This is still an experimental recipe, altered for each attempt, considering the intelligence and smarts change in the four kids on each attempt. Rules change, goal posts shift. It’s a work in progress….
Arrive at destination after hearing at least 400 times “Are we there yet?”.
Get asked at least 100 times “What’s to eat?” followed closely by “Where is my bike?”. Dispense liberally bananas, rice crackers and water bottles.
Unpack – but not without the keys for the caravan (2 sets) being ‘moved/taken/borrowed’ at least 8 times.
While setting up consider the following detractors- questions asked by ‘neighbours’ – “are they all yours?” – uhm yes. “they keep you busy hey?” – uhm yes. “How old are they?” Followed by – so they are twins? – uhm no, triplets. Oh triplets, well they don’t look like it.
45 mins to set up and unpack. Husbands temper at approximately boiling point (100 degrees Celsius), consider adding alcoholic beverage to him.
Leave husband for at least 15 minutes before asking him where he put car keys ‘this time’. Also remind kids to leave daddy alone for a minute to rest.
Round kids up, liberally apply sunscreen again. Check hats are on heads, and shoes are somewhere. Leave to explore.
No timer needed, as kids are auto timed for food. Kids start hanging around caravan from about 445pm onwards. “how much longer till tea Mummy?’.
BBQ – anything. Add enough protein, grains, vegetables and fruit as tolerated. Four kids to run off and play ‘until nearly dark (or officially when Mr Moon is starting to come up and Mrs Sun is going to bed). Clean.
Now comes the tricky bit. That first night away, in the caravan. Add four very stubborn and cheeky personalities, who bounce off of each other. What is always needed is about 10 parts patience. Eventually they are asleep, followed by us soon after, exhausted!
Day 2. This day is always started around 5am. Perks of camping. Preceded by a few toilet trips through the night as they are stupid tired and out of ‘routine’.
Dispense grains, cereals and milk. Immediately consider caffeine – eventually get it an hour later.
Apply sunscreen. Apply hats. Consider shoes. Kids are off to play and explore – leaving us to clean up and drink caffeinated beverage semi hot.
Prepare to add water – lots of it. For a good couple of hours.
Set timer on phone to remind about sunscreen. Remove kids from water (its about 36 degrees today) and take back to caravan for ‘hottest’ part of day.
Add some pixar and popcorn (and Harry Potter for Mr 7) and there is 80 mins of no-sun (much needed in this heat and with our fair fair skin).
Add some more water, sunscreen and patience and we are nearing the end of the day.
Dinner again – anything BBQ.
My favourite part of the day –
Sunset over the cane fields 🙂
Then it is bath time and bed. Second night they are exhausted and settle to sleep pretty quickly. However, note to self, pantry is near the kids beds, last time out they did not raid it, but this time out, four spoons in sink next to honey, (they had all taken a swig) and then the hot chocolate mix – Caitlyn had hidden it under her pillow and had been taking mouthfuls! (Outsmarted haha!!). Spend next hour trying to get Harry Potter off of Hayden.
We get asked repeatedly while camping “how we do it” and have no real answer. A big part of camping is about letting them go play and have fun exploring. They are polite enough not to go up to other people’s caravan/camping sites. But the reception shop – Brendan is happy to go in and ‘have a look’ at the ice creams so he can work out how many ‘coins’ he might need for them. Caitlyn has gone in there and said the receptionists that she will just take a few things and her Daddy will come pay for it later. They are hilarious and will try *anything* – we are lucky that most of the places we stay are fairly used to kids so don’t find it tiresome when they are asked questions about why something works like that or why the jumping pillow is not working ‘yet’.
Camping is a wonderful way for all of us to disconnect from screens and spend time together. We always eat meals together, but there are no distractions here – no TV’s, no iPads, nothing. It is bliss. The kids are filthy every day from sand, dirt, and gosh knows what else. It is tiring and it is frustrating for the first 2 days as the kids are tired and too silly to sleep! They are exceptionally tired from the heat and swimming. But it is worth it. We eat dictated by our stomachs as opposed to time. The kids come back to our campsite dictated by the sun. It is a big slice of fun and very little rules. It gets easier each time, for example we don’t have to cable tie windows and doors anymore as the kids can be trusted to a point. I think the kids are a little braver the third time we have been here as they remember what they can do.
They love the beach, and we always spend at least one day there. We are certainly lucky to get the time together, and I know that these trips will form a large part of their childhood memories – which is priceless.