3 Tips for Enjoying the Outdoors in Any Weather

Today I am welcoming Linda McGurk to the blog as she launches her first book, which I LOVE! She also writes a fantastic blog and is a blogging peer of mine I greatly admire. 

“There’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing!” If I heard it once I heard it a million times growing up in Sweden, where it feels like rainy days outnumber sunny days by 10 to 1 and talking about the weather borders on a national sport. In Scandinavia, getting fresh air every day, regardless of the weather, is considered crucial to good health and it’s an ethos that adults are adamant about passing on to kids. The reason why is simple: Kids need outdoor play for their social, physical and cognitive development, and the need to move around doesn’t go away just because the weather is less than ideal. Plus, as researchers have discovered, children who play outdoors are more likely to want to protect nature as adults.

3 Tips for Enjoying the Outdoors in Any Weather

Obviously, there are some exceptions to the rule – thunderstorms or other truly hazardous weather conditions are perfectly valid excuses for staying inside. But generally speaking, getting outside every day, even if it’s just for a little bit, is a boon to our bodies and minds. Sometimes the hard part is just getting there. Getting motivated to get off the couch when the sky is fifty shades of depressing, the thermometer is below freezing and the kids would rather stay glued to a screen can be a struggle. Not to mention all the times you’ll spend half an hour rounding them up and wrangling them into the appropriate gear, just to have them bolt back into the house after fifteen minutes in the backyard.

3 Tips for Enjoying the Outdoors in Any Weather

But even on days like that, getting outside is worth the effort. As Alys Fowler notes in her ode to winter in the Guardian, “I’d rather be stuck out in the rain, for a while at least, than stuck in on the sofa. Box sets are addictive, but a day lost to the sitting room is a day trapped, a day when winter seems longer than it is.”

If you still find yourself struggling with motivation to get outside with the kids during the dark and cold months, try these helpful tips:

Reframe the situation

Kids intuitively pick up on our attitude, so as adults we need to consider how we talk and think about the weather. Instead of focusing on the negative aspects of the weather, for example rain, get the kids excited by emphasizing the positives, like the puddles that are forming and the earthworms that are coming to the surface. Conversely, if it’s extremely hot and dry, focus on activities that make the heat more tolerable, like having ice cream or cold lemonade in a shaded area in the backyard. Find more ideas for how to reframe inclement weather here.

Establish a daily rhythm

When you make outdoor play time every day routine, regardless of the weather, your kids will become more resilient in the face of “bad” weather and are less likely to fight it. Figure out what the best time for your family to get outside and try to stick to that rhythm whenever possible. The ideal time will vary depending on the ages, personalities and habits of your children, as well as the schedule for the rest of the family. For school-age children a good time to get outside is often right after school, since they’ve probably spent most of the day sitting at a desk. For younger kids, you may need to plan around nap and meal times (or just have them eat and nap outside, which is common in Scandinavia). For other families, walking together after dinner is an almost sacred family ritual. What you do and when you do it isn’t that important – the best rhythm for your family is usually the one that actually gets you off the couch and out the door.

Dress for the weather

If you’re going to live by the idea that there’s no such thing as bad weather, your kids also need to dress the part, since a cold and wet child quickly will lead to outdoor play fail. Invest in some decent-quality gear and learn some layering basics to keep your kids comfortable in cold and/or wet weather. And don’t forget to get good gear for yourself – kids are not the only ones who need snow pants to protect against the cold in the wintertime! In hot weather, wearing long-sleeved UV clothing protects children against burns, and seeking out shade and water is key to keep little ones happy outside.

Read more about enjoying the outdoors in any weather in my book There’s No Such Thing as Bad Weather (Touchstone; Oct. 2017).

3 Tips for Enjoying the Outdoors in Any Weather

3 Tips for Enjoying the Outdoors in Any Weather

About Linda:

3 Tips for Enjoying the Outdoors in Any WeatherLinda Åkeson McGurk is a Swedish-American freelance journalist and author who started the blog Rain or Shine Mamma to inspire outdoor play and adventure every day, regardless of the weather. A nature lover and mother of two daughters, she believes that the best childhood memories are created outside, while jumping in puddles, digging in dirt, catching bugs, and climbing trees. Follow her on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter. There’s No Such Thing as Bad Weather is her first book.

 

 

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3 Tips for Enjoying the Outdoors in Any Weather

© 2017, Tales of a Mountain Mama. All rights reserved. Republication, in part or entirety, requires a link back to this original post and permission from the author.

 

 

 

Another Way to Bike with Kids

I’m so excited to welcome Lindsay on the blog today. Mostly because I long to do bikepacking like she does with her family! This post is full of great ideas that will change your view on family biking.

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We’re all familiar with classic ways of carrying kids on bikes. In North America, I’d argue that the two most common ways to accomplish this for the past 30 or 40 years are by either pulling your child in a specially designed trailer, like a Thule, or by having the small child directly behind you in a seat mounted to your bike frame. And, these are excellent options.

Trailers

Trailers are amazingly versatile bubbles (we still use ours for walking, jogging, hiking, and cross-country skiing) and chances are you can use either a trailer or a child seat with whatever bike you have. There are many benefits of these traditional kid-carrying devices, the biggest one being that they are hands-down the least expensive way to get out riding with your kids. However, there are some downsides, too.

If you are using your multi-purpose trailer every day for things other than biking, mode changes can be a challenge in inclement weather. In our unheated storage area, our jog wheel would freeze to the trailer, so I couldn’t reliably convert it to bike mode when I needed to. Plus, they don’t facilitate conversation with your passenger very easily!

Bike seats

Bike seats are okay on many bikes, but they often place the load high and can adversely affect your steering, especially on bikes designed to be nimble, like mountain and road bikes. Most people do not own bikes that are designed to carry a heavy load. Plus, sometimes you really have to try a bunch of different seats before you can find one that is compatible with your bike! Never fear, there is a bike that works swimmingly with a child bike seat.

Bakfiets and trikes

Perhaps you have visited a city like Amsterdam, Copenhagen, or Portland and seen unique bikes with big boxes in their fronts (bakfiets in Dutch, “box bike”) or cargo trikes. These powerful beasts of beauty are amazing and we are lucky to have several manufacturers of these European creations in North America, too. I strongly advocate trying one, they are a great option for many families. If you are curious, you can read more here. (We own a CETMA cargo bike, ourselves.)

Longtails

We have a homegrown beast of a different sort that has evolved from Ross Evans’ ideas developed when he was an engineering student at Stanford University. This magnificent animal is called a longtail cargo bike. Check out this clip from the upcoming film Motherload or this TED Talk for more on this uplifting backstory, inspiring for those of you with budding inventors on your hands!

It literally is a long tailed bike

It’s got a long tail! The area behind the rider is stretched out such that you can fit two child seats on the back! Or, one child seat and a cushion for your older kid. Or, a bigger cushion and some bars that wrap around the cargo area for your two bigger kids to hold on to. All this, with room for your gear for the trip to the beach. Or, the groceries you need to pick up! Oh the things this bike can do.

Another Way to Bike with Kids

There’s no trailer to connect each time you want to use it (although you can with a lot of models if you really want to…).

 

It’s a cargo bike. It is designed to carry loads. Way bigger loads than you will likely ever take advantage of (hundreds of pounds, depending on what brand or model)! So, the unnerving wobbly feeling you may have previously felt when you mounted a child seat on the bike rack of your beloved mountain bike is gone. Between the solid frame, often nice wide balloon tires, and sometimes even a smaller rear wheel (to lower the centre of gravity of your load), these bikes ‘ride like a bike’, as people often remark in awe and have a very gentle learning curve. In my opinion, the only real lesson is learning to ride with live cargo and my tip for that is to start ‘em young (hence lighter and much easier to teach nice bike manners to…)!

Another Way to Bike with Kids

Longtail cargo bikes are an awesome choice for a city bike, are a pleasure to ride, and really simplify getting around by bike with young kids.

Which one?

If you truly love your bike, Xtracycle designed a conversion kit currently called Leap and it’s pretty neat. Otherwise, try out a few different models, such as:

There are other choices out there, too!

 

The cargo biking world has a wonderful and friendly community that you can tap in to help make your decisions, either through blogs, such as mine, or in Twitter or Facebook groups, like “MOTHERLOAD: a movie, a meeting place, a cargo bike movement”.

Tidbit reviews of a few models

We have ridden and owned a Yuba Mundo, Xtracycle Edgerunner, and a Bike Friday Haul-a-Day. They’re all different and lovable.

 

Our first was the Mundo and it was sturdy and rode much like a cruiser. I’m on the shorter side of things (5’4”) and by the time we added a second kid to the back I wanted to at least have a step-through frame. At the time, Yuba had yet to come out with their Curry bikes, so we sold our Mundo and went with an Edgerunner.

 

I fell in love all over again and really appreciated the Edgerunner’s smaller frame option, as well as the lower centre of gravity of the 20” rear wheel. It is still my favourite bike.  And, now they have come out with a Swoop edition with a true step-through frame design. Sigh.

Another Way to Bike with Kids

The newest addition to our family is a Haul-a-Day and it has been wonderful for its versatility. We added it to our fleet for two reasons: we wanted another longtail for bike touring and bikepacking adventures with our two kids, and because it can be split in two for travel, we can fly with it relatively easily (compared to the Edgerunner, at least!). It is extremely light for a cargo bike.

Another Way to Bike with Kids

Get out riding

Having a longtail cargo bike really helps to incorporate active living into your day-to-day as a parent — a real life saver when you’re busy with your kids! Our newest discovery is that they make fantastic bikes for touring with young children, we’ve even started doing short “bikepacking” trips into the mountains here in our glorious Canadian Rockies near Calgary, Alberta.

Another Way to Bike with Kids

Another Way to Bike with KidsLindsay Bliek is a retired teacher and science museum educator, full-time parent, and lover of bikes, gardening, her kids, and getting outside. She is the editor and principal writer over at Our Hundred Acre Wood, an active lifestyle blog, with musings on biking with kids, adventures on bikes, mountain fun, and whatever she’s cooking or growing to fuel those shenanigans. You can follow along via Twitter, Instagram, or Pinterest, too!

 

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Another Way to Bike with Kids

© 2017, Tales of a Mountain Mama. All rights reserved. Republication, in part or entirety, requires a link back to this original post and permission from the author.

Welcoming a Little More Adventure

On August 30th we welcomed Baby Girl #3 for a grand total of 5 kiddos. We were thankful all went smooth and well and we’ve been settling into a family of 7 (!!!).

Welcoming a Little More Adventure

Welcoming a Little More Adventure

Thoughts lately:

  • Wow, getting 3 kids aged 3 and under dressed and out the door is tough….
  • I am so overwhelmed (though honestly no more than I was with 2 kids…just that newborn fog for dayyyyyzzzz)
  • It’s a party. Constantly. And loud.
  • I’m so glad my kids like to be outside. And be loud.
  • I have like 10 zillion blog posts I was going to write. And I can’t even get one done.
  • Babies poop A LOT. How did I forget this??
  • This baby poops a lot all over everything. What happened to my ninja baby-changing skills?
  • I need a hike. And to heal. And to sleep. Lots and lots of sleep!
  • Family is first. This is the life I love. This chaos too shall pass.

Welcoming a Little More Adventure Welcoming a Little More Adventure

Oh and in case you missed it and are having trouble being motivated too….. the Outdoor Mom Academy closes TONIGHT! Last chance for all of you that begged for us to keep it open just a couple more days! 😉

Because YOU got this, Mama. And we can be in the trenches together….

Welcoming a Little More Adventure

© 2017, Tales of a Mountain Mama. All rights reserved. Republication, in part or entirety, requires a link back to this original post and permission from the author.

The Outdoor Mom Academy is OPEN! Limited Spots Available!

The Outdoor Mom Academy is OPEN! Limited Spots Available!

Happy Monday! I am so excited for a second session of the Outdoor Mom Academy and want YOU to join us! Our first session was wildly successful, mostly because of the great community that joined us. We (Rebecca, Susan, and I) shared what we know, of course, but we couldn’t have done it without the […]

Yuba Flip Flop Cargo Bike for Kids

Yuba Flip Flop Cargo Bike for Kids

The Yuba Flip Flop cargo balance bike stands out and has been called the “coolest bike ever!” by not only our kids, but any kid (and adult) that happens to see us riding it. We keep saying it would be even more cool to ride alongside an adult Yuba Cargo bike, but we haven’t gotten […]

5 Ways to Add Fun at the Campsite

5 Ways to Add Fun at the Campsite

While truly any campsite usually has enough rocks and sticks to keep kids busy, sometimes we like to mix things up a little while we are out. And any of these solutions work great for just an afternoon outside too! Note: Some of these links are affiliates. It doesn’t cost you a dime and helps […]