Why did we do that?
I have been dreaming of this for months. If Ryan had to hear about Lake Nacimiento one more time he was going to tape my mouth shut. I had all the information on the resort, managers names, the history of the lake, weather details, and GPS coordinates. Then we had the long list of Maples needs so we can make it easy on her and us. We were set! This was going to be the best trip ever! Or not....
Maple has always had an easy temperament. She has slept through the night since six months. She never became attached to her pacifier. She is pretty good at redirection and does really well on car rides. She seems to be stepping into another temperament these days. It's what the experts call "Spirited." This includes a wandering heart and a deafening screech. Even with the planning, it was much more challenging then we expected. She had a few moments where you could see that she was really enjoying herself and because of that, those were the moments we really enjoyed but for the most part, she was being redirected constantly. At home she is used to having free range but this was more of an uninhibited environment. Hillsides, Giant Lake, Cars, etc. She was pretty frustrated to say the least.
When we came home she literally found one of her toys and ran down the hall screaming with joy. She went in every room in the house and greeted it with a smile. She was so happy to be home and back to her normal schedule. Thinking about it after the fact, she may have not been ready to be away from her comfort zone. Some kids really thrive when they bounce around but she does best with a couple activities a day and down time. BUT, I know friends and family that have gone camping with toddlers and I don't recall hearing any complaints.
Was it just us?
Please don't say yes!
I know we didn't do anything wrong but maybe our expectations were too high. I want to expose her to dirt and trees and getting messy but is it necessary at this age to go big? Can't I just take her to the nature center down the street, walk on some trails, see a squirrel or two and then go home?
Can that be good enough?
Although this trip was a challenge, I was able to put my organizing skills to good use by packing essentials and some creature comforts from home pretty successfully.
My Top Ten Camping Essentials for You and Your Toddler
1. Pack and Play
2. Favorite stuffed animal or blanket from home
3. Portable High Chair (the kind that you can attach to a chair)
4. Double up on clothing. If you are going for 2 days, pack for 4
5. Outdoor Blankets
6. Sound Machine (ocean/white noise)
7. Water Shoes and a pair of regular shoes
8. A few outdoor toys
9. Bug Tent that zips up to create a play space
10. All the snacks you can pack
We will probably wait for another big camping trip until Maple has more words and can sit and play for longer periods of time. If you all have any tips or stories to share, please do. We are first time parents so it's all brand new to us.
Thanks for reading!
Photos courtesy of Jenny Indich