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Heading into the Great Outdoors
Author: Jeannie Fleming-Gifford
Some of the best things in life really are free. This includes most outings into the great outdoors. Additionally, a trip holds many benefits such as exercise (wearing out the kids!), exploration and understanding of nature, not to mention just the pure fact that we can benefit from a little fresh air. Simply, it's good for us!
Now that you are thinking this may be a good idea, before you head out the door consider a few things:
Be prepared. No, you don't have to pack everything, including the kitchen sink. But, if you have a young child and are venturing out, you will want to pack along a few necessities. These will include diapers, wipes, a change of underwear and pants. Don't forget the hand sanitizer and a few snacks. Additionally, be prepared for the weather. Pack a hat and children's sunscreen or a small blanket. Secure these few things in an easy to carry bag such as a backpack that will leave your hands free to tend to the little things, or, better yet, your little one.
Also, be sure to keep in mind the duration and timing of the trip. A hike in the woods sounds wonderful until you end up carrying a 27 lb. toddler for a mile or two! There are many great carriers on the market as well as all-terrain strollers, which may provide a happy compromise for a young independent child who wants to walk on their own, but may tire quickly. Additionally, a walk after lunch may sound perfect for you, but may be disastrous with a toddler who is growing tired and is ready for a nap.
Be sure to pack your patience. The outdoors is an amazing place and a child may simply be in awe of their surroundings. Enjoy it. When they stop to watch the ants, stop too. Toddlers, preschoolers and even school-agers may enjoy collecting various things from a nature walk. Simply provide them an appropriate, child-size container to collect their treasures.
If you are not sure where to go, start simply. The backyard or a walk around the neighborhood may be just enough for your child. This will make an enjoyable experience for the both of you. If all "systems are go" and you are looking for a bit more of an adventure, check out the local offerings found in county, state or national parks. Many of these gems also include nature centers that sometimes provide hands-on activities, including crafts or demonstrations. They usually include well-defined paths that make for easy walking with a stroller.
Wherever and whenever you choose to roam, enjoy the adventures. Nothing beats an excursion with a child in the great outdoors!