Our family goes camping as much as we can. I grew up camping and luckily my husband loves camping too which means that our kids had no choice not to start loving camping as well!
We have other holidays too where we stay in places with four walls and a roof and all the mod cons etc. but it’s the camping trips we love the best and I am so glad for that. I often share our camping trips via the odd pic on social media and I’ve had quite a few people ask what camping with kids is like and I’d love to share the health benefits with you as well.
I want to share why camping is important for us and why it might be something you might like to get into as well (If you aren’t already a fan!) so this is my note on camping with kids…
Camping, especially with kids, is always met with mixed opinions. It can be the greatest holiday or the worst of holidays.
Yes, every camping trip I’ve done with kids so far has resulted in middle of the night bed changes, noisy sleeping bag and tent door zips going up and down in the middle of the night for toilet visits, rainy days, mud and sand where it shouldn’t be, mosquitoes, midges, wet towels, wet sheets, wet feet and occasionally asking myself, what the hell are we doing!??
But here’s what I personally love about camping and I hope I instill in my kids the same loves…
√ no TV
√ no mirrors
√ no bras
√ no shoes
√ no schedule
√ no alarm clocks
√ no computers
√ no iPads
√ 24-hour grounding
√ daily swimming
√ communal food prep/cooking
√ meeting new people
√ sleeping without wifi
√ sleeping on the ground
√ deep sleeps
√ waking up to the sun and the birds
√ sharing a small space and being so close to my family for the whole holiday
√ fresh air
√ independence from modern living
√ bombardment with negative ions
√ the feeling of freedom
See why I happily put up with occasional wet and sandy feet in bed?
Apart from the obvious benefits you get from the list above, I want to outline the importance of taking a break from modern living and what it can do for our mental health.
Grounding or being on the earth or playing with the earth (gardening and making mud-pies and sand castles etc) can drastically reduce anxiety in both children and adults. When we are anxious, we are all up in our heads and hardly aware of what is happening in our physical body. A good friend of mine who battles with anxiety once told me that she ‘goes to ground’ as soon as she starts to feel anxious so for her, getting digging or planting in her garden is one of the best remedies ever.
Just by touching the ground and feeling the earth, we are immediately balancing our root chakra. This root chakra or our lowest energy center in the body responds to the energy of the earth and has an amazing calming effect on our whole nervous system. So time spent sleeping on or near to the ground as possible, like when you’re camping, is like an overnight whole body balance. Not to mention, being earthed and grounded all day which is often the case when you are camping!
There are also earthing pads you can buy that you can place between your mattress and sheets at home to get a similar effect so that might be something to check out if you feel like you could do with some overnight grounding! And even taking some time out of your day, to get barefoot and stand or walk on the earth for a little while has an immediate effect on calming your nervous system.
This is as important for us adults as it is for our kids. Screen time has infiltrated modern living in quite an alarming way because so much of what we do now is related to a screen. Want to relax….What’s on Netflix? Want to cook a new recipe….Where is my iPad so I can google that? Where are the kids? Oh one is in the bedroom on their leap pad and one is in the lounge watching TV. What did you do at work today? Oh I was mostly in front of the computer….Screen time should definitely be monitored and limited in all households but it’s still there. Which is why camping is so great for our family. We don’t take a TV or our iPads, and definitely no computers so we have a real break.
Have you noticed how kids get when you interrupt their screen time? Especially if they are playing an electronic game of some sort? It can be like taking drugs from a drug user. You might see tantrums or hear abuse hurled at you! This is because looking at screens becomes addictive. It gives you a dopamine hit and having it taken away can have the same effect on someone as taking away an addictive substance. I know that I have the same feeling when I become too used to looking at my phone. Sometimes I notice that I keep a distance from my true feelings and emotions by distracting myself by checking my phone too often. E-mails, social media updates etc. all become my ‘fix’ if I don’t monitor myself closely enough. So for us, camping just doesn’t feel right with these things around so they are simply not allowed.
And it’s amazing.
A Break from WiFi and EMF’s
There is no escaping the studies of how WiFi and EMF’s (electromagnetic fields) are making a difference to our overall health and how we are feeling. And there really is no escaping them unless you move to the middle of the desert and happy living without electricity. But I don’t think we should get too disturbed by this as stressing about something that we can’t change will be more detrimental than the effects we are stressing about!
But making small changes like turning off wifi in your house at night is one of the best things you can do for your family’s sleep health and investigating any other ways you can reduce the EMF load on yourself and your kids is a great idea. There are many blogs, podcasts and books on this topic and I’m going to just list this one by Alexx Stuart here as she breaks things down into 8 simple tips as well as chats to Nicole Bijlsma who is an incredible source of knowledge on this topic. It’s another reason why I love camping so much…no modem or electrical currents to switch off at night!
I get that you’re either a camper or you’re not….but remember you and your life keeps changing so definitely put camping on your ‘keep trying’ list if you’ve had a bad experience in the past.
Also, maybe keep in mind that kids need to learn resilience and it’s important for them to learn adapting to new environments. And let me tell you, they have an absolute ball out in ‘the Wild’ as do us adults, if we let go of our ‘fixes’ and let nature do its job.