Chaos. It’s a fact of family life. Some parents thrive on it. Others believe they’re thriving on it until they find themselves changing a diaper on a squirmy toddler in a two-person tent during a 4-hour thundershower. Suddenly, thrive isn’t the word that comes to mind. Still, adventures don’t have to stop because family life is a little chaotic.
Great idea, but how does one manage the chaos and get the family out of the house? Is it possible to pull off kid-adventures without a hitch? There are volumes of tips available on the Web (like here, here and here). But we went straight to our own expert: Superfeet ambassador Roxanna Froese, mother of four, photographer extraordinaire, and lover of outdoor adventures.
“Our family loves to adventure. From camping and canoeing, to small day hikes and longer overnighters, our four young kids have taught us many lessons on what to bring and how to have the most fun while at it!” Froese says, “My husband and I want our children to grow up outdoors as much as possible, so we started them off on small walks and hikes and have worked our way up to trips beyond five miles.”
Froese Family Tips:
1. Be prepared: Bad weather, broken gear, and forgotten jackets can happen when least expected. Before you leave make sure you have a basic checklist of safety items that could keep everyone in your family safe for a night. A map, first aid kit, knife, whistle, compass, fire starter, duct tape, emergency granola bars, and an emergency blanket for everyone; this is a good place to start but the list can certainly grow. Garbage bags also come in handy when wet weather hits and you realize someone’s jacket isn't waterproof, or when you reach the top and the ground is too wet to sit on.
2. Make it fun: Our kids know that hiking means special treats that they don't otherwise get. Knowing there is a special treat waiting for them motivates even the slowest hiker (sometimes adults too!). Hungry children are also grumpy children, so make sure there is plenty of healthy, sustaining food for them on longer trips. We often bring extra toys or research hidden Geocaches along our trail. Once the kids find the Geocache, they love adding their names to the list of finders and trading their toy for a new one. Frogs, birds, berries, flowers, streams, and ponds are all easy distractions that keep kids happy and motivated on an adventure.
3. Make it a learning experience: From edible plants, endangered animals, geography and history, there are many opportunities to teach kids new things on your adventures. Researching the flora and fauna in advance and chatting about them with your children on the trail can help pass time and distract them from the difficulty of the hike. Kids love to be included and feel important in every small way on family adventures, especially when there is knowledge to be shared.
Next time you consider an adventure for your family, don't hesitate to dream big. “Kids are resilient and will often surprise you with their ability to explore further than you'd consider,” Froese says. With that in mind, consider your next adventure, pull out the calendar, and mark the date. Then tell us how it goes. We'd love to hear from you about your family adventure.