A two week countdown to camping with your toddler
2 weeks before:
You Google images of the campsite and imagine your toddler splashing in the lake, picking up pine cones and climbing over mossy logs.
Ah, the simple life awaits.
In a few weeks, you’ll be kicking back in a camp chair and enjoying a steaming cup of coffee while your child collects chopsticks. You’ll create amazing family memories, get back to nature, and enjoy a relaxing slow pace. You buy a butterfly net and a camp chair for children in preparation.
1 week before:
You realize how much crap you have to pack.
The bicycles, the stroller, the travel high chair, the diapers, the wet wipes, the arm bands for children – where do you want to put all that?
You will find out how long the journey will take. You wonder if there are enough snacks in the world to survive so many hours in the car. You wonder if it’s worth it.
Maybe you should just stay home. Home is where the manger is and the gray noise machine and the running water. Home is where you all sleep well in your respective rooms. But you have already booked the site. Everyone goes.
2 days before:
You do the laundry, go grocery shopping, do more laundry, pack the entire contents of the children’s room into six large duffel bags, cook a giant lasagna that will feed you for days, prepare the children’s food, pack the plastic cups, cutlery and Assemble bowls, beach gear (sand toys, sun hat, swim diaper, sunscreen, bug spray, water shoes, hooded towel with the monkey ears on it), fold up the bike buggy, find your first aid kit, check the weather forecast several times, wash and pack every blanket in the house because you never know how cold it will be at night, load the pet things in, water the plants and finally pack a skinny bag with your own things as there is very little space left in the cart.
Oh, and you do most of it in that small window of time when your toddler is napping.
Don’t forget the last-minute items: the child’s favorite cuddly toy, without which he cannot sleep, the good sandals that actually stay on his feet, the sun hat with the chin strap, your toothbrush, your toothpaste, his toothbrush, his toothpaste .
Pack the stroller after using it in the morning. Bathe the child. Drain the diaper ghost. Take out the trash. Ask your husband if it’s really necessary to bring his dirt bike. Pack more diapers. Push extra blankets into every nook and cranny. Load up the car, buckle up the kid, call the dogs, pull up the carefully curated playlist of nursery rhymes…
5 more minutes …
You touch the boy’s forehead and realize he has a fever. You cancel the whole trip and stay at home instead.
They need four days to unload the car.
– Charlotte Helston gave birth to her first child, a wild baby boy, in the spring of 2021. Yo Mama is her weekly reflection on the wild, exciting, beautiful, messy and awe-inspiring journey of parenthood.
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