Sarah fell off a climbing wall at the beginning of July. She fractured her ankle and cleaned the tendons off in the process, it was a bad one.
But in an attempt to cheer her up and show her that we can still do everything we planned to do. We decided to go ahead and do a weekend camp that we’d had booked in with friends months before. The weather importantly looked great too.
Here’s the things I learnt taking her and two kids away camping with a broken ankle.
It ain’t gonna be easy.
Be prepared to not rest or relax as much as you’d expect. All the parenting is on you with one additional immobile one to look after.
Even the slightest activity needs thought. You’d be surprised how the smallest thing can end up taking a big effort to get going.
We went with a big gang of mates as usual (it really is the best way to camp with kids) and they really helped in terms of entertaining our two kids and keeping us amused too.
Get a light, easy to put up tent
I made this mistake. I bought a used polycotton Outwell Yukon River 6 a few months back. I thought it was going to be the answer to us getting rid of our Robens Klondike.
It was brutally difficult to put up. I absolutely couldn’t do it on my own and really struggled even with another perfectly able partner. It went up eventually. Good size, but ultimately not worth the effort. There are better options available.
We used to have an amazing Quechua 4.2XL which was the largest popup family tent around. It was great but wasn’t super strong in wind and didn’t have a sealed groundsheet so we ended up selling it. Big mistake. If you can find one. Grab it. It would of been perfect for this trip.
(We’re totally in the market for a new tent (I’ve actually just bought another used one to tide us over) but we will look for something next summer.
Make dinners and food before you go
I felt smug about this one. I made an absolute vat of pasta bolognese the day before we left and brought the whole thing with us. Once the tent was up, I just warmed this up for everyone with some grated cheese. A family favourite and it fed me for the whole weekend. Its perfect for a weekend camp where you arrive on the Friday night after work. Totally speeds up the resulting sitting down with a beer by the fire.
So grab some decent tupperware, fill it up and you can either freeze a bolognese or a chilli/curry and use them to keep the cool box cool too!
Other foods we took included:
Chocolate brioche buns, yoghurt/fruit/cereal, sausage rolls, cheese rolls, salad bags, carrot sticks & houmous, hot dogs, barbecue burgers/chicken and of course crisps, drinks and snacks!
Make sure bed and sleeping is all setup and ready.
OK. Bedtime. Sarah gets her own space for this. She needs her foot elevated and she can’t be at ground level (she can’t get up from there!)
The solution? Double height airbed from Intex. There are a few kicking around but I went with a brand I recognised. I’ve previously had one of these and it lasted a long time. They inflate with a built in pump that is 3 pin mains powered. I have an inverter in the car, so turned the engine on and inflated this. We had the bed in the main living area so she had plenty of space to swing her legs over and to get in and out easy.
Sarah is a big fan of her Vango double sleeping bag. It’s a 3 season bag, so we combined that with pillows from home for the standard bed.
Our secret weapon here also is called Colin.
Colin is a massive horseshoe long cushion that you can wrap around yourself. Sarah loved Colin from when she was pregnant it made sleeping so much more comfortable. She elevates her leg with it and gives it a big cuddle. He’s the other man in our relationship. 😀
I slept with the kids on SIMs in the bedroom compartment.
Plenty of entertainment
We knew that with only going for a weekend with lots of friends that it was going to be really mellow and a lot of sitting together chatting and catching up whilst the kids ran around so we didn’t really plan lots in the way of entertainment.Sarah took her Kindle, a few paperback books, as well as her gifted adult colouring book (don’t let the kids read it!)
We also ended up playing a mass game of Play Your Cards right with a set of giant cards. This was surprisingly hilarious and got everyone going, we awarded prizes to the winners (kids bubbles and sweets).
But honestly most of the time is spent sitting in a circle chatting (it’s one of the main reasons we go camping).
Be there for when they need stuff.
Be close to the facilities (or wee solutions)
We were too far from toilets really for Sarah but super close to the river for the kids. This meant I had to trundle the car over every time. It wasn’t ideal so for our next trip I’ve invested in another solution.
The plan is to use a great eco friendly degradable cat litter combined with a compostable bag for dealing with number 1’s in the tent. This is ideal for the kids too hopefully. Number 2s are still getting driven. 😉
Whilst we didn’t use the shower during the weekend away I’ve planned an option for the next one. We’re going to either use the fold up toilet seat in the shower or take a cheap camping chair.
Should be quite a sight combined with a taped bin bag over the cast or a rubber limb protector!
Protecting them from kids and keeping them warm and comfortable.
One minor headache was a bit that its dead easy for the kids, especially the little ones, to forget about the injury. They come charging over not thinking and grab the back of the chair that the foot is elevated on or even worse come crashing into the cast itself. Thankfully this didn’t happen. We just kept a real close eye on all approaching minions and tried to block any direct paths in to Sarah.
Sarah found plentiful blankets in the evenings to be great at keeping the bare toes warm. Its important to get up though and crutch around to rid some of the stiffness from time to time.
We kept a constant supply of chocolate on hand too. Vital.
Don’t push it. Know when to stop.
Its hard. Don’t overdo it. It’s meant to be a trip of recovery and repair. It’s easy to fall into the usual holiday vibe of doing everything and anything. Take a step back and look to some of the alternatives for entertainment.
If things get really tough, the weather goes bad, just bail. It’s not worth risking further injury from slipping on a muddy field. Stick the kids in the car and load up.