What I learned from a fire with a toddler – Paternity Leave Activity #4

Circus Queen’s husband here, reporting on what the toddler and I did at 10 days postpartum.

Another hair-brained activity with the toddler. Find a bit of land, build a fire and cook something. Great idea in principle, but I learned a few things from this experience.


• Maybe pick a better weather forecast. It was incredibly lucky that we actually found a dry window in what was quite a blustery and wet day.

• Don’t do it alone with the toddler, unless you are Bear Grylls and can build and look after a toddler with your eyes shut. Due to the wet wood, it was a bit of nightmare keeping the fire going, and that wouldn’t have happened if Grandmum wasn’t there to talk Talitha through the whole thing and manage the marshmallows.

• Cook something simple. Don’t take on a stew on your first campfire. I couldn’t have coped with chopping etc. So we just cooked up some bacon and a brew.

• Keep it short. We stamped out the fire and headed home before we saw any sign of tiredness or boredom from Talitha. These sorts of activities can be nasty if they start getting fractious.

• Take marshmallows. Then while the fire is getting hot, they have something to cook and eat from the word “go”.

• Bring your own kindling and firelighters. I want to learn to do it in a more bushcraft way, but maybe when Talitha is a bit older and I know what I’m doing a bit more. Also the wood was so wet, that we really needed dry stuff to get it going.

• Get them helping. Even though she’s only two, she loved picking up sticks and building the rock circle.

You got any campfire tips? Or maybe songs or games?

I’ve enjoyed writing this series and it’s inspired me to start a blog of my own. Follow me on twitter (@lazbash) hear about it when it launches if you’re interested.

ETA: Laurence has now launched his blog, Chasing Wilderness, documenting a search for adventures in the everyday.


  1. March 12, 2014 / 9:12 am

    We love having campfires!! In the summer, we often sit around a fire in the garden. But having them out in the woods is even more exciting 😀 My bigger two always make us sing browie/guide songs!!
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  2. March 12, 2014 / 11:19 am

    I think this is a lovely idea. There’s a toddler group in Manchester that ends with a fire and marshmallow toasting every week. We’ve only made it once because it’s on at nap time, but as soon as Ebony drops her nap we’re going to try and go more often! x
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  3. March 12, 2014 / 1:28 pm

    Aw you can’t beat a campfire can you?! Although I really dislike the cold so prefer them in the proper summer…I’m impressed you cooked on one so early on in the year though, that’s brilliant! And great tips for fires with toddlers!

  4. March 12, 2014 / 1:56 pm

    I love campfires, and since being around them from very young my children have a healthy respect for them. Talitha is having the best paternity leave time ever.
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  5. March 12, 2014 / 8:59 pm

    I love the video! It has totally inspried me to try this with F but knowing my absolute lack of outdoor survival skills I think I might rely on Forest school for this one or at least wait until paul is able to help out. Well done you on having an outdoor adventure, T looks like she was having a great time 🙂 x
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  6. March 12, 2014 / 9:39 pm

    I’m loving these posts, some amazing daddy daughter bonding time going on here! x
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  7. March 13, 2014 / 10:19 am

    Marshmallows! Bet she loved it. Sounds like you’ve been having a lot of fun x

  8. March 24, 2014 / 2:02 am

    Your cookout looks like so much. I love your tips, especially “don’t do it alone”.

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