~:: by Amelia of Tales of a Mountain Family ::~
We spend a lot of time outdoors around here. It is for the sake of our health, our sanity and our relationships with each other. We’re your typical 3 ring circus family with two young ones (aged 3 1/2 and 1 1/2) that keep us on our toes and collapsing into bed at the end of the day. While the hubby and I share a mutual love for the outdoors, we have found getting outside as a family even more difficult and more crucial with the addition of our kids.
I am not going to sugar-coat things…getting two kids dressed and excited about getting outside can be a daunting chore in itself. Depending on the season (and how much clothing is required), it can literally take up to 30 minutes to get us out the door. I joke that it’s a good thing we don’t have 6 or 7 or I would just be helping dress and undress all day long (or…maybe I would have more help…hmmmm…. ;)).
Why all the hassle? The reality is this: a kid accustomed to the outdoors, fresh air and the challenges that only nature can provide is a happier, more adjusted and more content child. Research backs that up time and time again. As a mom, my own “research” and judgement based on how much I am dodging melt downs is hard enough fact for me to get the kids outside. Every day. No matter what. **some exclusions such as extreme illness apply**
Another confession: I bribe my children, when necessary. Not that I am handing out candy left and right, but I feel that sometimes the benefit of the outdoors (and getting past that most difficult step of just getting out the door) far outweighs any detriment a little coaxing would do. We bust out the hot drinks in the winter and rely on healthier trail cookies or a few m&ms to get us down the trail in the summer. It (usually) works and we are all happier in the long run for it.
Here are a few more of my best tips to get kids outside safely every day (yes, this does include the winter too! Even 15 minutes can make a load of difference):
– Go outside with them! In case you aren’t sure what that means…. Monkey see, monkey do! If you want kids that want to be outside, you have to show them. Kicking them out the door just feels like a punishment.
– Use layers. Invest in Merino Wool base layers and use them all year long (the wool is excellent at keeping bodies cooler and protected from the sun’s harmful rays in the summer too).
– Wool socks, wool socks, wool socks. Warm feet are happy feet!
– Keep little hands and feet warm by using liner gloves and socks (just lighter weight ones). If it’s really cold, tuck a disposable hand warmer in between the layers. Remember to dress kids that are more sedentary (sitting in a pack, etc.) and younger with one extra layer for warmth.
– Pack high energy snacks to keep kids going in the colder temperatures. Trail mix, granola bars, dried fruit, nuts and a little chocolate are all good. Consider that they may be much colder when consumed (so stay away from granola bars that will be rock hard when the temperature drops!)
– Let kids carry their own kid-sized back pack with a little water and snack. That ownership can go further than any other bribe.
– Spend $20 on a kid camera and let them snap away as you go. The movement may be slower, but they will be thinking of something other than complaining! After your adventure, print the pictures and help them make a photo log. Binoculars (available cheap) and flashlights for later in the day or exploring dark holes and crevices are also great.
– Buy kids those silly animal hats. I always said my kids would never wear them, but they LOVE them and will keep them on. Besides, it’s really fun to chase people around growling and acting like a bear (dragon, pig, cat, etc.)
– Try snowshoeing, go sledding, try snowshoeing and carrying a sled. Enough said.
– Bring the kids. Bring them skiing, hiking, sledding and snowshoeing. Wear them in a pack, on your back or pull them in a sled. Yep, it’s harder. But, try getting a kid out at 7 who has always been left behind with a babysitter…it’s much more difficult. On the other hand…it’s never too late to begin getting out there as a whole family! You are your child’s biggest inspiration – rise to that challenge.
– Finally, be aware of your surroundings. Encourage singing on the trail to deter wildlife; if you are going to be in a possible avalanche zone, know how to spot dangerous conditions; be prepared with extra dry and warm clothing; teach kids how to stay safe!
I love the smell of snow. I love seeing the rosy cheeks of my kids after an exhilarating ride on a sled. I cherish how family laughter resonates in the mountains. All of it is so much better when you are prepared, flexible and quick to laugh…at yourself. Happy Adventuring!
ABOUT AMELIA: Amelia and her husband live at the gateway to Yellowstone National Park with their two young (and super active) sons. They love hiking, biking, skiing, laughing and exploring. She writes over at Tales of a Mountain Mama about their own lessons learned, tips and tricks from the trail, and about life as an outdoor family with young children. They also aim to share the best and most ingenious gear out there for families and have tons of giveaways also!
This post was written exclusively by Amelia from Tales of a Mountain Mama for Bonbon Break Media, LLC.
CONTINUE READING IN THE BACKYARD