Raising Strong and Happy Kids

Birthday Parties.

If those two words make you cringe just a little, I get you. There’s something about the sugar overload and the kids running around crazy and the herding of cats kids, that makes me just a little bit crazy. Which is a bit ironic because as a kid I was the birthday queen. I planned my parties meticulously from the American Girl magazine ideas (am I dating myself?!?) and looked forward to them maybe more than any other day of the year.

But, now as a parent, my view has certainly changed. Chaos (in the most “real life” sense of the word) is normal in our home. There is rarely a few minutes when someone isn’t telling me something or asking me something or needing something. Not that it’s a bad thing, but I struggle with even thinking about adding a whole lot of extra to that.

Last year we celebrated J turning 5 with a biking/scavenger hunt birthday party. It was so much fun and ended up being one that we still hear about a year later.

This year we told J no big party, but we’d celebrate the day any way he would like. He surprised us by letting us know he wanted to go hiking (which means either (1) he is super awesome like that or (2) he doesn’t know anything else). So, since hiking is way more fun with friends, we let him invite a few and planned a backyard bar-b-q to entice kids along.

We woke up to 35 degree temperatures and snow/rain. Not ideal hiking conditions and definitely far from ideal backyard bar-b-q conditions.

Raising strong and happy kids

We asked J if he still wanted to hike. His friends asked their parents if the party would go on. We hoped for a quick clearing of the weather, which happens often in the mountains.

When nothing changed and everyone remained surprisingly eager, we graciously thanked the other parents for staying optimistic and went for it.

I was thankful for extra layers and DucKsday rain suits, which save us on a regular basis.

Raising strong and happy kids

We bribed with gum drops and M&Ms.

The kids may have been a little surprised to be pushed sideways at the top of “Dude hill” in sideways snow, but cheered their accomplishment of a summit and ran down towards the next promise of an M&M with a spring in their step.

They noticed rock piles marking the trail. They peeked at some poor flowers trying their best to bloom in the “spring” we were experiencing. They asked questions, dreamed up big plans of flying rockets and capturing bears and kept a pep in their step.

Raising strong and happy kids

We ended the hike back at our home with shoes caked with mud, rosy cheeks and wet outer layers. We all certainly earned a hot drink and some birthday cake.

The most impressive part of the whole day to me was the fact that the kids didn’t think twice about the hike. They loved going up, they loved coming down, they loved the snow and the rain and the mud. They didn’t complain.

Raising strong and happy kids


It was a little reminder to myself just how impactful our attitudes are. We (as the adults) were upbeat – the kids mirrored our emotions. They found joy and peace and accomplishment.

I came home proud that day of the kid we are raising. Not all days are like this. We have our fair share (or more) of whining and bad attitudes. But, something is sinking in….

Raising strong and happy kids


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  • Amelia lives with her husband and five young children outside of Jackson, WY in Grand Teton National Park. As a mom, she quickly learned that the secret to sanity was to spend more time outside where tantrums don't see quite so bad. Amelia started TMM in 2012 to help encourage all families (including her own) to get outside, no matter the weather. Due to the necessity of having to keep so many kids warm and happy, she has become an expert in kids' gear and loves being able to share it with others.

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2 thoughts on “Raising Strong and Happy Kids”

  1. After last year’s big LEGO themed party (5 is a big birthday 😉 ), we said something small this year too. M asked for a hiking birthday party too… (cool) or maybe biking… (that works too) or can all my friends go camping with us (um… all?)?

  2. That sounds like a perfect birthday party to me. I agree 100% that our own attitudes affect how the kids react to certain situations. Kudos to you for making your rainy, cold day a success and for inspiring others to do the same.


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