I get it. I concede. Our son, so far, does not like camping.
and it sucks.
I know that he is young and isn’t quite aware of what he likes/doesn’t like, but currently sleeping in a tent has made it’s way onto his tear-inducing list.
The first time he went camping went well – we did two nights in West Virginia with some friends and everyone slept pretty well. The second time, he enjoyed the hike but was up the entire night crying to the point that at 4am I just hiked out and left (where he promptly fell asleep in the car for the 3 hour ride home).
We always start strong – he seems to enjoy hiking in a front, out-facing carrier and on our backs in the Osprey. And he thoroughly enjoys playing with dirt and rocks while we set up camp. But once it’s time to go to bed in the tent, the good times end.
This weekend we snuck off to Gorges State Park to camp and do another dry-run at backpacking with Bear. (Our last dry run at Max Patch, we learned that both Matt & I need to be wearing our packs to carry everything. We had tried wearing him in the Osprey Poco, but it didn’t have enough room for gear.) We packed both our bags, with Matt generously giving me the bulky but light items, and I front-carried Bear in the Ergobaby.
When it came time to put him to bed, he went to sleep in his camping bassinet (which is incredibly bulky to hike with and I’m dying to find something else that’s easier) for a few hours until Matt and I joined him in the tent.
That’s when the tears came. Howling until I nursed him. He would fall asleep between us, I would drift off and then we would wake to crying again. At one point last night, I was moving him onto my chest and he projectile vomited all over my hair and my side of the sleeping bag. There I am, sitting up on our sleeping bag with puke in my hair, running down my back onto my pillow with Matt frantically wiping me down with wet wipes under the impression it would do any good. The whole time, Moose was sitting in the tent giving us a look that seemed to say, “And you thought bringing the tiny human would be fun.”
It was stressful for so many reasons. I hated that he wasn’t enjoying it, because camping is something we thoroughly enjoy and we want to do as a family. If he doesn’t like it, I don’t want to force him to do now because I don’t want to risk him absolutely hating it when he’s older. We got no sleep, and my hair was a disgusting mess.
The next morning, Bear’s Mr. Hyde disappeared and Dr. Jekyll had returned, all smiles as we ate breakfast and napping in the carrier while we packed up the campsite. Luckily, the other occupied tent sites near us had young children too who made their way over in the morning to see the baby. One family that came to say hi was a Dad & Daughter duo on the daughter’s first backpacking trip! She was so excited, telling us about their journey the day before.
So we’re going to hold off on the camping with baby for a few month to give him some time to get older and more used to the outdoors. We want him to love it as much as we do, and for it to become the foundation of so many of his childhood memories. We were going to attempt to Art Loeb Trail as a family at the end of the month, but we are now tabling that until next year (and thinking it may be a Matt & Emily solo trip).
Overall, I know we will laugh at this. I already find it funny, and in the moment of the crying and vomiting, I just shrugged my shoulders because of course it’s going to happen to me. It’s all trial and error, finding what works with Bear’s preferences so we can raise him to love the outdoors, and hopefully he will want to camp instead of dreading the family activity. We already know we will be making room for his Dock-a-Tot with us wherever we camp next, because we are finding as long as he is in his Dock, he can work his way to sleep.
On the plus side, the dog had a wonderful time.
And actually, so did we.