Out and About with Kids: Snowshoeing at Snoqualmie Pass
The one question I get asked the most often is "how do you keep a toddler happy while you are hiking/snowshoeing?" Aside from my amazing husband who willingly carries our little heavy weight around the answer is pretty simple, sometimes we do and other times we don't. Early on we decided we did not want to stop doing the things we love because we had children. That being said we have had to curtail the length and frequency of our hikes in addition to having our moments where we question why we brought him along in the first place.
Overall, we have found the key to keeping Jasper happy while hiking is a moving target. It really depends on the time of day we go on our adventures. As a late afternoon napper, it is best if we set out shortly after he wakes up in the morning and wrap up around when his nap falls. This way he can hopefully fall asleep on the car ride home or maybe even hold out until we return back home. Sometimes the key to keeping him happy is as simple as continuing to move because he is tired and eventually will fall asleep. Other times the weather bothers him but he is unwilling to do anything about it (ie. the sun is shining in his eyes but he will not wear sunglasses or his hands are freezing cold and he refuses to keep his gloves on). For the most part, I feel like we have adventuring with a toddler figured out. However, when a strong wind blows or the snow gets in his face he hates it and there is nothing we can do to make him happy in that moment. And we have all slowly learned that is just how it is going to be.
Stopping to enjoy the view with a cranky toddler is not the most relaxing thing, but most days it is better than leaving him at home with a sitter. As a parent I view it as my privilege to expose my child to the beauty which surrounds. I hope one hike at a time I am teaching my son to love nature and be in awe of God's majesty.
As far as dressing a toddler for sitting still in twenty or thirty degree temperatures I start with long underwear, two pairs of socks one cotton followed by one wool, then a fleece or wool sweater, snow bibs, a down jacket, gloves, balaclava and hat. On a typical day, we keep him happy with a variety of snacks, songs, games and distractions. We try to engage him as much as possible in our conversations. We often ask him what sounds different animals make or ask him to repeat some of his favorite words. Other times, the scenery ie. waterfalls, people walking by are interesting enough to capture his imagination and keep him happy.
There is no greater gift than sharing what you love with others. I hope my son sees my love for the outdoors when we are hiking together and knows the time we spend together will be my most treasured memories.