So, we are once more heading back to the fabulous world of camping. Yes, this is the camping season (even though the weather here doesn't seem to think it is), however camping is often notorious for either a spot of rain, or a ridiculous heatwave, so its good to be prepared for all.
Today we are meeting a friend of mine, Lisa, who recently went camping with her hubby, plus 3 year old and 7 month old. How brave I hear you say...I totally agree, so felt it only necessary that we quiz Lisa on how she coped camping with two very little people.
Here we go - over to you Lisa and family..
So tell us a bit about your family?
We are Lisa 39, Jem 41, Nell 3, Caity 7 months. We live in Woodend, country Victoria, and are recent converts to the country lifestyle, keen gardeners and outdoorsy types.
And where have you been of late with your little 'hips'?
Rose's Gap Folk Music Camp, The Grampians National Park. This is a special camp for music lovers with lots of workshops and performances run over a long weekend during the school holidays in September. Plenty of kids and young people, beginners and more experienced musicians. The emphasis is mostly on celtic-style folk and traditional music. This year there was a special feature on Indonesian and Javanese music. I did singing workshops and one for beginner ukelele (along with about 130 other people - it was the most popular workshop!), and hubby did beginners guitar. There was toddler music and singing every morning from 9 - 9.30 and a kids zone in the main hall with lots of activities. The whole experience was very left of centre, welcoming, warm and open-hearted.
How did you get there?
We jumped in the car and drove from Woodend.
Where did you stay?
A camping site in a recreation ground. There were toilets and washing facilities, a communal hall with a fire and kitchen and a camp canteen offering lunch and dinner.
Your biggest challenge?
Keeping tabs on Nell who was intent on getting to meet every person there! Luckily the atmosphere was very child-friendly and whenever she wandered too far or too intently into other people's space, someone always brought her back!
Any big recommendations?
If you love music, this is great fun for everyone! Even if only some people want to do the music stuff, there is so much to do in The Grampians. Jem went off for a long bike ride one day, and we all went for a bushwalk to Beehive Falls another day.
So what are your main tips about travelling with kids?
You don't need half of what you end up taking. But do take snacks and make sure that little one's blood sugar levels don't drop. Nell ended up grazing throughout the day rather than having set meals. Always be flexible and try to remember that you are supposed to be relaxing and having fun!
We all slept in a giant tent, probably much too big, but I envisaged being shut up in rain/cold and wanted extra space. Nell slept next to us on a mat on the floor. She had a sleeping bag, but we realised after a couple of struggles in the night that she wasn't used to it and just wanted to be under blankets like she is at home. Thank goodness for packing extra fleecy blankets! Caity was more of a worry. She's too big for her bassinet now, but not really big enough to sleep on a mat like us. In the end I had an old change table foam pad that I wrapped securely in yet another fleecy blanket (you can see how indispensable they were!) and then she had a gro-bag and blanket over the top of that. It kept her off the ground and secure in her own space. In all honesty, the tent was big enough for her portacot and next time I would take that, but hey - we managed!
As for quality of sleep... the first night was bad for everyone after being all discombobulated by the long journey and new environment. The second night Caity slept through like an angel but Nell had a huge tantrum in the middle of the night. On the last night we all had a good night's sleep - but it was very windy and that kept the grown-ups awake and worried about the tent falling down!!
As usual, the simple things with the kids made all the difference. Making sure that they ate regularly and had access to food that they would like. The camp provided meals, but they were a bit spicey and not always child-proof. So on the last day we went into Halls Gap and had fish & chips which meant we knew Nell had eaten a good amount. Sure enough she went to sleep without a problem and didn't wake up hungry in the night.
What would you not have left home without?
The pram. It was ideal for putting Caity in for a sleep, and carting tons of stuff from the tent to the activities. Plus we could take it almost all the way to the falls on our bushwalk! Also, lots of cheap fleece blankets. They were great for wrapping up cold, tired and cranky toddler and baby at various points in the day.
And finally, anything else you want to add?
We'll be back next year, and most certainly go camping again!
Many thanks Lisa for a fabulous camping review, and some really great tips.
Coming up - what to pack on your camping trip...