Last weekend my little family went camping. The mini-break was a breath of fresh air, both literally and metaphorically!
My husband and I have always loved to travel. We did plenty of it before we had children but we can’t afford to now. So, earlier this year, we bought a second hand tent from Gumtree, a gas burner from Aldi and a couple of cheap blow-up mattresses. We no longer have an excuse not to get away and are fortunate that there are lots of beautiful camping grounds within an hour’s drive of where we live – beaches, bush and forest.
This was our second camping adventure of the year and we went with two other families with young children. We camped in a local nature reserve next to a crystal-clear creek, where the only regular sound was bird song and the only light at night came from campfires, torches and the moon.
After two nights camping I felt recharged. Revamped. Reconnected! Ready to face the world again. I was reminded of just how sweet life can be when it is stripped back to the bare essentials.
The main joy for me was watching my children interacting with the natural environment. They had no screens and no toys and never once did they say ‘I’m bored!’ They were busy from dawn ‘till bedtime: swimming, building cubbies, swinging from vines, making rock sculptures, bushwalking, chasing lizards and poking sticks into the campfire. They were dirty, sweaty and smoky but also happy, stimulated and content.
Do we have it all wrong regarding our modern parenting values and techniques? We want our children to have the best of everything – a nice bedroom, fun toys, musical instruments, cubby houses, Barbies, iPads, iPods, Lego, etc., but it’s never enough for them, nor is it enough for us.
I can’t tell you the last time our family completely disconnected from our screens. At the camping grounds there was no mobile service at all and it was liberating knowing we couldn’t be contacted. How refreshing it was to ‘switch off’ and tune in to the world around us.
‘I can feel myself come back down to Earth. I didn’t realise how stressed I was,’ one of the other Mums kept saying. Why were our lives so busy, we three Mums wondered, in spite of our persistent efforts not to be let them become so?
When was the last time you sat by a stream surrounded by soaring trees watching your children skimming stones and spotting fish for two whole hours?
When was the last time you cooked your dinner or made billy tea over an open fire?
When was the last time you disconnected electronically for a couple of hours, let alone a couple of days?
I never thought that 2 nights away could restore my equilibrium and return a sense of perspective to my life, but it did. Because parenthood is so demanding and so relentless, a small break in routine can be incredibly nourishing AND liberating.
What do you to ‘reconnect your family’? Please leave a comment; I would love to hear your ideas.
To follow my family’s adventures check out Feel Good Mumma on Instagram