Yesterday, I was accused by my husband of planning family events just so I’d have something to blog about. Even though that isn’t true, I can’t help but admit that any type of family time can usually be posted about because it is always an experience worth sharing. This weekend was no different as we decided to take our three kids camping for the first time in six years. We loved to camp pre-children and were anxiously awaiting the day when we could put our tent up again and give it a try.
The biggest obstacle over the past few years was consistently having a child that wasn’t independently mobile on their feet. Nothing against crawling children, but they aren’t the best campers and usually end up eating way too many things off the forest floor. Eddie still isn’t totally independent, but he’d rather sit in a camp chair and relax then explore the ground on his own. So, with our youngest turning three this weekend and nothing on the calendar, we headed into the great outdoors.
Before I discuss the challenges, let me first say there were a few great moments we had as a family that made the trip a success. We went on a 6-mile family bike ride to the nearest town and enjoyed ice cream and a used bookstore. We also had a great time by the river swimming, splashing, and playing in the mud. We had the opportunity to see multiple deer and eagles and simply enjoyed sitting and eating by the campfire. The girls also really enjoyed fishing and Eddie spent that time getting a “break” from his siblings.
That brings us to the first obstacle of camping with Eddie. He still struggles with his younger sister and has a tantrum almost every time she speaks at all. We’ve discovered by having her give him a hug he seems to relax a little, but he still needs time apart which we allow him when he asks for a “break”. Finding alone time on a campsite is pretty tricky. We either had to take the girls and do something or put Eddie in the van for a bit.
It may sound mean to put him in a vehicle, but it was pretty hot this weekend and Eddie doesn’t regulate his temperature very well. So, by putting him in the van with the AC on and his favorite music for 15 – 20 minutes, we were adjusting his mood for the next few hours and keeping him from getting a fever.
The second biggest obstacle was Eddie’s irregular sleep patterns. He frequently wakes up before 4:00 in the morning and we weren’t sure what we’d do if that happened in a tent with all five of us sleeping together. Sadly, the first night, Eddie was up at 2:50 am. I woke up to Eddie trying to crawl over the other four of us and giggling the whole time. I managed to corral him for the next two hours on his own sleeping mat, but then we had to move to the car where he listened to music and I tried to sleep a little bit more.
Meanwhile, in the tent, the airbed had deflated and James and the girls weren’t sleeping either. Thank goodness the next night we all managed to stay in the tent until seven, even if it wasn’t the best sleep we’d ever had. We actually awoke to thunder, which Eddie thought was hysterical.
Overall, the weekend had its ups and downs, but we are definitely going to try again. We came up with some ideas that will make the next trip better and it will probably be a never-ending process of trying and then adjusting. We are definitely becoming skilled problem-solvers thanks to Eddie. Planning family activities that include Eddie are not always easy, but they are almost always worth it.