This past week I had the amazing experience to go camping with my two wonderful children (3 and 1.5 years old), my sister, friends, and other acquaintances at an awesome festival we visit each year. It is an amazing experience, the only place I go where I can really feel the “village” still has an effect. Everyone helps to look after each other’s kids (even the child-less adults are moms for the week), we don’t wear shoes and get to run wild in nature hearing bands, attending workshops, doing crafts at Munchkinland for the kids, swimming daily, and playing at the park.
I have been attending this festival every year for about eight or nine years. I did it last year with a 2 year old and seven month old baby, and honestly it was hell. Trying to juggle the two of them (even with help) was awful. I was an emotional wreak and broke down more than once. Trying to get the two of them to cooperate for naps and bedtime was just awful, after last year where it was seriously challenging and hard I knew no matter what this year could not be as bad!
This year was a JOY! My children were amazing! My daughter was at the age where she could be independent and play on her own while I put her brother down for a nap. My son LOVED exploring nature and had a blast studying plants and wandering around enjoying his freedom. They visited friends at neighbouring campsites and I didn’t even have to worry as it was only 10 feet away!
Last year I felt so tied down, I couldn’t attend any workshops, go to any of the nightlife activity since I had to be at the tent with the kids, and my emotions were so raw from trying to juggle a baby and a cranky toddler. I was thrilled with how different this year was. Yes they are still children and have their moments, but it was great to see everyone playing nicely (for the most part!) together, both kids had friends their age there from some of my BFF’s so we had two 3-year-olds, 2 1.5-year-olds and other kids around those ages who popped in and out regularly to play. That combined with the five adults to look after them and back each other up was great.
Although I still couldn’t make it to any workshops or nightlife this year, I didn’t mind as much, I still got to leave the site with the kids and check out the vendors, and the swimming, that is what gave me my freedom back. Moms, have you heard of a PUDDLE JUMPER?? It is a LIFESAVER! I used to have to hold my kids in the water, neither are big enough to swim on their own, then we discovered the puddle jumper, and my life has changed forever.
I always loved to swim, I was a fish and loved to be underwater all the time, with kids, you can’t really do that, I was really limited since I am always with my kids, and although I still loved swimming and went in the water, I mostly stayed at waist height playing with the kids.
Fast forward back to the camping festival, with both kids in puddle jumpers, I got to SWIM!! We swam out to the floating dock every day, my kids love to swim and I was thrilled they would go on an adventure with me to the floating dock. In case you are panicking, there was at least one adult per kid and we were always close to the kids swimming, even in their pudde jumpers. Once at the floating dock we all climbed on board, my daughter was content to sit on the dock and count for people jumping off, but my son (18 month old) LOVED to jump off the floating dock, sometimes into my arms sometimes nowhere near me. It was amazing. I loved to see my kids have so much fun and for me, I got a little freedom back this week. It may not seem like much, but to someone who loves swimming (and doing anything really on yor own) once you have kids, you realize you have to give up stuff you never even considered before (like going swimming underwater with no child in your arms). If there is a way to give you back some of your freedom easily, then go for it!
For me it was a simple puddle jumper (you can buy it at Wal-Mart, Canadian Tire, Amazon, or we got one free from our local buy nothing group) that helped me get some freedom back. Now my kids could swim WITH me instead of on me, so we were all comfortable going deeper and could do so safely.
Maybe next year I will make it to a workshop, maybe I will get to swim to the dock alone, maybe I can hit up a concert or fire pit and dancing or other night life, for now I am content to be near my kids and satisfied they are safe and happy, but when they are ready for more independence I cannot wait to get back some of mine!
What is one thing you didn’t expect you would have to give up when you became a parent. Comment below!
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