Things that only happen when you’re camping with kids

We’ve just been camping. With kids. I had visions of an Enid Blyton via Swallows and Amazons kinda trip. You see the campsite was BY A RIVER. Like proper beautiful river with rowing boats and teenage boys jumping on rope swings and swans gliding by.

The reality was all of that plus two parents pretty much screaming “don’t go near the river”, “come back here”, “don’t bother those people again”, “will you stop fighting” for three days.

Parenting is so yin and yang at times.

Mr MotherFudger almost began twitching when I said “I’ve booked a campsite that looks absolutely beautiful and IS NEXT TO A RIVER.”

A three-year-old who is basically Dash from The Incredibles and a daughter who is pretty fearless is great in so many situations. We often tell ourselves “when they’re older these traits will serve them well.” I hope so – but in the here and the now it’s hard work.

It was a really ace trip, and the river was bloody lovely. We went on a woodland walk, saw badger poo (children’s highlight), found the quaintest church I think I’ve ever seen, abandoned phones and iPads and enjoyed being our little team of four. When I say enjoyed please refer to the screaming comment above. Because there are some things I imagine some parents will understand about camping with kids:

  • The time you want them to be absolutely great and not wander off/find a new friend/explore the river is when you’re setting up a tent or when you’re packing away. Remember they smell fear and your weakness. There are buttons and panels in your car you never knew existed, but your children will discover when you decide ‘play driving us home’ seems like a great idea to contain them. We have now seen under a panel of wires in our car we have never seen before and one of those wires has been pulled out.
  • One of your children will want to make friends with your camping neighbours. What starts as a “ahh that’s nice, he’s playing with a little mate he’s found” becomes a “please child do not go over there again – having to retrieve you AGAIN is becoming embarrassing” and the neighbour’s “honestly it’s absolutely fine” does run dry.
  • Apparently your five-year-old daughter has the ability to swoon at teenage boys who throw themselves into rivers as she tells you she finds them “exciting”. Cue Mr MF having more heart palpitations and me seeing a future of “she’s dating another bad boy. Gah”. Can’t wait for those easier teenage years to come.


  • Campfires are magic. Nothing is more fun than toasting marshmallows with your kids. Memories are made.

wood camping

  • Woodland walks are also pretty damn special. What’s not to like about venturing down little glades en famille and checking out animal poo together. Glorious. Seriously.
  • Give up on any attempt of a bedtime. Screw your routine, all it will do will cause you pain.


  • *SEXIST CLAXTON ALERT* Men will moan about how much you’ve packed and how crazy it is, but once you’ve bitten your tongue because you’re the one that’s packed half the fucking house, you will need all those things during the camp trip. “You’ve packed two coats – two, why on earth do each of our children need two coats.” Insert smugness here after one coat gets wet. 1 nil MotherFudger.
  • Portaloos and camp toilets suck arse. You are more grateful for the modern sanitary system and your home flushing toilet than you ever knew possible.

4 thoughts on “Things that only happen when you’re camping with kids

  1. I don’t think I am brave enough to camp with my daughter just yet. Chalet. Caravan. Fine. They have lockable doors. I just think I’d be awake the whole night worrying that the child had discovered how to open the tent and had gone off to collect pine cones at 3am.

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