Camping with 4 toddlers, is definitely an adventure. Our kids ages are 4, 3, 1 (2 in August) and 6 months. We all had a blast. But you’ve gotta have the right mind set going in. Oh! We also had our dog, Max. We spent 5 days and 4 nights.
We have a large Dodge Ram, fits 8 people with a decent size area in the back. With camping you’ve already got to pack all the gadgets and gizmos to survive. Tent, cooler, food, trash bags, flashlights and so on. But with 4 toddler there will be extra chairs, extra water bottles, extra blankets.
This isn’t a bad thing, but you gotta make sure you pack simple and smart. Really only bring what is NEEDED, not what is wanted, or you will be overloaded.
A few extra things we brought were; magnet toys, pull out play pen; beach blanket, each kids had their own back pack with a few things they wanted to bring, leap frog books. Now these things were used. So it wasn’t wasted space. But know your kids will want to go and adventure out and find their own fun.
Adventuring with the kids:
I made it point to really encourage the kids to go out and find their own fun when the time was right. What I mean is there is a time to sit by the fire, there’s a time to eat and there’s a time to sleep. We aren’t just doing whatever the kids want.
Before we left I found a few free print out of savager hunts for toddlers, best decision ever. The older two kids were a bit confused by this at first. “Why would we want to go search for this? Or I cant find it!” But once they were able to find one or two by themselves it took off.
They ventured off into the woods (right on our camp site) searching for different flower, plants and birds. As they did this the younger two were either crawling in their play pen or playing with cars, maybe finding rocks.
On the warm days, we took the kids to the beach, park and out fishing. As we did this we would walk the kids to each place. The camp ground we went to was a great set up for kids. Each stop was .5 to 1 mile away so it was near camp. During the walks I would stop frequently to check out the plants around us or go into the woods a bit to find what other fun things we could find. Teaching the kids what plants are safe and good to eat.
We have one boy who has serve allergies so food was a tricky thing. We cant just go buy cheap hot dogs, buns or marshmallows. But we made it work, and it went very smooth, thankfully.
A typically morning was either oatmeal with cinnamon sugar (I added xylitol) or potato and eggs. I did, for the first time, made a dry pancake mix. I put my typical recipe, dry parts, in a half gallon mason jar. Than on the day we decided to cook it, I added two eggs some water and shook it. IT WORKED! I was shocked, mainly because it was good.
There is a way to eat healthy and still camp in a easy simple way. We also brought ground beef, potatoes, carrots, kidney beans, and onions. With a small amount of prep work we made delicious, allergy friendly foods for our kids.
Another fun one was potatoes, onion, and kidney beans, wrapped in tin foil and thrown unto the fire. The kids loved watching us cook it and thought it was fun way to eat.
I also made our own marshmallows out of gelatin, marshmallow root, honey and water. Every kid loves roosting marshmallows. I did this before we left.
Depending on the time and area you go, you can find your own herbs just around your site. Which we did, we found mint, oregano, chives, wild garlic and ramps (wild onion). Making each dish fresh and tasty, plus less to pack.
Cold and Wet Weather:
We had one and half cold and/or wet days. But we didn’t let them go to waste. On the first cold day, it was freezing and windy! But we pushed through. And I’m so glad we did. My husbands father took us on this trip. And we took the kids out and drove around looking at this massive lake we were staying at. Than they took Jedi (oldest) to the dock to fish till he gave up.
Point is regardless of weather you need to make the most of your situation. We played in the tent for awhile reading books. Grandpa Kevin had a canopy over a sand pit so the kids played in the sand while the adults chatted. We set up our vans table up and played board games together.
During the cold night, we ended up sleeping in our van. Our portable crib was small enough to fit in the back and the bench seat fold down to a queen size bed. So my husband and the kids slept in the back and I formed a bed in across the two front seats. This way I had control on when to turn on and off the van for heat. I wake up more then everyone else.
Honesly this was one of the best camping trips I have ever been on. There was down time to just sit at the Lords feet and read. To read to the kids. Playing with kids in ways you don’t typically do at home. Teaching, learning. We even saw a wood pecker up close.
Lorn and Jedi went on Grandpa Kevins boat. Next was Ellie and I. You take turns, you put each other in front of yourself. We took at least one kid to the bathroom every time we went. We made sure everyone got quiet time. Everyone was fed and had things to do.
There was times, it was chaos, and two or more were crying at 6 am. But their kids, you teach, you be diligent in that and each trip will be easier. I took away ways to teach my kids to have an easier morning at home and putting that into practice now. This way mornings at home, and out, will become less chaotic.
God is faithful to teach us. We need to be faithful to listen and learn. Put into practice what is given to us. As I sat in His word this morning, I was reading of Israel camping through their 40 years after Egypt. Having to pack up, move, stop, set up camp to move again later. To do certain jobs and learning certain things at each stop.
Moses kept going, was diligent in doing everything the Lord told him to do, no matter how hard or tiring it was. I want that for myself and my family. To raise my children in hard work and good attitudes.