Camping Sucks When You're A Mom

by Kira Gilbertson
Originally Published: 
Four kids enjoying their camping while posing in front of a tent during camping with funny facial ex...
Wavebreakmedia / Getty

Camping sounds great in theory. The great outdoors, fresh air, family bonding time, yada yada yada. But let’s stop trying to fool ourselves that camping qualifies as any form of a vacation, especially when you’re the mom.

When you’re the mom in the camping equation you find that your responsibilities, stressors, and general annoyances are multiplied beyond any quantity you would find at home.

The following is a step-by-step example of how camping adds up to being one big pain in the ass.

1. The preparation.

As the mom, 97.8% of the preparation falls into your quadrant. On top of the typical mom duties, there is the addition of extra planning, shopping, and packing. Being constantly overwhelmed is an accepted part of motherhood, but in this instance it is clearly self-inflicted.

Kira Gilbertson

Once everything is finally put together you feel as if you are far more prepared to spend the weekend on the couch than exert the additional energy required to pull off this so called “vacation.” Reality hits hard that the sum of your efforts will doubtfully be proportional to the rewards reaped. In other words, you just did a crap-ton of work only to your detriment.

2. The initial “screw this” moment.

You have traveled throughout the day to reach your destination. With camping, traveling is only part of the problem. Once you finally get to your campsite, you have to work to unload and set up every part of how you will sustain your family for the next few days.

Now you can’t expect kids to understand that all the exciting things they want to do need to wait until post-set up, so here you are frustrated with the process and listening to the background chorus of whining your children are so graciously providing.

Kira Gilbertson

Once the set up is complete, it is time to sit back and relax…. JUST KIDDING! You are now responsible for supervising your children around the dangers of open water, fire, cliffs, possible alien abduction, sunburns, bugs, and the occasional out of control flying fishing hook.

At the end of day one, you are painfully aware that you made some serious miscalculations about the amount of enjoyment you were expecting to get out of the weekend.

3. The sleeping issue.

Sleep is vitally important for a mom’s general ability to function. Anything that compromises the quality and quality of the amount of sleep that is achievable should be subtracted from the equation.

Enter camping: when a family volunteers to leave behind the comforts of their beds to cram into a poor excuse of a shelter and attempt to sleep. Regardless of the set up, the beds are going to suck. There are no orthopedic mattresses along for this adventure.

Kira Gilbertson

Lack of space also produces issues. You are now trying to establish your territory while competing against the group for a very limited amount of space. Feet end up in faces, shoving ensues, all while the smell of campfire smoke and farts linger in the poorly ventilated air.

Everyone is tired, cranky, and ready to rest… except for the assholes in the neighboring campsite. Those guys are rocking and ready to go. As you fantasize about your camping neighbors being subjected to a surprise bear attack, you truly come to terms with how poor your decision-making processes have been working out lately.

4. “Toilet” is apparently a loosely defined term.

You know what makes a sleepless night totally worth it? Having to trek across the campground to a pit toilet every time you or one of your offspring need to use the bathroom. This “toilet” is a metal bucket with a toilet seat precariously placed on top. What lies in the depths of this pit are so incredibly horrendous I am doing you a great service by sparing you the details.

Kira Gilbertson

Now remember, camping is terrible and so are children. So keep in mind that your children will become infatuated with the whole process of the pit toilet and frequently state they need to use the bathroom in order to continue their septic investigation. Thus you find yourself spending a considerable amount of time sitting outside this structure taking in the aroma. Really enjoying that “fresh air” everyone keeps talking about.

5. Survival is a struggle.

Admittedly, this one is a little dramatic. But here I am without my coffee machine, no running water, and a serious lack of WiFi. You have to excuse the dramatics but I’m experiencing a bit of a crisis.

Anyhow, while camping, it is crucial to find something that is not completely horrible in order to occupy your time. In this case, it can be helpful to take refuge in a familiar setting, the campground playground. Granted the amenities are likely slim compared to your own backyard, but kids seem to find anything new exciting. Suddenly you have the ability to just sit.

Kira Gilbertson

Of course, this is camping so something gross has to happen. In this case, there is a fish cleaning hut across the drive fully equipped with a large dumpster to discard fish guts in. It becomes especially pungent in the summer sun and a light breeze moves the scent directly towards you.

Because survival is key you tolerate the stink in order to keep the kids occupied. Again, survival.

6. The stress is contagious, and everyone starts to lose it.

The stress that the mom is feeling is clearly felt by the entire crew. The lack of comforts, sleep, and routine wears on everyone.

As the entire family enters meltdown mode, it is, of course, the mom’s job to keep shit together. Mom puts on a happy face and rallies the troops.

Kira Gilbertson

As much as you want to pack up and get the hell out, you can’t. You are responsible for pulling off the impossible, making a camping trip fun.

You sit down and problem solve the crap out of the situation. Eventually you resolve yourself to pulling out the emergency chocolate and spreading the love to those in need.

7. Alcohol might be your only comfort.

As the trip progresses it becomes clear that the only way you are making it through this is with a slight buzz.

Kira Gilbertson

Obviously everything in moderation, but desperate times call for desperate measures. The addition of alcohol allows for forced relaxation. It also minimizes the amount the constant camping annoyances actually annoy you.

Pick your poison.

8. Even the end sucks.

The end of a camping trip means more packing and more driving. This part is complicated by the fact that everyone is worn out. Let’s just say the Bitch Flag flies high towards the end.

The only consolation at this point is that the kids will likely fall asleep on the way home and it will be the first silence you have experienced in days.

Kira Gilbertson

Once you’re home you soak up the comforts and extras of home. However you are painfully aware that the amount of laundry your family has accumulated from this trip is far greater than anyone could have estimated. The entire family needs to be scrubbed down, coolers need to be cleaned out, and you still have to make dinner. The recovery period can take days.

So let’s do the math. Increased stress + frustration – sleep – plumbing + survival struggle + beer + long recovery = Not a freaking vacation!

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