Monday, June 13, 2016

Adventures in Parenting: Camping with a Baby

So as I mentioned last week, we had our first camping experience with Baby J recently.  I didn't go into much detail because I figured that experience warranted its own post.  

The Hubs & I really enjoy the outdoors, and used to go camping at least a few times each summer.  Like, "real" camping. In a tent.  Okay, so we had a fan and an air mattress in that tent.  But it was a TENT.  An awesome "instant" tent that you just literally throw in the air and BAM--there's a tent.  It was easy, it was cozy, and we were usually the first ones in our group to be done setting up camp.
But last year, I was all big and preggo and constantly hot during the summer, so we didn't do any tent camping.  And now...we have a baby.  I know there are a lot of people who manage tent camping with a baby just fine, but we weren't QUITE ready to attempt that.  For one--our magically awesome instant tent is perfect for two people, but a little TOO cozy for 2 + a baby.

So, we decided RV camping (or "glamping", if you prefer) with my parents would probably be the best way to introduce Lil' Man to the Great Outdoors.  After all--we've stayed in a hotel with him before, so RV-ing would be like one step removed from that.  We've got power, A/C, enough space for a pack 'n would be perfect.

Let's just wasn't perfect.  But nothing is with a baby.  But you live and learn, and adapt.

So my dad is handicapped, which means he gets to reserve the handicapped camp spots.  Which are pretty sweet, honestly.  For one, the site is paved, so you have a nice level "patio" outside your camper.  Next: they're generally REALLY close to the bath/shower house.  Total bonus.
My parents have a standing reservation every Memorial Weekend at this spot, so it's pretty nice.  It's well shaded (though my parents roll out the canopy and an EZ-Up over the picnic table to add a little more shade).  There's a bare grassy spot for playing yard games like LadderBall & washers, and space on the pavement for a hammock (my parents have a folding hammock & frame which is really convenient).

So we arrived at the campsite Sunday morning, unloaded our stuff, hung out for a bit, then handed Lil' Man off to my folks, and The Hubs & I went to a nearby outfitter to do a 5.5 mile float, since we hadn't been on the water in almost a year.  It took us about 3 hours, so it was a pretty nice little getaway.  
Meanwhile, Lil' Man hung out with Nana & PaPa and learned what a hammock was.  Unfortunately, as we heard when we got back, he also found out what falling out of a hammock feels like, and ended up with a little scrape on his knee (the first of many, I'm sure).  
Also, our little observer was having way too much fun taking in all of his new surroundings to be troubled with little things like "naps".  He did take a 20 minute nap in the hammock (pre-tumble), and another 20 minute nap later in the day, but given that his afternoon nap is usually about 2 hours, that's not quite enough rest.  Add on being warmer than usual since we were hanging out outside, and he was a bit crankier/clingier than usual.  
He was also too distracted to be bothered with things like, oh, eating.  He normally chows down about 12-16 oz of formula throughout the day (not including morning and bedtime nursing), but we were fighting to get him to eat 10 oz a day.  He'd eat for a bit, and then want to sit up and see everything.  He did a little better eating his dinner in his super cool new travel high chair, but still spent a lot of time leaning over the edges trying to grab at whatever was near him.  
He got pretty tired toward the end of our dinner and started crying hysterically when one of my dad's friends (who were camping nearby) tried to talk to him.  VERY unusual for our guy who is usually a charmer. (At 8 months I realize we may be getting into his "stranger danger" phase.)

Bedtime was a bit of an ordeal.  He usually goes to bed around 8:30p, but at 8pm we had just finished eating, and needed to wash up the dishes, and then move his pack 'n play inside and set up the bassinet inside it, and then make up the hide-a-bed (since we wouldn't want to be messing with that once he's already asleep inside).  Getting all that put together meant it was about 9pm before I could get him into his jammies and down to nurse.  After that point, everything went fine--he ate like normal, fell asleep like normal, and stayed asleep until about 4:30am.  Nursed him, then he went back to sleep until 7am.

Honestly, sleep-wise it was probably easier on him than it was on us.  There's not a huge difference between his crib and sleeping in the PNP.  Whereas there's a HUGE difference between our bed and a hide-a-bed.  If ANYONE reading this has ever found a pullout couch that is actually comfortable to sleep on, please share. I woke up with a pinch in my right shoulder and along my neck, which stuck around for a few days after.  
With the hide-a-bed pulled out, you can't get to the kitchen--the end of the bed touches the recliners (barely visible in lower left).

Monday morning (Memorial Day), The Hubs fed Lil' Man breakfast of banana & cereal while I helped my mom make our breakfast (breakfast burritos).  We moved his PNP back outside and put him in it with a pile of toys while we ate.  Afterward, he was starting to get fussy, so we decided to pop him in the stroller so he could take a nap while we got some exercise and walked the dogs.  This is usually a no-fail method.  

But of course, nothing goes to plan when you need it to.  Lil' Man stayed awake in the stroller for the first 30 minutes of the walk, sullenly glaring at me, and then only started to fall asleep once we got back to the campsite.  So...we continued to walk for 20 more minutes.  He woke up not long after we got back to the campsite.  But, he'd had his power nap so he was in a much better mood.  Still didn't want to take a bottle, but better mood nonetheless.

Around noon, he still hadn't taken more than a couple ounces off the bottle, so we fed him lunch of cereal and pears.  He eventually started fussing while eating, indicating it was time to try another nap.  Nana took him inside to rock him (another big bonus of RV camping--having rocking recliners), and then laid him down on their bed.  I went inside, and decided to nap as well...but thought I should nap on the couch instead of on the bed by him so I wouldn't wake him.
BIG mistake.  When he woke up 30 minutes later, he had no idea where he was and started SCREAMING.  Took about 5 minutes to get him calmed down.  

There was a lot of calming him down.  We tried laying him in the hammock by himself a couple times, but that first tumble out of it has stuck in his mind.  He would scream every time we tried to lay him in it by himself.  He toppled over a couple times inside the PNP, and would scream.  He was hungry but didn't want to lay back to eat his bottle--more fussing.  
"Mama's gonna hold me?  Okay, I'm cool."

We had originally planned on leaving around 3pm--but at 2:30p some storms started rolled in, and were on top of us by the time we'd finished helping my parents get everything pulled in where it would be safe.  Lil' Man was a fussy mess and would only take a few ounces of milk, so eventually I just rocked him to sleep while we waited 30 minutes for the rain to stop.  He took a little more milk when he woke up, but still just seemed fussier than usual.  Once the rain died down, we loaded up the car, said goodbye to Nana & Papa, and headed back home.  I was afraid he wouldn't sleep in the carseat because he'd pretty much just woken up from a 30 minute nap, but nope--we were in the car for all of about 15 minutes before he dozed off and slept the entire 2 hour drive back home.

When we got home, I sat him in his exersaucer while we unloaded the car...I've never seen him that happy to see his exersaucer toys. So I guess he missed home, and his usual routine.  He ate about 4 oz of formula and then chowed down his dinner.  After a bath, it was bedtime as usual and he slept through the night.

Practicing his standing (with supervision--it doesn't last long).

I can't say I have any great pearls of wisdom from the experience... the biggest challenge was probably the napping.  If we had a do-over, I might have brought his bouncer, but he's getting to a stage where sometimes that doesn't help get him to nap, and he often tries to lift himself out of it (even though he's strapped in).  If he hadn't fallen out of it, I think the hammock would have been a Godsend for naps.  By the next time we camp (likely Fourth of July or Labor Day weekend), he'll be in a totally different stage, probably self-feeding more, maybe using sippy cups, possibly crawling, so it'll be a different experience. But I think we're up to the challenge.
Might need to invest in one of these down the road...

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