It’s here! The sun, strawberries and sandcastles of a British Summertime. How wonderful!
I love this season and I love a bit of camping in the great outdoors, but a recent trip made me realise camping can, concisely, sum up the hardest thing I find about being a single parent…
PHYSICAL EXHAUSTION (camping can be bloody hard work).
Maybe it’s also that I’m getting on a bit (42, I know I don’t look it – lol) but doing every job that needs to be done for a camping trip is tiring. Never mind adding in everything that’s needed for a toddler’s camping trip too!
It took me nearly 2 hours to gather together everything required, from every cupboard and drawer in the flat, and squeeze it in the car (and I still forgot stuff). Then, there’s the getting to the site, unloading, erecting and sorting the tent, bedding, tables, chairs, roll mats, food, toiletries – followed by a succession of early mornings, sweaty days, chilly evenings, bbqs, lack of fridge etc. etc. etc. – all happening with toddler in tow.
Camping in the summertime, on your own with a little one, involves a lot of physical work – lifting, shifting, moving and sorting – whilst continually ensuring my son doesn’t kill himself on a tent peg or guy rope.
I was physically spent and it’s at these times I find single parenting hard.
There’s just not much left in the tank so playing a new game or reading another story is an effort rather than a joy, but, I also understand for me to be on good form I should employ tried and tested actions which keep me on track (whether I’m camping or anywhere else):-
- Firstly, I listen to my body. I didn’t used to do this but would then burn myself out and catch some illness or other. In current times though, more than ever, it’s key to look after our health so if I feel tired, I rest, chill and try to get an extra hour or two of sleep.
- I also generally slow down and do less in the daytimes for a couple of days. I don’t push on and I don’t, in any way, compare myself to others (we don’t need to hike/cycle/swim every day). My son and I hang out, read, colour, play and laugh at home – whether that’s in a tent or flat. Instead of cooking a big dinner with lots of components one evening, we might just have beans on toast. I make life simpler.
- I always make sure I practice self-care. I am kind to myself, giving myself a foot rub with oil as a treat or meditating and listening to the birdsong outside. Treats can never be over-estimated!
- The last and most powerful thing I do is to be in the present moment with gratitude. I am mindful to whatever wonder is happening and I am grateful for it – my son playing with his cars on the picnic rug outside our tent, to the sun setting across the far hills or to the crackle of the barbecue getting going.
These strategies always set me straight, be it in the summer (when faced with the unenviable task of rolling a tent back up) or in the dead of winter (whilst climbing 4 flights of stairs to our top floor flat with 4 bags of shopping).
I just slow down.
I live in love and congruence with my body.
I am grateful for life and its’ joys.
And it generally does the trick, exhaustion goes and energy flows.
Hopefully these ideas might help you too if you (‘re mad enough to) decide to camp with a toddler. We’ve got our next trip already planned ?!