Our First Family Camping Trip – Prince William Forest Park
This year for his birthday, my husband requested a camping trip. With our two year old and our two month old accompanying us, that made it our very first family camping trip!
Keeping It Simple
Keeping in mind we had two kids with us now, we kept the outing simple. Our original plan was to camp at Sky Meadows State Park which is about an hour away from our home. Our campsite there was going to be a mile hike from the parking lot. However, when that park closed for a Search and Rescue operation, we had to revise our plan. We went to the even closer Prince William Forest National Park and the expedition was made even simpler as our car was parked right next to our site. Initially I was disappointed in the lack of a hike, but I did like being very liberal with my packing knowing the car was right there. I was particularly liberal with layers for the kids. : )
Our menu was insanely simple too. Hot dogs, campfire baked potatoes… and s’mores. We don’t really eat hot dogs at home, so it was a special treat for two year old Sagan. He ate 2 1/2 of them!
Beforehand, Ryan and I were strategizing how to most peacefully limit Sagan’s s’mores intake. That turned not to be an issue. He may have liked s’mores, but they paled in comparison to the hot dogs.
For our campfire baked potatoes, we wrapped them in tin foil, threw them in the fire Friday night, and let them do their thing. Saturday morning, we woke up and pulled them out of the ashes and devoured them for breakfast. Sagan’s reaction after his first bite:
That was my reaction too. Campire baked potatoes are a favorite of mine. No salt, no butter, or any kind of fixings. They are delicious as is.
For this outing, the act of camping and nature itself was entertainment enough for our two year old. He very much enjoyed helping with the normal camping chores such as setting up the tent, gathering wood, and starting a fire.
We were enjoying the campfire when Sagan suddenly requested, “Night night.”
“We’re going night night in the tent,” Ryan said.
Sagan looked over at the tent and said, “No Night Night Tent. Night Night Home.” : )
His hesitation was fleeting. Once we were all in the tent, Sagan was immediately at ease and went to sleep almost right away. We co-sleep and have done a fair amount of traveling. No matter where we’ve gone and what strange rooms and beds we’re in, Sagan has had two constants with bedtime– his mommy and his daddy.
It might also help that at home we sleep on the floor, so camping wasn’t a big leap.
Recent studies indicate that camping can help reset your circadian rhythms within a week. Well within a single night, we all feel asleep much earlier than usual.
I exclusively pumped with Sagan. We never camped when he was an infant, but we had talked about it enough that I had considered the logistics– getting batteries for the breastpump and enough ice for the cooler, packing enough bottles and cleaning wipes. It would have been do-able, but there would be effort involved.
With little Dyson, we are breastfeeding directly and I have to say, it’s liberating. To feed my child, there was only one thing I needed to pack– ME!
Plus I got to take in some pretty good views while nursing as well. : )
Sagan’s old MobyWrap continues to prove to be super useful with baby Dyson as well. Dyson rode in it while we gathered wood, did a moonlit walk around the campground, and just normal camping activities.
Parenting Cliché Fail
When Sagan woke up after his first night in the tent, he was really energetic and excited. As he played and explored the campsite and the woods, he expressed his giddiness verbally… and loudly. Aware that there were campers in nearby sites who were perhaps still trying to sleep, I found myself spewing out a common parent phrase:
“Use your inside voice!”
The only big downside of the trip was my own mind. At first, my sleep wasn’t the best because I kept worrying about little Dyson. I had him layered up, elevated off of the cold ground in his car seat, and right next to me, but I still fretted about waking up to find that he froze to death…silently, without making a peep. As a result, I kept waking up and poking him to check his body temperature. After the first time he woke up to nurse, however, I realized all was well and normal. I was able to sleep much better after that.
One thing I could have improved upon with Dyson is the layers I chose for him. His base layer was zip-up pajamas, so when I changed his diaper overnight, I had to expose his chest. (Narami, you mentioned this on Twitter, but the lesson didn’t fully sink in until I was changing diapers in the cold). Next time, I’ll make a more strategic choice.
Post Camping Hike
After a great night of camping, we decided to check out Carter’s Pond on the way out of the park. It was brief and beautiful and Sagan got to meet the Polythemus Moth. The moth is named after a cyclops because of the fake eyes it has on its wings. Ryan showed Sagan the moth’s fake eyes and its real eyes.
Our first camping trip was a great success. We may have been celebrating Ryan’s birthday, but it ended up being a gift for the entire family. I might have to steal the idea for my OWN birthday. 🙂