I long to spend the night in a tent a few times a year but packing up the van and heading to a campground is tricky with four kids and two dogs. I have opted for backyard camping adventures with whomever may want to enjoy an evening in a tent with mom.
Our current tent will not house our entire family or the dogs but is fine for an adult and two kids. I have always heard that you should buy a bigger tent then you need so you have room for gear. I am also considering two tents that house 4 people which should give us ample room for ourselves and our gear. Another bonus of owning smaller tents is indoor camping during the Winter! I keep in mind the tent size and if it will fit in our living room with minimal furniture arranging! If we had a large den or basement I would keep those spaces in mind for sleepovers and birthday parties.
We are also looking into new sleeping bags and air mattresses depending on what size tent we buy. I have been looking at tents that will house a queen size mattress which means queen size bedding. I highly recommend an air mattress over a sleeping pad for more comfortably sleeping. Each child brings out their own pillow, blanket and a snuggle toy or ten!
Another must have is either a tent platform or good quality tarp to protect the bottom of our tent from rocks and sticks or even tree roots. We do not leave our tent up all season due to bugs getting into the tent pole sleeves. We also do not have our platform built, yet which means water can seep into a tent if it is up for many storms.
Something on our list for next year’s backyard camping adventures is tent lighting. While flashlights and lanterns are nice they can be bright! I would like a softer glow for late nights more like a nightlight. I also use solar lights (placed in a tiki torch) and rope lights to help light a path to the backdoor in case anyone needs to use the bathroom in the middle of the night.
Since we are in our backyard and we live in town we cannot have a huge bonfire but we do own a small metal firepit. The firepit is small and lightweight and easy to use. It also keeps the fire off the ground and makes roasting marshmallows very easy especially with our telescoping roasting sticks. If your family enjoys sitting around the fire then you will need some good camping chairs that fit the members of your family. When we had infants and toddlers we bought smaller camp chairs but now that Lil’ Red is four years old and tall for his age he will get a bigger chair next Summer.
We have a full sized folding picnic table and large umbrella which we use all year long for eating, crafts, and misc art projects. Our table was gifted to us when our shaved ice shack was sold that Riley worked at a handful of years back. Since Lil’ Red and Big Red are fair skinned keeping them out of direct sun is very important.
Keeping your children entertained can be difficult during a backyard camping adventure when they know all of their devices and technology are inside the house. We often bring out toys that are fun and will not damage the tent. We have opted for things like board books, Mr. Potato Head, puzzles, magnetic games and small handicraft kits.
Food is not allowed in our tents but we encourage cold water so we pack up a small cooler with ice packs and water bottles. We usually eat our food on the picnic table or while sitting in a camp chair. We also do not allow shoes in the tent but teach our children to open the tent door sit down and take off shoes. We also encourage sandals or crocs that slip on and off easily. We keep a large reusable grocery sack or a small mat for shoes in the corner right by the door. This helps keep the tent cleaner and less likely to have ants invade. You can also bring a small broom and dustpan for messes that might occur.
Some fun things for teens and dad have been a hammock on a free standing frame which is great to read a book or take a nap while the little kids play in the backyard. We also own a Bocce set and a Badmitton net along with some fun water toys for the Summer. We always seem to have bubbles, beach balls, and simple activities that work well in a backyard camping situation.
What items are on your Backyard Camping Wishlist?
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