Guest Blog from Hayley Clemmens
Camping Survival Tips for the Cheltenham Maman
Seen the study linking camping to happy and healthy children in the news recently?
Been mad enough to book a camping holiday with your family this summer as a result and the very thought of it is having a very real and damaging effect on mental health as you lie awake worrying about it at night?
Well this post is for you my fellow CheltenhamMamans.
In my experience (and having camped for over 30 years from being a babe in arms to a mother holding a babe in arms and beyond) camping takes organisation, gin and nerves of steel in equal measure. Here’s why.
You will lose your shit
Whether it’s the tent pegs, one of your children or God forbid the cork screw, you are going to lose your shit.
If you haven’t already lost it on the car journey and managed to refrain from murdering the smug lady on the Sat Nav who has sent you down the same dead end country lane for the umpteenth time while a little voice in the back asks ‘are we there yet?’ you will most probably lose your shit with your partner as you’re trying to figure out how to put the tent up.
He will be expecting you to be a mind reading octopus with strong man biceps, braying at you to hold this pole or tighten that rope, while you are trying to keep an eye on the kids who will be running around like escaped beasts at the zoo, simultaneously shouting like a fisherman’s wife to ‘get off your brother’ or ‘put down that stick right now’.
It will get wet
We’re talking the Great British Summer here, so odds on it is going to be a very wet affair. My advice is wine, gin, wine and some more gin with a sprinkling of good old fashioned indoor games – but leave the board games at home. Far too fiddly and too many pieces to go missing!
Take a pack of cards. Engage the children in a game of Tippet across the camping table with a 50 pence piece. It’s surprising just how much a simple game with a bit (well, alright, maybe a lot) of friendly inter-family competition can keep them entertained until someone loses and you’re back to my first point as someone loses their shit completely.
The cards could come in handy after a long hard battle to get the kids to bed too. With the pitter patter of the rain on canvas, the warm glow of the camping lantern and even warmer fuzz of slightly too much alcohol consumption you could be tempted into enjoying a few more adult related card games of your own. This of course could help make up for the argument you had earlier in the day putting up the tent, but only if you manage a good erection and the tent hasn’t sprung any leaks!
Say ‘bye, bye’ to routine
When camping all routines go out of the window. You’ll brush the children’s teeth before bed then they’ll end up eating sugary toasted marshmallows on the campfire as you read their bed time story. Tomato ketchup will count as one of their five a day and come what would be the norm for bed time at home your child will be found feral rolling with a newly formed pack of friends on scooters in their pyjamas.
And a quick word on bed time. To avoid any of the aforementioned bedtime battles (which from painful experience can quickly escalate to something quite spectacular) wait until you literally have to pick your child up from the floor where they have dropped in a happy heap of exhaustion.
They’ll be pleased as punch at staying up so late and far more pliable so you’ll have an easier job of putting them to bed. They’ll be far more likely to sleep through the 4am dawn chorus too, which although is a heavenly taste of nature is quite frankly an absolute taste of hell when you’re faced with the very real prospect of having to keep your own brood quiet until a more respectable hour in courtesy of other campers.
The truth? Camping is hard work with a family, but the rewards are high.
Some of my most terrifying but terrific memories come from camping with my children. It’s exhausting but exhilarating, all at the same time.
So remember to pack the corkscrew, go with the flow and enjoy making special memories.
And if it is all a complete disaster? You’ll be sharing the stories and having a good laugh about it together in years to come.
Hayley Clemmens is a mum to a three year old girl, four year old boy and fifteen year old step son and lives with her husband and English Springer Spaniel just outside Cheltenham. With a love for VWs and the great outdoors she offers her unique insight into the world of camping with children in tow. You can follow Hayley on Instagram or Facebook.