We are absolutely, 100% in the middle of those “tough-years-of-getting-out-with-kids”. Toddlers are unpredictable, moody, hilarious, and constantly keep us guessing. Meltdowns and redirecting are just part of life. Add a newborn into the mix in a few weeks (which also means the kids outnumber the parents) and we’re “doomed”.
This is why people with young children stay at home where everyone is contained and life is a bit “easier”. I’m not going to lie – I have plenty of days when the getting out the door process is nearly enough to make me throw my hands up and surrender. It is not unusual for it to take us 30 minutes to get outside.
However, I find great comfort and joy in watching our winter recreation become increasingly easier with the oldest (now 4.5 years) as we start a new season. Yes, he can dress himself (almost completely without help), but, more importantly, our hard work and persistence is finally paying off as we see him pleasantly surprised with what his body can do now. And I know that once we actually get out there, everyone is happier and it is worth it.
Last year we had J on cross country skis, but could barely convince him to go 50 feet without a meltdown. This year he is attempting to keep up with us and skis (and talks) as fast and as far as his little legs will carry him.
Last year we managed some runs on the bunny hill at Bridger Ski Area and were happy to just get him going down the hill. This year he is enjoying the bigger lifts, not being on a leash and perfecting his “wedge”.
AND he LIKES all those things and proclaims excitedly often, “Wow, this is FUN!” Cue snow angels singing!
While I am convinced the experiences of just getting out there, even as small kids, is worth it, I attribute most of his accomplishments thus far this year to sheer growth and muscle familiarity. A four year old just has better control over his movements than a 3 year old.
The goal remains to just keep on having fun and let him choose that fun (with us setting everything up for the most success possible.) We dress in layers for warmth (because a warm kid is a happy kid), take breaks often, use hot chocolate and M&Ms when needed, and praise like crazy. The best part? Little Brother (2.5 year old, P) is listening too and encouraged to keep him with his brother without any prodding from us. Peer pressure is a beautiful thing.
I want my kids to love the outdoors and being active, but I want them to love it for themselves, not because I want them to. And sometimes that is much easier said than done. We still have bad days, epic outdoor fails and crying kids. But, there’s hope and payoffs in persistence!
Parents of infants, babies, toddlers and preschoolers – take heart! This DOES get easier. People have been telling me that for years – it’s fun to finally get some little glimpses of our own.
© 2013, 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.