It is a word that instills terror in some and exhilaration in others.
Growing up, my family and I went on many camping trips. I hold fond memories of exploring the bush, getting lost, sheltering from the rain and all sleeping together in our very fancy dome tent. They were trips when we were all so happy together. Simple holidays that have left wonderful, warm memories.
As I have gotten older, I have not enjoyed camping anywhere near as much. Reflecting on it, this change coincided with my declining mental health as I struggled to juggle my work/life balance. Being tired and stressed at work and then having to deal with the forces of nature in a tent and keeping warm by a smokey fire in my “down time” have not been things I coped well with. And it got to a point where we just didn’t go anymore.
Fast forward to the last 12 months, with 2 children in tow, and we are back at it.
Ah – getting back to nature!
We have bought a budget $1000 camper trailer so I don’t have to be in a tent on the ground (a huge improvement!). I take my hand-held vacuum so I don’t have to walk on sand and dirt when I go to bed. Powered site so I can run my heater? Tick. Coffee machine? Forgot that this trip but it will be coming next time!
Creature comforts that some might think are not in the spirit of camping, but they do make the experience more enjoyable for me.
And while Mr Music Spark goes to great lengths to ensure my comfort and happiness on these adventures, it really isn’t about me. It is about taking time out, away from work and home pressures, and spending time with family and friends – allowing the kids to run wild and explore and play.
We just got back from our longest trip away so far – 6 nights in Coobowie on the York Peninsula, South Australia. I tiny little town on the coast with a great pub and a fantastic little caravan park. We went with 2 other families and we had a great time. And I coped. I held it together 98% of the time. I relaxed and I unwound.
Don’t get me wrong. It was hard work and there wasn’t much sleep due to a sick husband and son, but the days were sunny and filled with laughs and sharing stories and food and wine. And my kids didn’t want it to end! They rode their bikes, spent hours in the playground, and I know they will have fond memories from this trip that will last a lifetime.
And that makes me happy.
That fills me with great joy.
That such a simple happy trip away will stay with my children and me forever makes all the small, difficult parts of the experience manageable.
And there’s a lesson in that.
It had been getting all too easy to let small issues become big, soul-destroying dramas that consumed my brain space. And while I still over-think things, worry too much and don’t switch off from work, I am getting better at seeing the ‘silver lining’. I feel like I am learning to not sweat the small stuff as much, and focus more on the positives.
Having children of your own, and people who you love and care about, helps you to strive to see the good – to see the joy in things.
And this change in perspective is helping me. It is healing me.
I won’t be rushing out to go camping tomorrow, but we will go again, soon. Until then, I am going to enjoy my little house, own bed, and not having to wee behind a tree.