Going camping can be a challenge, and even more so with kids. I don’t think I ever slept particularly well when I went camping, and taking young kids has definitely meant lots of sleepless nights. We started camping with our kids from about age 1, and we learned a lot along the way.
Here are some tips for getting a decent night’s sleep!
~ You might want to consider air mattresses, or at least very good mattress/camping pad (for campsite camping, not backpacking). Before I had kids, I used to backpack with a sleeping pad, but now it is easier just to use an air mattress for the whole family. The last thing I need is to wake up stiff and achy, or on the ground because my little ones have pushed me to the corner of the tent!
~ Avoid trips to the bathroom. Keep track of when the kids have their last drink of the day, and limit what they (and you!) drink, to avoid the need for any trips to the bathroom in the middle of the night. Not only will you spare the trip to the bathroom, but chilly nights and the possibility of scared kiddos (I vividly remember my toddler being absolutely convinced there were bears in the woods that were going to get us on our walk to the bathroom in the middle of the night!).
~ Prepare for a range of temperatures, so that everyone is comfortable. An evening may start out mild and become cold, so prepare layers of clothes that are easy to grab if you wake up cold. I remember one night when the kids woke up very unhappy because it was unexpectedly cold – however, I had packed winter hats on a whim – and it was a lifesaver for all of us!
~ Offer comforts. We have had some experiences that the kids found upsetting, mostly because it was all new for them, so just keep in mind that kids can have anxiety. Make camping comfortable at night and be prepared to ease their anxieties. Pair off a parent with each kid so that they have an adult to snuggle with at night. Bring some comforts of home. Bring a lantern or portable nightlight so they can fall asleep with a light on, and make sure a light is always handy. Every child is different but it can’t hurt to be prepared!
We’ve been there – so here are some examples of things that we worked through. My daughter was convinced there were bears in the woods – especially after seeing a sign that had been posted because bears got into the dumpsters at the ranger station, the kids being scared by scary campfire stories, skunks getting into our stuff in the middle of the night and having to “shoo” them away without the kids waking up and panicking (or the skunks spraying), one of the most intense thunder/lightning storms going right over us (fortunately we were in a leanto). Camping is an experience, but the great part is that it will make for some pretty awesome stories later!
~ Keep comforts nearby. Keep things on hand that you might possibly need, from lamps to headlights, tissues, a book if you can’t sleep, and so on. For little ones, sometimes that meant a bottle of milk ready to go in the middle of the night.
~ Early morning activities. At home, we use blackout curtains, so when we go camping, my kids are up very early. It helps to have some activities on hand, whether it is books, books on CD, or other quiet activities. Although you might not be able to sleep in to a normal time, at least you can keep your morning low-key. Plus, you want to be conscious of other campers around you who might not be awake that early.
~ Late night activities. Kids can take a while to wind down and this can be a challenge when there are quiet hours in the later part of the evening. Since there isn’t much to do in the dark, be prepared for quiet activities, such as sitting around a warm campfire, playing games, reading, watching a movie on an iPad etc, and so on.
~ You may also want to plan on bringing or getting coffee in the morning! Camping can just be an exciting and somewhat over-stimulating experience for younger kids, so accept the possibility that you may just be tired in the morning.
Camping with kids is a lot of fun, but the key is being prepared! Have fun making lots of great memories!
About the Author: Marysa
Busy blogger and mom of two girls. We love traveling and the great outdoors, and are always looking for our next adventure! If you have any travel questions, contact me! firstname.lastname@example.org
I have to admit I have never been camping as an adult. These tips do look very helpful to people who love to camp and have kids to keep occupied and comfortable on acamping trip
I can’t go camping, but I will go glamping. My back just isn’t for sleeping on the ground anymore. But glamping? Yes!
I never took my girls real camping when they were little. We recently did an RV trip, so that was kind of camping, but with the luxuries of a home. I bet mine would have complained the whole time if we pitched a tent and really had to rough it lol.
My parents used to take us camping when we were young. However, I have only done one camping trip with my own children. I guess because times have changed and I worry about their safety. Now they are all grown and they go out on their own adventures. It is nice to know that they choose “safe camping grounds” in gated areas. That gives me so much peace of mind.
I haven’t been camping in so long. I’ve been wanting to take the kids but the thought of sleeping on the ground with a bad back and hip makes me cringe. I’d have to use an air mattress or blow up bed.
Oh yes! This is a great solution. I am alwys nervious when camping with kids!
That bathroom thing was always an issue when we camped. We learned to start looking more closely at where our site was in relation to the bathroom.
These are great tips! My kids and husband love camping. I never had a good night’s sleep while camping. I told them that they can go camping without me next time 🙂
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I love camping and this is such a helpful blog post for camping fans!
It is a great article! My sons are still young but I’m preparing myself for camping already. Also, I need blog posts on how to survive 15 hrs road trip with two toddlers.
Thank you for these! I wish to go camping with the family one day and have a nice cup of coffee as well in the morning.
I’d like the outdoor. And I am so glad that things are getting back to normal. I will use these tips for my next beach adventure. My favorite -sip a coffee n the morning.
This is perfect. We are off camping in May so this will help. Hopefully the kids will be so tired from being out all day!
personally, I haven’t tried camping. I am scared of the idea not having a toilet with a flush around. BUT, i am crazy about nature and this is something that i would love to try in the future.
although, i cannot imagine myself camping with niece and nephews. they’re driving me crazy! lol but hey! i will send your link to my cousin maybe we can work something out.
thanks for the tips!
Everything about camping makes it difficult for me to sleep. Often times I’m not comfortable and then I listen to all the noises and all the things that go bump in the night.
Great tips, It’s been a while not to go camping but will keep these tips. Thank you for sharing!
No lie there! Preparation is key and is everything! Without it, we are bound to have a disaster of a camp!
the sound of camping makes me very happy i love camping, really dont bother much about the how it turns out, preparation is always there before the real event.
Yes to the temps. It can get chilly at night and you don’t even expect it so much.Bring something to stay warm even if you’re in a hot place.
That is exactly what we do lol We play with them all day long so by 8 pm they’re too tired to stay awake lol…Awesome insights…
Camping is such a fun summer activity to do as a family. I haven’t done it in years but great tips when having little ones with you.
Camping really is not my vibe. My kids have been before with my husband but it is not something any of us really enjoy. But that said I do like the IDEA of camping.
Thank you for your tips on getting a good night’s sleep while camping. I’ll surely keep these in mind when we go camping.