Sit in front of a tree, not your tablet!

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A late Winter Challenge for adventurous families!

The days are still cold, but we are getting stronger and more resilient by enjoying the fresh air.  Join us by doing this checklist:

1. Find treasures under a log… hopefully some cool bugs and plants.  Don’t forget to put it back to how you have found it.

2. Look for mushrooms.  Collect a small variety to learn what they are when you get home.  We usually carry a box with us to put in interesting discoveries.

3. Make a simple bird feeder to help the birds make it through the winter.  Belle made a simple one.  She spread peanut butter on a stick and sprinkled bird seed on the peanut butter.  Then she put the stick as high as she could get it on a tree.

We came back the next day to see if birds had come to eat the seeds, but it was gone.  There was a lot of curiosity about whether a coyote had eaten the stick.

4. Find a bug.  We were gifted an amazing magnifying glass.  The kids have been enjoying checking out a variety of items with the magnifying glass.  Hands and fingers have been a favourite.  We are hoping to find a dead spider or bee to learn about the physical characteristics.

5. Climb a tree.  This is a challenge for us.  Our little neck of the woods is quite dense so the branches start quite high.  We have a decent climbing tree out front, but we will keep looking for one in the forest.

Post or msg me if you want to join in.  Complete the whole challenge, post about it and you can have a private sneak peak at how we spent our Spring break.  You may get some ideas.

Deadline for completion: March 21st 7pm EST.

Water Safety Tips

How do you keep kids safe when hiking near or through water?

We all want to make sure our kids stay safe.  So how do you balance teaching your children a healthy respect of the water, while still letting them enjoy the opportunities that water can provide?

  1. Check out the creek/river before bringing your children, it may help you plan for risks better.  For example, we only go to the creek when my just over 1 year old can stay with my husband, because he is curious, but not ready.
  2. Before unleashing your children in the water, review safety rules with them
  3. No children near the water without a grown up.  For us, one side of the trail is off limits because of cliffs and water.  So they are not allowed to go off the trail on that side without a grown up.
  4. Kids always stay close to the grown up when we are in or near water.
  5. Help them find ways to learn to use their own judgement about rock steadiness, or slipperiness.
  6. Look for spots where the water is shallower than your child’s knees.
  7. Be sure there is little to no current.
  8. Dress appropriately, for us on a warmer day in the winter, the kids wear full rain gear with elastic leg holes – over their snow suits, with lined rubber boots.
  9. Let them explore, there is so much to do at the creek!!

Fear for your child’s safety is natural.  However, if you don’t introduce some risky play to your young child, how will they learn to deal with fear.

Be safe about it, but with the right creek, water play is awesome.

Winter hike with tots

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Owen is learning how to walk in the snow covered branches, leaves and rocks.  Not an easy task for a 14 month old!  Although, soft and squishy footwear allows him to use his feet more effectively.

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Belle found a small creek, we stopped to play for about half an hour.  She poked it, threw things in it and finally dipped her boot in it.  She decided against a full soaker this time…. but she found a giant puddle down the trail, so don’t worry, she was able to get messy!

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After walking around and eating a tonne of snow, Owen fell asleep in the stroller.  This worked out great, because we didn’t have to rush home for nap time and got to play in the snowy forest even longer!

Pooping in the forest

Forest School How-to guide

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Forest School

“Oh no, you are not going to post about that!!!?”

When taking young children into the forest for longer periods of time, at some point, someone is going to have to poo, when you aren’t anywhere near a bathroom.

Honestly, hearing about forest kindergartens or forest schools, pooping in the forest was my very first big question…. I can’t be the only one!

My tips:

1. Everyone must go to the bathroom before we leave, whether or not you need to.

2. I aim for about 2 hours of forest play, before we head back in for bathrooms.

But inevitably someone will have to poop 10 minutes into your forest playtime.  So what are you to do?

3. Take the unfortunate child to as private a spot as possible… with the baby… So semi-private.  As far from the trail as you can, for etiquette’s sake.

4. Either find a good log for them to hang over, like a toilet.  But some kids hate sitting on a log because it might be wet, rough or cold,

So instead,

Spend a few minutes practicing a solid squat… you do not want to be using leaves to wipe up legs and pants because they fell over or got it everywhere.  Enough said?  I think so.

5. We use leaves to wipe… but feel free to use Kleenex… but be kind and take the tissues with you.

6. Some people bring a trowel and dig a hole, and cover it with dirt, because it may attract animals.

OR

When we are hiking in forested, but mainly urban areas, I have them “go” close to a log or rock.  Sometimes urgency also dictates whether or not we have time to dig a hole.

6. Then put rocks or logs or leaves over and around it, so no one accidentally steps in it before it has a chance to decompose.

Parents, have courage.  Taking your kids into nature is worth the trouble of dealing with the occasional poop outside!

Sleep tips

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These tips are simply what I did with my kids and should not be taken as medical advice.

 

Feeling tired?  Another mom kindly pointed out, that if I’m not willing to share sleep tips, I should not be bragging about having 4 awesome sleepers.

First off, I wasn’t always getting 12 hours of sleep from my kids, with good naps.  With my first, he had terrible colic, and I honestly had moments wondering what the heck I had gotten myself into.  I was exhausted, my baby was up screaming all night, and I could not seem to console him.

I surveyed all my friends who had good sleepers, and read every book on the market that came recommended.

Babies can be watched for signs of sleepiness right from the early days.  When they are getting sleepy, I try to put them down awake.  I also try not to rush in if they are fussing.  To clarify, that doesn’t mean I leave my baby unattended.  It means, if baby is looking sleepy, I may put them in the playpen nearby and start working on the dishes.  If they start crying, I may finish doing one or two more dishes before I go pick them up because they may fall asleep on their own.  However, under 4 months old, I pretty much cater to any whim a little one desires.  And if having them sleep in a carrier is the only way to get them to sleep at their regular naps, I am (mostly) game.

Between 3 and 4 months, although I am usually hoping that the baby will settle nicely into a sleep pattern, they tend to become increasingly erratic sleepers.  They require more frequent nursing to sleep, rocking or holding, and seem to wake even sooner.  The erratic sleep patterns need to be addressed ideally at this stage, because of the huge developmental milestones taking place.

Around 4 months of age, healthy  babies are able to sleep through the night.  Some may still require one feed at my bedtime, but otherwise, I count on baby sleeping from 7pm to 7am. The most important point that works for us is,  I place my babies in their crib, completely awake, in a very dark, quiet room.  We also start an age appropriate nap schedule at the same time so that my babies can grow and develop well. I use a variety of methods to teach the baby to sleep through the night, depending on each baby’s personality.  But they have all learned to sleep through the night within a few days and napped well within 2 weeks.

At our house, all 4 kids sleeping well is a high priority.  It is necessary for them to recover from their activity, be pleasant little people and grow.  It also gives my husband and I quality time together in the evening, ie binge watch something on Netflix.

Feel free to e mail me or comment if you have specific questions though.  I will do my best to help.

PS. I do consult families on getting their little ones to sleep.  I have a couple spots available in April.  E-mail or comment if you want more information.

(SleepEasy Solution, Healthy Sleep Habits Happy Child, Happiest Baby on the Block)