If you read my blog regularly, you’ll know I am a big fan of camping. Unfortunately, my husband’s arthritis and our anxious dog, Monty mean we can’t go as a family. So last year, I borrowed by sister’s gear and took my daughter away for 1 night. It was a success, so I then took Sam, My Autistic son away with the help of a friend. He loved his night under the stars! A year on, I’m super proud to say we all survived a spontaneous solo parent camping trip last weekend! We also survived a more planned out trip back in May. Read on to find out how we got on, on both trips!
My First Solo Parent Camping Trip
Back in May half term, I planned a 3 night solo parent camping trip to the Royal Umpire in Lancashire. It’s only half an hour from our house, so I figured it was perfect for our first trip. My son, Sam has Autism, so I wasn’t sure how I would manage pitching the tent while watching him. With that in mind, I planned the trip so he was at his respite carer’s for the first night. This meant my then 6 year old, Syd could help me pitch the tent and watch our other dog, Minnie – who was coming with us. We had a great first night, and Syd made loads of friends.
On day 2, I nipped back home to pick up Sam, and then we went back to the campsite for 24 hours of fun. The site was perfect for us. The playground is great, and the toilet block is close by, so it worked well. I loved that there was no bar on site too, so no trouble or noise later in the evening.
On day 3, we nipped back to Manchester to collect my sister, who joined us for the final night, and to help me pack up. While we had a brilliant time, it didn’t feel like I really did it by myself, as I didn’t have both kids when pitching the tent, and I had help packing up.
Our Spontaneous Solo Parent Camping Trip
Over the last few weeks, I have been planning various camping trips for the Summer with friends and relatives. On Friday, I met a friend for coffee after the school run, and we were talking about our families going camping together. This conversation made me desperate to get back into the tent. When I got home, I phoned the Royal Umpire campsite and booked us on for two nights, then packed up the car. (I paid for our trip).
Once the kids got home from school, they had tea and got changed before we set off. When we arrived, I set to work pitching the tent. I have a Coleman Valdes 4 air tent, which I was sent for review. (You can read the full review here). Air tents are really easy to pitch by yourself, compared to standard tents. I couldn’t pitch my old, 4 man vis a vis tent by myself. The tent was up and everything was unpacked within an hour. This left us plenty of time for fun on the playground before settling down for the night.
Both of the kids spent a few hours playing on the playground before settling down for the night at 10.30pm. Unfortunately for me, Minnie didn’t settle well, and she woke Sam up at 3.20am. This made for a very early start. The plan was always to head home by 9am so Syd could go to her drama group. While she was there, Sam fell asleep at home. OOPS! So our return to the campsite was delayed slightly.
We got back to the campsite at around 2pm, and found we had new neighbours. It didn’t take Sam long to make himself at home in their pitch. One thing I love about camping is that everyone we’ve met so far has been amazing with Sam. This family welcomed Sam and I to join in their games, while Syd was off on the playground.
Sam, Minnie and I went for a walk to meet some more of our neighbours, while Syd played on the park with her new friends. One lovely family took us under their wing and spent ages playing with Minnie and letting Sam bounce on their air bed.
By around 5pm, we were all getting hungry, so I piled us into the car and we headed off to the local chippy. With it being a spontaneous trip, I hadn’t bought the food to cook on our hob.
Later on, I was talking to a couple who said we had to watch the sunset as we had the best pitch on site for it. They weren’t wrong! (The photo at the top of the page is the camping sunset).
The kids were both asleep by 11pm, and thankfully Minnie too slept all night. Sam and I were up at 6am – a far more reasonable hour!
As soon as I began packing up our gear, Sam got very upset. He clearly didn’t want to go home, and was pulling everything out of the car as fast as I was putting it in. Eventually, I took him off to the play area to calm down. I explained we had to go home and that he could come back another day. This seemed to calm him somewhat, but he was still unsettled. Syd was on hand while I packed up all of the gear, but I then popped him into his car seat while I took down the tent as I couldn’t watch them both closely.
While not ideal, it worked, and we all survived our first ever spontaneous solo parent camping trip.
What I Learnt
Decent power banks are essential if your child depends on their tablet like Sam does.
Sleeping bags need to be 3 season or you’ll be freezing on nights with no cloud cover.
Even spontaneous camping trips should involve a quick trip to the shop for supplies.
We need a decent cool box.
The kids love camping as much as I do.
Finally, if you’ve enjoyed this post, check out more of our camping adventures here!