There’s nothing quite like trying to set up camp with a couple of kids harassing you every five minutes, it can be pretty tedious.
I worked out when ours had just turned three and four that if you give them a couple of jobs they will happily potter around doing said jobs and generally leave you alone for a bit. I know, famous last words!
Honestly though, it does work a treat and is a massive improvement on just yelling at them to wait a minute, be quiet or get outta the way for an hour.
The trick is finding jobs that are safe, will actually be useful and won’t create more work for you by having to undo something later.
Here are some of the jobs I get the kids to do as soon as we pull up and have picked a site.
Move rocks and sticks from the tent site –
Show them where the tent is going to go, or your awning where you want to put the mat down and get them to pick up everything that might be bumpy.
Yep, they will pick up EVERYTHING and thats cool cos it will take them ages and usually buy you enough time to unpack most the car.
Unpacking the car –
If the removal of bumpy sticks and rocks didn’t quite buy you enough time to unpack then get them involved in carrying the smaller things for you.
Passing the tent pegs & hammer –
Make a pile of tent pegs off to the side and get them to pass them to whoever calls out for one. Getting them to run back and forth between the pile is a great sneaky way to get them a bit tired too.
Same goes with the hammer, especially if there are two or more people setting up.
Hold the tent poles –
Get them to stand and hold the poles for the tent or the awning while you set up guy ropes etc.
Find wood/kindling –
After you are set up and if you are lucky enough to be in a spot where you are allowed fires then send them off to get kindling. If they are a bit bigger then get them to get the bigger stuff too.
This is one of my favourites because you can extend it out for ages, who’s to know how big the pile of wood you need is eh?
Scrunch newspaper for the fire –
Hand them a newspaper and get them to tightly scrunch one page at a time to light the fire with.
Yep, they will get black hands…
Take rubbish to the bins –
If you’re lucky and you have rubbish bins at your campsite then make it the kids job to take the rubbish over and dump it.
We use old shopping bags so they are only small and don’t get too heavy for the kids to carry.
Have them set up toy corner –
We try not to take too much from home because we want to them to have to get a bit creative and also because it takes up room in the van, but we usually have a few bits and pieces for them to play with. Generally a bucket, something to store treasure in, a bike/scooter and a ball for example.
Task them with creating a safe spot for them to keep their toys, unpacking their toys into the safe spot and then being responsible for picking up and putting back anything that strays from that spot.
The picking up and putting back bit is a bit hit and miss unfortunately but the picking a spot and getting set up is always a winner!
Check out road trip & camping toys that don’t take up too much space for some ideas.
Sweep the mat/tent/van –
Always take a dustpan and brush and make it the kids job to keep the tent/outdoor mat/van swept.
Rinse/wash the dishes –
I always have a tub of water with some detergent in it sitting off to the side ready to go. I got one of these collapsable buckets from BCF, they are a good size and shape because it doesn’t take heaps of water to get it full enough to submerge the dishes. The collapsable thing is just great as it doesn’t take up heaps of space in the van.
Get the kids to rinse or wash everyones plates/bowls/cups after each use.
I’m actually regularly surprised by the fact that our two year old can get them clean enough for me to just dry and pack away but she does. Very handy. I guess it’s easy when it’s all fresh and nothing has had time to dry out.
Use the foot washing station –
Keep a shallow rectangular tub with water in it and a towel nearby next to the door or the tent/van so they can wash and dry their feet before going inside.
It’s a bit of a novelty and it takes a bit of time each time they want to go in and out.
I’ve got another collapsable tub like the one above but a different shape which is perfect and easy to pack without taking up a heap of space.
Check out easy outdoor activities for kids (that are perfect for camping) for some really cool simple things to do with the kids while you are out and about.
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