Growing up, my parents' backyard bordered a creek on a half acre of land. It was the perfect setting for camping out as it truly felt like the wilderness and you could even hear a coyote or two howl early in the morning. Sometimes you don't need a vacation to entertain your kids, you just need a backyard escape and here's how to make it happen!
Sleeping in your own backyard can be a small yet, needed vacation. It's a chance to get away with your kids, or let them get away from you without leaving home. For little ones, you might have the living room set up to sleep in just in case they retreat back indoors!
Try having a large activity such as an outdoor movie, dinner and games or even sing-a-long before bed to help kill time. A night is a long time for young kids if they're even the slightest bit apprehensive about the outing. In addition, here are 10 things to include on your overnight outdoor stay:
1. Sleeping Bags & Pillows: You could even add air mattresses if you want, but we do highly suggest putting down a thick blanket underneath so sticks don't poke their way into the bottom when little feet are dancing and prancing on them.
2. Flashlights: If you're not into giving each child their own flashlight, try a lantern style that will light up the entire tent or outdoor area. Just make sure to have an extra one for kids who need to head back inside to use the bathroom.
3. S'mores: It's camping, if you leave out the S'mores well then it's just sleeping in a tent for no reason.
4. Radio: Though you could drag a portable tv out with an extension cord, that seems to defeat the purpose of camping, but we do like the idea of a radio to sing into your camp fork with. Besides, it gives you a legitimate reason to sing the Chipmunks version of Beyonce's "All The Single Ladies" with gusto and not be embarrassed.
5. Glow Sticks/Jewelry: There isn't a kid on earth who doesn't love a glow stick or good piece of glow jewelry (yes, even boys). It's a fun addition to flashlights or lanterns and will provide hours of fun and security for little ones.
6. Bug Spray: Camping is fun, bug bites aren't. Look for one with low odors to avoid having a smelly tent.
7. Grilled Dinner: Even if you won't be setting up a giant campfire, something cooked on a grill (no matter how small) will have that charred taste of the great outdoors! Try watermelon for dessert and have a seed spitting contest!
8. Tent: Even if you don't own a real tent don't think you have to go buy one. Just run a strong rope between two trees and stake down a sheet or two over the top. Use a tarp or painters plastic for the floor and place a blanket over the top.
9 Walkie Talkies: Although the adult use of these faded away with the influx of cell phones, that doesn't make them super awesome still for kids. Being able to talk to mom and dad or even the boys in the next tent over is a great bonus. Plus it means you can wish the kids goodnight or check on them when needed (or be a creepy ghost and scare them, the choice is yours really).
10 Big Pancake Breakfast: When all is said and done have all your weary campers come inside for pancakes and gather round the table. A morning loaded with carbs is a great start to any night spent sleeping on the ground!
What are your backyard camping essentials? Do your kids have any must-have items for their at-home camping adventures? Let us know below!