Tips for Outdoor Adventures with Toddlers!
Are you tickled that I'm going to tackle such an athletic type topic when I'm not athletic in the slightest? Well if you're not, I kinda am. I've realized lately what an outdoorsy kind of gal I am. I suppose I've always liked the outdoors all-right but when I started dating Brett and we spent so much time on the farm I began to think of it a bit differently. Now that we live on the farm I just adore the outdoors. So as a family we also enjoy exploring our national parks and local hiking trails. As big as our world is on the farm I want the girls to be exposed to the even bigger world of natural beauty that surrounds us in our great state of Arkansas.
For now this means we like to start at just the right speed and hike. We tried a vacation on a plane to Chicago a couple of years back when I was still trying to nurse Betsy Grace. The vacation was SO bad I begged Brett to let us fly home on Mother's Day, a whole 24-hours after leaving. It costs us a ton to get home early….and I'm sure there were some "I told you so's" going on once we arrived home. But I'm proud of us for trying. I'll probably always applaud trying over playing it too safe and doing nothing. But, after that lovely lesson we decided to try a new kind of adventure for our family.
Last year we drove about an hour to a local place called Lost Valley to hike. The "trail" isn't rugged at all and is a pretty easy climb for the girls. Last year we used the stroller most of the time and carried the girls part of the way too. We had our first visit of the year last weekend and it went even better than last year because the girls were big enough to walk!
The girls (ages 2 and 3) walked for a good part of the trail and then Brett and I carried them over the steep rocks to get to the pretty waterfall site. I will admit, it felt a bit tricky carrying 30-pound Betsy Grace, my backpack, and camera but we made it! My health goal for the year doesn't have to do with the scale or weight. It has to do with wanting to be able to keep up with my girls and this day was a success!!
Isn't that gorgeous? The water was really rushing fast because of all the rain. We actually got even closer to the water and I just held on real tight to Betsy's jacket. A man noticed the girls on his way up the waterfall and asked me if they were twins. It's a question we get all the time now! I answered him and he said he used to bring his boys (who are 15-months apart) hiking when they were toddlers too! And now they are teenagers and getting around quite easily. This was such encouragement to me! If my girls grow up to hate hiking, that's their choice. But I don't want them to ever hate it because they aren't physically in shape enough to maneuver their way around. I'm delighted to teach them while they're young what fun outdoor adventures can be!
In the summertime when we come we'll let the girls play a lot more than we did this time. With that thought in mind I wanted to share a few tips for outdoor adventures that might be helpful to you! Or at least give you a glimpse into how we manage a hike (and love it!) with two toddler girls.
1.) Use the bathrooms (yes, even the yucky ones) at the park BEFORE and after hiking! Make everyone go! (even that independent toddler)
2.) Pack plenty of wipes and kleenex in the car
3.) Pack water bottles and healthy snacks in the car
4.) Carry a backpack for your phone, camera, bandaids, extra clothes for kids, etc so your hands are free!
5.) Expect your kiddos to walk some, but don't push them to where it's not fun anymore
6.) Point out all the sights for all the senses on your walk. Ask plenty of questions to get your kiddos thinking about the world around them.
7.) Teach your kiddos to be friendly to other families when passing them on the trail. A bit of kindness goes a long way.
Of course I'll have to share a whole new set of experiences and tips with you soon because this is a peek at our new pop-up camper! We can't get to give it a whirl with our girls! :)
I hope you're encouraged to swing your doors open wide and explore our great big world!