We rented a cabin at Cunningham Falls State Park last Saturday night to experiment with whether cabin camping was easier with a child who is…terrified of tents. First of all, the State Park 6 Person mini-cabins are a fantastic alternative to a tent. They have two rooms, a bunk bed, and a double bed, plus a futon and a table. They also have the usual fire ring and table outside, and a porch! They also have electricity. It was definitely glamping at its finest. Lila had no fears of the cabin, which we expected.
We have done one short trip since our Thanksgiving week away. In March we went to an Air BnB with baby goats and other farm animals that my friend runs. A full 50% of the reason we went there was I knew the kids room there had a full sized crib, and I knew that the whole place was extremely set up for children, so I felt comfortable traveling there.
Sleeping on an air mattress seems like it shouldn’t be that big a deal. Lila naps on a cot at daycare. We have seen video evidence of her lying on her cot at daycare, taking a nap! And yet, when she was put down to sleep on the air mattress and told that she was going to sleep there, she proceeded to tuck in for a minute. Then she popped back up, started jumping on the bed, leapt from the air mattress to the double bed and then continued running around.
This went on until about 9:30, when she just suddenly crashed. Did I mention she didn’t take a nap that day? And that she had enjoyed a chocolate bar that she stole from our friend’s daughter who was camping with us?
Lila doesn’t really understand consequences. She also doesn’t have favorite stuffed animal friends so we can’t take those from her when she won’t settle down. She isn’t going to buy into a sticker chart the way Molly did at this age for staying in her bed. She can’t even really be bribed because she doesn’t seem to completely understand if::then. She understands “wait” and that usually “wait” is what happens before the thing she wants, but it’s hard to get from there to, “you have to lie down and be still otherwise you’ll be too tired to go to the beach tomorrow.”
So, our options appear to be: figure out how to travel with an actual full sized crib? Or only stay places that have full sized cribs? Or endlessly practice sleeping in unfamiliar places and resign ourselves several rough nights until she finally learns? Which, in reality, is how traveling with Molly went for the first two years. I’m just far too tired to deal with that now. We’ve decided that for the short term, we will work on letting her practice sleeping in the air mattress at home. I’ve been more optimistic about things in my lifetime, but it is definitely the easiest solution currently available to us.
The good news is, the rest of the camping trip was a total success! Lila adopted our friend’s 5 year old and by the second day the three kids were playing ring-around-the-rosie and playing on the beach. We did one short hike and played at the playground and had hotdogs roasted over the fire and Lila mostly stayed away from the fire, plus we had 3 adults and having an extra adult makes a huge difference.
Something that has been easy to forget during the pandemic is how much of a difference it makes to travel with other people. Other adults, other children for yours to play with. I’ve been so worried that we might not get to the age with Lila where the kids could all disappear together and have fun, but right now she is managing to include herself in activities in a way that is tolerated and considered cute. I doubt this will last forever, but with a four year age gap between kids, that was probably inevitable. But it was nice to do something that felt so normal, and to have a glimpse of what the future might look like for us.