I often get asked how we are able to do so much camping and hiking with little kids in tow. Beckett has been to quite a few places for a 2 year old and we don't plan to stop playing now that we have two little ones. It's not always easy, sometimes it's even a disaster, but the reward is worth it. Here are a few things I've learned about how to go camping and hiking with kids
- Make a check list. Kids require a lot of crap. If you forget even one thing, it could ruin the whole day. Forgot the diapers? Great, now your child is wearing a bandana like a loin cloth.
- Have the right gear. If you're going to play outside, especially in Utah, you need to be prepared for freaky weather. You know, it's 75 degrees one minute and snowing the next. If you're cold and/or wet, you're definitely not going to have fun. But if you have the right gear, then being outside even if it's something other than a pleasant 72 degrees can still be a blast. I tend to over pack, but I want to be able to handle whatever the weather brings. The two most important things are probably good coats, and good shoes. You don't have to spend a fortune either. Yard sales, outlets, and second hand sport stores are great places to find good quality gear that isn't too expensive.
- Make sure your kids are comfortable. DO NOT let anyone get hungry. Eating wild flowers and berries can be an adventure, but I promise they'll be happier with a granola bar. I always keep sun screen, bug spray, jackets, and water in my car at all times. Being sun burned or eaten alive by mosquitos is a sure way to make you want to stay inside. And the most annoying rule of all, always bring extra shoes. It is impossible to have a good time with cold, wet feet. And drying your shoes by the fire usually just results part of the shoe melting while the inside is still soggy.
- Sleeping in a tent can get awfully cold, even in the summer time (especially if you're in the dessert). Heat escapes from your feet and head so it's super important that those things are warm. I always have Beckett sleep with two pairs of socks, footy pajamas, and a winter hat when we go camping. It's also important to make sure that they have plenty of blankets underneath them, not just on top, because the ground is so cold. We usually do a ridge rest and open sleeping bag on bottom, kid in a mummy bag with a blanket, and then another opening sleeping bag on top. I'm paranoid about my child suffocating in all of that when they are little though, so we used to put a pack n' play in the tent with us. I put a giant quilt underneath it to block the cold air and had Beckett wear like 20 pairs of pajamas, a fleece sleep sack, and a winter hat.
- Try not to skip naps. I have been referred to as the sleep nazi and schedule queen. Even on vacation, I try to keep our schedule somewhat consistent. A tired, whiny kid can make you want to throw them off a cliff pretty fast. I'm kidding, I'm kidding. But it can definitely ruin the fun. The good news is it's pretty easy for kids to sleep in a hiking backpack and of course the car. If we go hiking on the weekend, we usually get up and go first thing in the morning so that we can be home for nap time.
- Be prepared to just laugh it off and try again if it doesn't work out. The first time we took Beckett hiking with our baby backpack was a huge let down. We spent the morning packing lunches, loading the car, and driving to our hike. It was a little windy and Beckett cried for a solid 15 minutes in the pack when we decided to call it quits. I was disappointed, but you can't let a bad experience keep you from trying again. Another time Mark had to jog over a mile with Beckett on his back, screaming bloody murder, and in below freezing temperatures. To top it all off, Beckett decided to have an explosive bloody nose half way to the car. It was a nightmare. That one took us a while to recover from, but we did...... eventually.