THIS SITE REQUIRES JAVASCRIPT TO BE ENABLED TO BE VIEWED CORRECTLY. PLEASE ENABLE JAVASCRIPT! INSTRUCTIONS

Category Archives: Ask Outsidemom

Is the Chariot Cougar worth the investment?

Claire sent me the following question (via ask outsidemom). I have a lot of thoughts on this, but would also love to hear from other Chariot owners who could offer some insight on her questions.

I’m thinking about buying a Chariot, primarily because I’d love to ski this winter and I’d like to be able to get some cycling in once my son is big enough. I’d love to hear some detailed reviews, tips, experiences from other women who use a Chariot too. I’d love to hear what skiing is like with it – hills, response to snow conditions, reaction of kiddos… And what using a bike trailer is like too – can you hear your kiddo, how does it handle with a road bike, tips for keeping kiddo safe and happy.

-Claire

A few weeks ago I had a Chaco shoe giveaway on my blog and asked people to enter by telling me: “What is the one outdoor baby/child item you wouldn’t want to live without.” The item that claimed the first prize? The Chariot.

First of all I just have to say that we own the Cougar 2, and own the bike trailer kit, the jogging kit, the infant sling, baby supporter and we made our own skis. We currently have 3 kids ages 6, 3, and 7 months. Here are my thoughts on the Chariot: (more…)

Making an Olivia Bag (aka ‘survival kit’) for overseas travel…

Here’s a question from Sarah, a reader with great Christmas ideas:

I’m actually working on my Christmas stuff and had a quick question on your Olivia bag post. I’m making two of these for my sister and brother in law who live in Peru. They have four girls, all under 10. My brother in law routinely travels into the jungle, visiting villages along the way. I thought the Olivia bag would be a great Christmas gift since its practical and easy to take back. But I’m wondering how you would modify this for international travel/outdoors. Maybe there are some things that would be great additions to the bag for them that I can’t think of? And maybe some things can be eliminated or they might have problems in customs? 

What I love about this question is that the timing is SO PERFECT!  I’m travelling to Peru the beginning of November and (in my insane excitement) have already started packing!  It got me to thinking—could one put together an International list of multi-purpose items useful for travelling outside the country?

Here’s the thing:  international travel includes a huge range of activities, climates, cultures, and (ew) diseases.  Coming up with a universal set of items useful in all environs can be tricky…  but I’ve traveled to a few countries over the last 15 years, ranging from the relatively laid back New Zealand, to hot and humid China.  And believe it or not there are things that are useful in all hemispheres.

The key is that these items are related to the travel lifestyle:  moving, limited packing space, and being comfortable outside your comfort zone… they have less to do with the cuisine of the Maori or the species of mosquito in the Amazon, and more to do with you, and the fact that you are the same person, with the same needs, wherever you find yourself.  Also, I like items that serve multiple purposes, that aren’t especially expensive, so that you can give them away or ditch them if you decide you don’t need them after all.

Just like your Olivia Bag, any international bag needs to be modified to fit your needs.  But here’s what I intend to put in mine. (more…)

Tips for the beginning kayaker

Helena sent me this question (via ask outsidemom) a few months back, and I decided to keep her in suspense for awhile before responding. You know, just to keep things interesting… (sorry Helena)

I want to start kayaking but have never been before! The closest I’ve come is rafting. So my question is… what’s the best way to get started/learn, and when is it safe to take a child along? What age etc.?

-Helena

First I asked Helena if she was interested in flat water kayaking or whitewater kayaking. Her reply: Well, we are a military family currently stationed in Florida. We will probably always be stationed near the ocean, so probably flat water.

Although come to think of it, I suppose the steps for starting out would be very similar no matter what kind of kayaking you’re looking to do. After all, as a whitewater kayaker, the first place I learned to paddle was on a big flat lake in northwestern Washington. For this reason I’m mainly covering flat water kayaking related issues.

1. Choose a boat (more…)

Going solo in the great outdoors… with kids

A reader recently submitted this question:

My hubby has poor health, but I *need* more outdoor time! Any tips for a mom and kids outdoors on their own? Mine are 7, 5, 3, and 2 mos. We live in beautiful western Oregon, but I have a thing for the SW.

-Meaghan

Meaghan, thanks for this excellent question.  It’s something I deal with all the time as a stay-at-home-mom who is also an outside junkie.  I actually really like getting the kids out on my own.   I’m not much of a home body and getting the kids out for a hike or a trip to the lake always seems like a far better alternative than futzing around the house.  Our situations aren’t that different–I’ve got a 5-, 3-, and five-month-old.  Granted you’ve got an extra child, but let’s just call your oldest an extra ‘helper’.

Your style for getting outside with just you and them will be all your own, unique to your personalities and situation, but here are some random suggestions that might make getting out on your own easier.

PS rare photo of me (above) taken by my good friend and awesome photographer Rebekah.

1. Don’t psych yourself out.
It’s not as daunting as it sounds. One less adult can usually be mitigated with better pre-planning.  Remember always what your objective is.  To be outside?  See something new?  Have a wee adventure?

Figure out what you’re going for and ‘settle’ for doing only that thing.  When the kids cry or complain, when something goes awry, when you call it quits early, just remember your objective… “well, my goal was to get outside for awhile today, and we did it!”  Have that attitude in mind before you even leave the house and you’ll be surprised how easy it is to feel good about your solo trip from the moment you’ve locked the front door.

2.  Pre-Plan. (more…)

Are you hindered by ‘outdoor paranoia’?

Remember back when we asked you (our readers) to fill out a survey? At the end of the survey we asked: What topics would you like to see on the blog in the future?  We particularly enjoyed this one:

How to fight off a mountain lion. Seriously, every time I think about going on a hike I think about mountain lions attacking me and my children. And then I don’t go on a hike. I think I have problems, how about addressing outdoor paranoia? :)

Encountering wild animals when you and your kids are out is a valid concern for any caring parent. But don’t let concern prevent you from enjoying all the outdoor world has to offer.

Think of wild animals in the same way you think of bodies of water — a fear of drowning shouldn’t keep you from camping near a river.  It should instead motivate you to buy life jackets for your children and come up with a plan for being attentive when you are near them.  Similarly, unfriendly dogs in your neighborhood are no reason not to go walking, they are simply a reason to carry a big stick.

Encounters with dangerous animals are rarer than you’d think. Of all the times that people go hiking every day, all over the country, an attack happens very seldom (20 people in the U.S. have been killed by mountain lions in the last 100 years, for example).  Most animals are as uninterested in getting close to you as you are to them.

I’m wondering if ‘outdoor paranoia’ has something to do with how a person is raised?  For example, growing up in rattlesnake country has made me rather blasé about their presence, but  I can’t tell you how many random hikers have scolded me for taking my kids hiking in ‘rattlesnake country’. (more…)

Rock Climbing, therapy for kids with ADHD?

I got an email a few weeks ago from a Mom by the name of Sarah. She was seeking advice about outdoor play/activities for children with learning challenges, specifically ADHD. Because I have little to no experience with this kind of thing I invited her to write up her experience in hopes that other parents might have more advice to share than I did.

If you have a child with a learning challenge or special need and have used the outdoors as a tool, we want to hear from you.(See the bottom of Sarah’s article for more specific questions, or add your own thoughts).

Thanks for sharing your story Sarah, I absolutely love this post. I for one think Michael is a pretty lucky kid.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

This is my firstborn, Michael:

His little fetus self hit me in the gut at twelve weeks pregnant and didn’t stop moving the rest of the pregnancy. At twenty weeks, he kicked the TV controls off my belly. After his birth, he screamed for three months straight.

I stopped comparing him to other kids, or asking for help from other moms a year into the adventure. My son was just—different. Tough, independent, confident, and able to take down a full grocery cart in 2.3 seconds. He climbed out of his car seat before other kids even realized they were in one. (P.S. Duct tape around the straps solved this problem for awhile).

Around his third birthday, he was evaluated for early learning disabilities (including autism and ADHD). Twenty minutes into the evaluation he pulled out every toy, had to be told to go back to his seat fifteen times, ran into the door twice, and spun in a circle for three full minutes… Oh and he tried to set some turtles free. Anyways, after all this, the evaluator scrunched up her face and went, “Yeah. It looks like ADHD.” As if to drive this point home, the kid ran into the concrete block wall and bounced off with a huge smile. Then did it again.

One of her suggestions—find a gross motor activity that allows him to practice his missing executive function skills. (more…)

Looking for outdoor family advice? Ask us!

We’re starting a new feature on the blog. We’re thinking of calling it… Ask Outsidemom. Think of it as a Dear Abby column for the outside-enthused parent… except that we promise not to discuss which way to put the toilet paper in the holder (over the top), or your mother-in-law.

The thing is, we get emails every once in awhile with questions from parents. Questions about naps, outdoor cooking, tents, packing for hikes, etc. We love knowing the kinds of things you’re wondering about, or how we can best aid in you getting your little ones outside more.  You guys can help us gear this blog to your specifications.  We want to encourage these questions, because (truth be told) they actually end up being some of our favorites!

If ever you have a question, please don’t hesitate to ask. No matter how odd (shoot–I’m probably asking for it with that statement). We may not personally know the answer, but we have ways of finding out, and will likely even solicit the help of our readers from time to time.

So bring ’em on!  We’re very much looking forward to more of your questions! Just email us via the envelope icon on the side bar or send your email directly to ask@outsidemom.com.

  • WELCOME

    I'm Lindsey. I'm an environmental educator, my husband's a biologist. The outdoors is infused into everything we do; which explains why I'm better at mud pies than home decorating. More About Me

    I don't blog alone! Meet outsidemom contributer Olivia
  • KEEP IN TOUCH

  • PROUD TO SUPPORT

  • ACCESS ARCHIVES