My husband surprised my daughter and me by putting up our tent in the front yard last night. For about two months now, she has been begging to sleep outside. But it has either been too hot or raining (mostly the later).
Her first outside camping experience came Easter weekend this year. We put up the tent so she and her cousin could try and catch the Easter Bunny. They didn’t catch him, but the magic of finding the eggs the next morning when they opened the tent was priceless.
Since weather has kept us from repeating our outdoor camping experience, we started a new tradition several months ago. Every weekend we build a blanket tent fort and camp out in the living room together on Saturday nights. We watch a movie, read a few stories, and then we pass out on the floor. She, comfy on top of her portable bed, all tucked into her princess sleeping bag. Me, on top of a pile of blankets, fully aware that by morning my back will be begging for a chiropractor.
But I love these “slumber parties” on the floor. I know one day, mom won’t be the person she is most excited to have at a slumber party. But right now, it means the world to her that one night a week, I’m all hers.
Highlights from Tent Night
Last night was extra special. Because it is a three day holiday weekend, I didn’t have to go to work today. That meant we had a bonus Mommy-Daughter night. My husband knew an outdoor tent would be the perfect venue for our weekend tradition.
Here are a few great ways to entertain a toddler in a tent outdoors:
1. Count the Stars
Multiple times last night, we counted “all the stars in the sky”. We usually made it to about 20 before my toddler’s attention span was ready for something else. But this really was a great activity to get her to start calming down for bed.
2. Identify the Animal Sound
We live in the country, so there is no shortage of animal sounds. When we heard animals making noise, I would ask her what animal it was. Then I would ask her what she thought they were saying.
3. Play with Flashlights
This is our toddler’s favorite thing to do outside at night. She loves her flashlight. Last night she used her wrap around snake flashlight to find things around the tent. Plus, flashlights are a great way to introduce a toddler to hand shadow puppets on the tent walls.
4. Read Books
Her very favorite thing to do, no matter where we are sleeping, is to read books by flashlight. Last night we had four bedtime books picked out to read before we went to sleep.
5. Sing Songs
No outdoor campout would be complete without a few songs. We pretended the moon was her spotlight as she sang songs. When it was mommy’s turn to sing, we switched to lullabies. It was a perfect ending to our bedtime routine…modified for the outdoors.
6. Watch the Sunrise Together
My very favorite moment of our camping excursion was when the sun started rising at 6:52 a.m. My little one opened her eyes, looked at me with those precious sleepy eyes, and said, “Good morning Mommy.” We took a few minutes together to watch the colors in the sunrise before we headed inside to make our muffin donuts.
Happy Labor Day everyone! To those of you lucky enough to have the day off with your family, make every minute count.