So. Last night I slept in a tent with my family to make the most of the Easter holidays and distract us from the current lockdown. Fire pit fun, toasted marshmallows, BBQ dinner… #MakingMemories and all that. But let me share with you a few interesting facts I learned while camping with my kids…
- There is no grown-up time. Your kids will not go to bed until you go to bed, so either they will be up gone 11pm, making noise and pratting about while you try to relax and drink cider from a can with your other half and pretend that This Is What It’s All About. Or you will have to go to bed at 9pm, cutting your evening under the stars short, then will attempt to scroll through Instagram under the covers next to your youngest while they keep asking what you’re doing and you pretend you’re just ‘setting an alarm’.
- It’s cold. While your eldest will go to bed wearing nothing but a T-shirt and pants (HOW?), you will be wearing thick joggers, a top, a thermal jumper, hoodie and long hiking socks and yet will STILL feel the chill every time you turn over in the three inches of space you’re allocated and a tiny part of your body becomes exposed to the elements.
- Nature is loud. Foxes will scream, all manner of bird species will descend upon your garden and twitter their chirpy little birdiness seemingly right into your earhole from outside the tent, as if their beaks are directly on the other side of the canvas to your head. You will NOT feel like Snow White.
- You will need the toilet at stupid o’clock. But because of the reason stated in point 2, you won’t want to leave your sleeping bag, even if you’re only camping in your back garden. So you will spend a few hours trying to ignore the urge, hoping it will go away and you’ll drift back to sleep. It won’t. You won’t.
- You will need to vacate the tent at some point in the early hours (usually because of point 4). This will be far more difficult (and ungraceful) than you can imagine. There are a gazillion noisy zip doors to navigate, and often rogue bits of thread jamming the zips so you have to clamber out of a hole the size of which only a cat can fit. You will be scrabbling around for your glasses, which will have steamed up in the cold, and you will blindly stumble about the tent, trying not to trample on a child’s head, attempting to locate the back door key with your phone light while desperately trying not to shine it into a child’s face because them waking now would simply compound your misery. You will then hop about disorientated, trying to shove your hiking-sock-clad feet into flip flops (nigh on impossible) and then will stagger out of yet another zip door into the blinding light of the outdoors, eye mask shoved up onto your forehead, hair all over the show, face more creased than an origami template, resembling some kind of mental scarecrow. Early-rising neighbours are in for a treat.
- Your eldest will not sleep. He will be beyond excited at bedtime and will take an age to wind down. He will then decide to sneeze every 30 seconds for about an hour, followed by sniffing and snorting incessantly (you will not have considered how camping and hay fever might not go hand in hand). He will also need the toilet in the early hours, but instead of suppressing it, will announce loudly to the entire tent that he needs a wee, which will be followed by more frantic unzipping of gazillions of zippy doors and stumbling out of sections of tent by your other half and your child, while you lie there silently willing them not to wake your youngest, and also inwardly cursing them for waking you as you are now guaranteed to be awake for the rest of the night.
- Not only will your eldest not sleep, he will make sure that everyone else is also awake. After coming back from his ridiculously loud toilet excursion, he will spend an hour or so sighing dramatically and making various noises to indicate that he is not asleep and wants some attention. He will toss and turn audibly and maybe even hum to himself (though your eyes will stay resolutely and heroically closed, you will feel your face transform in the semi-darkness into a fixed mask of rage). At some point he will then decide that subtlety is wasted and he’ll just yell out to his sister across the tent to see if she’s also awake. Repeatedly.
- At some point around 6am you’ll make a dramatic (and once again ungraceful) exit, yelling to the whole tent about people being selfish, rambling incoherently in your sleep-deprived state about how you’re NEVER camping with them again, muttering F*CK THIS SH*T and not even bothering to tone down the swearing, thus allowing your kids to gasp with delight at the fact that MUMMY SWORE. You will then stumble into your lovely warm house, terrifying the cats in your unhinged scarecrow state, and will clamber desperately towards your bedroom, complete with solid walls and a normal sized bed, berating yourself for ever considering that quality time with your family would be a good idea…