Wednesday, January 24, 2018


So, camping. I think it was mainly positive! (I'm still working through the calculations in my mind.)

We squeezed this trip into an already-crowded weekend because I wanted to be able to check off our camping goal for 2017. I got home from the Magnolia Makers Market around 2:45pm and then wanted to help Henry process everything. We put away everything, and then we used these manipulative to calculate how much of his money should go to college, his future car, the Elephant Sanctuary, and then to his own wallet. Then he wrote a letter to the Elephant Sanctuary. Next I had to respond to some emergency things related to work. Then we had to move everything into the car, drive to a friend's house to borrow an extra tent and some sleeping pads, stop by Whole Foods to look for gluten-free crescent rolls one last time to make this campfire recipe, and then head to Lake Tejas. 

The boys were so ridiculously excited that it made my heart swell. Tate was talking a mile-a-minute the whole way there. 

We got there right as the sun was setting and had to set up the tent, cook hot dogs, cook S'mores, and go for a hike all in the dark. 

We all went to bed at 8pm, but I woke up at 11pm with some anxiety related to work and couldn't go back to sleep. The dog also woke up (which woke up Matt) so we ended up talking for a while, which was nice. 

The rest of the night was a blur, mainly with the dog waking up multiple times and then Tate waking up. Tate woke up way too early in the morning, and I kept telling him that he needed to rest quietly or I was going to have to take him back home. He kept pushing it, so I finally followed-through on my word and drove him the 45 minutes home. Back at home, I showered and wrote 1.5 blog posts. Then we loaded back into the car and drove the 45 minutes back to pick up Henry, Matt, and Hoss. 

So it wasn't great, but it was still really sweet. It made me think Tate just isn't old enough for us to enjoy camping, and I was about ready to strike camping off our goals for this year, but then Matt had a hybrid idea: we can all head to a camping site (there's a cool one less than 30 minutes away), set up, spend the afternoon and evening in camping mode, and then Matt takes Tate home to sleep? Then they come back in the morning. It seemed like a good way to help Henry enjoy camping at an age when he's really ready for it and to make the experience more enjoyable all around!

We'll probably try the real way one more time, but use this alternate strategy if it still goes badly! 

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Rach said...

One thing I've been working on in therapy is putting fewer restrictions on what I should be doing, "rules" I should be following, etc. I have realized that I've pinned myself into a very rigid life and routine because I am either trying to follow these self-given rules or afraid of failing at anything new. I wonder if this might apply to you as well.

Camping might be a more fun family experience if you weren't trying to squeeze it in as a checkmark on a family goal/to-do list, but because you have a free weekend, the weather is beautiful, and "why not"? Just a thought.

BabyD said...

I may not be great with vacation planning but I'm great on camping. Tate is absolutely old enough! We've been taking our son since he was a young toddler. It's the ideal place because you're outside and there is more freedom in many ways than at home. I laughed as you said tate woke early. Of course! All kids tend to! It's exciting and we just always expect sleep time (and naps when he was younger) to go awry because...well...youre in a tent!!! I don't think it's realistic to expect otherwise. Same with your sleep, crappy sleep is often part of the territory. The key to camping is planning! The added task of cooking meals outside begs for planned meals and planning to eat much earlier than you normally do because that is part of the main attraction. It pains me to think of Matt taking tate home-sleeping outdoors is one of the main parts of camping and a right of passage. Otherwise it's just a day in the park. Try again, come with the expectation that one or both of your boys will wake up awfully early, bring toys or activities to keep them occupied or get up with hem and tag team later so you can take a nap...camping is a time to ease up, not clamp down. It's annoying when you can't sleep, but the experience is well worth it. Let me know if you want me to share some other tips or my meal plan etc. We usually go for a week!

BabyD said...

Oh and cardinal rule #1 with camping: set up camp as early as possible in morning. And buy one new outdoor game. We got an ogosport disk set one year and it was a big hit. Get lots of extra balls as they will get lost. Also go to a good camping area with nature programs at night etc. It's awesome.

Unknown said...

Camping has gone well with our kids and we've taken them since they were 6 months old (they are now 1 and 4). I think the key is to have very low expectations, leave lots of lead time and keep things as simple as possible. We try to get to the camp site in the afternoon so we can have everything set up well before dark. We leave lots of time for the kids to very, very slowly walk from our car to the camp site which is up a hill and through a meadow since they always want to stop and look at everything (which is kinda the point). We keep meals super simple and very early, like eating by 5/6pm so everyone is ready to wind down when the sun goes down. We take turns with waking up super early and plan for naps at the swimming hole. We don't really pack toys since we like the kids to just make leaf piles, take short walks, find rocks, etc.

Anonymous said...

Obviously your choice and comfort level, but I am a little surprised you took Tate home. I always count on crappy sleep when camping/traveling with a young child, at least for part of the time. A change in routine and environment is a lot for them to manage--and it is really exciting and stimulating for them to wake up early in a tent!

Sara E. Cotner said...

Hi, Rach! Thank you so much for sharing your perspective! I am definitely prone to rigidity and routine! I think it comes from the instability that I experienced as a child. It's an interesting point about whether I should have pushed us to squeeze in camping just because it was a goal. I think it comes from wanting to be able to trust myself. If I set a goal, I am highly likely to follow-through. I try to be really careful about only setting meaningful goals (and I do eliminate them if executing on them doesn't or won't bring me joy). Also, the kids were really looking forward to it. It wasn't the best but it didn't turn me off of camping forever! Please continue to share insights like the ones you shared because I am starting therapy in February, and it will be helpful to have specific things to talk about!

BabyD, you rock at camping! I love all your suggestions! You and Unknown are right that I just need to lower my expectations! (Matt and I love sleep so much.)

Mamarunsmiles: It might have been a bad call in retrospect! I'm always doing the best I can. I'm going to start expecting crappy sleep!

Nora said...

When I saw your vacation planning sheet, my mind immediately went to trips with my best friend and her mom: they spent a week camping at Lake Michigan every summer. They used the same campground and even same site every summer. Days were openended, but always with hours and hours outside swimming and hiking and rollerblading. I think camping is most fun when you have lots and lots of time, especially if you have access to woods and swimming and bike trails and a good ice cream shop. I sort of wondered if Tate woke up early like a kid on Christmas: he was just so excited to be camping!

Mismikado said...

I am a planner. I plan every trip down to the minutest detail in order to fiy as much in as possible. That said, camping is completely different. We went for the first time in 2016 when our oldest was 2.5 and his brother was 3mo. We had to plan a lot as what to take and what to eat bc once we are there I don't want to have to leave the campgrounds. But nothing else was planned. 3 open ended days and it was amazing. We went again last fall and again it was wonderful. The boys get to be loud and noisy and dirty. We go to sleep earlier than we ever do and wake up with the sun and nap in the middle of the day with sun streaming through the tent vents which is the best kind of napping in my opinion. We have no cell service on the grounds so we are forced to completely disconnect and just be our little family playing cards and games and letting the boys be the wild hellions they don't get to be any other time of their lives 😊

Sara E. Cotner said...

Ha, ha! You make it sound so glorious, Mismikado!

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