As parents, we believe that one of the very best things we can do for our kids is provide them opportunities to share our love for the outdoors.  We are convinced that adventure doesn’t end with the birth of children, it is just the beginning.  And so, we continue to brave the inconveniences of exploring and adventuring with kids (because let’s be honest, it is certainly a bit more complicated!)  With an infant and a toddler, our clothing has doubled and the snack load quadrupled.  We have to plan ahead and adventures tend to be a little shorter.

But, the point is:  We are out there.  Our relationships as a family are strengthened by the challenges of the outdoors.  Life lessons are learned naturally, and smiles are brighter.  There is something absolutely therapeutic about the outdoors and we are firm in our rule of getting outside 15 minutes a day, no matter what the weather is (except in cases of acute sickness, etc).  In fact, “Grumpy Pants” are always taken outside to “change” (adults and kids alike) a remedy (not a punishment) we have found to be 100% effective.

Great gear is key to success and we are so fortunate that companies are catching on and making gear for kids that is worthy of winter adventures.  Cold kids usually result in really unhappy kids, stressed parents and aborting all attempts for that day just to get to warmth.

But, the real question is how do you maintain motivation when family adventures turn into family “disasters” when a trip doesn’t go quite as planned?  And better yet, how do you prevent such scenarios? (At least to the extent of your ability.)  This is a list of the tips that have worked for us. (And yep, we keep on learning!)

–       Bring food. A LOT of food. The Chariot (an enclosed kid trailer that can convert to a bike trailer, ski trailer or hiking trailer) and kid carriers have extensive pockets for a reason, right?  We have yet to  be unsuccessful in pacifying an upset child with food (at least for a few minutes.)  This sometimes means nursing in blowing snow at 10,000 feet.

–       Bring WAY more gear than you think you will need.  Layer, layer, layer.  Think “A Christmas Story” on those super cold days.  Infants and toddlers are sedentary as they take in the adventure around them so not being able to move without waddling is ok for them.

–       Be realistic.  Getting out there with kids IS different.  Take in the safety and sanity of your family first.  You can always go back and try that trail another day if needed.

–       Make it fun.  Sing, be happy, let the kids listen to an ipod touch in the Chariot, take breaks, make a snowman.

–       Hot chocolate should always follow winter adventures.  Don’t worry about the caffine/sugar content and add an extra marshmallow or two.

–       Finally, chalk each misfortune or “bad day” up to a lesson learned.  Those days happen.  You choose what to do about them.

So get out there.  Try something new.  Ski, snowshoe, sled, or just take a drive.  Your family is worth it.

©Amelia Mayer

 

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