
  • Sleeping in a tent. I actually really enjoy it!

I also loved the drive to the state park. Washington is a gorgeous state and I am still taking it all in!

A recap: Our group camping trip with young kids

I can’t wait for our next camping adventure!

Have you tried camping with young kids? What was your experience?!

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The past two weekends

June has been a fun and crazy month! Every once in a while I think, “Oh I really want to remember to blog about…” but then I completely forget and move on to something else and before I even realize it, it’s been a month and everything I wanted to write about is no longer relevant!

I’ll work on that.

The past few weekends have been fun.

Philly

A little over a week ago I flew out to Philly to celebrate one of my best friends at her bridal shower and bachelorette party. I flew into Philly on Thursday and the rest of the weekend was a blur.

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Highlights included:

  • Eating late night Thai food with just the bride-to-be. I’m so glad I arrived in Philly days before the event so we could catch up. I hadn’t seen her in over two years, which is way, way too long!
  • Getting manicures the day before the bridal shower. I love getting my nails done and almost never spend the time (or money) to get a proper manicure. I really need to make this a part of my routine.
  • Eating at Bar Bombón in Philly. It’s a vegetarian restaurant and everything we ordered was beyond delicious.
  • The bridal shower at La Stalla in Newtown, PA. It was a great venue and we loved the Italian food. Plus, everyone just had a lot of fun! The other bridesmaids and the mothers of the bride & groom did a wonderful job planning all of the details.
  • The bachelorette party! We went (via limo bus) to the Dave Matthews Band concert at the BB&T Pavilion in Camden, NJ. I thought the venue was pretty awesome – because we had sunset views of the city and there were so many people all singing along to the songs. It was a fun place to watch some live music.

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House Renovations

Have I mentioned we bought a house? We bought a house. I haven’t actually wrapped my mind around all of it yet, but we closed last week.

The house doesn’t need much work, but we are completely re-doing the kitchen, all of the floors, all of the paint for the walls/ceiling, some of the bathrooms… and whatever else we have the energy/money for. It’s turning into a bigger project that I had anticipated, but we’re moving right along with it! This week we’re making several huge decisions, and I’ll feel so much better once the ball gets rolling and out of the ‘planning’ stage. Demo gets underway next week and we hope to move into the house early August! (Famous last words, right?! Everyone keeps telling us how over-schedule these kinds of projects get.)

(This blog’s focus will probably be more on renovations than on parenting over the next month or so… but on the positive side, at least I’ll be writing about something! Haha!)

Weekend highlights:

  • Picking out the most perfect piece of granite for our kitchen island (and maybe the bathrooms).
  • Painting paint samples on all of the walls so we can pick out colors. (Sidenote: we should not have attempted this with both toddlers in an empty house, while also trying to meet with our contractor simultaneously. It was legit CHAOS for hours and hours.) Also, we learned that it’s very hard to use this method when the walls are already painted crazy colors. How do I pick the perfect color pink when I’m painting samples on a lime green background?! I cannot. So to Pinterest we go for that particular decision…
  • Celebrating a little friend’s second birthday at her adorable party.
  • Enjoying Sunday night dinner with our small group. It was perfect weather here in Seattle, so we grilled burgers and let the toddlers run around… it’s the ideal way for us to all spend time together in this phase of life!
  • Hiking at Denny Creek. Clara and Isabelle both walked over a mile to the natural water slides, and it took (no joke!) around 2 hours. We stopped for a picnic lunch and then carried them back in our hiking packs. The walk back to the car took about 20 minutes! Hiking at a toddler pace is making me a slightly more patient person, that’s for sure! I mean, we can’t go on the big adventures I would normally choose, but it is fun to see everything through their eyes. Plus, they feel such a sense of accomplishment when they can walk by themselves and carry their own backpacks!
  • Watching The Staircase on Netflix. I just watched one episode so far. Have you seen it?! I’m dedicated to watching it because my fav podcast ever (True Crime Obsessed) will be covering it.

I’ll write a post this week about our decision to buy a house and the process in general, for those of you who are interested in that sort of thing!

I hope you had a wonderful weekend!

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What if I thought about my to-do list differently…

The other week I was talking to my counselor about my to-do list and how miserable it was making me.

I told him that my list felt like it was never-ending, and I felt a lot of pressure because it seemed like people were waiting on me to do a lot of things. I felt like I couldn’t catch up, and that I was never going to get true down time. I would take time to relax, but in the back of my mind there were these nagging thoughts of what I ‘should’ be doing instead.

And my counselor brought up an interesting point. What if I thought of my to-do list in terms of what I get to do instead of what I have to do?

Reframing your to-do list

A lot (if not all) of the things on my to-do list are things I’m choosing to do, so why am I resentful of them?

This little mental shift has changed the way I view my tasks. I’m allowing myself to realize that I actually want to be spending my time working on certain activities, and if I don’t want to do something, I just don’t do it. Or if I’m dreading a task that has to get done (folding laundry!) then I listen to a fun podcast or watch a trashy reality TV show while doing it, so that it’s more enjoyable. I’m able to constantly remind myself that I’m not doing things because I need to, I’m doing things because I want to.

It’s not fun feeling like I’m living my life by constantly trying to check things off a list of tasks, but it is pretty great feeling like I’m spending my days devoting time to things I care about.

See the difference?

Don’t let your to-do list rule you, instead, remind yourself of what you want to do and why, and then do those things. You’ll probably end up finishing the same tasks, but with a different attitude.

That’s your unsolicited advice for this Tuesday!

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A quick look at this week

1) Oh hey, terrible twos! Isabelle has started screaming like a little crazy person if she even hears the word ‘no’, from anyone. Like if a friend tells her ‘no’ on the playground, the world may just be ending because Isabelle will LOSE IT. It’s the kind of screaming that should only happen if someone is causing her bodily harm, but she likes to use it often. Wish me luck getting through this phase!

2) Last week was our final week of MOPS for the year! I co-coordinate one of the Seattle chapters of Mothers of Preschoolers and have truly loved my experience serving this ministry. And I’ll be doing it again this next year! If you’re the mom of a kid ages newborn – kindergarten, I cannot recommend this group enough! Look into them and see if there’s a group who meets in your area. It’s a wonderful way to meet some mom friends!

Hiking at Big 4 Ice Caves

3) Aaptiv Are you using this app yet?! I use it for quick strength training exercises when I can’t leave my house (naptime!) or even for motivation during a few miles of outdoor running. I just can’t seem to motivate myself to exercise ‘alone’, so this virtual coach thing really helps me!

4) This has been a week. Like A WEEK. Do you know what I mean? All short weeks basically feel 18x longer than normal weeks and I can’t explain it but it’s just a fact. It hasn’t helped that Tim has had a few very long days at work, which means I’ve had a few very long days with my little bosses tyrants daughters. If you saw my Instastories yesterday, you saw that they put a hole into the bathroom wall  (with toy hammers) while I was cleaning up after lunch. Sigh.

5) Before I forget, we had such a good long weekend last weekend! We went hiking with friends, we went hiking by ourselves, we went to friends’ houses for dinners and barbecues, and we played at the park with Oz and the girls and enjoyed the sunshine. Overall, we were spoiled by wonderful weather and I’m ready for summer to start now! Which is happening, kind of, because Clara’s last day of school was this week and her end-of-the-year party is today! Let summer commence.

Oh hey, June! And Friday!

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