It would be remiss of me not to tell you about our recent family camping trip. While I welcomed the idea of a getaway, I’ll admit that I thought that five days in a very remote coastal region for our first ever camping trip with three young children was, well, ambitious. So I approached the day with hope and trepidation.
Packing and preparing gear took a day and a half. Driving there took three hours on a four-wheel drive track with kids fighting and crying the whole way. We stopped for wees only to be out-foxed by Master 2’s claims which turned out to be a ruse to run off into the bush without his pants. We looked out for crocodiles at the creek crossings only to have Master 4 angry and crying that we didn’t see any. They ate all the bribery snacks just an hour into the trip and Master 1 cried when the other two pinched him and threw toys at him.
Many times during the drive I wondered why I was doing it. I was going to have to fulfil all my motherly and domestic responsibilities in a remote setting without all the comforts of home. Plus I hate getting bitten by mosquitoes and sandflies. Suffice to say I was more than stressed when we finally arrived and set up camp.
However, after watching our first sunset and putting the children to bed early (they were over-tired with excitement) I began to slowly allow myself to unwind. A fire was built and we sat around watching it for as long as we could.
I thought that it would be hard to fill our days with activities for the children and it was a while before the requests to watch YouTube and DVDs dissipated. But we had daily walks along the beach. They saw starfish and trepang and collected coral trees and shells. We walked along the bush track looking at trees and birds. We took them fishing in the boat and talked about the river and the types of fish that live in it. Master 4 with Team Daddy caught a trevally and Master 1 with Team Mama caught a barracuda that slapped him on the cheek with its tail causing great excitement! We met and spent time with local Yolngu and practiced a new language.
Above all else, all our children had both parents full-time for five days. They didn’t care what they were doing, so long as it was with us. We were creating family memories. They had stories to tell and it was pure joy to watch them immerse themselves in their new experiences.
It is easy now from the comfort of home for me to overlook the long nights of inconsolable screaming Master 1 with teething distress and high temperatures. Since I could not comfort him I was more sleep-deprived than ever. I can even overlook the deliberate disobedience towards danger from the older boys (they had a penchant for playing on the cliff edge and wandering off to find snakes).
Our camping adventure was wonderful but like all things parenting it was hard work and without the extra support of grandparents also on the trip I don’t know if it would have been as successful.
I think the effort was worth it. We had a great family time but I can’t say that I came home refreshed as such, I’d probably say re-focussed. We had no phones, no computer, no outside interruptions and no excuses. It was just us and our family. It was also nice of Mr Magentafrog to acknowledge the hard times during the trip and thank me when we got home for everything I do for our family.
It’s always nice to be appreciated but I think three days camping is plenty!