18 Things I have Learnt About Camping With Kids

So camping season is upon us! All around us wholesome families are frantically purchasing blow up mattresses, enamel mugs, antiseptic hand gel, ibuprofen and enough wine boxes to kill 5 medium sized horses.

They cannot wait to get to get there, they have visions in their heads of fairy lights, bunting, marshmallow toasting, singing around the camp fire and making those chocolate and banana things you wrap in foil that turn out horrid. I’m sorry to have to tell you this, I’m sorry to have to do it but they are also COMPLETELY FUCKING DELUDED. So here is my debrief on camping with kids just in case you are thinking of making a similar mistake trip…

1. It will take you approximately 5 hours to pack your car for a two night stay and you will have had 37 different arguments before even leaving the house.


2. When you arrive at the camp site you will feel optimistic, capable and ready to face anything – just like Bear Grylls!


3. You will feel slightly less like Bear Grylls when the Sainsbury’s driver arrives delivering essential supplies of prosecco, halloumi and minted lamb kebabs.


4. You will feel more like what you actually are – a middle class twat on a camping trip.
5. You will have loads of nice food to eat but the children will exist entirely on a diet of crisps and Capri-Sun.
6. There will be so much to do! Make a list so you don’t forget anything…


7. It will be so lovely to see the kids being at one with nature (pissing against the trees and hitting each other with sticks) that it will seem like a good idea to let them stay up long past bedtime. They should sleep in later the next day so it will be fine!


8. You will drink wine from mugs and dance around the camp fire like you are at a 1990’s rave. Why not put your Care Bear onesie on? You are crazy! You are so much fun! You are unstoppable!grumpybear

9.YAWN. Even Rave Bear gets tired eventually. Time to say goodnight. Oops… did you forget you had to sleep in a tent rather than your comfy cosy bed?  *sad face*

where tent

10. You have a lovely blow up mattress but you will fall/get kicked off it in the middle of the night and sleep pushed up to the lining of the tent on top of a spikey rock.
11. You will wake up at 3am and really need a wee but be too cold and drunk to find the toilet. You will feel very glad you bought the kids potty…pisscup

FYI I would certainly never do this I just imagine some people might. I would also never wee into the discarded mug I had been drinking wine out of all evening as that would be a very disgusting thing that only extremely uncouth people do. 

12. Despite going to bed 3 hours later than usual your kids will wake up at 4.30am because of the BASTARD SUN.


13. You will momentarily want to be dead.
14. But you will power on because CAMPING IS FUN! You will all enjoy the nature walk if it kills you.


15. You will watch your kids running, playing, getting filthy dirty and enjoying doing everything that kids should do and you will feel all warm and fuzzy and happy.
16. Well done for being such an excellent parent! Please proceed home to enjoy some lovely, lovely technology.


17. And laundry.


18. Wipe it from your memory, clear all the horror out, because we all know you’ll be doing it again! The kids love it right and you love it too don’t ya! YOU HAD A REALLY GREAT TIME! That’s what I saw anyway…



P.S. I have a new book OUT NOW! You can nab it on Amazon here or in your lovely local bookshop :)


29 thoughts on “18 Things I have Learnt About Camping With Kids

  1. Beta Mum

    You forgot the poorly baby coughing all night in the next tent – prompting murderous feelings to lurk where you would have preferred to see sympathy.

  2. Ned

    “Despite going to bed 3 hours later than usual your kids will wake up at 4.30am because of the BASTARD SUN.

    Hands down the cruelest part of parenting.

    1. Gemma

      And then said children will have umpteen tantrums over absolutely nothing, whine constantly and fight because they got less than 6 hours sleep the night before

  3. Barb

    Another honourable mention – tenting and taking a friend’s advice to dose the toddler on Phenergan (anti-allergy medicine) before bed so that he will sleep all night – said friend omitting to disclose that sometimes this has the opposite effect – and being up all night with the normally active toddler who with the assistance of the sleep drug has become hyperactive – in a tent!! Still makes me shudder with horror after many many years….

    1. Sarah Delaney

      My 18 month old did the same….. on a 13 hour flight!! 14 years on, the memory has faded but still lurks in the back of my mind!

  4. Suze

    We camped last year with 4 kids. Pitched the tent in the rain! Nearly called it a day there and then! Had pikeys in sparkling clean caravans one side of us playing Daniel O’Donnell all day while out cleaning their caravans (all day!) and Hairy Mary’s (it’s a Scottish thing) the other side, who were practising their competition dance moves all day with John Legends “All of Me” on repeat, (I used to love that song!) both were competing with the volume, we were in the middle!! The hairys kids stole our kids toys that were left outside the tent. Then the hairy parents got sooo drunk that the police were there at 5am the next morning removing one of these hairys from their caravan. Kids loved it! We were stressed out our nuts! Funny now when we look back. We have planned another camping trip this summer, but being in Scotland, we’ll no doubt be pitching the tent in the rain again!

  5. Ruth Sansome

    When we did a “proper” holiday abroad with our 3 small children we stayed in a lovely 2-bed apartment. The children were amazed that they would a) have their own bed & b) a toilet. Clearly, Mummy likes getting drunk in a field too much cos we go camping all the time!

  6. Eilis Burdon

    My kids love camping – and I think my son is especially excited now he has moved on to standing-up wees. I’ll just have to make sure he doesn’t piss on any one else’s tent! Or, in fact, our tent…..

  7. Gemma Beggs

    My mum and Dad most have been heroes to take myself and my two sisters camping and I always loved it.
    Before Kids my husband and I camped lots and were very happy so thought how lovely it would be to take our girls camping!
    Love the part about the 37 hours packing! That was the start of it, then some rainy days when if you don’t have a giant tent to put your kids and everything else you are CONSTANTLY trying to keep organised and find!
    Then what finished us off was packing up in rain that caused regional flooding, then driving home in stand still traffic. Not fun!
    As a result we have concluded that camping can be fun for two nights and poss three to make the most of how long it takes to pack and set up. However, unless you are going to a lovely hot country we will not be camping for our main holiday again!
    Happy camping everyone!

  8. Marie Imm

    Currently on our first family camp with a 2 and 6 year old. My toddler has become a demon and my 6 year old very ungrateful. Been to co-op 3 times for wine and cider. It is Day 2. Forgot suncream, meds and toiletries. All pink, sneezing and have showered in baby shampoo. Tesco run tomorrow. Day 3 us looking up!

  9. Mary Kate

    You forgot to mention kids tripping over guy ropes, No matter if the ropes are luminous, or have ballons tied to them, or if the next nearest tent is half a field away. We once went camping and after the older one had tripped over approximately 57 guy ropes with me roaring at him each time, he spectacularly tripped over the one on the tent next to us and ripped a huge hole in their tent, which we had to pay for. Luckily, I resisted the urge to strangle him with said rope…

  10. Patricia Smith

    The last time we went camping in Devon, it rained almost every day, the cot we hired kept our suitcases out of the water! We slept in the caravanette my hubby and oldest boy slept in the tent. I had to use the tumble dryer to make sure the clothes weren’t damp. We were on the beach in macs and wellies making sand castles in the rain and wind. That was the last time we camped, we have been going abroad ever since as you can rely on getting sunshine and heat.

  11. Ed Barry

    You forgot the people in the next tent getting up early to listen to Radio 4 in their car so they don’t disturb anyone but forget the speakers are in the doors grrrr!

  12. Esther

    What I learnt from camping with a large family is that I’m still responsible for all the cooking, cleaning and my favourite, washing up, for which I had to trapse accross a field to get water, which I had to boil on the stove. Doesn’t sound like the end of the world but it can really grate when everyone else is sitting around chilling out, playing Uno and asking when the next meal will be! Oh! And hormonal teenagers don’t fare well when trapped in a confined space with other hormonal teenagers and step parents who think they should stop being so rude and obnoxious and just f#*cking well join in with the fun!

  13. Lisa jackson

    I so want to go camping now! Ha ha. The reality is that this sketch would so be me. The kids and OH will love it and I would be the moany stressed out, hot frizzy haired mess waiting to get home x

  14. Saskia

    Thank you. We just came home after a weekend camping in a field at a festival. In lovely weather. With gin and wine. Had to send the kids to the festival every 5 minutes, so I could read and have a rest. I think they had a good time… :-) :-)

  15. stu

    Maybe it’s me, but my kids have always amused themselves camping, allowing us to get drunk in a field.
    These days with only the youngest being at home, he gets bored far more easily than when he was young.
    Old man comment coming up but….
    In this day and age of technology, most kids have absolutely no idea how to actually enjoy the outdoors. As kids, I’d find a tree to climb, or a frog to antagonise or something.

    Oh and invest in an aerobed. I promise, it’s the nearest thing to a real bed you’ll ever find.

  16. Clare

    All of your posts make me smile, they would probably make me laugh hysterically if they weren’t all so true! It’s like you sum up all my thoughts about things but you make them really funny! But when I think them, I just want to drink wine and rock slowly in a corner (sometimes I do this, but not too often as even I can see it’s a bit weird).
    Thank you, you are amazing and brilliant and I would like the Queen to give you an OBE (or something!). X

  17. Fiona

    Love this!! It does get better, I promise. Just back from a lovely few days with a 10 year old. Unfortunately the 17 year old has trashed the house with a party! FML!

  18. Carol Cameleon

    Hilarious! Never been camping with our daughter. Maybe I’m not adventurous but I’d probably want to take portable blackout blinds for the tent! Popping over from Britmums roundup.

  19. Tina Rust

    I sooooo wish you’d started your blogg 12 years ago when I had my oldest. I might have kept more or My sanity My only camping trip with my 3 boys was probably more ‘glamping’ in northern Italy – a week in a camper trailer on a camp site. We managed to find a week where it rained so much that the whole area flooded. Great fun 5 people in 15m2 for a week
    But just to say, 1 hour later in bed at HOME still gives me 2 hours earlier wake up call – unless it’s a school night of course

  20. Hatty Hanna

    I went camping once. Booked us all to go to a festival with my 3 year y/o and my 8 WEEK OLD new baby. Middle class family friendly festival – what could go wrong? It was a total fucking nightmare from start to finish. Baby nearly died of hypothermia. Toddler had a bad cold and was out of sorts. Our tent collapsed with us in it at 5am. We were staggering through the billowing fabric trying to locate the Milton steriliser and stove so we could boil the kettle and get some formula into the howling baby. Toddler lived on biscuits all weekend, this made him behave very erratically. He punched a little girl in the face in the soft play tent and gave her a nosebleed. Then while my husband was trying to dismantle the tent in the pissing rain at the end of the ordeal, I was forced to hand my baby over to a complete stranger because toddler had given me 2 seconds notice that he needed a ‘runny poo’ (biscuits) and I had to frogmarch him 3 miles across a field to the nearest ‘facility’ praying I had remembered wipes. I hadn’t. Thankfully my baby wasn’t abducted, I figured the stranger was ‘safe’ because she wore a Berghaus jacket. I was too tired to get drunk. Never again!

  21. Christina East

    There is hope! Quechua (and others) now make blackout tents. Strongly advised to help sprogs sleep until a more reasonable hour…..

  22. Pingback: Why Every Child Deserves at Least One Camping Holiday – Karen Robinson Writer

  23. Kate Dobson

    This made me chuckle so much after our 1st recent camping trip with our 2 kids aged 12 & 9. Everything you said was true but my camping was made even worse after our 9yr old was told not to eat loads of sweets and drink a huge bottle of milkshake, didn’t listen and ended up throwing up all over his sleeping bag at 2am 2 days into our trip! Resulting in me trying to clean up an awful mess in the torch light, my 12 yr old moaning that “it stinks in here!” And having to sacrifice my sleeping bag for my 9yr old and spending the rest of my trip squashed into my husbands sleeping bag with him!! Lovely trip but in no rush to do it again in a hurry!! Haha

  24. Carol

    I’ve figured out why we have such pleasant memories of camping – we confuse the ones we have when we are there with the lovely feelings we have when we arrive home – the fuzzy euphoria of seeing our lovely home with our beautiful bed, warm bath and clean toilet!

  25. Avril

    We are currently on a trip to bestival and the person being a douche is a my husband., not the girls! He did everything like it was written but he is the adult! It was like having 3 kids not 2!
    My friend sent me this post this morning and it made my laugh so hard it has perked me up immensely cos I have another 24hrs dealin with a 33yr old boy being a brat!

  26. Sarah

    How hilarious !!!!
    We had many many happy years of camping with our girls. From aged 4 right through till they reached 15.
    Camping at Easter .. SO bloody cold we had to wear coats scarves and hats inside the sleeping bag with blankeys covering us all… on ONE bedroom to keep warm.
    Tree climbing and giving parents heart failure, just how high they could actually get!!!! Without the need of a fireman…
    And the ability to fall off rope swings over a river… with her wellies on… trying to drown!!! Saved by our friends husband..
    The loo bikes… when parked so far away from the lion’s you need bikes to get there!!!!
    We lived every minute. And would do it again in a heart beat…


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