Camping with kids is a fun and exciting way to spend time with the entire family. The great outdoors is an endless treasure trove of adventures like fishing, biking, hiking, mosquito bites, sweating through your underwear and chasing kids all day to make sure they don't drown in the lake.
The typical camping with kids adventure rolls like this:
Spend 24 hours packing and preparing for the camping trip because heaven help you if you forget a life saving essential item out in the wilderness like bags of potato chips in every single flavor, someone's swimsuit bottoms or the economy-sized French's mustard when you're out in the wilderness.
After packing two coolers, five sleeping bags, two tents, and enough food for three days, be prepared because now the only place to put the kids is on the roof.
Back in the good 'ol days, our parents used to shove us in the trunk of the station wagon, lodged between the pile of sleeping bags and cases of Bud Light, but this luxury is no longer afforded for us modern parents. Time to piece your "way more crap than you need, but you'll still forget the things you actually need" camping supplies in the car like the most intricate jig saw puzzle of your life.
You'll feel great about your efforts when you first get into the car, but about 2 hours into the long drive to your camping grounds, all the things you forgot will start popping in your head like bubble pop-ups.
Naturally, you remembered to bring the brand new box of 10,000 assorted Band-Aids and the 10 lb. tub of Vita-Gummies, but you forgot the toilet paper.
Accept this fact, cry about it if you must, then move on.
Camp ground eating is a free for all and you'll be too sweaty to care. Pull out the chips, the hot dog buns, 20 assorted condiments, and 13 packages of Oreos and just let the family dive in.
It would be nice if you could relax, but roasting the hot dogs over the fire will have you on edge. You'll zoom in on the one accident-prone child and lock your sights on them throughout the entire meal. There's always one so clumsy they'll manage to trip, stumble and roll while sitting casually in a lawn chair (probably the middle child), so watching them hover over the open fire with their hot dog will have your adrenaline blowing out your ears.
Thanks to your cat like reflexes throughout the roasting ordeal, karate chopping them away from the fire whenever they get too close, everyone makes it out fine. Now it's time to let the kids pile up their plate high and deep with ketchup and mustard with a side of hot dog. Your husband is grilling a $30 steak he purchased for just such an occasion - because apparently he likes to treat himself in the great outdoors? And you're so tired you're just going to fill up on 5 single packs of cheesy puffs.
What comes out of your kids in the lake is the lake's problem, but what comes out of them in your tent is definitely your problem.
If you haven't carried a barefoot child to an outdoor bathroom in the middle of the night, then you haven't truly camped. You brought the tub of hand-sanitizer for just an occasion, but at this point you've completely given up. Your feet look like you're wearing mud-pie shoes so dousing yourself in hand-sani can't save you now.
Just set them down on a suspect toilet covered in daddy longlegs and pray you both make it out alive.
Camping with children is like wearing clothes in the shower: it's not relaxing and you'll end up chaffed. But, like someone who successfully completed the local gym's boot camp, you will emerge from your experience much stronger and somehow slightly heavier than when you first started.
Camping with adults is filled with starry nights by a warm fire, drinking wine coolers and laughing hysterically while simultaneously trying not to choke and die from smoke inhalation.
Camping with kids is filled with starry nights spent cutting s'mores out of your kid's hair.
It's not that one is better than the other, per se, it's just that camping with kids comes with stress levels only rivaled by that one time you tried to sneak two bottles of wine into the movie theater with your girlfriends.
Know this: If you can survive a camping trip with children who are deathly terrified of mosquitoes - you can do anything.
Now that the entire family is sunburnt, sandy in bodily crevices no one knew existed and slightly damp in what should have been your set of "dry" clothes - it's time to load up the car and head back home.
Initially, everything was packed and loaded with surgical precision. Now, all the tents, sleeping bags and clothes are just all bundled up into huge balls that you'll somehow manage to stuff into the car without breaking too many traffic laws.
Despite all the obstacles, you'll look behind you at the kids with their sunburnt, mosquito bitten, dirt and mustard caked cheeks and see their big grins. They had a great time with memories that will last them forever. Suddenly your pink polka dot mosquito bitten skin and the unbearable chaffing in-between your thighs are totally worth it.
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