Camping with young children (Important advice for those wanting to hang on to a shred of sanity)

I took my little girls to visit my mom, step-father, and grandfather (who lives with them) since they hadn’t seen them in a while. The plan was to stay from Thursday to Sunday. I’m home writing this on Saturday evening which should explain how that little adventure turned out.

I opted to have us stay in the camper in their back yard in an attempt to avoid driving them completely insane, which the rambunctious jumping, screaming, and running around of my two precious angels would have accomplished over a period of time, especially in a house that was already filled to capacity.

My oldest daughter chose to stay home for the weekend to study for her high school exams. When I agreed with her that this was a good decision, I remember thinking that her sigh sounded kind of relieved. It was almost like she knew…hmmmm.

I must admit I’ve never actually been ‘camping’ with my young children before. Staying in a fairly spacious two bedroom cabin each year is definitely not along the same lines as being confined to a 1 room camper with two young kids (as I quickly learned).

As it turned out, we only stayed in the camper on Thursday and Friday night, and I have to be honest with you about the reason for this.

Although I love my dear, darling children more than life itself, if I had stayed in such cramped quarters with my sweethearts one more night I may have gone completely insane.

Anyone who has young children who are close in age will completely understand what I’m talking about without having to read any further and are probably already on their way to the post office to send me beautiful “Get well soon” cards.

Let me just assure those wonderfully thoughtful people that I will treasure those cards and keep them close just in case I forget recent events for even a moment and attempt to plan another ‘fun family outing’ like this one in the near future.

For those of you who are sitting there wondering what on earth could have been so traumatizing, allow me to explain.

My children are four and six. At this age, it is a requirement that at least sixty times a day they perform the following sequence of events:

Child #1 decides she wants what child #2 has, no matter what it is.


Child #1 realizes mom isn’t paying attention and grabs object from child #2 with astounding speed.


Child #2 recovers from the shock of suddenly finding her hands empty and looks over in confusion to find child #1 playing with her toy with a satisfied smirk on her face.


Child #2 throws head back and proceeds to cry instantly and VERY loudly.


It really is quite amazing how quickly children can go from smiling to wailing. The really talented ones can even squeeze out tears before their head completes the backward motion required to fully open the throat for maximum scream volume. It truly is an amazing feat to behold.

At this point I usually hang my head and pray that this time they might be able to work it out on their own…somehow learning from the last fifty or so times I walked them through the “Don’t grab things…give it back” speech. It has GOT to click in at some point right? Right? I mean seriously…they have NEVER gotten away with it…EVER!!! Why oh why do they think they will each and every time they try?

Interesting Fact: Did you know you can actually feel the moment your sanity begins to disappear?

So now…imagine this happening repeatedly while stuck in an 8 X 12 room with them because it’s raining outside and they are bored. There was absolutely no hope of escape.

I can tell you are slowly starting to understand my fragile grasp on sanity at this point. Did I mention it rained…A LOT!!!

So by Saturday, after waking up with a head-splitting migraine to yet another argument at 6:30 in the morning, I decided family camping time was over! We’d had just about as much fun as I could handle and it was time to go home before we went into ‘family fun’ overload.

I packed those munchkins up so fast they were still in their jammies when we skidded out of the driveway. I told my mom to mail their clothes and toys, and stopped only briefly to grab them breakfast before screeching out of town.

When I finally walked into our 1000 square foot home two hours later, I felt as if I had walked into a mansion. I’m pretty sure I heard a choir of angels as I stepped over the threshold carrying my two darlings over my shoulders. My sixteen year old stood there shaking her head slowly at me with a “You should have known better” expression. I just hung my head and nodded.

So what were you supposed to get out of this little account of my ‘fun’ weekend?

No matter how incredibly much you love your munchkins…never, never, NEVER camp in an 8 X 10 camper with a four and six year old if you are fairly certain you want to retain your current level of sanity. Especially if it’s raining! And even more so if one of them is coming down with the flu 🙁

Oh…this little tidbit is sure to make you chuckle; I have a tent site booked in three weeks for another weekend of “family fun”. It was booked long before our little ‘camper’ experience.

I must leave you now so that I can go curl up in a fetal position under my blankeys. There may or may not be tears involved.

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