This is a collaborative post.
Before the best of the summer leaves us, try to use your garden for some entertaining nights with the children. Have they tried camping yet as a family? You don’t need to venture further than your home to give this a go.
With some preparation and a few home comforts thrown in, you can create an awesome back garden sleepover for the little ones and even a few of their friends (if you’re feeling brave). Check out these top tips to make this night under the stars a success.
Preparing the Area
Firstly, you need a space to pitch up a tent that is relatively flat and free of sticks, twigs and any creepy crawlies. You’ll have to get your hands dirty, but it will be worth it when the kids can get to sleep without something poking in their back! It’s also worth drying the grass a little if it is wet.
Bear in mind that you will need to camp out too, so be sure to pitch up a tent for
you, or you and your partner to sleep in too. Although the children will be in the safety of your garden, it is still important to supervise them as they may find it difficult to sleep or get scared. They might not feel confident enough to wander into the house alone late at night.
If your garden is full of furniture, toys and plant pots, be sure to find a new home for these items for the night so you can feel as though you’ve created the open space usually associated with a night of camping.
Bad Weather Options
Sometimes, the weather just doesn’t play ball. You can have the best intentions for a night of back garden camping, but if a frost descends or a torrential downpour is due to pay a visit, it is best to admit you’ve been beaten and leave it for the night.
You don’t need to have perfect weather conditions, but you don’t want to introduce the children to camping in conditions like that – they will never go camping again! Be sure to check the weather forecast and keep plans loose until you can be confident of decent enough weather conditions.
You can also have an exit plan in place that the little ones are aware of. If bad weather hits, you can agree to meet the children in the house – perfect if you have bifolding doors that can be left open as a haven in the darkness of night.
Keeping It Cosy
Making the tent into a little home-from-home will help to make the children feel comfortable away from their beds. Once the tent is fully erected and secured, you can spend some time filling it with you little one’s favourite cuddly toys, books and even a favourite pillow. Although you will be using sleeping bags (to give the full experience), you can up the ante by putting down a duvet underneath for extra comfort.
Depending on the size of your tent, you can also add in some cushions and blankets just in case it gets a bit chilly. Hot water bottles are also a good shout, along with a flask or two of hot coffee or tea for you!
A lantern is a nice addition too, so that the children have the option of a light if they need it. It also adds to the camping ambience.
Campfire Snack Options
Smores: Very American but ideal if you have a fire pit on the go before bed. All you need to make campfire smores is:
- Graham crackers, broken into squares
- Hershey’s plain milk chocolate bars, broken into sizes to fit the graham cracker squares
- Large marshmallows
Maple cinnamon apple chips: A healthier, but no less tasty, option is this recipe from Simple Bites. Ingredients are:
- 3 large apples – Gala, Granny Smith, Macintosh or Honeycrisp
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup
- 1/4 teaspoon fresh ground cinnamon
Blueberry pancakes: This recipe from Jamie Oliver is created with children in mind. It is a ‘one cup’ method, ideal for a camping breakfast, using:
- 1 cup of self-raising flour
- 1 cup of milk
- Sea salt
- 200 g blueberries
- Olive oil
- 4 tablespoons natural yoghurt
Hotdogs (veggie options too): As a quick savoury snack, you can’t go wrong with a hotdog with all the trimmings. Vegetarian options include Linda McCartney sausages or Quorn – there’s even a recipe for creating a hotdog out of carrot! Food Network has a great post on hotdog toppings to give you some ideas…