Help Your Little Campers Sleep Like Babies Under the Stars
Aaahhh, the peaceful sounds of nature surround you. You’ve just put the kids to bed and you’re enjoying a crackling fire under the stars with your sweetie and a glass of wine. Camping can be so relaxing … until you’re startled out of your happy place by the sounds of your screaming 3 year old. Your tranquil evening just went from dreamy to dreary in 2 seconds flat. So what can you do to help your little campers fall asleep (and stay asleep!) while camping in the great outdoors? Here are a few tried and true tips to make it happen.
Bring the Comforts of Home with You
Ever been to a hotel or a friend’s house for the night and the too-flat or too-squishy pillow kept you up all night? Or the comforter on the bed felt like it weighed 85 pounds? Everyone sleeps better when they have their favorite things with them, and this is especially true for kids. So make sure you pack their special must-have creature comforts for your big trip, such as blankies, stuffed animals, dolls, pillows, blankets, books, and anything else they cuddle up with at night. Ask for their input when packing. Your daughter’s favorite Piggy stuffed animal that has accompanied her for the last year to every appointment and grocery store run may have just been banished to the back of her closet, yesterday. So enlist her help when packing. Glow sticks or battery-powered lanterns make great camping nightlights if your little camper needs a light on while sleeping. And make sure you pack enough layers or warm pj’s for your little ones so they don’t melt down because they’re freezing. Believe me, if it helps them fall asleep, it’s worth packing.
Time it Right
We all know that sleepovers and special nights warrant later bedtimes. It helps make it more exciting. But know that with later bedtimes comes the risk of meltdowns, temper tantrums, and off-the-wall crazy kid behavior. Children thrive on routine, and even small changes can knock them off kilter. So even though the campfire may be burning bright and their hands are still sticky from ‘smores, try to put them to bed within an hour of their normal bedtime. Darkened rooms help the brain produce melatonin, the sleep hormone. To help them prepare for sleeping, settle into the tent with your child before bedtime. This is a great time to read or tell camping stories. And pay attention to your child’s behavior. If they are overly fussy, crying at the drop of a hat, or arching their back and screaming bloody murder, for your sake and everyone’s around your campsite, put them to bed ASAP before you pass the point of no return!
Set Up for Success
How and where you set up your RV or tent could mean the difference between a dreamy night of moonlit bliss and an experience you wouldn’t wish on your worst enemy. If you are tent camping or have pop-out beds on your RV, set up so that the tent opening or beds face the campfire (unless the wind just won’t cooperate and you’ll smoke out your little campers). The campfire is usually where the nighttime activity is, and kids will feel more safe and secure in bed if they can see where you are in the dark. Beds that face towards the woods or bushes only invite nightmares of wild animals with fangs or scary creatures lurking in the dark. Don’t do it!
Practice Makes Perfect
You’ve heard this before, right? Well, it’s true for camping too! Before you venture out on your first camping trip with the kids, pitch a tent in the backyard to practice camping for a night or two. Get the kids use to the nighttime sounds they’ll hear, which can often be a little scary at first. Let them feel what it’s like to be outside in the dark. Give them a flashlight so they can explore in the safety of your backyard to see that the dark is nothing to be scared of. Make dinner and ‘smores over a real campfire, if possible. If you can’t practice outside, create an indoor campsite with a tent made of blankets and play realistic outdoor sounds through your phone or on a CD. Tell ghost stories with a flashlight under your chin for the full effect. Your kids will be all “fired” up for the real thing in no time!
If your kids quickly fall in love with the camping lifestyle, considering taking them on a full-time adventure! For more information, read here!