“My legs are so busy!” my four year old cried out as we were only half way up the trail to a lookout we had been aiming for. In her innocent mind, “busy” equals “tired” and it’s a running joke in our family now thanks to Odessa Rose that when we feel tired, we’re “busy!” Hiking can be strenuous on a little kid’s body, but I’ve found a few tricks along the way that have helped to get the kiddo up that mountain and to make the entire experience a lot more enjoyable for everyone.
1. Don’t set your expectations so high that they can’t be reached.
This goes with many things in life, but when hiking with kids, throw that picture perfect hiking vision, where everyone’s laughing and smiling out the window, because there will be times when you question why the heck you even try to take your kids into the outdoors. They’re going to trip and fall, get hungry, get hot, get cold, get wet and just flat out be grumpy sometimes on the trail and you can make the choice to stay home in your comfort zone with them or you can start showing them how capable they are as well as you may even surprise yourself with how far you will go.
My best rules of thumb:
- Bring lots of snacks and save their favorite for when they reach the end destination. (My kids personally love fruit snacks, so that’s their reward….I’m not above bribing my children!)
- Learn to roll with the punches. It’s not end of the world that you can’t do the more difficult hike because your kid is having an off day. It happens to the best of us. Even if it’s just meandering around the parking lot at the trailhead and letting them climb a few rocks, your kids still got to get outside in nature and it’s a good start. Don’t compare your adventures with your kiddos to those you see on social media. You have to do what works for you, but continue to challenge yourself and your kids with every trip.
- Bring Band-Aids. Period. They make everything better with kids
2. Keep your routine to the best of your ability.
Does your little one nap in the afternoon? Go on a morning adventure and try your best to be back home for them to take a nap in their bed. Do you have a certain routine at night that helps them sleep best? Make sure you’re home in time from running around for this to stay in place. Try to pack healthy snacks and a good lunch so kids are not feeling the effects of the junk their fed and then asked to do something physically strenuous.
I’ve fell prey to society’s mindset that kids should be able to keep up with us hustling and bustling mamas all week long and not start to get run down, but it’s just not true. Kids thrive on routine and getting enough sleep and I’m sure no one will argue with me on the benefits of feeding them healthy food. Just remember, they’re only young like this for a season. There will come a time when you can be on the go and not worry about a routine nap schedule in the years to come very soon.
3. Learn to laugh at things.
I remember a situation that I was in with my girls just a short while ago. We were in downtown Denver trying to find a parking spot to attend the Botanical Gardens Light Show and it was a zoo! There were ZERO parking spots to be found in a 4 block radius and of course, Sheridan my 6 year old, had to go to the bathroom! I’m sure a lot of my mama friends can attest to being in the car and having a kid who has to use the bathroom and you have nowhere to go or pull over. Cue the autonomic response of perspiration down your back and your mind starting to race! Do you let them pee their pants, go on the side of the road or just keep your head and look for a place to stop that happens to have a bathroom? Agh!
Thank God, I found a great parking spot on the other side of the park and there happened to be a Port-a-Potty nearby. Not ideal, but it’ll do! Shoving 3 people (Me and my 2 girls) into a Port-a-Potty is no joke, add in a disgustingly gross port-a-potty and you have a dire situation. Sheridan was completely grossed out and Odessa just kept exclaiming, “Ew! That’s where the boys pee!” While she stared at the urinal. I just started to laugh as I’m laying toilet paper all of the the seat then trying to help Sheridan while she cried and got mad at me for laughing. Oh my gosh, it even makes me chuckle thinking about it. This is something new for me. I always used to be the mom who would get so angry when things didn’t work out like I had them in my head. But gosh, I’ve realized life is short and those who learn to laugh and find the silver lining in any situation will live life to the fullest!
We all have bad days and we may have zero control over the stuff that comes at us, but we have every bit of control of how we respond to that stuff. I learned this from a Navy Seal, that you need to be able to detach from your emotions in a situation, take a step back and evaluate what needs to be done. I know this is easier said than done, but I’m truly starting to see the fruit of this practice in the way I parent and in my everyday life and it’s definitely something that I want my kids to learn.
I could go on and on about all that I’ve learned about taking my kids on adventures and I’m sure there are many more mamas out there that could chime in on this subject, but I feel like these 3 keys to changing our mindsets can really set us on a good path. I know that early on in my motherhood journey, taking my kids to go on a hike or to a new place would bring about a lot of fear of the unknown. I started reaching out to other women I knew who loved to get out in the outdoors and we would join them. This taught me so much and I’m forever thankful that they let me and my girls tag along. Now it’s my passion to do that for others. I really do feel that a mom who is wanting to grow and become the best mom that she can be is one who asks for help.
Enjoy the adventure!