We just returned from a weekend camping trip. As I was laying on the air mattress (we don't exactly rough it) trying to go to sleep one night, I was trying to remember why I love camping. Because, really I do. But, if you know me at all, it doesn't make sense. See, many common components of camping are things I really and truly hate. For one, I hate sweating. Like, really hate it. For another, while mosquitoes adore me (as in if there's one in the tri-state area in December, it will find and make a meal of me), the feeling is not mutual. Another, I can't sleep when there's noise going on. We bring a fan to help with this. Heck, I also take Tylenol PM, and sometimes a drink or two to help with this, but all that doesn't exactly negate the noise factor. Also, I don't sleep well if the air mattress isn't inflated just perfectly, which it usually isn't. There's also the icky bathroom situation. I mean, we don't go anywhere without a real bathroom, but still, if you have to wear shoes and avoid the walls at all costs, it's just yucky. There's also being dirty, smelling of smoke and bacon (I HATE bacon!! Whatever, I don't care if you think that makes me weird. I just can't stand it.) and bug spray. And my kid gets up at the crack of dawn (hello, 5:30am). And ALLERGIES!!!!!! Oh, I hate them.
So, remind me...why do I like camping??! Okay, well, here are a few reasons I came up with while the people a few sites over were partying until the crack of dawn and keeping me awake. It's like the best excuse to just sit around and do nothing. And those of us who are a little Type A, well, we need that excuse. I only feel a little guilty about it, whereas if I were at home, I just couldn't do it at all. also, I really do love the beauty of nature. Also, when I do have a good night of sleep while camping, it's really good. Also, camping is a chance to spend time with people I don't often get to see. It's about the only time hubby and I get to sit down and play a board game together.
Here's the biggest reason I love camping. It's because of my kid. That's not really a surprise, right? But, here's why specifically. I know he loves being outside. Mostly, though, I know with all of my professional knowledge, and my momma brain, that being outside is in his absolute best interest. I heard a talk once by a noted child psychiatrist and/or pediatrician (yeah, I should remember his name, but I don't). He talked about how in many ways our kids are actually UNDER stimulated. We usually think of them as being overstimulated, right? Too much TV, video games, computer time, etc... But what he was saying, and it didn't really resonate with me at the time, was that being outside is incredibly stimulating, and in all the right ways. There's the grass beneath their feet, the breeze on their cheeks, the sun on their skin, the sound of all the critters, dirt to taste, and places unknown - and best of all real - to explore. There is fine motor stimulation, gross motor stimulation, opportunities to balance, track sounds, and discover new textures. They get to use all of their senses all at once. And that, my friends, is the right kind of stimulation.
So, that's why I love camping. That and it wears the heck out of my kid. Can you say 7:30 bedtime tonight?! Woohoo!! Hubby just also reminded that our love of camping was also one of the reasons the kid's birth parents chose us - that's, he said, a pretty damn good reason, too.
Today's lesson is my list of some of my camping musts - twice as many clothes as you think your kid (and you) will need; more blankets than you ever thought necessary as who knows when it might be in the 40's at night and that's freaking cold when you're in a tent; sidewalk chalk - it's great for entertaining adults and children alike; and flip flops for the icky showers. Oh yeah, and don't forget the alcohol and Tylenol PM. And if you have some extra, share them liberally with your neighbors and friends!