We have one of those giant family-sized LL Bean camping tents. Unpacking it and getting the poles into the right pockets in order to set the thing up is about as frustrating as putting up Christmas lights. But once the tent is assembled we have an instant camping adventure right there in the backyard.
This year we are camping with a baby. Our newest member of the family is turning one in a few short, fast weeks. He has only just recently mastered solid foods and walking. The backyard is now the greatest thing in the world to this kid. Everywhere he looks are fun things to put in his mouth.
Meanwhile, the backyard is now the most terrifying thing in the world to me. Everywhere I look there are dangerous things for the kid to put in his mouth.
Not being terribly risky parents, we decided to beta test this camping business by letting the kids get acclimated in the backyard before we attempt a real trip away from home.
Our first night of “camping” did not go so well. Before the stars came out both kids – the high-octane energy four year-old, and the newbie toddler adventurer – were both summoned back inside. This backyard experience inspired a Rules For Camping With A Baby list.
1) Dead bugs, sticks, wet leaves, and abandoned clothespins are all free game.
2) Camping is a clothing optional sport. This includes diapers.
3) Moms have no say over the number of graham crackers you get.
4) Stealing your brother’s shoes and hiding them in the stroller is OK.
5) Chewing on the garden hose is not a great idea, but it tastes like freedom.
6) A tent is to roughhouse in.
7) Sleeping bags are for peeing on.
8) Mom’s shoes are allowed to be stored in the kiddie pool.
9) If you want to eat another s’mores then ask dad. Mom always says no.
10) Sticks are for poking.
11) Dead bugs are for freaking out mom.
12) And also for eating.
13) There is no sleeping while camping.
14) Just screaming, jumping, and throwing.
15) You get to poop outside. Or so I hear. Mom wouldn’t let me.
16) Feeding your brother’s hamburger to the dog is not cool. You get the Mom Glare.
17) Dad is the keeper of the flashlight. Be really cute and he’ll let you play with it.
18) We chase lightening bugs, not horse flies.
19) Throwing your brother’s hotdog on the ground gets you in trouble.
20) Getting buckled into the stroller is the camping equivalent of a timeout.