Sending back the “WAAAHHHHmbulence”


My boys are cute.  They are smart, funny, entertaining, precious and a whole lot of challenge.  Mtn Papa and I literally fall into bed every night baffled by their energy and constant learning of the world around them.  It is awing and extremely exhausting.  Our days are better when they can run to their heart’s content outside without (many) limits because they eat better and sleep better and just are better.

That said, like any parent of young children, the “WAAAAHHHHmbulence” (not to be confused with “ambulence”, mind you) spends a good portion of the day around us.  I just can’t get rid of the thing – the whining does.not.stop.  At least it seems that way.  There have been studies showing that the most annoying sound possible is the sound of your own children whining.  I agree.  Therefore, like any good parent, we work hard to set limits, be firm and loving in our parenting, and pull out any bag of tricks we can manage to get it to STOP!  And yep, the number one “trick” is to just get into fresh air as fast as humanly possible.  It works.

Yep, totally resorted to holiday cookies this day....
Yep, totally resorted to holiday cookies this day….

I talk to a lot of people about getting kids outside.  It sort of comes with the territory of this blog and the life we live.  I have found again and again that the number one deterrent for parents and maintaining an active outdoor life is that darn “WAAAAHHHHmbulence” (see, we aren’t the only one it visits!)  *If you haven’t caught on yet, that is our “code” word for uncontrollable whining and usually the joke that makes us all laugh a little in the face of extreme frustration.**

While none of these tricks are foolproof, I have been thinking long and hard about ways to just keep kids from falling into those moods that come with whining and can quickly put an end to a family adventure.  Like I said, we usually are using about 100,023 variances of these on any given day to distract and they aren’t guaranteed (if they were, I would be making millions, right?!?!)  They also work for different ages at different times, of course.

  • Joke about the “WAAAHHHmbulence” <– the big kids catch on too fast and get annoyed you are essentially making fun of them, but the little ones just laugh because you are… 
  • Sing songs (the more hand movements and dancing, the better)
  • Play the counting game.  “Let’s count the trees!”  “How many flowers can you find?” “Let’s count our steps!”
  • Let them carry a stick <– I don’t know why this one works, but it totally does
  • Have a pine cone (leaf, twig, rock) throwing contest…as you are moving along
  • Race (at a safe pace, of course)
  • Check for hunger (a main cause of whining) and feed, feed, feed!
  • Take a break and do a round of “Hokey Pokey”
  • Be proactive with giving them ownership to their adventure: their own back pack, their own camera, cool hiking shoes (that you really talk up….)
  • Let them lead
  • Bust out the tunes.  ENO makes an excellent speaker that connects to any MP3 player and is super portable and durable.

Just to clarify, we certainly have our fair share of full-on-complete meltdowns.  I have definitely walked home carrying two kids, a bike or two, a bag and all our extra gear (plus the dog, of course) using my “super-mom strength” that comes out of who-knows-where.  It isn’t pretty, but sometimes you just gotta do what you gotta do.

I have friends that swear by the motto of “if you aren’t having fun, go home and try again another day”.  I do agree because I want my kids to love being outside, but also know that sometimes you just have to get past that initial resistance to get to the fun stuff.  As a parent, I am determined to be persistent for the health, happiness and well-being of my children.


I want to know:  How do you get kids out of their funk and back enjoying themselves, especially in the outdoors?  We could use all the extra tips we can get!


Pssstttt….that cool graphic at the top of this post comes from Science of Parenthood and was just for this post.  You can find them on Facebook too!  If you think it is cool, let them know! 🙂

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8 thoughts on “Sending back the “WAAAHHHHmbulence””

  1. Great advice and I can’t think of an outdoor inspired parent who couldn’t use it! I find that on busy weeknights, letting my almost three-year-old choose her method of transportation, i.e. pack, BOB, wagon or balance bike, means we all get out on the trail for a nice walk, including two happy dogs!

  2. I also agree that the stick totally works…although it seems to my observation it’s mostly only effective for boys. Put a stick in my son’s hand and it’s like he’s found a part of himself that’s been missing all along.

  3. Great ideas! I think the common denominator to many of these is they get the kids actively engaged in some sort of game or play. Once they start having fun, they forget to whine! I can totally relate to the impact of just getting the kids outside. My 6-year-old is never happier than when we are walking in the woods or even just playing in tall grass of an empty lot down the block – as long as he is in nature, he is entertained. My 3-year-old is similar, although the first time we took him hiking and he was expected to actually walk, he did fuss a bit. I engaged him in collecting objects for a “nature bracelet” (I found the idea at Go Explore Nature) and before long he was having a great time!

  4. Pingback: Help! My kid doesn't like to be outside! | Tales of a Mountain Mama

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