Yesterday we arrived home after a two week tent camping stint in Grand Marais, MN. We had a lot of fun. I was able to spend a week with my best blogger, Essie, and then we spent a week camping with Dakotapastor’s parents and our nephew, CityBoy.
Camping is one of our favorite vacation activities. We’re a large family, so we don’t fly cheaply, we don’t fit legally into hotel rooms, and we don’t even fit into one vehicle at home, so vehicle rentals can get expensive. Camping, however, is relatively inexpensive (our 14 days of camping fees cost the same as 3 or four nights in an average hotel), we can cook the foods we are used to eating for a fraction of what restaurants would cost, and the entertainment is built in.
However, a camping vacation is not necessarily a vacation for me. There is still clean up to do, diapers to change, squabbles to referee, laundry to do and food to prepare. Somehow though, it seems less stressful when we can sit around the campfire and laugh after the kids have gone to bed, or sleeping bag, as it were.
I did come to realize a few things though, on this trip. None of these revelations are earth shattering. They are all things my mom, or my grandma or my aunts have told me. . .but somehow, they make more sense camping.
- Wash all of the dishes after every meal. I washed a lot of dishes while camping. (to be fair, Dakotapastor did as well, until he grew weary of it.) The municipal campground in Grand Marais has a great dish-washing sink outside the newest bathhouse. While I had to walk there a few times a day, swish, swish, my dishes were done in a wink . . . hot running water is a precious luxury when tent camping. What made dish-washing so simple though? Well, admittedly, we used paper plates and plastic cutlery. BUT, we used reusable mugs, water bottles, AND we ate three hot meals a day, so there was always at least a cast iron skillet to wash. What made dish-washing easy was that there was never a three day, or even one day build up of dishes, rendering the pile insurmountable. Five minutes, and my work was done.
- Pick a work buddy. For the first few days I lugged the dishes to and from the sink alone. But, not only was that a lonely walk, sometimes I had more dishes than I could comfortable carry. So, I began choosing one boy per meal to help me carry dishes back and forth and keep me company while I worked. They may not have been thrilled, but spending one on one time with each of my kids was worth the groaning.
- Get up early.It is hard to sleep in with camping. Sunrise comes early, and with it a hot tent. Also, we had the “joy” of a flock of crows that would descend on our campsite every morning at around 5:22. . .it was loud, and more than a little unsettling. But, getting up early allowed us time to have a cup of coffee and to cook a hot breakfast every day. The kids loved the pancakes and loved taking turns making and flipping them. The girls, of course, loved their eggies! Once breakfast and dishes were done, we were ready to take on the day’s adventures.
- Everybody works. At home, it is easy to take advantage of Mom. She just does everything. And, she could do the same at camp, except, she really would like to go for a hike, or go walk downtown, or go rock hunting. So, in order for mom to not be tied to camp all day picking up after Messies, everyone has to pitch in and help. Some kids fetched water, some took out the trash, others looked for litter, others wiped down tables and chairs. Mealtime preparation was a family affair as well, which kept things running smoothly.
- Put everything away before going to bed. Remember those crows I was telling you about earlier? Well, I did not like the idea of them picking through our stuff. So we put it all way before bed at night. That way our campsite was safe from all kinds of creatures in the night and we had a clean site when morning came. This can, and should translate well for home as well. Though we may not have critters or birds in our house, we DO have an inquisitive two year-old who is often up with the sun and ready to explore!
I did not think I’d pick up good housekeeping habits while living in a tent for two weeks, but I did! How is that for a vacation souvenir?