Because actually getting OUT the door is sometimes the hardest part…..
We are so excited to bring our our second installment in Mamas in the Wild: How We Survive When We Opt Outside, sponsored by REI. This four-part series focuses on real life mom-to-mom tips, tricks, and humor (because how could we survive this without laughing a little, right??) Read the first one here about keeping kids safe on a hike and then check back in every Tuesday in April for our posts!
Also the links below are affiliates….but exactly what we would tell our family and friends, of course. Thanks for clicking through them to purchase – it helps support TMM just a tiny bit!
Before you were a parent, if you wanted to leave the house – you opened the door and stepped outside.
After kids, it’s a bit more complicated than that.
If you asked me what is the hardest part of living an outdoors lifestyle with your family, it would hands down be getting out the actual door in the first place. Between the packing, the dressing, the undressing for the potty, the re-dressing, the re-packing the bag someone has now spilled all over the floor, the snack planning, and the one last potty trip, I don’t blame you if you find yourself fantasizing about the days when all you had to do was open the door and just step outside.
But there are ways to get your family out the door for a hike (or anywhere really!) with relative ease. Here are our best tips for getting out the door:
1. Pack everything you can the night before
Have your backpack packed with snacks, diapers, and all your other gear ready to go and by the front door the night before. Even laying out clothes and shoes only takes a couple minutes, yet somehow saves you at least half an hour the next morning if you aren’t trying to find shoes while chasing toddlers at the same time.
We like leaving this Rubbermaid storage tub full of all of our camping kitchen gear ready to go so all we have to do is grab it off the shelf. We keep mess kits, cook gear, foil, cooking spices, oil, cooking pans, dish soap, etc. all ready to go. Refill anything at the end of every trip so it’s ready to go out the door immediately, no rummaging required.
2. Have a plan ahead of time.
Just about every Friday night we’ve gone to bed saying, “Let’s go hiking somewhere tomorrow” is followed by a Saturday where we never actually make it hiking. We spend a couple hours trying to decide what to do, if the kids are up for it, and then by the time we clean up several spilled cheerio bowls and break up a few fights over toys, the afternoon is half over. If we go to bed with a plan, we wake up knowing what we need to do to make it out the door at a reasonable hour.
3. Keep your gear organized.
Store all equipment together: Poles with the skis, helmets and gloves with the bikes. You don’t want to be frantically running around looking for equipment when you’re trying to leave. These Transpack boot bags keep your ski gear (boots, helmets, goggles, gloves, neck gaiters, ski passes) in a bag and ready to go at a moment’s notice.) They make a kids version, too!
When you get back home, set the kids in front of the TV (you have my permission!) for 30 minutes while you unpack everything immediately. It’ll save you a lot of time on your next trip.
4. Have extra clothes in your trunk
Especially in the spring and summer, I like to leave a change of clothes for all of my kids. With mud everywhere, they’re bound to need a change. The weather can change so rapidly it’s helpful to have options in case it ends up being colder or warmer than we thought. These Columbia PFG Bahama Shirts are handy for throwing on as an extra layer on cool days, or on hot ones to keep the sun off.
5. Put the kids to work
Kids love to be useful, and when they feel like they are actually contributing to the family, they will be more helpful. Your four year old can raid the pantry for fruit snacks and granola bars. Your five year old can fill water bottles (we love these smaller Klean Kanteens). Older kids may enjoy researching and planning new hikes, or the menu for a camping trip.
6. Don’t bother yelling.
If you find yourself running around the house yelling, “Okay! Five minutes! Five minutes before we leave! Everyone get your shoes on!” then it’s time to own up to the truth you know deep down inside. NOBODY IS LISTENING TO YOU. You know this, because five minutes later, no one has their shoes on. So just stop. Yelling “it’s almost time to go!” is more about us discharging our anxiety about being on time, and less about giving them a warning. So just focus on getting yourself ready, and then turn your attention to them when you are ready to help them actually make it to the car.
7. Make a game out of it.
Laughter helps take the tension out of getting-out-the-door battles. So when your kid is absolutely refusing to put their shoes on, try making them laugh. My middle child cannot resist stuffing is foot into a hungry sock that is about to eat his toes. Nor can he resist putting on moon-boots that will help him bounce to the car.
8. But don’t turn it into a race.
If you have more than one kid, encouraging them to get to the car by saying, “let’s see who gets in their seat first!” is a sure-fire way to start your trip in tears. Instead, see if they can beat you to the car, or set a timer and see if they can beat their previous record from the last time.
9. Dress for the weather
Spring weather can be unpredictable, and nothing will make a kid drag their feet more than the thought of spending the day cold and wet. You hear us say this a lot at Tales of a Mountain Mama, but LAYERS are the key to success. Remember to avoid cotton layers, as they will hold moisture and lose warmth. Go for a synthetic (capilene, nylon, poly-blends) or merino wool, instead. Start with a good base layer, appropriate to the temperature. REI has fantastic base layers that hold up really well and won’t break the bank. Then throw on a mid-weight layer, like the always-loved Patagonia Better Sweater, but resist the urge to dress them up like a marshmallow with a full puffy jacket in the Spring. It’s not THAT cold any more and you’ll just end up carrying extra layers they don’t need. Think about the layers that YOU are wearing and go just a little warmer! Cap it all off with a good, waterproof outer layer. Check out the REI Rainwall Jacket and pants, which also comes in a Toddler version, for those April showers.
10. Clean up and Restock
Having everything stocked, loaded and ready, makes it much easier and quicker to get out the door. The trade-off is, you have to restock, clean and re-pack your gear when you get home, so that it’s ready to go for next time. Don’t bring those muddy boots back in the house. Hose them off outside and put them on a boot dryer, so they are ready for the next day. Do the camp dishes and re-stock your kitchen tub so it’s all ready for the next trip. Hang your tent to dry, fix any holes with clear Tenacious Tape, or Noso patches if you like a little more flair. As soon as you return, repack your gear for the next adventure. Taking the time to prepare now will cut your time in half when you are getting out the door with little ones!
(Disclaimer: We are not liable when somebody spills their juice all over the place, demands an outfit change, or has a blowout on your way out the door. You can only do so much.)
This post is a proud collaboration between the TMM Team, with heavy emphasis on Ginny and Jackie’s humor and expertise in the area! Read more about the Team here!
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