Baby Gear, Nature and Forest Play, Toddler Gear

Great Water Bottles for Toddler Hikes, Toddler Hiking Water Bottles, Toddler Water Bottles, No-Spill Cups for Toddlers

We are having a baby girl!

I’ve gone through so many brands of water bottles for my kids, today I thought I’d share some of my favourites.  For us I prefer lightweight, that fits in the side of my own backpack mesh pockets, and I HATE dealing with too many parts (tommy teepee cups, I’m looking at you!)

These are the ones that have lasted “toddler life” and preschool, and hikes (and being carried by mum and dad!) and have minimal parts!

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The Nalgene Grip & Gulp – This one is pressure controlled and releases water as they sip.  This is $10.75 on Amazon Prime. In Sport Chek, etc. they are usually around $14.00

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The Camelbak Eddy Kids Bottle – This one features a straw that the kids can flip back and forth (which they love – this is their favourite out of all of the bottles)  These are $12.00 and available on Amazon Prime.  For the most part they are about $15 in stores in YYC.  Sometimes you can get great deals on them ($11) in Winners .

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For the house, I really like the Munchkin Miracle 360 cups. These are spill proof and again, pressure controlled with sipping.  These are what my kids use by their bedside tables.   These are $17 on Amazon Prime.  I acutally don’t see these often in the stores here, I think we inherited one from a friend and LOVED it and wound up buying more.

These are Amazon Affiliate Links, but these are all what I purchase myself (and the prices are better on Amazon.) By clicking on the links to do any shopping on Amazon you are helping support this blog!

I try to keep my lists helpful and not overwhelming.  I’d rather just hear about the top 2-3 options rather than sixteen billion, and I’ll only recommend things we use ourselves! 🙂  So there you go!

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Baby Gear, Families in Calgary, Happiness, Kids Activities, Lifestyle, Lifestyle Design, Nature, Nature and Forest Play, Outdoors Activities

Hiking Heart Creek Trail with Toddlers – Toddler-Friendly Hikes in Calgary and Canmore.

Heart Creek Trail with 2 toddlers and a baby 🙂 

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Today my husband and I rolled out of the house with our two toddlers (4 and 3) and baby (1) to finally go do Heart Creek Trail.  We haven’t done any hikes yet this summer, but we’ve heard about this trail on lots of family outdoors groups.

We find that with hiking, we HAVE to commit, get up and go.  It really takes commitment – no changing minds.  It honestly takes a bit of dedication, because so many things can happen in the 2 hours between the kids up at 6:30 and getting rolling at 8:30. Meltdowns, complications, distractions or just the weakening of our own willpower to get in the car and drive for an hour and a half! 🙂

One thing that I am constantly fighting in order to get to the mountains, is the urge to leave the house in a somewhat not-disastrous-state. It’s quite a state after morning wild animal feedings 🙂

I work so hard not to feel it but my house IS messier than the average house and I full disclosure, I am still working to shake off  shame about it (which is hard to do when you do get judged and it reactivates your shame.) I constantly feel the need to clean it before we go.  Which is silly, because even if I do clean it, my ‘clean’ is still messy to other people, so what’s the point? lol.

I had been succumbing to the urge to clean earlier in the summer and finding that I was using my best energy and best time of day to clean and “organize” – basically, more often than not, it would wind up resulting in us not getting out!  So stupid when it’s not even a value of mine, I’m just doing it because of long-held shame and fear of judgement.

So, for the second half of summer, I’m pretty much leaving the house a disaster, saying fuck that and going to the mountains!  This is a belief that is no longer serving me.

We try to get everyone up, snacks packed, everyone changed, stuff thrown in a bag and coffees ready for us. Almost always, somewhere along the line we usually forget a coat, or a pair of extra pants, or someone’s water bottle, but if it means getting up and out, we can roll with that 🙂

Now, with out out of the way, onto the fun part – Heart Creek Trail, it is toddler approved (4,3,1)

Heart Creek is ideal for age 3+

Under 3’s will get tuckered so have a mode of carrying if they do!

I am pretty adventurous with my BoB Stroller and Double Chariot Stroller, however, I’ll say that Heart Creek is *not* doable with a stroller.

However, there are lots of natural features to keep the toddlers going!  You start off with a very slight toddler-friendly ascent up a hill (top left photo), over rooty, rocky trail for about 10 minutes before the trail opens to a nice meadow and view of Heart Mountain.  From there on in, you follow the creek, where there are fun bridges criss-crossing the creek, a toddler-friendly crossing where they step over slabs of rock, and trail mostly consisting of loose and compacted river rocks and pebbles.

Despite the bear in area signs, it was a busy trail on a Sunday in July, but not overly busy.

We turned around at the climbing area (75% of the way) as our parent spidey senses were tingling and we sensed the kids were getting tired. It wound up being a good judgment call.  Always turn around before meltdowns, and leave something more to look forward to the next time.  That’s kind of our approach to hiking now.

I think in our earlier parent days we were adamant about completing the whole hike or trail and we’d always wind up carrying someone back to the car or dealing with meltdowns.

We’ve learned to let that mindset go and simply go for the experiences on the trail, rather than where the trail leads to, or the “accomplishment” inherent in a hike.  It takes a bit of work to pull back and turn around before you are ready to, but it makes for a better experience for everyone!

 


Tips to keep your toddlers going on a hike:


-Snacks


-Point out cool features (lots of mushrooms on your right, on the first part of the hike – keep your eye out for the cute pink ones!)


-Don’t see at it as getting to a destination – look at it as a chance to explore and play in different features along the trail. We loved the little creek crossings on the rocks as well as the bridges.

-Make nature bracelets so they can pick things along the way! Still have to write a post about this, but essentially, make a bracelet out of duct tape, with the sticky side up.  As your kids hike, they can add little things to their bracelets like leaves, moss, twigs and the occasional wildflower. 

-Scale it.  Remember they are little people in little bodies.  We really had to work on getting out of our “goal of completing a hike because we drove an hour there” mindset and focus on the experiences along the way on the trail.  Ironically, this is a really nice analogy for life. 🙂

If you enjoy reading about trails on blogs, here are some blogs about Heart Creek Trail written by other wonderful bloggers!  These are always what inspire me to get out there!

Other blogs on Heart Creek Trail & Area

I love the Hiking with Barry blog, he’s a lovely guy and sold me my XC skis last year! Here’s his blog on Heart Creek Trail 

Tanya scrambled up Heart Mountain (sans kids you can make it a great scramble / summit hike!)

Here’s the standard All Trails Heart Creek Trail Map

With or without kids, if you complete Heart Creek and still want more, why not do Bow Valley Nuclear Bunker after lunch and explore the man made cave inside?  (take a flashlight, it’s pretty cool and starts from the same area as Heart Creek!) 

Baby Gear, Families in Calgary, Happiness, Kids Activities

A List of Fun Things to Do in Calgary with a Baby and Toddlers during the Summer. Things to do With Children in Calgary.

FUN THINGS TO DO IN CALGARY, CANADA WITH KIDS UNDER 5 (SUMMER EDITION)

On my 2nd mat leave, I wrote a post on fun things to do with a baby and toddler in the winter.    

One thing we do in our house each season, is make a fun list of things to do with our 2 toddlers and baby, in that season (by the way Western Canadian seasons are really sunny and hot, or really sunny and freezing lol!)

I find that I’m not particularly creative in the mornings, which is exactly when we wake up, feed the kids, get them dressed and start fielding the questions of “Where are we going today?”

We also find that we come up with excellent unique ideas all the time but it’s when we are out driving or doing something, and then we forget about them!  So, this summer I made a point of writing down all of our ideas between my husband and I.

Many of these we have done, many of them we have not.

So, I present to you, the ultimate list of fun things to do in Calgary in the summer with a baby and toddlers / small children in tow.

Fun things to do in Calgary with babies and toddlers – Summer Edition! 

Go visit the Bow Hatchery.  Play in Pearce estate park, go feed the fish in the hatchery, get a kids’ fishing rod and catch a trout in the family pond.

Go park at Pearce estate park, enjoy the playground, walk through the nature trails to the newly opened LIvingston Channel for a morning of fun water play.  This is a separate channel off of the bow river, beside the kayakers’ rapids but is safe for kids. Remember your PDFs.

Visit lakes!  Sikome Lake in Fish Creek Park, Quarry Lake in Canmore, Two Jack Lake in Banff. All of these have sandy beach areas for the kiddos.

Visit Reader Rock Garden, there is a tea house / cafe and kids love climbing the rock steps.

Attend an open air theatre performance in Princes Island park, which has great playgrounds.  You can pick up a gorgeous picnic from the nearby River Cafe.

Take the Gondola up to Sunshine Meadows and walk around.  Have a beer at the day lodge.  Kids LOVE the Gondola ride.  You can also do Banff but it is $$$$.  Make sure you pick up coupons from any major mall’s information desk.

Visit a spray park. Our favourites in Calgary are:  (South) Glenmore resevoir variety park, (Central) Riley Park and (North) Bowness park.

If you are at Bowness park, take out a boat or ride the train that goes around the park.

Catch little minnows and watch your children delight in them nibbling their toes at the beautiful Bebo Grove in Fish Creek Park.  Don’t forget hot dogs and lunch – benches and firepits on a first come first serve basis.

Take the C-train downtown.  Let the kids splash around in the fountains at Olympic Plaza. Picnic in the sun and explore Stephen Avenue Mall (walking street downtown, often filled with vendors in the summer.) . If it’s too hot, head inside to the great playground surrounded by the Devonian gardens, inside The Core shopping centre.

Also downtown, explore the Dragon City Mall. Take the stairs up to the Dim Sum Restaurant, Feed the Koi Carp Fish and try out a few Dim Sum dishes. Very family friendly, especially on weekends.  Fast in and out service.

Roast Marshmallows over a fire pit anywhere in Fish creek. We particularly love Voitier flats area (end of elbow drive) – there’s a hidden tree house by the way, and very friendly chickadee birds 🙂

Rainy day?  Go to the massive, massive hide ‘n seek indoor playgorund facility – generously sized so you the parent can enjoy (or easily extract your crying toddler)

Another rainy day? Go see a matinee movie at any movie theater.  We like the Canyon Meadows movie theatre which has movies for cheap.

Rent a chariot and bikes from Nomad Gear Rentals, who come to YOU to fit gear and pick it up, too!  Ride 15km around Glenmore Resevoir.  Stop in the spectacular Jack Rabbit Trail area for the kids to explore the forest, and end at the family friendly 1600 pub for a pint and eats.

Feeling braver on bikes?  Park in Canmore, bike the Legacy Trail with your kids.  20+ km one way to Banff, but we usually picnic at a nice halfway point that has a lookout and picnic area.   Then, obviously, pub.  We recommend the Iron Goat. Try their grilled calamari and blueberry bison burgers.  OMG.

VIsit the Eau Claire Wading pool downtown, surrounded by Eau Claire Market.  Try and time it with one of the many festivals and events that take place in the area.  Walk across the bridge to Princes Island park and visit the famous peace bridge.

Visit the historical Annies Cafe in Fish Creek provincial park. Grab icecreams for the kids, beer wine or cider for yourself, and let them romp through the lovely native gardens and art installations.

On the road that goes to Annies is the AMAZING mountain bike skills park.  Little rippers on balance or pedal bikes?  Go early to avoid the teens, but they w ill love it.  Grab that well earned ice cream at annies or cool off at sikome lake after, both are on the same road.

If you feel like exploring further, when you exit annies cafe, in front of you in the distance  (1km) you’ll see the ridge on the other side of the park. Take the pathed path that way, cross fish creek and turn right to explore a set of caves in the hillside.  The path does a 2km loop (stream changes trail)  before returning to the bridge back across to annies cafe.

Have a brilliant day out at Kayben farms in Okotoks, about a 30 minute drive.  Giant slides, farm animals, forests to explore and a crazy fun giant inflatable trampoline for big and little kids alike.  Often live music on the weekends and damn good stone oven baked pizza.

Pick up fresh vegetables, pick berries yourself and visit the beautiful cafe and at Saskatoon farms.  The extensive labrynth of gift shops is a bit stressful with small unpredictable humans, but they’ll want to be over at the chicken pen anyways, so no worries there 😉

Go watch a movie on the 360 degree dome at the Telus Spark Science Centre. Save your money for this one, and the zoo, a day pass for a family will run you quite high.  Again, keep your eye out for coupons in books at the information desks at local malls.

Visit the Calgary Farmers’ market on Blackfoot Trail, your kids can romp in the barnyard playground while you enjoy coffee and market goodies.  We totally recommend picking up some spices at silk road spice market, the crafted store, and I’m always in eden essentials for crystals and bath stuff – don’t forget the amazing chicken sausages at missing link.  They are AMAZING.

Tip: They have single and double car strollers parked behind the playground so you can actually shop the market with happy toddlers enclosed,  and bring cash for the face painting booth right beside the playground.

Older kids?  Pick up some led candles from superstore grocery store, and set up a little evening candle light fairy picnic anywhere in Fish creek!

Visit St. Patricks Island natural playground, which is the back entrance to the zoo.  There is an amazing nature-inspired playground a short walk from the parking lot.  If you fancy exploring further, cross the bridge across the bow river and visit the east village playground and citizen sidewalk cafe / bakery in the east simmons building.

Want to grab some art and craft supplies?  Why not time it with the free art and craft classes that michaels offers for kids.  they run from 1-2 hours and you can leave them while you shop.  Check out the website for details.

Stand up Paddle board at Two Jack Lake or Canmore Resevoir. Rent from Bow Valley SUP once you are out there, they do lessons too – or Nomad Gear rentals in Calgary.  Small rental car? No worries. Rent an inflatable which fits in a large backpack and comes with a pump that is easy to use.

Both have beach areas so the parents can switch off!  Don’t forget a pfd for your kiddos who will want to climb aboard, and maybe a sense of balance 🙂 But don’t let bad balance stop you, you can always stay very stable and paddle on your knees!

Expose your children to a safe, easy, beautiful rockies “hike” close to Calgary.  Heart Creek Trail.

Build a tree house in fish creek.  Or better yet, find the ones that are hidden, like this Teepee on the ridge overlooking fish creek 😉    This particular one is a hit with our kids and saskatoon berries are nearby for picking and eating!

Pack up a picnic and go to Bragg Creek Provincial Park Day Use area (please not this is not west bragg creek day use area, the two are different.)   Take your children on the lovely Alder Trail hike, a short loop.  Keep it to 1km for the 2-3 year olds and don’t Cross the highway at the top of the hill –  just enjoy the forest, mossy slopes and creek.

4-5 year olds or using a carrier? Follow the trail, cross the highway and do the loop which will take you an extra 3 km.   You can do the upper loop with a trail stroller or chariot but you’ll have to handle it aggressively.  Carrier better.

There is a big expanse of grass, fire pits, benches and if you walk down the hill, there are wonderful areas for the kids to explore, throw rocks and wade in the water.  People have built some safe side channels for the kids to explore along with little bridges.

Another popular option is Fullerton Loop.  Combine with a stop in Bragg creek for ice cream and mamas, visit Gypsy Maries shop in the main shopping area for the most amazing selection of unique items and handmade stuff.

Visit any U-Pick Farm, or animal farm.  Calgary Corn Maze, Butterfield Acres are great options!

Go a bit further nto the mountains and explore Grotto Canyon, keep an eye out for petroglyphs in the wall and if you go all the way, you will be rewarded with a fantastic waterfall.

Troll Falls is another toddler friendly short hike.  Kananaskis village is a great stop for the kiddos to explore with ponds, restaurants and the hotel.  Troll Falls trail head is a 2 minute drive from the hotel and is a short, easy hike to a very spectacular waterfall.  I like being close to “bases” so that if we have meltdowns, we have alternatives!

Visit Heritage Park – it really is SUCH a great day out.  Your children will love it and the vintage rides are a blast even for grownups.  Don’t underestimate the swings or carousel 🙂   Make sure you introduce them to a root beer and vanilla ice cream float!

Try out Geo Caching and download an app.  You can do it all from your smart phone nowadays.

Do you have playground fans?  Check out the Calgary Playground Review with an ongoing list of Calgary’s best playgrounds!

Visit the new Youth Link police museum, located at Police Headquarters.  It is absolutely fantastic and even includes a helicopter simulation and a police car you can explore!

While you are up that way (northeast Calgary) grab some takeout and watch some planes land at the airport.  A highlight for toddlers.

Check Calgary event listings there are many social and cultural festivals going on! 

Go inside a real fire truck! Visit Calgary central library so your kids can explore and read inside a firetruck. Firefighters even come by to read children stories!

Pick up a cheap second hand book in the wonderful childrens’ section at fair’s fair books in Inglewood.  Book worms will love the random chairs and aisles of used books, memorabilia and oddities.  Afterward, go across the street to the Hose and Hound pub for a pint and lunch in an old firestation.  Walk across the street and enjoy the enclosed playground and sandpit behind the Alexandra Centre Society.

Feel like a break?  Why not put your little ones into an unparented yoga class at Wymbin yoga in Inglewood while you check out the amazing  (and child and dog friendly) Cold Garden Brewery or shops in Inglewood? We love the Yoga Sprouts class, great for 2-5 year olds.

Other Inglewood Favourites? Live music, amazing curries and more at Gravity Espresso and Wine.  The best sub sandwiches ever at Spolumbo’s Deli, the outdoor playground at Mills Park, exploring the trails of the Inglewood Bird Sanctuary, and walking across the bridge to the east village playground.

Keep your eye out for the free Calgary’s Child, Where Calgary, Impact and Avenue Magazines about town.  Really well produced magazines.

 

Tip: They also throw amazing birthday parties for the little ones.  

Budding thespian and book worm?  Visit the Fish Creek Library with its spacious, toy-filled early learning area, and its stage with costumes that the children can perform on.  Lots of music and reading days too, check out the schedule.

Rainy day?  Wave pools abound.  Our favourite is Southland Leisure Centre.

Watch your children collapse into fits of giggles at Loose Moose’s improv and children’s theatre.   This theatre is behind the awesome Blackfoot Farmers Market.

Rent a tent or if you own one, camp at home!  set one up in your yard. Remember, for your kids this is magical!

Book a visit to the Calgary Children’s Reading place.  This house downtown has been completely designed as a reading house with nooks, crannies and secret spaces to curl up and read in. At the end of the visit, your child gets to select a book and bring it home. This is a MUST do with small children in Calgary.  if you love books you’ll be blown.away and the resident “house mothers” will help make the visit extra special for the little ones.

Visit Pinterest for a multitude of childrens nature craft activities.  A favourite of ours is making nature bracelets, since there are so many lovely wildflowers in the summer.  Make a bracelet with duct tape and have your kids explore, and find things to stick on their “bracelets.”  I plan to write about each of these on the blog, so stay tuned.

Tip: search “nature bracelets” “nature stick loom” “mud faces on trees” “forest faces” and “journey sticks” for some amazing nature ideas.  

Make an Inukshuk (or cairn) by the river or on a trail where rocks are to be found.

I hope this list gets you started exploring around Calgary!

PLEASE add to this list if you have more suggestions, hopefully this will make your summer in Calgary a wonderful one!

Baby Gear

I am Confused by Baby Car Seats. Overwhelmed Shopping for Baby Car Seats? Read this Article.

to-live-is-the-rarest-thing-in-the-world-most-people-exist-that-is-all

 

You are having your first baby.   You have a car.  You like your car. You just ventured into the world of car seats, and are terrified and overwhelmed.  You’re in the right place.

Of all pre-baby decisions, the car seat one was overwhelming and I hated it!  I came into my 1st pregnancy clueless (and pretty uninterested in everything because I was dealing with other big events in my life) and my brain imploded when I got to brands of car seats and understanding whether the car I had just bought would even fit children in it.

My goal here is to ease some of your fears and start with the absolute basics in human speak, then, once your anxiety is back at a normal level and you are ready to move on armed with the basic knowledge, you may google yourself to your hearts’ content.

 

I also want to advise you right now, if this is your first, sign up for the pregnant chicken newsletter, (CANADIAN TOO!) you will receive advice oriented newsletters PERFECTLY TIMED throughout your pregnancy and she has just such a great way of demystifying, normalizing and explaining everything from your body, to the overwhelming process of buying baby gear, creating a registry and getting a stroller.  She also has a great sense of humour!  My mum died in the middle of my pregnancy so her advice was amazing for me.  (I know, morbid and blunt but that’s what it was!)

Then, you won’t find yourself crying at the base of a mountain of car seats, stammering out the following “I just want to fucking drive from A to B with a kid in the back! THAT IS ALL!”   To this day I haven’t gone back into the same store.

Okay? Let’s go. Let’s start with the baaaasic beginner stuff.

First car seat you get is what is called an infant/baby rear facing car seat, often referred to as a bucket seat by your friends.

According to transport Canada, this is Stage 1.  They have a handy diagram.

 

Tadaaaa!  This is what those bad boys are.   There’s two pieces to a car seat.

gm1

The base, which plugs into your car seats.

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And the seat itself, which you unplug from the base and carry around with you.  Do not let the stock photo deceive you.  The baby will not be this chill.

Baby Girl Toddler in Car Seat

The car seat weighs about 10lb give or take a few pounds.  You can customize car seats A TON.  Some brands are smaller, some bigger.  Some narrower, some wider.  Some lighter, some heavier.  You can get lost in the googling and details.  Go for a mainstream brand so that when you get a stroller and all the other crap  baby gear, you won’t have issues with compatibility.  Chicco or Gracco are mainstream.

When you buy a stroller, there is usually one extra attachment (usually called an “adapter” – so just google the brands of your car seat, stroller and the word “adapter” together in one search) you can buy for whatever brand infant seat you have, that allows you to attach the car seat to the stroller.

 

For example, I have a Bob Stroller.  If I wanted to attach the car seat to it, I need that silver metal bar there, which is about $60 and is called a chicco bob stroller adapter.

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Another consideration is your car.  In all honesty, you will be fine with a 4 door car and a car seat! You’ll receive pressure (or good natured jesting) to upsize to a minivan or suv.

I spent SO MUCH TIME stressing, looking through male car forums for advice on what car seat brands would fit my sports car.  Really, the difference between brands comes down to centimetres.  However, if you have unique needs like a really small / compact car, just do some googling, the car seat lady for example has some great links, as you can see in the image below.  My favourite overall comparison of different brands of car seats is here at Car Seats for the Littles – this is a great review.  

Consumer Reports also has a great “terms to learn” part that will help you survive reading the instruction manual and thinking wtf is the latch?  Where is the recline indicator?  WHAAAAT?  Go here and flip through the terms to learn slideshow in part 3.    There is also a good car seat buying guide here, but honest, the more information you gather, the more confusing it will get.

It’s kind of like buying a wedding dress.  the more you research, and the more you try on, the more confusing and stressful the process becomes.

Pick 3 brands max, look at the specs and ease of use, weight and size, make a decision, and stick with it. 

car-seat

When you put the baby in the first few times, it’s terrifying.  They are so mad at you if they are not sleeping, and expect a protest. Though newborn protests are pretty cute 🙂 And if you feel like a novice putting babykins in there the first time, don’t worry, you’ll see your  partner experiencing the same novice feeling when they drive you all home for the first time at about 20km under the legal speed limit. It’s very sweet.

Installing the car seat is worth just enjoying, grab a tea or coffee and prepare to get up in that shit (or ask your partner.)  THANK GOD FOR GOOGLE because it’s the only way I could figure it out.  But my mind was still blown by how tight and secure my friend (certified car seat specialist) managed to get those seats in there, so it’s worth double checking your handiwork with someone.

Installing a car seat base using the LATCH system (lower anchors in your car seat) most cars have them these days and it’s very easy!

 

Installing an infant car seat base with the shoulder / lap belt.

An accessory I would not go without is a car seat canopy, car seat cover, whatever, there’s a gazillion names for them, but they look like this, and they’re great for napping babies and preventing the winter chill from getting in.

minky

In case you are wondering wtf minky lining is, it’s not a cute small furry creature, it’s a soft fabric that is popular with baby goods.  It has an absurd name, much like many baby goods.  Welcome to the world of goo goo, poo poo, goochy woo stuff.

 

JJ Cole has great winter (read Canadian) baby car seat covers that are very warm and protect from the elements (and make you feel a bit jealous of your own kid.)

*Just ignore the happy mom / baby / car seat photo.  Lies all lies.

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You buckle your feisty little creatures in with a five point harness.  I started off clueless, so I wound up using the car seat lady website which has good links like this one on buckling up a baby safely  which was surprising to me, because you pull those suckers (straps) tight!  You bet that went down really well with a feisty baby.

If you are still overwhelmed, just remember, it’s 2016 and we’ve come a looooooooong way from the car seats you rode in, in 1985.  For perspective, please peruse this fascinating perhaps slightly disturbing, history of the car seat, courtesy of good house keeping magazine.

 

1985
You, in your car seat, in 1985.

 

Baby Gear, Families in Calgary, Grounding, Lifestyle, Lifestyle Design, Nature, Nature and Forest Play, Physical Wellness

Reconnect with Nature on Maternity Leave x How to Practice Mindfulness in Nature.

Venturing back out into the worldwith your new baby(and reconnecting with nature)

A huge goal I had for myself on maternity leave was to get back outside and enjoy the natural world.  I drowned my Pinterest boards in beautiful images of happy women with their babies in carriers and backpacks.

I also curate my social media feeds, I only follow those whose lives I admire and aspire to.  To have images of nature based parenting scroll through my screen, is incredibly inspiring and I believe it acts on a subconscious level as well.  I joined Facebook groups as well, and there are many communities of brave mothers getting out there in nature with their kids, like Annika of Born to Be Adventurous, Family and Sally of Wholistic Health YYC, Tanya of Family Adventures in the Canadian Rockies – there are so many.  The beauty of Instagram too is you can find circles of people who are living the lives with their children that you’d like to, as well and they will 10000% support you! No overly concerned ladies here commenting on how it’s hot for your baby and should you really be hiking? dipping her in that cold water? etc etc.  (Yes I’ve had many well-meaning strangers approach me on adventures out, especially on snow days.)

Why was nature time with the kids such a draw for me? Getting outside has always been a form of meditation.  When I am out in nature, I reconnect with natural rhythms and the simple enjoyment of fresh air.  I come back recharged and feeling alive.  Somewhere in the great outdoors, I grind out anxiety and racing thoughts under my trail shoes.

In order to have a great maternity leave, I knew I would need to reconnect with nature somehow.

In the first few months of my winter-born’s life, I was, among other things, intimidated to do simple things like take her to the mall for the first time in the stroller, put her in the carrier for the first time, go out for my first winter walk (I do live in the Rocky Mountains of Canada, we are talking snow piles and biting winds!)  I went from brave and courageous to avoiding going out because I was putting off unfolding my stroller and putting my baby in a snowsuit for the first time.  The struggle really is real!

I am very happy to admit I HAD NOT, AT ALL expected this strange sense of intimidation and newness. Every activity, from the mundane to the complicated, would take a concerted effort.

Was it a lack of confidence?  Not necessarily.

I knew that both my daughter and I were freshly born into the world as new people.  Her a new human, I a new Mum.  Just as her eyes grew wide trying to take everything in, my eyes grew wide at the thought of bringing a floppy, fragile little creature with me on my former adventures.

As we slowly began to venture out in the world, it made me laugh.  I was VERY intimidated using the Bob Stroller for the first time and had to watch youtube over, and over, and over to figure out how to unfold it and put it in my car… but it was all new to her, too. The first time a dandelion blew apart in the wind ? MIND BLOWN.  Bird song? CAN’T EVEN.

When I started noticing the profound appreciation in her face for every tiny moment or whisper of a sound, I knew I’d be shifting the scale of my outings.   I, too, began to profoundly appreciate tiny things.   Ladybirds in the grass, dragonflies buzzing by us.  The fresh smell of crisp autumn air.  A sunset setting the mountains on fire.  Tiny things.  Instead of focusing on the vista of the mountains, my focus narrowed to leaves on the ground, frost covered twigs on the tree and snowflakes falling on the stroller, outlining their crystalline shape.

Have you ever been walking through your city and you get stuck behind tourists gawking at the buildings, or scenery?  It’s sort of the same when you are with a little human. EVERYTHING. SO. AMAZING. MUST. PHOTO. CANNOT. HANDLE.

The key to a brilliant maternity leave is scaling your outdoor activities down, way down, we’re talking to the scale of a baby – or a toddler.  You’ve got your whole life to scale back up, but for now, scale small and watch how nature takes you in.

This the essence of a “micro adventure.”

Smaller scale, commitment, duration, scale.

This does not mean smaller rewards.

I have found profound happiness in our little adventures every day. The scaled down adventure leads to closer inspection and appreciation of the world in our path. Rather than planning a huge day out once in a while when the stars are aligned (the parents are prepared and the children are happy,) I get out in nature, reconnect and rebalance in very simple ways.

You’ve got your whole life to grow up and grow back outward into nature.  Why not join with your little one and get down to their scale, and grow with them.

Get out there in the fresh air, take in the world through the eyes of your baby and prepare to be awed. Nature has some treats for you, too.

 

xo