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Little Mister’s First Camping Trip: During and After.

To see how we prepared, the ‘before’ post is available here x

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Seriously, during the Little Mister’s first ever camping experience, the Little Mister had SO MUCH FUN. Surprisingly, so did my husband and I! It was an exhausting experience, but a satisfying one. It was exactly the change of scenery that we needed as a little family. I was feeling like I’d been stuck in a rut for too long (even my blogging inspiration had up and left me) and I felt like the Little Mister was getting restless. It was time to shake things up!

Here’s a little run down of our trip and what we got up to 🙂

Day 1: We arrived!! It was stinking hot and sunny at our campsite, so my husband, dad and brother set up the tent as quickly as possible, while I chased after the Little Mister. I began to wonder what we’d gotten ourselves into, my dreams of the three of us taking lovely day time naps together dashed – too hot!! We walked down to the local takeaway shop on the waterfront (somewhat of an institution) and bought the BEST fish and chips EVER. I had thought I was too sweaty and icky to want food, but it was awesome. The Little Mister squawked like a freakin’ seagull each time we reached for a chip, but we tricked him with morsels of tasty fish instead – sucked in!

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The Little Mister struggled a bit that night, because he’d never slept in a tent before and we’d thrown him off with a new environment. Looking back, it also became clear that he was cutting a tooth (his mouth is positively exploding with them at the moment)! It took an hour or so (and a little drive in the car) to settle the poor little guy, but once he was asleep, he slept ALL NIGHT! Even the kookaburras (and possibly all the species of the noisiest birds in the world), the cars driving by and the people talking and moving about didn’t disturb him! It probably worked in our favour that we were sleeping a couple of feet away – made him feel secure.

Day 2: My dad thinks he’s really cool now, because he’s gotten in on the paddleboarding trend (yeah yeah you went to Hawaii without me blah blah). I will admit, it is really fun. We all had a go at it (even the Little Mister had a little ride) and it is pretty addictive. I stopped because I was scared I was going to run over a couple of kids on boogie boards, playing in the shallows, but I really did want to have another crack at it! Also? We ordered fish and chips for dinner. Yep. That’s two days in a row, folks. Nutrition? What’s that? Also, it was an excuse to drive down for it so the Little Mister would fall asleep…he did. And he slept all through the night again. I was impressed!

Day 3: Holy cow. The Little Mister was teething up a freakin’ storm. Despite sleeping for a good hour and a half in the car that morning (his record day time sleep for the whole holiday), he was a little wreck. The day went on for so long that I started to become convinced that we had the terrible 2s a bit early. Thank goodness for Bonjela and Nurofen is all I can say! The poor thing even became upset when we took him to the water (usually it’s all smiles and excitement), so we pulled him out and gave lots of cuddles. We stayed positive and hoped for the best!

Day 4: It rained in the morning. Everything was soggy and muddy, with the Little Mister falling over in a few puddles, so we decided that we’d go for some long drives through the forests and it was beautiful.

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Are Karri trees not THE most beautiful trees?!! I couldn’t stop taking photos. You’re lucky I’m only showing you one. Oh, and by the way, the Little Mister returned to his usual, gorgeous self today. I was one relieved mum!

Day 5: Went for a big hike. Little Mister fell asleep for most of it, in the baby carrier my husband wears on his back. He (my husband) feels like it’s good training for a huge 5 day hike he’s planned for later this year, but I don’t think he counted on the Little Mister leaning at funny angles the whole way…the weight distribution was…interesting…

After our 6km walk (which covered almost any kind of terrain you can think of), we felt so good about ourselves that we plonked ourselves in the local cafe and ordered some replacement calories…oops. That’s not how you do it? Oh well. haha.

Day 6:

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Started at 3am. I awoke to hear our chatty campsite neighbours talking (tents are good for eavesdropping from BTW). I was like, “Urgh…shut up…”, but then I heard what they were saying….smell of smoke…fire vehicles…loud hailers and two way radios going off…UH OH!

Suddenly I smelt the smoke and realised my husband had been awake listening too! We eavesdropped some more and realised the fire was RIGHT WHERE WE HIKED THE PREVIOUS DAY (only a little way up the road). Some awful little arsonist had decided it would be fun to wake the whole town, it seemed. The fire was quite close to where we were staying and we were alert, but calm. I checked the website for fire warnings and the situation wasn’t too dire yet, so we tried to get some sleep, while keeping one ear open.

Oh, and the Little Mister slept through all of it…we were on a roll!

We woke with ash on our tent and everything smelt…smoked.

We didn’t want to stray too far today, because we wanted to know the fire was contained before abandoning our camp. We drove up to a look out and watched where the fire was. Thankfully, it wasn’t a big, angry fire like we’ve seen before (my parents had a close call a while back) and the fire emergency people were really amazing, giving it everything they had from the get go. We went for a drive to a famous local surf break and I had to block out my mum’s voice as she kept saying, “This is so much better than Waimea and California…”

Travel brag. Bah humbug!

Day 7: Our last full day at camp. I was starting to feel the ‘last day’ blues. They’re totally real, guys. I was a bit grumpy and tired – to be honest, the fire had killed some enthusiasm with the middle of the night adrenaline rush and the lack of sleep. I was starting to fantasise about my comfy bed at home (after rolling off the air mattress a couple of times) and the simple creature comforts that make life with a toddler a bit easier. I’d had an amazing holiday, but like most camping trips, you end them at the right time, when you start to appreciate what you have at home again. Luckily, my mood was lifted when my parents said, “If you want to go kayaking, we’ll look after the Little Mister…”

My husband and I were out of there LIKE A SHOT. I was all like, “Here’sasnackandhissippycupandasparenappyandsomewipesseeyalater…”

I think we left behind a dust cloud and some tumbleweeds rolling about hahaha. This little break lifted my mood considerably and my husband and I pretended we’ve been kayaking experts all our lives, while trying not to feel self conscious when people on motorboats cruised by, having a little stare. Tick that off our long list of physical activities for the holiday! I was starting to fool myself that I’m a sporty person. Let’s just ignore the fact that we ate double our body weights in soft cheese, dips and crackers…don’t even mention the wine… 🙂

Day 8: Packing up the campsite was a little more time consuming than we’re used to! It was hard to do things together, so we worked in tandem. My parents were great because they were able to look after the Little Mister while we shoved the tent back into its bag (why are the bags always THIS much too small????) and packed the last of our things.

We got in the car, said goodbye to my parents and before we’d even left town the Little Mister was fast asleep. Bliss. We were so happy to get home after a weird drive (we had witnessed a bizarre accident and people were not driving like they’d earned their licences).

I have to admit, I am missing my holiday a bit now that I’m home with my wifi, air conditioning, solid walls, separate sleeping space to the Little Mister, my laptop, my DVR and my kitchen appliances! There was a lot of good stuff we did – we were more physically active: paddleboarding, hiking, kayaking etc. We were able to devote quality time to each other as a little family much more than you can when you’re running your daily home life, and there was no television to inhibit our interactions. The Little Mister was making massive progress in his development (I’m sure it’s his age too but he just thrived), and life just felt really meaningful. I want to take this experience with me throughout the year and try to hold onto the spirit of it.

What did I learn?

– It really pays to have a supportive partner/helping person. If my husband hadn’t been a really involved, hands on parent too, the trip would have been a nightmare. We tended to work in tandem (sometimes giving each other time to shower or just have five minutes to themselves) and fell into a great rhythm. It was more intense than being at home, because you can’t childproof the outdoors (I’m sure some of us have tried) and it would have been tough without any support. Of course, my parents were brilliant also.

– You have to be willing to break the ‘rules’ and routines. The Little Mister napped at all different times, for not long at all. He scoffed a few more hot chips than I would allow at home and ate a few more pre-packaged meals than usual. He was occasionally bribed with snacks and he was driven around in order to fall asleep on a few occasions (something we’ve never done at home). The Little Mister even had bath time much earlier than usual, because it was just easier to take him after a swim or an activity when the other babies/toddlers at the caravan park weren’t forming a peak hour bath time line! We surrendered ourselves to this, as we were in a different environment and trusted that the Little Mister would know the difference once we were home. I hope I don’t sound like a wanker, but if you hear me out, the point is that it was important to relax. If we’d tried to be as strict as we are at home, none of us would have had any fun! We’d be stressed out to the max, because it would have been almost impossible to recreate home in a tent! We adapted to what was best and if something didn’t work, we were flexible. It paid off. It was actually fun to not be in control of everything. I’m going to relax more at home now. I realise he CAN sleep if I don’t just shoosh everyone after 7pm (note to my husband: I’m not a miracle worker – stop banging the freakin’ kitchen cupboards!). I am NOT going to wreck him if I take him out at nap time occasionally. He proved himself over and over and now we’re home he’s settled back in with almost no fuss (I say ALMOST – perhaps a little understandable anxiety at nap time). I should give us all a little more credit 🙂

– A change of scenery is not just good for the Little Mister but for my husband and I. We came home happy and giddy and ready to connect more as a couple, not just as co-parents. Those short moments alone in the evening where we held hands and walked to the toilet block (haha how romantic), sharing our reflections on our day – just awesome. We were reminded of how well we can work as a team (usually erecting a tent – not a euphemism you pervs – or paddling in a kayak IN TIME WITH EACH OTHER are our weaknesses LOL). I hope that we can recreate this nice feeling with more us-time and date days/nights as we’ve had very few of these since the Little Mister was born.

– I know I’ve joked before about the ‘children should not ever be exposed to the evils of television before the age of 2 – or ever’ people…but I did see how less television benefited the Little Mister. While he needed some Giggle and Hoot on my mum’s tablet sometimes before bed (quiet time and something familiar), he really did thrive without it. I loved that without any at all, we all chatted more. We’ve never been excessive with the TV around the Little Mister (I do agree that moderation is best), but I am seeing where I could cut back (except for when I need to go to the toilet!!!).

– I am strong. Not mentally (I know that already – some call it stubborn but I disagree – of course). Physically! I mean, I know I’m strong in relation to being a mummy. I lift the Little Mister a million times a day after all! I mean me as an individual! All my life I’ve struggled with a lack of upper body strength, but on this holiday I paddled the sh*t out of everything and I walked kilometres without feeling like dying! This made me feel all empowered and womanly – HEAR ME ROAR! 🙂 I needed that boost.

– I want to do it again.

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You can read about our camping trip from the Little Mister’s perspective here!

Have you camped with a toddler (or toddlers, you brave soul) before? How was your experience? Are you considering it for the first time? Share by leaving a comment x

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