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Life Lessons from a week camping

“Time camping isn’t time spent, it’s invested.”

So I have a confession to make: up until recently I really hated the idea of camping. Give me a tropical 5 star resort, a big pool to relax and read a book by, and a comprehensive cocktail list and I would be one happy camper lady…that is, if I am by myself (which is never) or with my girlfriends on a mumcation (which is hopefully once a year!)

Of course, my family like to go on holiday with me every now and then (go figure!) and our expectations of what a good holiday entails vastly differs: I have a nature loving husband, an adventure seeking teenage son, a creative tween daughter, and a free spirited 8 year old, all with differing ideas on what constitutes a good time.

As I was recently researching holiday options, in between quietly sobbing to myself at the eye watering cost of accomodation for a family of 5 (don’t even get me started!) it occurred to me that our holiday woes could be solved…if I was prepared to put my camping phobia aside and embrace the great outdoors.

So when I suggested at the beginning of this year that we buy a friend’s second hand camper trailer and start have some camping holidays, my husband first checked to see I wasn’t delirious, and then quickly set about making it happen.

Fast forward, and I have not just survived but absolutely thrived from a week camping over the Easter holidays (well apart from the 745 loads of washing that have resulted!)

I thought I would share some of the life lessons I learned while camping, that I will attempt (no doubt with varying levels of success) to implement in my everyday life.

  • When you’re camping and it gets dark, you start thinking about going to bed. Well you have a glass of wine and dinner first (I’m not completely uncivilised!) With no TV or screens to lull me into the ‘staying up too late’ zone, I was in bed and asleep before 10.00pm every night…and so was the rest of my family. This is a big deal in my family of night owls, and I’d say we all felt better for it. So, I’ve been setting my phone to remind me to go to bed earlier, and I’m trying to get the kids to bed a bit earlier as well (thank God for the end of Daylight Savings on this count!)
  • Less screen time for everyone, means more family connection. This comes as no surprise, and yet it was kind of a surprise to me at how much better we all got along (in particular the Playstation obsessed teenage boy of the house). Now we are back in the school routine, my boundaries around screen use are definitely tightening up, myself included!
  • When you are less busy, you are more willing to have fun and play, and there is no doubt your kids will love you for it! I kicked the footy with my son, played chasey with the girls, and we all enjoyed cards and backgammon. Try and create some space in your a week for a ‘family fun time’, these are the moments that our kids cherish (and we should too).
  • When camping, you spend more time outdoors in nature. Slowing down and noticing the little things, such as standing under the moon watching the stars, feeling the grass under your toes, or simply sitting in the sun with your eyes closed and noticing how you feel: these are all little things we can do in our everyday to ground ourselves and be more in the moment.
  • Camping is a cheaper form of holidaying, and it reminded me of something we can all do with being reminded of every now and again: you don’t need to spend a lot of money to have a good time. In fact my kids said it was one of the best holidays we have had, because of the fun way we all spent time together. Maybe create a list of free things your family could do together and try and tick one off a week. Your heart (and your hip pocket) will be happy!

So thank you camping, you have shown me a new way to connect with my family, and for that I am eternally grateful. Until next time…

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