How do we define adventure? Does it have to be jumping out of planes or climbing Everest or white-water rafting to count as an adventure? If we limit true adventure to those extreme opportunities, the vast majority of us will never go on an “adventure”. Let’s redefine it and go find it everywhere around us.
In all honesty, I am not a natural adventurer. I am a natural sitter – and I am very good at it. However, to raise little adventurers, Mom and Dad have to model a life of adventure and to seize every opportunity to turn even the smallest, most ordinary things adventure worthy.
Remember adventuring isn’t all sunshine and roses. Let’s limit the stress ahead of time as much as possible. If you’re heading out by yourself, make sure you prepare yourself and the kids to make the most of the trip. If everyday and every trip is seen as learning opportunities, these days don’t need to feel “wasted”. With a bit of planning, every trip can count as roadschooling even if your desk is behind a steering wheel.
My proposal: Adventure is a mindset.
No matter what schooling you choose for your family, with the right attitude and a little few supplies, even the smallest wooded park can become a little explorer’s paradise.
Affiliate disclosure: As an Amazon affiliate, I may earn commissions from qualifying purchases through Amazon.com. These are my go-to items (or very similar); no faking here.
Dress Like an Adventure Mom.
Not long ago, I pulled out all the adventure stuff for a state park beach: sun shirt, fast dry shorts, sun hat… Totally ready to not fry and not be miserable. The lady next to me had on make up with her swimsuit. One of us was ready for an adventure. The other was not.
Nothing screams “not-a-mom-adventurer” more than being unprepared for the situation at hand. You can’t chase spiders or pull your kid out of a tree while wearing tight pants and ridiculous sandals. Or, in this case, be ready for emergency lake evacuation or your mascara will run and your boobs will pop out. Ha!
Not only does a rain coat make you look like an official adventurer, this works for the always cold mom (like me) or extra kid layer or warming after an accidental water incident. You just never know.
Not only do these colorful hats keep you from wrinkling your face, they allow for ponytails. Bright colors make it easy for kids to find you, and the strap keeps it on!
Be comfortable. Be fast drying. Use some common sense. There’s no need for cute and fancy when you’re sweating and nasty. Don’t forget the fast-dry underwear too.
Put on kid adventure clothes.
Things that make adventure unforgettable in a bad way: fussy kids, wet kids, sunburned kids, and cutesy clothes. Put on the play clothes, sun protection shirts, and appropriate shoes – let them have at it!
Find the place.
Even though even the park around the corner can become an adventure, I like to always keep my options open to discover new places or see what’s nearby. Research ahead of time and save the places on your phone for easy access.
- Save places on Instagram or Facebook that others have travelled.
- Search on TripAdvisor and make a folder of nearby sites.
- Ask locals and friends! Better yet, invite them to come along.
This keeps my hands free, and lets the kids know when we are going to be arriving! Bonus: the kids naturally get familiar with maps, cardinal directions, and just how far a mile is.
Take food and bring enough water.
As tempting as it is to drive through fast food on the way home for a treat, it’s not always feasible or the best option. I like to prevent that by stopping the whine before it starts with food in the car. Throw in some cold fruit, cheese sticks, nuts, and granola bars; extra food doesn’t have to be fancy.
Pull out the magic.
As much as I love the idea of my kids each carrying their own backpacks, it just doesn’t happen. I’ve tried. There are four excellent backpacks in my closet – that they don’t use because you can’t run and explore with a backpack strapped on. I get it. I kinda gave up. However, I carry my mom backpack and put little bags inside of bandaids and such – but also exploring surprises. While I’d love to be that nature drawing mom and use our watercolor brush pens, my kids would rather run over the boulders. Maybe someday.
Get an adult compass and teach them how to take care of it. Holding a compass gives their little hands something to do, gives them a bit of control over the situation, and makes them feel like an important part of the team. Get one with a lanyard if you can; less change of losing it!
The not-so-fun extras
Part of being ready for an adventure means being prepared for the hard-to-prepare for unexpected extras. Getting wet on the trail, carsickness, or even a potty accident are no big deal if you just pack a few extras.
- Wet Bag – Don’t forget the bag to put all the yucky clothes in the car so they can go right into the washing machine. I have an old wipe container full of plastic bags to whip out for mud or wet or… puke.
- Trash Bag – Pass out old plastic grocery bags and gather trash at each stop. Maybe the car will only look like half-disaster by the time you get home. I keep mine in an empty bleach wipe container.
- Extra Clothes – Pack at least one extra set of clothes in the car. Pick a size in-between the kids if you don’t want one for each kid. She can wear a batman shirt two sizes too big if the other option is naked.
- Towel – Grab one. You just never know. My years of experience has shown that “Don’t get wet” usually means “Get wet” in their minds. I’m over fighting it. It’s true.
Sun and Bug Spray
Keep these in the car or in your bag. How many times have you wished for that bottle that’s at home. You just never know when sunscreen or bug spray are going to be needed. They’re small. Keep it. (Note: this brand of spray zinc-based sunscreen is the only one my kids will tolerate. I’m done fighting.)
My puker is loaded up with bags in the car, but these motion sickness bracelets seem to help. He has also figured out that candy to suck on (like Jolly Ranchers) work as well as music he loves for distraction. Lots of different methods to keep trying to figure it out!
When it’s hard to squat down or too public, you’ll be glad you have a pee funnel. I might just keep one in my car for travel with girls – big and little alike. Don’t forget the extra toilet paper. Guys have it easy on this one.
If they make a mud mess, make them sweep it up with the broom and dustpan. Don’t wait or the sand will just get ever more everywhere. If they know they have to clean it up, maybe (fingers crossed) they’ll be less messy to start with.