1 DON’T be casual about departure time. Packing ALWAYS expands to take up all available time + twenty percent.
2 DON’T assume thick black clouds on horizon won’t come your way. They will. Thick black clouds = rain. Rain = misery for five-year-old over-excited campers.
3 DON’T assume swiftly-moving thick black clouds will bypass campsite. They won’t. They’ll just arrive fast. Swiftly-moving thick black clouds = wind + rain. Wind + rain = bad news if erecting tent and minding over-excited five-year-old and fretful baby simultaneously.
4 DON’T take mobile phone with only one blip of battery left. It won’t last the day, let alone the trip.
5 DON’T believe you’ll survive without your mobile phone. You won’t. You’re addicted and needy, just like all those pesky Generation whatever-they-are’s.
6 DON’T use five-year-old son’s new Transformer mug as handy vessel to transport hot water in. So what if it’s handy? It’s a TRANSFORMER mug = magnet to son.
7 DON’T forget location of nearest cold water supply. IF son burns himself you need readily available cold water. Especially if it’s your fault (see 6 above).
8 DON’T assume you’ll sleep longer than 40 minutes in one stretch during night; not if you have six-month-old baby with you, anyway.
9 DON’T believe (even for a moment) that baby needs to adjust to your life. Forget articles and expert opinions. Baby doesn’t need, or want, to go camping. Baby doesn’t need, or want, to sleep in portacot or tent, to play on hard ground, to amuse herself, to enjoy outdoors or experience weather extremes. Baby doesn’t enjoy sand or grass. Baby doesn’t enjoy camping. Get it?
10 DON’T expect five-year-old son to eat anything cooked over camping stove. Five-year-old son doesn’t like change. He doesn’t like charred, or even mildly-blackened, potatoes or sausages. He doesn’t like anything that looks different. He doesn’t want to expand his food repertoire. He doesn’t intend to be less fussy just because he’s camping. Son would rather starve.
11 DON’T decide starvation is fitting punishment for son. Son disagrees. And soon, when son’s blood-sugar levels get low enough, you will observe carnage and also disagree.
12 DON’T conclude camping is bad idea. Kids will look back on these days with fondness. You will recall sleep deprivation and hard work. Kids will recall endless summer days of trampolining, cycling and playing with friends, long evenings spent playing instead of sleeping, long nights feeling cosy in tent as wind whipped through trees outside.
Oh, the joys of camping!