5 Tips for Tenting with Kids

Lets be honest, tenting with kids is not the easiest part of camping with kids. In fact, tenting with kids is pretty much the deal breaker for most parents when it comes to camping in general. Most parents, even those outdoorsy ones, admit that bed time routines with kids is usually the hardest part of the day, and I’m convinced, can take up to your child’s 18th birthday to really get the hang of. Rest assured, here are 5 tips we find work when sleeping in a tent with our kids.

1. 1. Pack the i-pad and/ or favourite books:    

Seriously,  even those outdoor parents who are hauling the tent up to the top of the mountain with their kids, are also hauling that i-pad or favourite bedtime story. Just because you are outdoors for the night, doesn’t always mean a game of chess or folk tale is going to do the trick. The i-pad is certainly not for every family, but if you do use the i-pad at home for learning games and love it more because you can download preferred shows from Netflix for your kids, than don’t be ashamed to bring the i-pad.


2. Let go of the exact same bed time routine:

Sleeping in a tent with your child already goes outside of your child’s bedtime routine, so in a way, you have already allowed yourself to go outside- literally, of your child’s bedtime routine.  Everything from brushing the kids teeth, bed time snack, and putting on pyjamas, will seem like a new bedtime routine experience, because your outside, so allow yourself to be even more flexible. Depending on weather, and where you are, sunsets and star gazing can be a pretty amazing new outdoor bedtime experience. Usually after we get the kids pyjamas on, we take a walk and explore the area to tire out the kids a bit. There really is something very special about seeing your children frolic under a sunset in their pyjamas.

Most tents don’t come with black out windows and sound proof walls either, so be prepared for an early morning too, despite the late night bedtime.

Tenting with kids often means late night sunrises and early morning sunrises.

3. Let your kids help you set up the tent:

A good selling feature when tenting with kids, is to make them a part of everything. While this may sound like a recipe for disaster, getting your kids to assist in some aspect of the tent set up,  can help them feel a bit more connected to the tent idea. Truthfully, our kids usually run in and out of the tent while we are setting it up, but nonetheless, they are definitely a part of it.

Like choosing their own room, your kids will likely stake their claim in which tent spot they want. Once they have established their side of the tent, encourage them to help set up the bedding; this can create some comfort for them to see how functional and cozy tenting can really be.

4. Pack the same blankets and pillows:

While you cant always bring your entire duvet and 4 pillows when tenting with you kids, or bed, it does help to pack along your child’s favourite little blanket and pillow to add a little comfort. Since my kids were babies, they have carried the same little “blankie,” everywhere, so as long as they have this, they will fall asleep anywhere; eventually!

If you decide that tenting with your kids, is not so bad after all, you can invest in getting your children their own sleeping bag and outdoor pillow, and add to their own personal outdoor items.

5. Go inside the tent together at bedtime:

Once everyone is piled inside the tent together, and the sunset and hype of a new experience are no longer the incentive, your kids may start to become emotional and want to go home, including you. Try to stay calm and bundle up nice and cozy with them; perhaps this is a good time to pull out the i-pad?

A head lamp or battery powered lantern, is also a good thing to have at bedtime, so your kids don’t feel afraid of the dark when going into the tent. A light is also a good idea when its time to go pee.


Happy Tenting!