Author Archives: outdoorconfessions

Let’s Take The Kids Outside

This is a fantastic video by The Children & Nature Network and well worth a watch. I wholeheartedly believe our kids need more nature and outdoor time to thrive in todays indoor world. We got that time outside when we were growing up – they deserve it too. Take a look.

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It’s my therapy.

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No Judging

Love this quote!

Hope everyone is enjoying this beautiful weekend!

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C-note’s First Camping Trip & How We Survived

C-note’s First Camping Trip & How We Survived.

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C-note’s First Camping Trip & How We Survived

Some of my best memories as a child are camping memories. I loved it then and I love it now. So I have been itching to get C-note out and sleeping in the wild.

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Confession: It took three years to do it because I was terrified of bedtime. BEDTIME people! I. was. scared.

I pictured us up all night long with a little person who wouldn’t sleep on the ground in a tent. Then I pictured the crabbiness that would follow the next day – not just from C-note but from all of us as we trudged through the day on no sleep. The movie of our camping trip that played out in my mind was a horror flick. It was not a good image.

However, this year, I decided we needed to suck it up. He’s at the age now where memories start to form and we need to get him out there and let him experience the fun of spending his entire days and nights in the great outdoors. Now that we’ve done it, I wish we had done it earlier. If you’re planning on taking your littles camping for the first time, fear not, I’ve got tips.

Make a Plan: Before I had C I was a ‘winger’. I never had a plan and when it came to travel my motto was ‘let’s just wing it and see what happens’. This is not my life any longer. I plan everything, and camping was no different. I researched the parks and chose one that had a great beach – because when all else fails – the beach makes everyone happy. I even planned exactly what campsite we would reserve based on it’s distance to the bathroom (not too close, not too far) and the beach (the closer the better) and whether it was shady or not. I planned our activities and everything we would eat. I even had back-up activities (hey if iPads are good for anything they are good for back-up entertainment when all else fails- don’t judge!!). Planning is the way to go. Make a plan based on your family so you’re not left scrambling trying to decide what to have for dinner or trying to figure out what activity to do if it rains. If the kids are happy, everyone is happy. Having a plan and keeping everyone busy and fed is the key to that happiness.

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Activities: I mentioned planning activities and I know…you’re thinking ‘isn’t the whole act of camping an activity?’ yes, it is, but we all know with kids, this isn’t going to be enough. We brought a few outdoor games – a ball to kick around and a badminton set. We brought art supplies to make nature collages and just plain old colouring. But for this trip, I knew the beach was going to be the highlight, so I focussed on sand toys and his ‘guys’ (his cars McQueen, Mater and the gang). If you have the time and space, bikes are always a good idea. I also had a scavenger hunt planned, along with ideas of creating a hopscotch with sticks and tic tac toe with things we find in the brush – but we honestly never needed to pull out the big guns of boredom busters. The beach kept everyone busy for most of the time. We rode the waves, and built a few different sand castles, searched for treasures and rocks for his rock collection, built car garages out of driftwood, and when we got hot, we rode the waves again. I’m not saying you have to be completely regimented in your activities, definitely go with the flow (we do!) but have a good list of things to do should everything go south on you.

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Food: This is the fun part of the planning for me. I hate cooking and anything to do with my kitchen on a regular day, it’s just not my thing. But, I do love a good challenge. So put me in the woods with a fire and I will figure out a way to put some good food on your plate. But planning it all out before you go is super important. It’s not like you can just run to the corner store and pick up what you’ve forgotten. So make a plan before you go, buy all your supplies (don’t forget the things you’ll need to cook meals like tin foil and condiments) and make sure you bring lots of snacks and drinks. I will be writing a separate post on everything we ate if you need ideas, keep an eye out for it over the next few days.

Sleep: I think one of the most important things to consider when camping with kids, is their comfort when sleeping. Try to make it as comfortable as you can. We can’t expect a kid who has slept on a cushy mattress their whole lives to be comfortable on the floor. I say this not just considering the kids, but also the adults, because if kids aren’t sleeping, neither are the adults. So make it as comfortable as you can for them and everyone will have a better night. The great thing about being outdoors all day – it makes for tired kids.

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Prepare the kids: I found that talking with C about camping and filling him in on the ins and outs and what to expect while camping, really helped. We have a pop-up play tent that we set up in his room and I put his pillow and sleeping bag inside to show him how we’d be sleeping in a tent, outside. We read a few children’s books on camping and I think it really helped him have an idea of what was going to happen when we went camping.

If it’s your first time camping with your kids you don’t have to make it a marathon camping trip. Just go for one night if you need to. I was scared that it wasn’t going to go well for us so I planned for two nights with the thought that if the first night went horribly, then we would just leave. But we stayed and loved it and could have stayed longer. C-note had a great time – actually as soon as we got home and were unloading the car, C was in his room setting up a campsite. I think we’ve got a camper on our hands!

Have you camped with kids? planning a trip with kids? if you have any other tips to share please leave them in the comments below!
Happy Camping!

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No More Sunburns Or Farmer Tans!

We’ve all heard the debate about sunscreens. Yes they protect us from the sun’s harmful rays, but they are so full of chemicals is it even worth the risk? Not to mention I recently read an article about Rickets disease making a comeback due to the lack of vitamin D from all our hard work shielding our skin from the sun. It seems we just can’t win!

Well, I’m not worried about Rickets, but I am worried about UVA/UVB rays and sun damage, especially when it comes to my 3 year old son. But get out there and try to decide on a sunscreen and I’m lost. There are so many choices. You can narrow your choices by choosing a brand that isn’t chemical based. But I’ve been slowly making my way through those brands and haven’t found one I like.

Until, I read a great review on Adventure Tykes on ThinkSport sunscreen. You can read the review here.

I quickly ran out and picked up a bottle before our trip to Mexico and I am so pleased with it. It goes on easy and doesn’t look like I just dusted my son in chalk or dipped him in a vat of grease, it smells good, and it just plain works. But the best part? It has a safety rating of 1 on the Environmental Working Group websites database. The lower the number the better. I feel so much better knowing I’m not covering my son in chemicals every time I try to protect him from the suns harmful rays.

We spent a week in Mexico and 5 days at the cottage – we were in the sun all day, every day for 2 weeks and no sunburns!

If you are looking to buy ThinkSport you can check out their website & buy directly from them, or check out the ‘where to buy’ section, however it wasn’t up to date. I had the best luck just googling it and found it locally.
If you’re feeling lucky, make sure to enter the ThinkBaby giveaway over at Adventure Tykes! .

Here’s to summer & spending time outside! Hope you’re enjoying your summer!

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Beach Day

Today was hot, so we decided to head to the beach! We didn’t want to road trip too far so we decided on Port Dover which is just south of Hamilton, Ontario. It turned out to be a great day! We came armed with a ton of sand toys & trucks galore, plus a mini cooler full of snacks & drinks. The kids had a great time.

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They actually got in the water (which was freezing!!). Why is it that kids never feel the cold water?

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It was a great kick off to the summer.
On the way out of Port Dover we had to stop at this great playground we happened to see on the way in. It’s the Kinsman park & the kids loved it. The play structure was amazing & had a lot of things you don’t normally see in playgrounds (like a drum set. Not kidding!). I highly recommend stopping there if you’re ever in the area.

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It was a successful day in the sun & we’ll be planning many more beach days this summer. We’ll be trying out different beaches in the area and would love any recommendations for Southern Ontario!

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On The Trail

Just a few pictures of a hike we took along the Bruce Trail. C did so awesome considering it was a 1.5km trail – I didn’t realize it was that long! I only had to piggy back him twice and only for a short time (thank god because he’s getting heavy!).


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Anyway, notice the strap across his chest? It’s his ‘adventure bag’. In it is a magnifying glass, a flashlight, binoculars and a book on backyard wildlife which he calls his ‘animal rescue book’. If anyone knows the show Diego you’ll understand.

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This is only our second time hiking here, we attempted to hike it in the winter but there are very steep hills and it was just too slippery for a little guy so we didn’t go very far. 

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Like I said, it was a little longer than I thought, so we needed to take a break and have a snack and check out some birds.

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This trail is part of the Bruce Trail, it’s called Kerncliff and it runs through an abandoned quary. Check it out if you get the chance, it’s beautiful and a great workout, if you don’t have a pokey pre-schooler with you.

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Screen-Free idea: Plant Some Seeds!

Screen Free Week comes at such a perfect time doesn’t it? it’s finally nice out and I have a ton of stuff to do outside…it might be work, a lot of yard work, but it’s still outside! Finally! Today is the only day this week where the forecast is rain, so we took advantage and planted all our seeds for the vegetable garden. 

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C is a very serious gardener…not really, he just wasn’t interested. I don’t know why I insisted he help me out when he is, clearly, bored, but I did, and I paid for it.

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It’s a little hard to see in this picture, it happened just as I was snapping it. But if you look closely, you can see how he decided that one pot needed the entire container of water…the whole thing overflowed and washed away a lot of the soil and most likely the seeds. I’ll give it a week or so and if I don’t see something sprouting, I’ll have to drop in a few more seeds. Oh well, I think he is a little curious about the whole process though, because he did come back a few hours later to inspect and see if anything had started growing.

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So our screen free week started with a mess, but it did keep him from the screen. For the rest of the week I have a few hikes planned, a play date at the park and more yard work. But being outside during the day is normal for us, the hardest time for me to keep him from watching tv is first thing in the mornings, he loves to eat his toast and watch his shows, and I’m busy running around getting showered & dressed & breakfast made so I just let him, it keeps him quiet while I do all that. Do you have a time of day where you actually need your kids to stay in one spot quietly entertained while you get stuff done? Is it in front of the tv like us? If not, please let me know what you do, I’d love to get rid of that morning/breakfast/tv routine and still keep him independently entertained.

Happy Screen Free Week! Hope you’re all enjoying the great outdoors!

 

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Who Lives in that Hole?

Today was an awesome day on the trail.
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We met up with my mom and my nephew and we started the hike talking about animal tracks.
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They immediately started counting the toes of this track to try and figure out what animal had left it. It was just a dog track, but the boys weren’t happy with that, they decided it was a coyote, which if you didn’t know, is way more exciting.

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They were so interested in where animals lived, they investigated every log, hole and potential nest they could find and had large discussions about what might live there. I couldn’t have been prouder.

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It was great to see them so interested, normally they are racing each other or hiding on each other, but today it was all about wildlife and they got down and dirty about it, they wanted to know everything.

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We were so lucky to find so many animal homes. If we didn’t have an answer for them about who lived there, they made up a story about it. It was adorable.

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This teeny tiny ‘cave’ kept them occupied for a while. They think a bear lives in there.
I had surgery last week and with all this wet weather we’ve been having, we’ve been a little house bound. It was so great to finally get back out there and explore. We didn’t go far. There’s a park not far from our house where I like to go if we want a mini hike, it’s a small loop that doesn’t require a lot of time or effort. Plus at the far end of the property is a playground, which is awesome when the kids start getting tired. I remind them about the playground at the end, it always puts a little fire under their butts to get moving. They are pre-schoolers after all, promises of playground fun is almost always a good motivator. Anyone have any tips for motivating slow poke pre-schoolers when they start to get tired on the trail? Leave your tips in the comments below, I have the poke-y-ist of all kids, so I’d love some advice!

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