Outdoor Families, Part 1: Hiking with Children

Summer is upon us, folks! Summer in our house is… well, not really spent in the house. We are outside as much as possible and have already gone on several hikes and camping trips. We love reading the posts on campingfunzone.com and try to use what we read on almost every summer trip that we take. This is the first installment in a series of informative posts to help you and your families enjoy the great outdoors safely and stress-free.

Hiking is a great way to get your family outside and enjoying nature (and each other’s company). There isn’t a lot of special equipment involved, and a hike can really be tailored to suit your family’s needs. If you are a novice hiker, plan a short half-mile or mile hike. A shorter hike means you don’t need to carry much with you, and can also help everyone get accustomed to the outdoors. In no time, you’ll be looking for longer hikes and feeling more and more confident in your outdoor abilities.

Something about the fresh air, the lack of distractions, and the exercise just makes hiking a perfect family activity. By taking our kids hiking we are modeling the importance of a healthy body to them. We are telling them that we would rather be in the middle of nowhere with them than at home working on our to-do lists. Kids love hikes, and the memories made on hikes can last a lifetime. There is no reason to sit on a rock or hard wood while you are supposed to be enjoying your life in the outdoors. Camping chairs are now a mainstay in the list of camping equipment you ought to be bringing. Though not a compulsory equipment, camping chairs are a great addition in the name of comfort. Camping chairs should always be found in the campsite as they make things more comfortable, especially when you know that camping should be all about relaxing and forgetting all the stress in the world. You will get know everything about day hiking with camp chair here, do visit. While in night to site around on camping chairs, camp fire adds an extra excitement of the camping. While burning camp fire it is suggested to use the 6mm træpiller, easily available at https://www.xn--dkbrnde-pxa.dk/traepiller/traepiller-6-mm for camping, which is highly recommended for the biofuel as well.

Sol and I on a recent Rocky Mountain hike.
Sol and I on a recent Rocky Mountain hike.

Something so simple can bring siblings closer together, and give parents a much-needed break from the day-to-day. Hiking is very conducive to conversation. Whether you are hiking with a baby and enjoying the time to connect with your partner, or hiking with kids and enjoying the extra opportunity to focus on them, a good hike will foster love and communication. Really take the time on your hike to try to see the world through your child’s eyes.

General tips:

  • At least in the beginning, hike popular trails. There are definite perks to hiking more solitary places, but until you and your family are comfortable hiking, popular trails are the way to go. Trails that see a lot of traffic are generally nicer. The paths are wider and very easy to follow. If you run into a situation that you are not prepared for you can just stop and wait for another hiker to catch up with you. Popular trails often have dedicated parking, and some even have restrooms nearby.
  • Take a cell phone. We hike all over the Rocky Mountains in Colorado and have been in very few situations where we did not have cell phone service or could not find service by hiking a little further or backtracking. Just having a phone will give you some peace of mind and let you enjoy your outing.
  • Take food. Even if you’re only expecting to be gone for an hour, throw a couple protein bars or some nuts in your backpack. Nothing ruins a hike like a hungry kid, and we have never been in a situation where we though “Man, I really wish we hadn’t packed that power bar!”
  • Hydration is key. Take a little more water than you think you’ll need. Depending on the difficulty of the terrain, the temperature, and the exposure to sunlight adults need to drink around a liter of water an hour or more. Don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink.
  • Layers. Unless you are hiking at low elevation and have a lot of faith in the forecast, dress in layers. We’ve been on hikes where we start out in 80-degree sunny weather and then a mountain storm kicks up and we get higher up in elevation and end up hiking in 40-degree rain. You can always take clothes off, but you can’t always add clothes.


  • Whether your kids are walking the whole way or you’re bringing a stroller, go at your child’s pace. If you have to turn around a mile in, don’t worry about it. The point is to enjoy being outside and being together. Be flexible. Make the only definite goal coming home happy and healthy.
  • Sunscreen: wear it. Make your kids wear it. Reapply halfway. You won’t regret putting on sunscreen, but you may regret not wearing it. Hats and sunglasses are also a good idea.
  • Snacks: Make sure you pack high protein, high carb snacks for your little ones, and take a break before they start complaining of hunger. Hiking is hard work!
  • Notice nature: This is a great opportunity for your kids to explore nature. See how many kinds of flowers you can find. Stop to examine any tracks you see. Encourage rock collecting. Answer their questions.
  • Throw some toilet paper in your backpack along with a plastic bag to keep used toilet paper in. Trust me.
  • Have a destination. Kids love to hike TO something. So find a good hike to a waterfall, or a cool cave, or a lake.


  • Babies’ needs on a hike are very similar to kids, except that they can’t talk to you. Stop often to check on baby. Check to see if he’s hot or cold and adjust his clothing as necessary.
  • Breastfeed him or offer him a drink more often than you would at home.
  • Find a comfortable carrier. While an older infant might walk around and explore a bit, you are going to carry her most of the way. There are many hikes with wide paved trails where you can just bring along the stroller, but for more remote hikes we have found a backpack-type carrier to be indispensable!

Get out there and try a hike with the best hiking boots from Live Your Aloha. Just commit a Saturday morning, do a little research, and go! Happy trails!

Fully Present

Most parents are skilled at the art of multi-tasking. The busyness and pace of life with kids demands that you learn how to do more than one thing at a time. You have to be one step ahead, you have to be prepared, you have to learn to anticipate where your day is going to go next. In my life, multi-tasking meant breastfeeding the baby while also making a sandwich for my toddler (hurrah, Maya Wrap Sling!) or folding laundry while supervising bathtime. My list of things to do is always a mile long, and the only way it gets done is to make phone calls for preschool using a Audio Direct reviewed wireless headset while also doing the dishes and helping my kids with an art project at the same time.

After so many years of perfecting my multi-tasking skills, I find that I no longer find it easy to do one thing at a time. Even when I don’t have to be doing two things at once, I do it anyway. I clip coupons while I watch TV, I make lists in my head while I life weights at the gym, I file paperwork when I chat on the phone with my mom. Sometimes doing one thing at a time seems like a dreadfully inefficient way to do things.

This sort of lifestyle works for me…except when it comes to time with my kids. Sometimes when I’m playing or interacting with my kids, my mind is three items ahead on my to do list. And after my son lamented one day a couple of weeks ago, “Mom, you’re not listening to me,” I realized he was right. I was listening to him…sort of. I heard what he said and I responded, but I wasn’t giving him my full attention. I wasn’t fully present and he knew it. I thought about how annoying it is to realize that someone isn’t really listening to you, and I want better for my children.

At this time of year, with so many things that need to be done, gifts purchased, cards mailed, cookies baked, I find myself struggling to remain fully present even more than usual. So my son’s comment was a wake up call for me.

The weekend before Christmas, we received a direct hit from a winter storm that dumped 20 inches of snow on our city. We had nowhere to go, the house was clean, and nothing to do but enjoy the enforced weekend at home. The snow was cleared by Monday, but we spent Saturday and Sunday taking turns shoveling, and just enjoying the time at home. And with no projects looming, nothing on my list that required immediate attention, I found myself consulting my day planner infrequently. For two days, I spent time with my family without thinking about what I needed to do next, what needed to be accomplished before the day was over. It was a refreshing break.

Of course, come Monday, life went back to its usual hectic pace, but I look at it with a different perspective. For me, one of the best gifts I can give to myself and to my children is to be fully present. To pay closer attention, to enjoy the time together, to focus on one thing at a time, instead of the endless list and the next project in the queue.

It will be there when I get back.

Born Into the Present Moment

BirthdayMy son turned three yesterday. As I’ve done every year since his birth, I spent the week leading up to the actual day recalling what I was doing and thinking, and who I even was, right before he was born. All of that anticipation about what our lives would be like was the beginning of my mindfulness practice. I grew up in Taos, New Mexico, where my parents moved in 1969 to study with a guru. So I grew up with the “be here now” philosophy but never managed it. Instead I felt bad that I couldn’t manage to live in the present moment, couldn’t meditate, and honestly couldn’t even sit still.

Five weeks before I had Cavanaugh, I was put on bedrest with pre-eclampsia. It was one of the best things that ever happened to me. I couldn’t run around, drive, madly nest my house into the perfect baby haven; I couldn’t even sit up. I was supposed to lie on my left side all day and night and because it was for my son’s safety I managed what had been previously impossible; I stayed still. For some, this might have been a perfect time to ruminate or imagine, but anytime I started to try to picture what Cavanaugh would be like, who my new mama self would be, or what parenthood would mean for my marriage or my life in general, I couldn’t do it. My previously (over)active imagination just stopped. The still small voice inside me told me that I had no way of knowing and I shouldn’t try. I should be in my body, be in this moment, live the last days of pre-parenthood as they were happening rather than filling them with fantasies of what might happen next.

That pull to be right here, right now is still a constant, though more often it’s my toddler’s small voice asking me to give him some attention to play.  He knows when I’m not with him even when I’m sitting beside him. What he’s really asking for is that I be here in my mind as well as my body. He tells me he doesn’t like my wandering mind, whether he’s actually saying that or doing something to get my attention, like pouring a cup of water on the floor. This is my spiritual practice; my call to what is right in front of me. I can still get caught up in telling myself stories about what’s going to happen, but anytime I just stop to be in the moment, the pull to stay there is so strong that I am learning how to do it, how to live in this present moment.

So what of the present moment? After 35 years of thinking about the past or predicting the future, I live most of my days looking at the dried playdough or rice grains in the carpet, walking outside to feel the weather so we can make plans for the day, and just being wherever I am. But the week of Cavanaugh’s birth sends me back to these same days last year, and the year before, and the year before that. Who was he? Who was I? What were either of us capable of doing at the time? I enjoy remembering, but I’m loving who he is right now, how he’s begun saying “yes” instead of “yeah” and sounds so proper doing it, how when he’s delirious or very excited he shakes his head in a quick “no” motion over and over as he runs full speed, or how when he’s drawing or playing with his trucks and builders he gets so focused that he narrates what he’s doing or his little tongue sticks from the side of his mouth in utter concentration. That boy is right here, right now, no past or future projections. He has a lot to teach me and I am a lifelong learner.

Sonya is a writer and mama living in Austin, Texas. She blogs at mamaTRUE: parenting as practice.

A Guiding Presence

My daughter is four and very angry at me.

She doesn’t know that watching too much television is not good for her, in so many ways. She doesn’t know how much better it is physically, mentally, and emotionally, for her to play outside instead. She just knows that she wants to watch Dora, and that her mommy won’t let her.

My daughter and I usually communicate well with each other. I usually don’t yell, and I never hit or spank her. Time outs and banishment to bedrooms don’t work in this house. Instead, we normally use feeling words and try to talk to each other about how we feel and come up with a compromise. However, once in a while, like today, we come up short in communication.

My daughter doesn’t want to talk. She wants to yell and cry and turn her back to me. She doesn’t want to be hugged or touched or cuddled. She just wants to be angry. This leaves me with two choices: I can threaten, yell, or punish her in some other way until she starts to “behave,” or I can use this as an opportunity to guide her.

I know that when I am angry, I get overwhelmed. It’s hard for me to stay calm, it’s hard for me to think about anything but whatever I am angry about. From my experience with anger, I know that yelling or punishing her at this time isn’t going to help; it wouldn’t work with me, so why would it work for her? It would make things worse. And so, I choose the other option.

She’s laying on the couch, crying, her back to me. I sit next to her. I don’t touch her, or hug her, or try to talk to her…I just sit quietly, letting her anger run its course. I know she can feel my presence beside her, keeping her company while she tries to sort through the powerful and overwhelming emotions that have taken over her body.

Time passes, and her crying starts to slow. Soon, she sits up and starts wiping the tears from her face. She looks at me and then climbs on my lap. I wrap my arms around her and kiss her forehead.

“Feel better?” I ask. She nods. “Want to go outside now?” She nods again, grinning, and jumps off my lap to find her shoes.

No, my daughter doesn’t know about the studies that show the harmful effects television can have on her. She doesn’t know that she is building memories of nature and animals and plants that she will look back on fondly. But, she does know that I am always there for her, no matter what. That my presence will always be in her life, ready to guide her whenever she needs it. That is one of my gifts to her.

Guest post by Adventures of a Breastfeeding Mother

API Speaks’ Carnival of Presence!

Happy Attachment Parenting Month! API Speaks has dedicated the month to Giving Our Children Presence and one way we’re going to do that is with the first in a series of monthly AP Carnivals.

To participate in the carnival, submit a post on how you give your children your presence to our Blog Carnival registry by Wednesday, October 15, at 2pm Mtn, and we’ll link to your post on Monday, October 20.

There will be prizes for those who participate as well as those who spread the word (even if you don’t have a blog, you can submit a short post in the comments section), so check back often. Besides, you don’t want to miss some of our fabulous guest posters who will be sprinkled throughout the month.

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