Syd is 6 now, and definitely a fan of her home comforts. She is about as different from me at her age as it gets. I loved nothing more than getting as filthy as possible – building dens, playing football and climbing trees, without a care in the world. Syd is happy to do all of those things; but if she gets dirty, she usually wants to get cleaned up almost immediately.

I’m a big fan of the great outdoors and of camping, so I figured it’s time to get the kids out there too! My plan is to take Sydney first and if she enjoys it, I’ll take Sam a week or so later. Then, assuming they both enjoy it, I can take them both together. (Sam’s autism makes it hard for him to experience new things, so my thinking is: Get Syd acclimatised to the site first, then Sam and then hopefully when I take them together, they’ll both enjoy it.

I told Syd about our trip about a month ago now, and we have been talking about where we will sleep, what we will sleep in, what food we will take, the activities we will do and how long it will take to get there. I have also spent a good deal of time on the campsite’s website, looking at the site and showing her the facilities etc, as well as reading blog posts like Sabina’s from Deep In Mummy Matters on her stay at Norman’s Bay. She’s upset the dogs aren’t coming with us, and I suspect she will miss her partner in crime more than she will miss her dad or brother…!

I have made sure Syd’s involved every step of the way for our trip, and have made us a checklist to work through before we go next week. The plan is to do one or two jobs each day, so it’s not a massive stress-fest on the day we leave…

1). Practice putting up the tent and zipping / unzipping sleeping bags. (I’d do a dummy camp out in the garden, but it’s all gravel, so that’s a no go)

2). Pack our clothes (Take plenty of spares and warm nightwear).

3). Check all the camping equipment is working, and pack it away.

4). Buy camping food together and pack it. (Freeze ice packs).

5). Make sure the first aid kit is stocked and pack it.

6). Buy batteries for her camera nd spares for the torches!

7). Decide which 2 toys Syd is taking with her & choose 2 books too.

8), On the day: Put in last minute items (Chargers, kindle, ice packs, fresh food, Cuddly toy).

9). GO! GO! GO!

A few camping tips I have picked up over the years include:

1). Keep your fly net closed at all times!

2). If your child is too short for their sleeping bag, tie a knot at the bottom of the bag to make it temporarily shorter. This will prevent them wriggling down into it. (You can always tie the end with rope or a bobble if you can’t manage knotting it on itself).

3). NEVER EVER use your cooking stove inside the tent.

4). Pack a few carrier bags to use to keep dirty clothes away from everything else in your bag, and to keep litter together.

5). Don’t forget toilet roll!

6). Don’t forget spare batteries for the torches and camera.

7). Don’t leave anything of value inside your tent. Take a rucksack and pop phones, iPads, jewellery etc inside there rather than leaving it behind.

8). Store your cool box and camping gas out of direct sunlight.

9). Drink plenty of water.

10). Layers Layers Layers! If you’re camping in the UK, it might be 25 degrees of amazingness during the day, but 5 degrees at night. Don’t plan on wearing what you usually wear at home to bed – even if your sleeping bag is amazing. Layers are your best friend!

11). Bug repellent is a lifesaver!

12). Pack a groundsheet – Even if your tent has one built in. The extra layer between your sleeping bag and the damp grass will be much appreciated if it rains!

13). Air beds are a must! Lying on a cold, hard floor makes camping no fun – especially if it’s raining as it’ll be freezing. If possible, buy 2 single ones rather than a double – that way you can prop them on their side during the day to use the space. It also means you won’t disturb one another each time you turn over in the night!

14). Wear sun cream!

15). Pack extra shoes and socks. It only takes one downpour and suddenly your only pair of shoes are soaked through. (I tend to leave a bag of spare clothes and non essential items in the boot between use).

That’s just about it for now. 9 more sleeps to go until my first camping trip as a parent. I’m pretty excited, you know!

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