Anyone who is well acquainted with our family, or perhaps even just a little - knows that we spend a lot of time away from home. In the summer we're away most weekends kitesurfing at our favourite lake (Nitinaht), and in the fall/winter/spring we're off a few times a year either skiing or on a warm weather vacation!
Of course we need to keep costs down every time we go away - I spend a lot of time researching affordable ways to do this, but perhaps I'll talk about that another day.
I can't even count the number of times people (usually with a smug look on their face) told me when I was pregnant how much my life would change after having a baby.
- "I guess this means you won't be able to go camping anymore".
- "What will you do after having the baby seen as you won't be able to go to Nitinaht anymore?".
- "Might as well get your traveling in now, as it'll be over for the next 20 years"
- "You can't take a baby to a ski hill, its much too cold!"
- "You shouldn't go there, that trail is WAY too technical to take a baby on, there are logs and stuff!"
So, seen as they were all wrong, Thomas went on his first (of many) camping trips when he was 6 weeks old. We also spent a week skiing over Christmas (sorry for bailing mom, I hope you've forgiven us).
We also took full advantage of my 1 year maternity leave, airmiles and free baby travel, and took not 1 but 2 warm weather vacations. In fact, life was better as I didn't have to be at work 8am Monday morning!!! On top of all that, I did more hiking last year than I have since living on Vancouver Island. Granted, they were only day trips - but still.
Don't get me wrong, traveling or camping with a baby isn't for everyone, but its definitely for me. For the record, I should also say that we have 1 child, he's currently 16 months old. I know I'm biased, but our little guy is one of the happiest kids I know. That also helps :)
I also have to admit that we have a camper, so in truth, we're not really camping. I have a friend though (with a baby the same age as Thomas) who spends a LOT of time tent camping with her little one. Maybe one day she'll help me write a blog about that. Until then, I thought maybe I'd share some of my experiences about camping and traveling with child under two. Tonight, I think I'll just start with our first trip when Thomas was only 6 weeks old...
Thomas was born in May, the same month we often start our trips to the lake. So, we were delayed a few weeks, but by mid-June, we were ready to go. From day one (and still to this day) I've kept a fairly strict routine with my son when it comes to bedtime routine, and I honestly believe that's what helped ease the transition into camper sleeping.
Things I learned on that first weekend:
1. Plan your driving around nap schedules and don't rush, just stop if you need to.
2. breast feeding is so much easier than bottles (but you gotta do whatever works for you)
3. Pumping in the middle of the night to help increase your milk supply sucks in a camper. Actually, it sucks everywhere.
4. Have a system, you'll likely need to develop a new one that works in your sleeping space. Our first night was the hardest, we were so clumsy when Thomas woke up, or needed to be changed in the middle of the night! We used lights that were too bright, our diapers were out of reach and we didn't even know where to change him. It only took us one night to sort all that out.
5. Figure out your sleeping arrangements ahead of time. We had a Phil and Ted's Nest bassinet and LOVED It. It fit perfectly beside our bed and was so easy to pack and store. We never co-slept, but for those parents who do - camping may be an easy adjustment. We used the same bassinet at home, so it wasn't much of a change for him.
6. Don't worry if your baby just naps on you at this age, they are only little! We just took turns with him in the Ergo, and I also had a super comfy camping chair for nursing (and napping). Besides, its so adorable and this stage won't last long...
7. Get a baby monitor that works on batteries. In no way am I advocating leaving a sleeping child in a tent or camper and walking away, but at least now you can go outside your little home and socialize (even if its just in your own campsite). I love camping as we actually get time to see our friends, and visit on our own schedule. It doesn't matter that we eat dinner early and it doesn't matter that I want to go to bed at 10 (okay, maybe 9). If we get up earlier than our friends and go for a walk while they sleep off their hangovers, it doesn't matter! We'll see them later that day. At home - we likely wouldn't see them at all.
So that's it, it really was that simple. Yes, I spent a lot of time sitting and nursing, but it wouldn't have been any different than at home. You'll never know until you try it... lost more thoughts and tips for an active life with a baby in the coming weeks!