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My biggest regret about camping with kids | Toronto Family Documentary Photography

Before my husband and I had children, we went camping a few times a year. We discovered this cute campground along Lake Erie and it became tradition to go camping there every August Civic Holiday. I use the term "camping" loosely, since our campsites always had electricity and water, however, it was still a nice way to relax, be outdoors, and enjoy time with friends.

Fast track to when we had our first son, camping stopped until he was two, when we decided to brave the great outdoors again, this time responsible for a little human. We had such a great time with friends that year, we decided we'd make sure we did it each and every year together.

The following year, Theo came along. He was six months old, Nicholas was three. Our camping trips were a lot different now. Instead of making sure we had enough beer for the weekend, we had to make sure we had enough diapers, baby friendly snacks and enough change of clothes for the kids. But I was happy with all that. It was still lots of fun, although a different kind of fun and I got such a joy out of seeing Nicholas so happy playing with his friends by the fire, on the sand hill and at the beach.

So I was very excited this year that Theo would be 1.5 years old and he could be more involved in our camping experience. I had a game plan in place: pack light, pre-prep anything I could (for anyone whose gone camping with me before, you know I love a good camping hack!), and hope for the best.

We arrived at our campsite, after leaving the house two hours late and driving through a downpour. We are no strangers to having to set up our tent in the dark, so that didn't phase me. What did though was the meltdown Theo had while we were trying to set up and eventually trying to get him to bed. I don't blame him. It was late, he'd just spent 3 hours in the car, we're in a weird place, weird sounds, it's dark, flashlights everywhere. But he eventually fell asleep and I was able to enjoy 15 minutes of solitude in front of the fire while everyone else went to sleep in their tents. I was exhausted, but I just needed 15 minutes to unwind before hitting the hay.

I'm going to make this story short because you don't need the play by play, but both nights, Theo kept me up constantly. He'd wake up, I'd soothe him then stay awake until he fell asleep in his playpen so I could cover him with blankets because it was so cold. But I had to make sure he was 100% sleeping otherwise if he saw me or felt the blankets go on him, he'd stand up and not want to go back down (what toddler doesn't want a midnight playtime?!). All this, among other late night issues, left me exhausted during the day. The tiredness along with the ins and outs of camping with two kids, I didn't take my camera out nearly as much as I wanted and I have big regrets about this. I love documenting what we do together as a family because I want my children to look back at these memories, have photos of them, to remember all the details. But I know as a mom, I can only do so much and I can only handle so much on my plate. So I'm trying to be ok with this, although it does hurt a bit.

These are a few of my favourites that I took and I'm so happy I have these at least because they do put a big smile on my face.

The best part of camping: all the campfire treats! Nicholas loved making spider dogs and eating smores! The kids loved playing on the sandhill. It's such a stunning view and one of the reasons we keep going back!

Wanting to document these special moments with our families is a struggle any mom faces, not just me as a photographer. When we're trying to do it all, and especially when we're out of our comfort zone, sometimes taking photos is the last thing on your mind, until the very end when you quickly try to gather the family for that one last-minute selfie.

There are still a few weeks left of summer. Avoid the disappointment. Hiring a photographer to capture a day in your family's summer vacation is such a wonderful thing you can give your children. Whether it's a day at your cottage or a day at the campsite, you can make sure all your children's summer memories will be documented for them forever. Contact me today to book your summer vacation session.

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