Tis the season for family camping! It’s always a good recharge for the body and soul to get out in nature once in a while. This is especially true if you’re a city dweller and don’t see forested areas very often in your day to day life. Camping with your kids can seem daunting and maybe even overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be! With the right approach it can be a great time for everyone involved.
To start, if you haven’t taken your kids camping before and are worried about how they’ll like it, do a trial run first! Pitch the tent (with your kids’ help) in your backyard, and spend an afternoon playing outside and in the tent, even napping in it to see how they do in a different sleeping environment. That way when the “real deal” camping comes, both you and your kids know more of what to expect.
With every step of the way, get your kiddos involved as much as possible, even when it means that things will take longer. From having them help pack their own bags to gathering sticks for the campfire, involving them will allow them to be more invested in the activities and to feel that their contributions are valued.
One area that is a lot of fun to involve your kids is also our personal favorite: food! Ask your kids for their opinions on what to eat, and have them help with preparations before you leave. When planning your camping meals, think simple and think crowd pleasers. Foil meals and things you can grill over the fire, for example. On our May menu we have Campfire Grilled Pork Chops, and Tarragon Carrots. The pork chops, as the name suggests, would be perfect grilled over the campfire, and the carrots could be prepped before leaving and thrown in foil, also to be cooked over the fire. Check your nearest Dream Dinners location to see what menu items are available, and which would be best for your next family camping adventure.
A few other quick pieces of advice: make sure to do your research before you go, checking campsite details and regulations, etc., so you have less surprises along the way. Don’t forget to bring along toys and games for your free time at the campsite, and think positive but also plan for any potential challenges. Pack extra tarps in case of rain, extra layers so you’re ready for weather changes, and a first aid kit for cuts and scrapes.
Of course we’re only scratching the surface of all the possibilities! If you need more ideas for family friendly camping, there are plenty of resources available. REI offers some solid advice in this article, and this Lasso the Moon blog post also has a lot of fun tips and tricks. Research and preparation aside, what’s most important is to have fun! Camping with your family can provide you with great memories to last for the rest of your life, way after the bug bites go away and the s’mores are all devoured.
Spring is in full bloom! With some creativity and a little planning, these ideas for Springtime family fun will help your family really savor the season.
Plant an herb and/or vegetable garden
Spring is a great time to plant a variety of veggies and herbs. The Urban Farmer Seeds and Plants website is a great resource in terms of how to go about planting everything, what to expect, when to start, etc. Your kids will love getting their hands dirty (without getting in trouble!) and the whole family will get to enjoy the tasty benefits of having fresh herbs and vegetables once your seeds have grown. Another bonus: your harvest could be added to some of your Dream Dinners meals!
Paint rocks together
This creative craft project starts with getting your family outside. The next time you go on a walk together, have your kids collect small rocks to bring back home to paint. Then let the artistic energy flow! If you’re in need of some ideas, this Color Made Happy page has a ton of inspiration, from silly faces to unicorns and minions.
Check out a new park & take a picnic!
If your family has gotten into a routine of visiting the same neighborhood park all the time, challenge yourself to visit someplace new. Make it an occasion, by taking a picnic along. Many of our Spring menu items would make ideal picnic meals – check your local store to see the full menu and find the most picnic-friendly meals available. If you’re stumped in terms of which parks to try out, here’s a few links for some of our regions. If you don’t see your city below, try visiting your local Parks and Recreation website for a list of parks in your area.
- Seattle, WA: seattleschild.com/10-best-parks-kids-seattle
- Sacramento, CA: blog.sacramento4kids.com/best-parks-for-kids-in-sacramento
- Cincinnati, OH: cincinnatiparent.com/10-cincinnati-playgrounds-worth-the-drive
- Austin, TX: austintexas.gov/blog/make-austin-your-playground-these-family-friendly-parks
Make Spring cleaning fun
Last month we talked about self care Spring cleaning and there are plenty of ways to make Spring house cleaning fun and less of a chore for you and your family too.
- Have your kids help you gather any and all papers that you no longer need into a bin: old newspapers, magazines, mail, etc. Then use what you’ve gathered to make a campfire that night! Find a neighborhood park with a fire pit you can use, and bring s’mores for added incentive.
- Set up some friendly competition between your kids – who can clean their room the fastest, who can gather the most books/toys, who can find the most change in the couch cushions!
- Turn it into a dance party clean-up! Play some fun, upbeat music and dance with that broom (and your kids!) between sweeping, dusting, or whichever cleaning tasks you’re tackling.
It’s that time of year when we begin thinking of trips over Spring Break, Memorial Day and throughout the summer. The calendar fills up quickly, and so do mom anxieties when trying to make sure every detail is in place and the trips ahead are memory-worthy, not in the Griswold family sort of way.
The Dream Dinners team is always looking for ways to simplify planning, and road tripping is no different. Most of us have raised our kids and some are still juggling high school and middle school schedules, while a few are still changing their kids’ diapers. We are always talking trip hacks to make everything so much easier on the entire family. Adventures should focus on the journeys and destinations, and that’s possible when a few tried-and-true planning steps are handled right from the get-go.
One way to get the kids psyched about the trip, not just the days out of school, is to bring them in on the planning right from the dream stage. When they are excited, the anticipation well outweighs a last-minute food stop.
There are ways to get the kids involved. Start with a list of destinations, break out the maps and research at the library, or online, all the details about where you hope to land. If you use a paper map, which is so much more fun to mark up Ken Jennings-style, take time to point out some fun spots along the way. Are there scenic vistas? Giant trees? Historic markers? Hikes? Places to play?
Labor Day weekend is one of the busiest travel weekends of the year and we know traveling with kids is no easy task, especially when it involves long flights or car rides.
Try a few of these easy summer travel ideas so you can spend less time worrying about the stress of travel and more time making memories with your family.
– Bring a variety of your kids’ favorite healthy snacks such as sliced or dried fruit, popcorn, granola bars, trail mix, or string cheese. Keep perishable foods in a small cooler with plastic bags of ice that can be refilled at gas stations for free as the ice melts.
– Make erasable activity books by inserting coloring book pages, crossword puzzles, and other activity sheets into page protectors in a three-ring binder. Give kids a pack of dry-erase markers or, for less mess, dry-erase crayons to use with their new activity books.
Ever thought about taking your Dream Dinners on your next vacation, family reunion or camping? Many of our guests love the convenience and money savings taking dinner to go.
Camping: Use them frozen in addition to your ice in the cooler and as they thaw, dinner is ready to cook. Easy, less mess, all ready assembled means more time for smore’s and less time washing.
Family reunion: Many of our dinners double as appetizers. When we have family reunions, each family gets one night to be in charge of dinner. With Dream Dinners, we spend less time in the kitchen and more time with family. Plus, it’s far less work when cooking for a crowd having assembled meals ready to go!
Vacations: Spending time at the lake, cabin, condo or even the beach can be more fun and relaxing when deciding what to eat isn’t a problem.