I have this thing with always trying to make every trip as epic as possible. I need to go all the places, do all the things, and end up stressed about not doing enough… Having a 2-year-old is a great reminder to just slow it down. On a recent Mommy and Me trip so southern California we took the toddler pace and had a blast! With one big trek up a snow covered San Jacinto Peak and a lot of tiny hikes on tiny legs we had a great time connecting with each other and taking things slow.
Posts Tagged With: outdoor kids
Take a hike! With your kids.
The biggest question I get asked if how I get my kids to hike as far as I do.
Yes my kids love nature, yes my kids like hiking, but even they hit a point where bribery is the only option. Even my kids need that carrot to keep them moving at times….
Well not a carrot. A carrot would not even work for my crazy vegan kids. It’s chocolate, gummy snacks, or treats of any sort.
Sometimes it is a playground at the end of the hike! By far my favorite hike to take “newby” hiking kids on, that is also close to Phoenix, is in Cave Creek Regional Park.
“Let’s go hike kids!”
“waaahhh I don’t wanna”
“We can play on the playground after”
Starting at the Go John trail head you have the one big climb of the hike, we call it the ant hill. Once you reach the saddle you have the best stop for a snack and take some pictures spot. Do not spend too long hanging out here, when kids get to thinking how tired they are its hard to get them moving again! When you come to a junction take a left on Overton. You will meander around the mountain for some more awesome views and some fun little downhill sections.
Eventually you will spot the nature center which is a great little stop to see some critters. You will also spot the playground which is a great end of hike motivator for the Little ones! It’s funny how moments ago they were “so tired” after 3 (ish) miles but when they hit that playground they have all the energy in the world!
For a hike this length my Little People don’t have that many snacks, but if yours is new to this sort of distance plan on a little something at the saddle and maybe a couple more along the way. I tend to try and give them something “healthy” in the beginning, fruit of veggies, and use the sugary snack as a motivator to keep moving as the miles drag on. I usually plan on something they love (for us its chips) at the park as an added “yay you made it” bonus!
The best part about Cave Creek Regional Park is once your kids have mastered the short hike there are many options to add on miles and still have the playground as motivation! And for us parents, the views are all beautiful!
Teach your kids trail etiquette before you go. My rule for my Little People is the almost always move off the trail and let adults go by. It’s just easier that way.
Have snacks. Delicious ones. Probably chocolate.
Let your kids carry their own stuff. Camelback has the best kids packs on the market currently. Buy your kid one, go outside and use it!
Take time to hunt for lizards, watch a bug cross the trail or stare at the hawk flying by.
Buy good shoes. It’s important. Velcro is BAD for kids hiking (ask Tru, he lost 2 toenails last summer)
Use motivators when needed. Talk, play games, run, smile, give snacks. Have fun yourself so your kids can have fun too!
Give snacks every time they ask. Always give a “snack point”. “When we get to the saddle we will have -blank-“. If they start getting what they want by whining I promise you will regret it later in the hike!
Carry their pack. Yes they will get tired. Yes their pack is heavy. Do not let them get away with being lazy! Let them feel strong and capable.
Commiserate. Instead of complaining when they do, talk about how happy you are that your legs hurt because of how strong they are becoming. If you complain they complain and that is no fun at all!
So get out with your Little People and have fun!
Screw the Village
I get the “it takes a village” mentality, but leave my kid alone!
I am very clear with my children that they do not have to feel obligated to talk to or listen to adults if they are uncomfortable. I am also very clear that they need to do things on their own when it comes to climbing, jumping, swinging. If you get yourself into a situation you better be able to get yourself out.
We hiked to Seven Falls in Tucson yesterday. The hike was uneventful and all around easy, nothing much to say about that. When we got to the falls the older ones got to playing and I sat with the baby paying little attention to what they were doing. Frogs were caught, rocks were climbed, people got wet. The usual.
Now Tenny is strong and a fairly talented gymnast. She loves boulder and got herself on this rock-
And got down many times.
But at one point she was up there alone and two older gentlemen took notice of her trying to get down and offered help.
“No thank you” Said Tennyson
She sat back on top of the rock waiting. When I say I pay “little” attention to what is going on that’s not completely true, I knew exactly what was going on but did not intervene.
Tenny continued to sit on the rock looking at the men out of the corner of her eye for a couple more minutes then went to go down again.
At this point one of the men jumped up offering her help again.
“No Im ok” she said. She climbed back to the top again and sat uncomfortable for another few minutes before hightailing it down and over to me.
“hey honey, did that bother you?”
“Yes. They didn’t listen to me.”
Now you see, the “helpfulness” was really not listening to my daughters words. Yes she is only 6, but she said she was fine and the men, adults, wouldn’t hear her. How scary is that when you are little? She went back up the rock multiple times not because she wanted to, but in hopes that these men would leave her alone so she could get down. I understand wanting to help children if they look like they are in trouble but she was not. Maybe she could have fallen, but so what?
Tenny and I talked about the way she felt. We talked about how adults should listen to children’s words and if they don’t that’s scary. We also talked about how these men may have just been trying to help but we also don’t know and some people use “helping” as a way to trick children.
PLEASE hear my children. If you aren’t trusting a child’s judgment DO NOT push. Give a simple “can I go get your Mom/Dad for you” but do not invade their space or comfort zone. Adults need to respect a child’s words. Maybe you aren’t the “bad guy” but what happens when my daughter takes help from that person because she doesn’t want to upset the person offering help? Children should not feel an obligation to accept help from an adult AND if they have already said no thank you, essentially telling the adult to back off, and the adult does not listen they should be wary of that person.
Tenny did what she was suppose to do and though I am sad she lost out on some fun playtime while she sat figuring out how to handle the situation, I’m glad I got to see her use her internal safety button and make the choice she thought was best. Strong looks good on Little Ladies…
No One Gets Me!
My Mom was over tonight and she and Tajh went outside to take the trash and recycling bins out. Moments later she comes running in frantically-
“Tell your son no!”
Me- Deer in headlights
Mom “There is lizard stuck in the old trash can and he wants to get it out!”
Me “Oh. Well Tajh, save it”
That’s right, even my Mother who has watched me parent for 13 years got it all wrong.
Do I really parent that oddly? Maybe to “average” American standards, I’m not “average”.
This isn’t “normal”?
This one time, in 5th grade, my teacher told us “to assume is to make an ass out of you and me. Yes, my teacher told a class of 10-year-olds this. Genius. Make no assumptions, ever.
I actually got asked the other day, “so do you just wear him (Tag) all the time?”
Yes, yes I do. If I’m not wearing him, I’m holding him. If I’m not holding him, I’m peeing, I will pick him up when I’m done. I treated Tajh exactly the same way and no, I do not have to wear him still today. He is by far the most self confident and genuinely happy person I know, adult or child.
Also no, babies can not be manipulative. Babies have needs, they cry when then “need”. I respect children (or at least try to) no matter how old they are. I actually have “A person’s a person no matter how small” (Dr. Seuss) tattooed on my body ( I have a quote obsession). Just because they are littler then we are does not mean their wants and needs should be ignored. If a baby is crying I will do whatever it takes to make them not cry. I will nurse all day, wear all day, pace while singing all day, whatever it takes. Again, I have done this with all my children and none of them still expect to be carried! They are all very capable and confident. I think 5 awesome kids says I’ve done something right.
Obligatory-random-adorable sleeping baby picture….
But again, even my Mom after all these years misjudges how I will react. I suppose I can’t hold on to any hope that people will “get” me and maybe I’m happier with them not. I like being a little odd.
And don’t worry, our friends (turns out another one was hiding) were saved and ran off happily.
Don’t I Have Enough Already?!?
If you don’t follow my youtube channel (what the hell is wrong with you?!?)
Yes, I “needed” more!
I found out I was pregnant the day before I left for my summer adventure with the kids. The idea of living outside with 5 children and a dog while growing a human inside me sounded daunting, but I was all in. I made the choice to tell only my bestie Lala because I knew the worry that would come. I knew people would be uncomfortable with the choices I was making. Even without my Dad knowing, when he found out I would sleep in the middle of nowhere in my car when I didn’t have the kids he tried offering me money for a hotel. People, my family, anyone not living in this world of silly outdoor adventuring would not understand and I didn’t want to deal with the judgement.
Now living in a tent in bear country with morning sickness sucks. Where normally you can have crackers by the bed and try to curb the nauseousness upon waking up, I had to wait until children where awake, help get little people dressed, hike up a hill to the car, and start breakfast for a bunch of hungry heathens. By the time food was ready I was usually beyond the point of being able to eat and the drive to our next adventure would usually involve some stops for breathing breaks while I tried to contain the vomit. To make matters worse, when you have 5 kids and spend 10 hours a day hiking it’s hard to care for yourself. Often I would realize I ate one cliff bar all day… Not such an awesome idea…
My kids were great though. While they didn’t know they are very observant and kind and I found the older ones especially checking on how much I was eating. They figured I was saving all the snacks for them and would offer me theirs, and I would try to not dry heave in front of them. Carrying a 35lb toddler on your back up a mountain while doing your best to not vomit on yourself really keeps the day interesting. In case you missed it, here are a couple adventures we went on while in my first trimester-
So the kids would leave for a week and I would find myself recovering. Orange juice and apple juice became my crutch for a while. I would wake up and immediately drive to the store. Some mornings I could function ok after chugging some juice, others I found myself just trying to recover from the week prior. At some point juice just didn’t cut it and I moved on to root beer, yup, healthy. Root beer and a cliff bar was my diet some days, and I will not apologize for this! There is no good vegan food in the mountains of colorado! I was dying! All I wanted was something delicious, but I had no idea what that was. I really found myself longing for a bed, terrible television, and delicious food. Oh the dreams I had! Mind you, when I didn’t have my kids and actually had myself together enough to be around people that wasn’t easy either. I now found myself lying and coming up with excuses as to why I wasn’t drinking. Nothing makes you feel like an alcoholic more then people being dumbfounded that you aren’t drinking… *sigh*
So, We Survived! And now we are back to the normal grind of school busyness. Second Trimester and trying to run in the heat is pretty miserable, but I’m hoping to push through. We have some exciting adventures planned for the future!