June 10, 2008

Camping in the Great Indoors

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Having kids is scary. First there's the terrifying reality of becoming a parent. Then there's the realization that the simple things you once enjoyed as a couple aren't quite so simple with two toddlers in tow.

My husband and I have always loved camping. Before kids, it was one of our favorite ways to get away and relax, to get in touch with nature and each other.

But after our daughter was born, it was downright scary to even think about cramming into our car all the stuff we'd need to survive for 24 hours in the great outdoors with an infant. When she started crawling, we worried about all the things she would put in her mouth, not to mention the dirty hands, dirty knees, and dirty clothes.

When we finally gathered up the courage to venture back into the woods with a tent, Adelaide was 16 months old and she absolutely loved it. We all loved it. We couldn't wait to go again. But that was over two years ago and we haven't been back since.

That's because I was six months pregnant at the time. So, for all the reasons described above, compounded by a second child, an unbearable Florida heat wave, and my son's extreme sensitivity to bug bites, I was beginning to think we'd never camp again.

Then, just after Thanksgiving, we were discussing whether we'd ever get a break from the 90-degree weather, and how cold of a cold snap was needed to banish mosquitoes for the season, when suddenly my husband came up with a brilliant idea.

"Instead of a camp out, why don't we have a camp in?" he suggested.

So on Friday afternoon, we set up our full-sized tent in our family room. The kids were thrilled to fill it with sleeping bags, blankets, pillows, stuffed animals, books, and toys. While they entertained themselves for a while, we relaxed and read the paper in our comfy camping chairs. Then we grilled hot dogs for dinner in the kitchen.

To add a little of the great outdoors to our indoor party, we took the kids for a flashlight wagon ride through the neighborhood and got a peek at the moon and stars. When we got home, we topped off the evening with indoor s'mores for dessert.

The kids skipped their baths that night, which is always okay when you're camping. And after reading many more books than usual at bedtime (by flashlight, of course) and telling a couple of camping stories, all four of us settled in for a good (okay, not bad) night of sleep.

The camping fun continued through most of the day Saturday. We had a picnic lunch, inside, on the floor. Then the kids took a nap in the tent.

Afterward, we were all ready for some fresh air and room to roam, but we're still looking forward to our next camp in! And if we're lucky, there might even be a camp out in our near future!

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Camping in the Great Indoors

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