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Camping with a 20 month old

(28 Posts)
charlietangoteakettlebarbeque Tue 08-Apr-14 12:23:54


Sure this has been done to death but here goes

My partner and I have been going camping together for over 10 years now. We obviously love it.

The thing we love about it the most is basically being able to sit and do not much all day. A bit of fishing, preparing meals and cooking it on an open fire, drinking lots and passing out at the end of the night, under the stars. Occasionally we will go for a long walk during the day (if there is a pub at the end of it!) grin

We now have a toddler, and want to bring him camping with us this year.

Of course I realise we will not be able to do most of the things we love.

My main worries are:

1) not being able to camp near water
2) not being able to have very late nights
3) toddler becoming bored
4) not being able to drink all day and night
5) sleeping arrangements - we have an old VW camper which is a tight squeeze with 2 adults, never mind a toddler spreadeagled across the bed

Am I just being pessimistic? does anyone have any advice or tips on how to make a camping trip fun with a toddler?

Sorry for length of post, I could write an essay but I will stop now blush

hz Tue 08-Apr-14 13:09:51

Number one, I can pretty much gaurantee that your toddler won't be bored. All those new things to fiddle with. Take a few toys, and give him a bucket or bowl and encourage him to make 'soup'. There is endless entertainment available for a toddler.
Secondly, clearly it will be a different experience with a toddler but you will still experience the slowing down of life that camping gives you. Filling time with jobs and cooking and general pottering. Camping near water - well I guess it depends what type of water but you are going to have to keep your eye on him all the time so does it make much difference if you are near water? It is an added danger I suppose but up to you how you handle it.
Sleeping - have you considered a toddler bunk that goes across the front seats?

But basically - yes of course! Do it! You might have to tweak your habits a bit (and possibly buy more camping gear|) but it will totally be worth it. The sooner he gets used to it the quicker it will get easier!

charlietangoteakettlebarbeque Tue 08-Apr-14 13:41:02

hz - thank you for replying, you have made me feel much better about it.

Of course I know that camping with a toddler is absolutely fine but I am worried I will hate it as it won't be like it used to be.

You make a good point about it being a different experience - and that doesn't have to be a bad thing, does it?

I just have to get it out of my head that I will not be able to have as many drinks as I used to!!!! This is (was) my main concern.

I love pottering!!

charlietangoteakettlebarbeque Tue 08-Apr-14 13:43:02

Good idea regarding the sleeping too.

I was also thinking maybe to erect a tent, and myself and DS can sleep in there while DH sleeps in the van (or vice versa)

MummyPigsFatTummy Tue 08-Apr-14 17:35:19

You can get cots for the front seats of VWs I think? Not sure if they would work for a toddler though. Alternatively, instead of a tent maybe buy an awning for the camper so that you are all sleeping in the same space, more or less?

We were just like you pre-DD (now 4). Camping was about lazing about and drinking with a bit of walking or cycling if we felt like it. Or about going with friends and playing volleyball and drinking.

Now most of us have kids we still all go together and the children play together and we relax and watch them (so worth considering group camps for that side of things). In the evenings we get a fire going early and the children eat round it and toast marshmallows and have some songs and then we put them to bed. Because we all camp in a circle, the adults then come back out and sit round the fire in the middle with monitors (or without now they are a bit older). Then we can have a few drinks before bed and it is a bit like old times.

But even when we are just a family, the activities are still fun- just different. More exploring and bug hunting and general pottering about, and maybe DD makes friends on the site and we chat to the parents, or not, and just keep an eye on her from a distance. When she goes to bed, we sit outside the tent (or in it outside the bedroom when we are not in our bell tent) and have quiet drinks and maybe read and chat by lamp light.

So it is all still really mellow and fun, just different.

And yes, bring a few toys, a ball, maybe a little fishing type net and a bug hunting kit (or jam jar with holes in the lid) and you won't go far wrong.

You will love it grin

charlietangoteakettlebarbeque Wed 09-Apr-14 09:03:17

Mummy, I'm sold! I don't know what I was so worried about really. It will still be fun. Just a different type of fun. And my little boy will love it too I'm sure. We do have an awning, I forgot about that. That's perfect.

I'm excited now!

MummyPigsFatTummy Wed 09-Apr-14 11:16:37

Brilliant charlie grin. You are going to love camping with a toddler. They love it so much it is just fun seeing them so happy. I think it is partly the (relative) freedom they get to roam - so much of the time they are quite tightly constrained as to what they can do and where they can go and so being in the big outdoors with so much more room is just very exciting.

charlietangoteakettlebarbeque Thu 10-Apr-14 06:43:06

Hi mummy, can you recommend any sites?

Bunbaker Thu 10-Apr-14 06:57:01

"I just have to get it out of my head that I will not be able to have as many drinks as I used to!!!! This is (was) my main concern."

Really! Surely your drinking habits at home will have changed anyway?

You just wait until your toddler has gone to sleep then you enjoy a drink or two, but scale down the quantity you drink.

MummyPigsFatTummy Thu 10-Apr-14 08:29:40

Whereabouts are you Charlie? We tend to camp in the south east or south west, though have been to a few sites in Scotland and Ireland.

MummyPigsFatTummy Thu 10-Apr-14 08:39:17

In the south east Forgewood and Chafford Park have been ideal. Large open fields and woods for us to explore (esp Forgewood). Both allow campfires which the children love (obv with careful supervision, although. DD learnt to be fire aware very early and I think being round campfires helped with that)

In the south west, Eweleaze in August is fab. Big open fields, some of which restrict cars though you can still camp with a cameraman. They also have animal petting and loads of hay bales to jump on, indoor and out. There is a private beach also though the path is steep and it is stony. Great place for kids. Book now though as it is only open in August.

These are probably our favourites at the moment but off to Stubcroft farm in East Wittering at Easter so will report back.

MummyPigsFatTummy Thu 10-Apr-14 08:40:15

Cameraman? Camper van obv. Although a cameraman might be nice too.

TheKnightsThatSayNee Thu 10-Apr-14 08:46:13

Bring an inflatable paddling pool for your ds to sit in with a few toys, incase the grass is wet. Also really big inflatable balls are always fun and they pack down nicely. I have camped with dd from 5 months and the weather is a much bigger factor than is use to be but apart from that it's lots of fun.

charlietangoteakettlebarbeque Thu 10-Apr-14 09:14:32

Mummy - we have camped at Ewelease! Its fantastic! The views are astounding aren't they? Haven't been there in a few years as its always booked up so early. And yes, must be a great place to camp with a toddler, with the bales of hay and animals to pet.

We live in London but have family in Liverpool - so we can go camping in the Lake District or South Wales quite easily too.

Will check out Forgewood and Chafford Park too. Thank you for the suggestions. I really am getting excited now.

Theknightsthatsaynee (great name) - thanks for the suggestions. Duly noted!

We really couldn't do without a camp fire - luckily DS is very aware of things that are hot (to the point of being paranoid that even a slightly warm thing is boiling hot) and obviously we will be keeping an extra close eye on him.

RE: the weather - what to do with toddler if its absolutely pissing down?!


MummyPigsFatTummy Thu 10-Apr-14 10:13:54

Oh we took DD camping to Forgewood on the wettest weekend ever recorded I believe. Water was flowing through people's tents in the woods (another reason to camp in the field in my view). We put her in full waterproofs (you can get all in ones for toddlers but I prefer top and bottoms) and wellies and chucked her out of the tent with her little toddler pals. She had just as much fun in the rain.

Provided you also have full wet weather gear you can still go bug hunting/pond dipping, whatever and then come back to a nice dry tent/awning to change in. DD used to be pretty happy to sit in the tent and play with her toys too - nice change of environment.

Or if you really get stir crazy, find the nearest town and go for a swim or (heaven forbid) soft play...

charlietangoteakettlebarbeque Thu 10-Apr-14 10:22:06

Also - how on earth are we to put up our awning when there is a toddler running around?! It takes two of us (with difficulty) to put it up!!

MummyPigsFatTummy Thu 10-Apr-14 10:41:35

Put them in the van with Peppa Pig DVDs if you have a portable DVD player? Or with audio stories in the stereo if you dont? Or on the floor of the van with his toys?

Or give him a job like following you around with the pegs and handing them to you? It might slow you down a bit but can keep toddlers entertained for a while.

MummyPigsFatTummy Thu 10-Apr-14 10:42:53

That is if you are camping as a family. If you are with a group of friends, you find an unoccupied adult, given them a beer and the toddler to look after while you get on.

charlietangoteakettlebarbeque Thu 10-Apr-14 10:55:29

Hopefully we can get a group of us together - that will make a lot of things easier and more enjoyable! But if not, I will try putting him in the van with toys (or my mobile phone at a push - he could spend hours watching himself on video, the narcissist!!)

I can imagine him getting really frustrated and wanting to come out to see whats going on. In that case I will put him in charge of the pegs. Although all the poles etc makes me rather nervous with him around - and myself and DP must watch that we don't argue - putting up the awning usually results in us wanting to kill each other grin

hz Thu 10-Apr-14 11:56:49

Tent putting up argument all part of the fun! You will manage somehow. There are loads of good campsites in Kent and Sussex. Also check out Inwood and Abbotstone Wood, sister sites of Forgewood. Lot of camping in woods to be had and of course campfires.
You might be interested in the blog I write which reviews and maps campsites with campfires, mainly in the South but also some in South Wales + some ideas for things to do with the tiddler when camping. google yellowfieldscamping to find it. :-)
Welcome to the wonderful world of family camping!

charlietangoteakettlebarbeque Thu 10-Apr-14 12:01:19

hz - thank you I am going to have a read of your blog now.

drspouse Thu 10-Apr-14 14:28:50

We went camping (well, we took a largeish rented camper van - larger than a VW) when DS was about this age. We got a pop up tent type travel cot (like the Little Life ones) and put it on top of one of the larger seat cushions in the cab. This also meant it was dark for him in the evening and I could read/watch the Ipad (DH was doing not very exciting stuff out of the camper van in the evenings).

He did try to help when we were putting up my friend's tent next door, we just let him try and crawl under the canvas and moved him when we needed to.

charlietangoteakettlebarbeque Fri 11-Apr-14 09:03:14

drspouse - pop up tent in the van sound like a good idea - he rolls around and moves a lot during the night so it would be good to keep him contained!!

colleysmill Sat 12-Apr-14 09:13:17

Our t25 has a high top and ds has always slept up top - dh made a hinged barrier to stop him falling out when younger which is also useful for stopping stuff falling when travelling. For weekends we don't bother with the drive away awning and just use the pullout one with a windbreak.

You can get hammock beds that fit across the front seat but we tend to use the seats overnight for storing car seats and bags so it would not really work for us. I have seen online some ingenious people make hammocks or parcel type shelves that go across the van at the back so your feet slot underneath it on the rock and roll bed..

I would buy though one of those all in one waterproof suits to put on your toddler for damp weather and dewy mornings (saves many trouser changes if it's not shorts weather!) And rather than a buggy ds used his ride on balance bike for getting around as the buggy took up too much room in the van and was heavy going on grass!

drspouse Sun 13-Apr-14 04:50:16

When we first went in the camper van a bed guard would not have helped as DS would have climbed out. A pop up top bed would be fine from older i think but not at that age with our DSb(in fact not yet either, he's 27 mo now)

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