We’re hoping to take a camping trip as a family soon, but I was a little concerned about how we would get on with our first attempt. You know, sleeping in the same outside space as pre-school kids. That’s when Katie, my other half, decided we would be camping in the garden one night as a practice run.
Now it should be noted at this point that I’m susceptible to stress, one of my less favourable qualities. If things don’t go as planned, I become uneasy. Tetchy even. So when my eldest wanted to make my technical exercise (tent measuring) an adventure in the garden, it took me a while to agree to it. But when I gave in to my freaky controlling ways, it became an amazing experience!
Camping in the garden
I’ve put my top 5 things I learned whilst camping in the back garden. Follow these and I guarantee no matter what activity you are doing, the rewards will be infinitely better than turning into a psycho stressed out bunny!
1) Be spontaneous
You don’t have to plan to have fun. Just because we have kids doesn’t mean we have to have rules and conditions on everything we do! There’s no reason why we shouldn’t be able to react and adapt to our children’s creative needs as we would for their health and well-being. So try going with the flow now and again. It can be quite liberating.
2) Be inclusive
Cooking lunch, packing the car, tidying up, pitching a tent? These are just a few of the several hundred things we do as adults but there is no reason why (when it’s safe to do so) we can’t include our children in these relatively mundane tasks. Giving small tasks to the little one gives them a sense of belonging, achievement and it can be really fun for them too! Well, if you follow the next few points, that is
3) Be patient
It really is a virtue, be prepared to wait for your reward. Seeing your little one’s face light up when they take part in an activity or when they succeed in doing something solo, is the best thing ever. It’s the taking part that counts, not how fast we get it done!
4) Be supportive
If what you are doing is complex or takes a long time (like painting a wall and watching it dry), consider that your child’s attention span is even shorter than yours! Verbal encouragement reassures them that they are doing well. In turn, this strengthens their sense of achievement and helps to keep them engaged in the family activity. If they put the toys away in record time, for example, celebrate with high fives and run around the room. Which ties nicely into number 5!
5) Have fun!
Go crazy, turn enthusiasm up to 200% and be vocal. If it’s boring for you, 9/10 times it’s going to be pretty dull for your kids too!
Want to camp without the kids?
If you like the idea of camping, but want to do it in an amazing part of the country, surrounded by other dads and enjoying a host of fantastic activities, the Dadsnet Campout 2022 is for you.
It’s Saturday 10th to Sunday 11th September in the peaceful Lincolnshire countryside and it’s all about meeting other dads. We’ll have axe throwing, football tennis, beer tasting and more to give you the perfect weekend away from your dad duties. Come and join us by getting tickets through this link.
Garden camping lessons
Upon reflection, I think I learned that I can be a better parent for my kids and enjoy the experience of play a lot more by letting go of those controls I have put into place as an adult. I’m so used to things being a certain way and at times it’s been a battle between my life before and after children. Without doubt, it is far better today than ever before and if I ever feel a little stressed out (often brought on when I step on a toy), I just take a breath and focus on the positive in every situation. Camping in the garden was such a great help with this.
Here’s the video of us pitching the tent with Katie and with Connie watching. Let me know what strategies you employ when dealing with stress, or on how you create a positive environment for your kids to play in the comments section below!