We JUST got back from our camping trip to the Great Smoky Mountains for Luna’s first birthday, and I’d be completely lying if I said I was not totally terrified before our trip. Would the girls sleep? Would the mountain pressure hurt their ears?? Would we all be eaten by bears?!?! Answers: Yes. Yes. and No. We didn’t even see a bear the entire week!
Tom was an Eagle Scout back in the day, so naturally, he was SUPER prepared for the trip: packing lists, maps, fancy camping gear, an air horn for the imaginary bears I was scared of, pretty much everything that could fit in our SUV. But still, Eagle Scouts might give you survival instincts, but it doesn’t give you mom instincts. I spent days thinking of every possibly scenario that could happen in the woods with each of our three kids, and y’all, it totally paid off: we spent five glorious days in a tent as a family and had the BEST adventure ever.
How’d we do it? Here’s some tips that helped us:
1.Bring a serious First Aid Kit for your littlest ones! Not one of those cheesy store-bought ones. I’m talking, make a small bag full of every medicine, band-aid, grooming item, etc that YOUR child might have had a need for in the last 6 months. We packed Gripe Water, Tylenol, Benadryl, Bandaids, Mommy’s Bliss Cough Syrup, ear drops, and teething gel. Lennox busted both knees, Lela had an allergic reaction, and Luna ended up getting an ear infection on the last day; so we put the kit to good use!
2. Bring a rug for the front of your tent! Luna is pretty good at walking now that she’s 12 months old, but the campsite really threw off her balance, and she ended up needing a spot to crawl around on. It was also SUPER helpful to get dirt off their feet before tracking it in the tent. Win/win
3. Check the weather BEFORE YOU GO! Y’all, I can’t stress this enough. I had serious withdrawals from the weather app on my phone, and without phone service, it just wasn’t possible to get my fix. Luckily, Tom had everything planned out for indoor activities near the campsite (like riding the train through the mountains!) instead of being stuck in a tent all day with fussy kids on the days where it rained.
4. Don’t expect them to fall asleep before sundown. Lela and Luna have an 8 PM bedtime. Lennox has a 9 PM bedtime. While camping, everyone seemed to instinctively go down at sunset around 9:20. With that said, they also woke up at sunrise, so be prepared for that, too.
5. Don’t try to have a campfire around your toddler. Maybe this is just me being crazy, but it is SO dangerous having a stumbling toddler and baby around an open flame. We lit a small campfire a couple of times, but we made sure to be wearing Luna so she couldn’t walk toward the flames. Trust me, as soon as we would put her down, she would start heading straight for it. Bring a small campfire stove for meals instead.
6. Have fun. Connect as a family. Don’t stress. And remember that no matter where you camp, there’s probably a hotel within like ten minutes if everything goes horribly wrong.