I am lucky enough to be a stay at home mom. But that usually means hiking by myself with my two wild adventurers (3 & almost 2 year old).
I have traveled up to 3 hours and hiked for 3 hours alone with my two kiddos. We have been to 18 State Parks in one year.
I've had many people say to me "why do you go so many places, isn't it a lot with two kids?" My response always comes quick and easy, "it's the only way me and my kids stay sane"
They give me a confused look which usually ends up with me explaining... When in those four walls my kids go crazy... Bouncing off the walls, fighting and wanting my constant attention.
As soon as we pack up and head outdoors they instantly start exploring, getting along and they don't need my undivided attention every second of every hour. I've come to the conclusion that it's magic. Magic of the great outdoors.
Sounds all peaches and cream doesn't it?! Well not quite. We run into the occasional falls and meltdowns.
For instance, my most recent hike.
It was 34 degrees out, cloudy and both kids had a cold but I had been slacking on getting outdoors so I was sticking with this hike. I drove an hour and met my friend at one of our favorite spots, Lions Den Gorge. Ten minutes in and 3 out of the 4 kids were crying, wanting up, then wanting down, wanting gloves on, then taking them off, then complaining that they were cold. It was one of those hikes that I just couldn't win. Me and Nela just laughed the entire time. It was so nice to get together and finally get out on a hike that we refused to let it ruin our time. We headed back after a short time, put the kids in the warm car and just sat outside talking. There's nothing like the friends you can hike with in those miserable situations that still put a smile on your face and don't judge you.. find one of those if you don't have one because they are really the best.
Some meltdowns can be solved with a few items and that's why I always bring a backpack along with all the "goodies" (the items below)
Here's 5 must haves when hiking alone with two kids:
1.) Two carriers - because sometimes they both get tired at the same time. (go figure)
2.) Food, Food, Food. - Seriously as much as you can bring.
3.) A change of clothes - If there is a puddle, my kids will find it.
4.) A first aid kit - Falls are bond to happen and it's good to be prepared especially when you go on those long adventures a few hours from home.
5.) Water - because even though they aren't thirsty at home when you ask for the 100th time, the second you are in the middle of no where they are dying of dehydration.
Last but not least... Go with the flow!!
Don't have any expectations. If they want to stop at every tree and give it a hug, well just go with it. They want to take another snack break, go with it. Someone pooped... change that diaper right there on the dried up dead leaves and.. go with it.
Just know, you are 100% a superhero!! Carrying two kids weighing in at a total of 55 pounds (more or less) and a backpack with all the "goodies" which probably weighs another 5-10 pounds is not easy. Then add heat and a hill and you my friend have just reached supermom status.
But not every hike is like that. We have many days when I feel like I just won the lottery and both kids are nothing but happy the whole way and.. walking on there own without complaining once. I know it sounds like a dream but it happens.
As long as you have those 5 must haves and just go with the flow, nothing can ruin your hike. Well I shouldn't say nothing but you know what I mean. :)
Another hike that stands out to me is an adventure of ours we took earlier in the year. It was warm and clear skies here in Milwaukee so I decided to pack up and drive over an hour to a destination I've been wanting to go to, High Cliff State Park. Well 10 minutes away it started raining and was 10 degrees colder. I was already invested and had driven 1.5 hours so I wasn't turning around now. We got there and complete fog! High Cliff is know for its amazing views, but we didn't get to witness any of it. We were not dressed for the weather but luckily I brought sweatshirts which didn't help much since we were all in shorts. We did a quick hike and made the best of it. We just went with the flow and we ended up having a great time. A short time, but a great time. I will never forget that hike because it could have went one of two ways. I could have let it get to me and have been miserable or it could be great and that's what we chose.