Let me start this post by saying, “I’m not an expert on this subject.” I made some mistakes last week. I was sometimes grumpy and frequently exhausted. But we survived. And I learned a few things that will be rendered absolutely useless by the time we attend with a three year old and a one year old next year. But, all the same, I thought I’d pass my knowledge on in case you’re going to attempt the insanity as well.
1. Take toys. One parent admonished me for bringing so many toys, explaining that his kids didn’t bring any toys because they need to learn to love nature. Don’t get me wrong. My kids love being outdoors. But when they wake up at 7:00 in the morning, finish their breakfast before 7:30 and then want to play… I’m not really gung-ho for a 7:45am hike. Okay? As a side tip: take the toys in a laundry basket. Makes for easy carrying to and from your vehicle and easy for the kids to help put the toys away. Containing messes is important in small spaces.
2. Take naps. I know you want to enjoy your trip. Maybe, like me, you have friends and family with whom you want to visit. But if you magically get both kids to sleep at the same time, find the couch and pass out. You will not regret it.
3. Take all medicine. Infant Tylenol or Motrin. Children’s Ibuprofen. Cold medicine. Teething Tablets and Orajel. Burn Jel. Adult Ibuprofen. Diaper rash cream. Benadryl. And don’t forget the Midol. Because your infant will start cutting another tooth. Your toddler-preschooler will hit his head while coming off the slide too quickly and complain of a headache and/or end up with his cousin’s cold. Your infant who never, ever gets a diaper rash will get a diaper rash. You will have a constant headache. And, yes, despite nursing round the clock because your infant is freaked out in new surroundings, your cycle will arrive mid-week. Joyfun!
4. Don’t forget the step stool for the big potty. Whoops.
5. Empty your camera’s memory card before you leave. Whoops again! Thankfully I lugged my laptop along with us, despite not having any internet connection, so I was able to dump my card mid-week and empty it at that point. (Of note: I didn’t turn the computer on again. It was lovely not to work for ten whole days!)
6. Take lots of pictures and don’t forget the video camera. Because, on a day that your significant other isn’t with you, your youngest will start crawling. And then your older child will be insanely cute and you’ll want to capture it for memory’s sake. And and and. Don’t leave your camera in the cottage, ever. Always take it with you. Be that Mom. You won’t regret it.
7. Use AT&T! I was one of the very few on the campgrounds (others also had AT&T) with working cell service. Mind you, I had to sit on the front porch with my camera propped against the screen on the railing and use my Jawbone Bluetooth Headset so as not to move the phone and interrupt reception. But it was so nice to be able to call out and receive calls. I think this is the first time I’ve been pleased with my cell provider in years. Kudos, AT&T!
8. Tell anyone coming in to visit to bring corn. Seriously. We ate so much corn on the cob that I’m surprised we’re not sitting here, looking like corn on the cob. But it was easy to make. Delicious to eat. Even BigBrother ate some and he’s a picky dude. Speaking of food, if your younger child is still eating baby food, count out how many jars/containers will be needed ahead of time and bring four to six extra for spills, hungry days and extra babies that come by. Also, don’t forget to take a container of prunes. But beware. See next point.
9. If you cloth diaper, take your whole stash. I know. That’s a lot of diapers and it takes up a lot of room in your vehicle. But it’s worth it. We lasted four days before I had to wash at the laundromat on the campground. LittleBrother could have gone for two more days but BigBrother, who still wears cloth at night despite being day potty trained, only has five night time diapers. In short, I only had to sit at the laundromat twice over the span of ten days. Take your detergent and wash routine stuff with you and be prepared to do some good wash-stripping when you get home. Otherwise, this was not even an issue to think about at camp. I’m so glad we didn’t listen to the “masses” and use disposables for ten days. (Also, LittleBrother had one small rash because we somehow missed a GIGANTOR bowel movement. It cleared up in a day with some natural creme.) Uhm, also? Regarding the prunes? Don’t double up and give him two packs of prunes just because the first pack “didn’t work.” It did. It just takes some time. The doubled up prunes created our first diaper blow out EVER while cloth diapering. Whoops.
10. Enjoy yourself. I know it’s stressful with two kids under two. But isn’t it stressful at home? Take time out to just really enjoy your children, the nature around you and the other amenities provided by your camping experience. Take walks with the kids or pawn them off on someone and take that early morning hike by yourself. Sit on the floor, however uncomfortable that makes your joints, and color with your two year old for a good hour while your youngest is taking the morning nap. Chase them. Laugh with them. And when they go to bed at night, be thankful for them. They won’t be this little forever. In fact, when you take this camping trip in ten years, they’ll have better things to do than sit and color with you or cuddle in the chair in the morning. Yes, you’ll be exhausted after your trip but that’s just part and parcel with parenting, I think.
We really just had such a great time despite the exhaustion and sleep issues. I am looking forward to next year’s adventures with two who are fully mobile (as I assume LittleBrother will be running by then). I’m guessing next year’s main issue will be that LittleBrother won’t be fully verbal and thus easily frustrated and he’ll also be jealous/angry when BigBrother gets to go off to Preschool class and he has to stay at the cottage with boring old Mommy. Such is life, right?