Over the years I have had people say to me, "your life looks so great by the posts I see on Facebook," or "I can’t believe how much you and your family do.” Yes, I always post the positives on social media as I feel it should be used for happy events, not for complaining or drama. I know, this is not reality, but I try to make it my reality, plus no one wants to hear about my drama. It is also important to my husband and I to raise an outdoor child, as the outdoors was and is a huge part of our lives. We make it a point to spend as much free time as we can in the outdoors, constantly picking new places to explore. I also enjoy sharing our adventures with others, with the goal of inspiring others to get outside more.
Our adventures are not always perfect, far from it. I remember taking my daughter on her first hike at two week old making multiple stops to nurse and change diapers. This continued until my daughter stopped nursing and was potty trained. Then it was teaching her how to squat in the woods. There are the many times we changed diapers or used a log as a toilet. There has been screaming and crying that was sometimes uncontrollable and we had to turn around. The endless times I have come up with silly games, songs and scavenger hunts all just trying to keep my daughter going on the trail. I cannot begin to count how many times I have said, “look at this cool ______.” There is also hearing "my legs are tired,” “are we almost there,” or “I can’t go any further.”
As the years go on we have experienced many tantrums, struggles and frustrations on the trail. On a recent hike, there was complaining going up the steep section and on the way down a lot of whining. I’m sure you are asking, if we do this for enjoyment, how is this fun? Trust me, I ask myself this question all the time.
It is the little things that make it so worth it, like the excitement of completing the hike. When my daughter gets close to the top, no matter how difficult the hike has been, she turns into this excited ambitious girl who is almost running to the top to see the view. It is the sense of accomplishment she gets from completing any a hike and how proud she for doing it.
Even though the pictures I post look great, my husband and I sometimes ask ourselves why we go through the stress of hiking with our daughter. It is because of how good it is for her and us. It is getting out as a family to exercise, get some fresh air and setting a goal and completing it. There is the reward of completing a difficult task like a beautiful view or swimming in a waterfall or lake and don't forget a snack. Hiking is also a great self esteem booster for all ages. When we have not hiked in a couple weeks my daughter will remind me that we need to get out and how can you say no to a child asking to be outside.
To parents who want to take their kids hiking. Do it, make it fun, turn it into an adventure, make a game out of it, keep it simple and accept difficulties and tears from the kids and yourself. It is ok if you cannot finish the hike and have to turn around, but in the end watch how a child can blossom from being outside.