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A (Funny) Family Guide to Hiking With Toddlers: 12 Things You need

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One of the things I love most about outdoor actives and small children is that it generally wears them out. Oh, and it makes memories and stuff.

Before we had kids, my husband and I were out every weekend on a different adventure. We had the luxury of just hopping in our car and going. We didn’t need to take naps into consideration because we’d nap after our destination hike, or wine tasting.

Boy, has that changed.

These days hiking is still fun but, it’s more of a three-ring circus kind of fun. Where people cry, and someone almost always falls and gets a face full of dirt. Like anything else with parenting, hiking with toddlers takes some trial runs to finesse it a little.

Here’s a few tips on what you’ll need:

A minimum of one toddler
If you’d like to challenge yourself further, borrow a few more.

A dog
If you’re teetering on having a third or fourth child, but are still unsure about the lifelong commitment, then dogs are perfect. They’re pretty much the same as a toddler, only they listen better. They’re also easier to potty train. Also, it’s not only ethical to put them on a leash, it’s the law. *You may not substitute the dog for a second toddler in rule #1.

A Jogger Stroller
Or other trail friendly vehicle no one will want to ride in. This will serve as a coordination exercise while the dog pulls you up and down steep and treacherous trails. Chasing chipmunks, birds and dust that blows around with the breeze.

A Baby Sling
So you can carry it under your right arm and your baby in your left.

Decent shoes
Flip flops don’t really count as shoes. But, who am I to tell you how to dress.

Sunglasses
These are for your children to play with it. Nothing makes hiking more exciting then repeatedly having a pair of sunglasses readjusted on your face. And in your eye.

A Camera
So you have something else to carry.

Stamina
Either you or your partner will be carrying both children and pulling the dog. The other one will drink all the water and take frequent breaks.

A Plan
If your goal is to wander around the park entrance, that doesn’t count as hiking. In order for it to count:
A. Two of you have to be out of breath (not the dog).
B. Someone has to trip on a rock.
C. Someone has to cry for no apparent reason.

An entire afternoon
They’ve got little legs and big curiosity. And you’re no spring chicken.

An understanding
That you will do anything but actually hike.

Mediation
Approximately one week of intense Zazen meditation. To calm your mind and body. To gain insight and enlightenment into the nature of hiking with toddlers. 

Once you have all that figured out, your kids will be tweens and won’t need that much assistance with all this. Then, it might become a little less chaotic. Giving you a fighting chance at having the luxury of naps and wine once again.

Christina lives in Denver with her husband and two daughters. She’s been featured on the Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop, Scary Mommy, What the Flicka and recently added: “first-place winner in the 2013 Boulder Writers’ Workshop Comedy Writing Contest,” to her list of accomplishments—it’s above changing a diaper with only one hand and answering the same question 147 times in a single minute. You can find her cleaning cracker crumbs and socks out of the fish tank at: christinaantus.net

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  • comment avatar Amber Johnson April 2, 2014

    OHMYGOSH, so funny. Favorite line was dog on the leash. Too bad we don’t have that law for wandering kiddos. 😉

    I am happy to say I toughed it out during the tough toddler years with hiking and we’re now on the other side! But we definitely had our fair share of drama on the trail.

  • comment avatar Amber Johnson April 2, 2014

    Oh, and for any mom wanting support for their sanity? Check-out the mom’s hiking group Colorado Mountain Mamas. 🙂 http://www.comountainmamas.com/

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