A family micro adventure is easily found in your own back garden, and is the perfect way to quickly swap screen time for wild time! Whether you are camping for the first time, or a seasoned glamper with piles of kit, the fun of sleeping under the stars, cooking on a campfire and listening to night time wildlife is waiting to happen just steps from your sofa, if you can just switch off and step outside.
You don’t need tons of stuff for a simple trip like this. A tent that’s just big enough, a pile of snuggly bedding or sleeping bags, a torch, teddy, story and a midnight feast is all you need to make some amazing memories for your child. Sleeping in the garden may not be quite as comfortable as your own bed but as long as you’re warm you’ll be fine.
If you don’t have a garden, find a friend or relative who does. I stayed at a friend’s glorious country garden last year. Forecast for the weekend was great, and as I quickly popped up our tiny blackout tent, my hosts poured cocktails and started the BBQ. Perfect!
I had wanted to visit them for a while, but didn’t want to create extra work for my friend who was already exhausted caring for elderly parents. By bringing my own tiny home and beds we didn’t create any extra chores or laundry for her.
My daughter excitedly left a letter for the fairies under an oak tree and dashed off to check their reply in the morning. They wrote back!
Top tips for camping in the garden
1. Pitch the tent during the day so your children have time to play inside and get used to it. Then, when bedtime comes, the tent will feel more familiar.
2. Pack light! You only need the bare essentials for this adventure, so think like a minimalist and just take what you need to meet your basic needs for shelter, warmth, comfort and joy. While you may not need to pack the car for this, gathering objects and putting them back the next day is a time-consuming hassle, so make life easy by using as little as possible. See our book, Minimalist Family Camping, for inspiration.
3. Try setting the rule that you can ONLY go back in the house to use the toilet!
4. If your own garden is small, or non-existent, ask a friend if you can borrow theirs.
5. Keep a torch (and a back door key) by the tent door for any late night wanderings.
6. Ear plugs are a great way to beat the dawn chorus and try for a better nights sleep.
7. Stay outside with your child during the evening, they may feel frightened about sleeping in the dark by themselves, even if they are only meters from the house, so commit to the experience and be part of it.
8. No sneaking back into the house to watch TV. You too will benefit from being ‘unplugged’ from tech, so light a small fire, chat with a friend or partner, read a book or lay back on the grass for some star gazing. I guarantee you will remember this night, but another night indoors just watching TV would vanish.
If even sleeping overnight outdoors feels like too much of a challenge, you could just spend the evening in the garden, borrow a firepit and cook tea on the camp fire. Listen to the sounds of nature, look out for bats, spot some stars… The aim is to get less screen time and more wild time, and this is a simple, and achievable way to do it.
Good luck and enjoy yourselves! See our book Minimalist Family Camping for more inspiration.
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