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All opinions expressed in this blog post are my own.
I once heard Nick Offerman describe his wife, Megan Mullally, as an “In-Of-Doors” person, an obvious juxtaposition to the term “Out-Of-Doors”. If are taking these liberties with the english language, I am “Indoorsy”. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy nature. Actually, no I really don’t. I’m not a fan of the unknown, I really don’t like bodies of water, and honestly, I think animals should be left alone, I for sure don’t like to be bothered in my home.
That said, I understand based on data just how important it is to get our kids outside. Not just outside, but get them in the wild. It’s vital to learning about boundaries, safety, personal space, working cooperatively in a group, being observant of surroundings, navigation, the list goes on and on. Developmentally, it’s important to get kids outside. Now, I don’t expect my kid to become a subaru driving, national parks ranger, who lives off grid. But, I do want to make sure they are comfortable outdoors and are able to observe the beauty of our local wildlife with respect and awe.
So, like most things with parenting, I sat down to figure out how my own personal triggers were effecting us accomplishing this goal.
1. I’m not comfortable navigating new spaces, especially with children.
Now, there’s a few ways to approach this. One is to join a local hiking group focused at parent/child demographics. There’s a local group where I am called “Hike It Baby” and I’ve heard great things about groups like this. You can meet up at designated places to meet other families and someone’s already done the work of planning a hike plus you get to mingle with other families on a similar goal. For us, the hikes were never in places or times we were able to attend. So, moving on to approach number two.
Another way is to reach out on local mom groups/community pages to ask which parks are suited for your goal. We kind of went this route in that we started choosing new parks to meet up with friends for playdates. It was a great way to sample the area and get a feel for each space.
Depending on your area and resources, your local parks department may even have a place on their website dedicated to places in parks to explore or local hikes that are guided with navigation. I’ve found our local parks department to be incredibly helpful.
Be aware of your limitations. I do not have the knowledge or experience to be safe in unmarked areas such as mounteous regions, etc. If you are interested in that route be sure to check with local community centers about led hikes or hiking classes first. Safety should always come first when you’re taking on a new hobby or endeavor. Especially when there are children involved.
2. It’s going to be stressful, what if my kids don’t like it?
Guess what, your kids won’t like most things. I don’t know about you, but my kids aren’t a fan of 98% of the things we do as a family the first time. But, it’s good for your kids (and you) to be uncomfortable. It actually trains their and your brain to take calculated risks and will enrich their lives in the long run.
One way we have navigated around this issue is making sure to plan in advance what we are going to do and when. For our family, morning time is golden. I’ve got a way larger chance of having a good experience outside the home in the morning than I have in the afternoon. So, we plan our outdoor outings in the morning and plan to pack a lunch, pick up something on the way home, or have lunch waiting at home before naptime. If we were to tell the kids at 3pm that we are going hiking at 3:30, grab their stuff and let’s go, it would be 300 types of miserable. You know your family, plan accordingly.
3. It’s physically uncomfortable.
Okay, so upon further inspection, this really was an easy one to remedy. To be honest, a pair of Toms and a target tee with some yoga pants aren’t exactly the best set up. It’s cold, wet, and yeah, uncomfortable. So, we started to troubleshoot this by making sure we have adequate gear (and I’m not talking about buying out REI, just enough to make our day comfortable.)
I want to make sure to point out at this point that we live in the NorthWest United States. So, in general, it’s damp and kind of windy. (Unless it’s summer in a dry heatwave). So, we aimed more at light layers and waterproofing. If you live somewhere that’s a different climate, these recommendations will most likely be useless.
If you’ve never seen a Tuffo suit, man, this is going to rock your world. It’s essentially a zip up rain jacket that includes a hood, attached pants, and elastic at the ankles and wrist to keep your kid dry. My favorite part of this suit is it’s versatility from season to season. In the snow we pile on soft, warm layers underneath instead of purchasing a snow suit, in the fall we use a thick sweatshirt and sweatpants under it to stay warm and dry, in the spring, it’s leggings and a couple light layers on top. Also, since it’s not lined, it dries super fast (unlike lined jackets or snow gear). They’re great in the car for last minute activities, or in a backpack for preschool. We love ours. ($30 on www.amazon.com)
Over the past few years, we have tried a lot of rain boots, and hands down, Crocs makes the best ones in my opinion. they have thick easy to hold on to handles for kids to put on themselves, they’re soft and cushiony for long walks, they have treads that grip well for outdoor play, and they keep their vibrancy over the season. Watch for them on sale at places like DSW or Crocs online. They’re worth the investment in my opinion. ($35 at www.dsw.com)
When it comes to thermals, it’s tough to find high quality cotton thermals (or wool for that matter) in budget. My favorite alternative is to use a pair of Primary Brand Pajamas. They’re OEKO-Tex Standard 100 certified fabric, they wash and dry like a dream, and come in a multitude of colors. Plus, when they’re not being used as base layer, they can be worn as pajamas. They’re a household favorite for us! ($12 each piece at www.primaryclothing.com)
While you’re on the Primary website, be sure to take a look at their long sleeved rash guards with built in UPF 50 sun protection. If your kids hate being slathered down with sunscreen like mine do, it’s a worthwhile investment to not have to cover arms, backs, or chest/necks. Remember to use my link for 20% off your first order at Primary. Or feel free to click on either Primary image I have in this blog post.
I’ve tried just about every baby carrier I can get my hands on, and at the end of the day, I always go back to my Tula. Just the basic, baby Tula that goes on your tummy or your back. When out in parks/on hikes, it’s no fun pushing a stroller, or having a bulky baby pack on, this is easy to use, comfortable, and frees up your hands. My favorite is a back carry so I can see clearly where I’m stepping and help the older ones. (Select Prints $85 at www.amazon.com)
With a baby in a carrier, blankets and other ways of keeping them warm aren’t ideal. My favorite option is a bunting with fold over feet and mittens. I usually dress the baby in some light layers underneath. Make sure to size up if you’re putting them in a baby carrier to avoid bunched up feet. (Just Love Fleece Baby Bunting $15 at www.amazon.com)
I hope today’s blog post inspired you to start putting things in the works to get your family outside. As the days grow warmer and longer, it’s important that we make it a priority. Let me know in the comments below how you get your family outside and if you have any tips or tricks!