Tag Archives: family adventure advise

Danielle: Stand Up Paddleboarding with kids.

I recently moved down the street from a lake. A bonafide honset-to-goodness lake. I’ve been toying with the idea of getting into stand up paddleboarding (SUP). Preferable with my kids. So I knew just just the person to go to for advise. Danielle and her husband own Sweetwater Paddle Sports in Southwest Florida and run a SupMommys group, a class where Moms AND their kids come to learn the ways of the paddleboard.

Thanks for sharing your wisdom Danielle. Can’t wait to try this out.

How did you get into Stand Up Paddleboarding?  

I grew up in Naples, Fl (on the beach), then lived in the Virgin Islands with my husband for a few years. Being on the water has always been a part of who I am.

Three years ago my husband and I got the urge to try stand up paddleboarding since surfing is rare on the southwest coast of Fl. After a few times out on a board my husband and I decided we wanted to open our own stand up paddleboard shop, Sweetwater Paddle Sports. We’ve been open for 2 years, have been crazy busy and are now expanding!

What made you decide to start your SupMommys group?  (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, 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…)

Postpartum Mountain Biking – When to get back on the bike?

Note: this post contains words related to child-birth. If theses sort of words make you light-headed, please look at this post instead.

Shortly after every pregnancy I’ve opened up my laptop, pulled up the internet and typed in to the search bar things like “postpartum mountain biking”, “how soon can I mountain bike after pregnancy”, “mountain biking after delivery”, “getting back on my bike after vaginal delivery”, etc.

I never find anything. No testimonials, no words of wisdom, no pictorials. Nada. I am going to rectify that situation. This post is for all those new OutsideMoms looking to see when other Moms get back on their mountain bikes after the brutal event known as ‘giving birth’. (more…)

DeLorme topo maps: Essential for the outdoor traveler.

Since posting my article on dispersed camping a few days ago I’ve had quite a few questions on HOW one goes about finding places to camp on public land. Today I’m prepared to answer that question in the form of a gushing review of the DeLorme’s Atlas and Gazetteer series.

I’ll admit, when I started my review of these priceless books-of-maps, I couldn’t figure out why they went to the trouble of calling them “Atlas and Gazetteers”.  So fancy-schmancy… what was the point?  Being ever the resourceful one, I decided to find the answer.  I called Olivia.

“I dunno”  she informed me.  “Look it up.”

So I did.

Atlas: /’atles/  A book of maps or charts.
Gazetteer: /gazi’ti(Ə)r/   A geographical directory of places containing information on things like mountains, waterways, camping areas, historic markers, state and national parks, roads etc.


Put them together and that’s exactly what we have here:  A book of amazingly detailed, large-format topographic and informative maps.

Because Atlas and Gazetteer is too long to keep saying I will here-to-fore refer to these publications as A&G.

I’ve been a fan of this A&G series for a very very (very) long time.  It’s amazing how often we use these them. They go everywhere with us, they even have a permanent spot in the back of the van underneath the mat so that if we’re out of the house, so are they.

They provide information on camping, hiking trails, cities, and most importantly, back roads! And they have a version for all 50 states.

How do I use them?  Well, let’s take some hypothetical situations that (strangely) mirror real ones that may or may not actually happen on a regular basis. Here is a small portion from this sample page. (note the A, B, C correlations to the map). (more…)

Use #4 for a stick: Getting down (or up) the trail

Does this sound familiar?  You’ve….

  • loaded your pack with snacks, bandaids, baby wipes, extra clothes, spare kleenex, candy, and a bazillion other things
  • cleaned off the carseat(s),
  • strapped the kiddo(s) into the car,
  • driven 25 minutes to an exciting looking trail head
  • sung row your boat and the song that never ends over 346 times on the drive
  • extracted the kiddos from the car
  • and set them off down the trail….

only to find that they are tired and ready to go home five minutes into the hike.  You try candy, coaxing, singing, follow the leader, knock knock jokes and as many other tricks as you can think of, but have only made it another 50 feet down the trail… and two hours have passed.  Let me recommend one more trick for getting little ones moving down the trail (and, truth be told, this still works on me today): the Hiking Stick.

Tell them they need to find a hiking stick because it will give them the energy to go further.  They’ll try 30 different sticks, cruising down the trail in search of new and improved ones, and totally forget that the point was to go for a ‘walk’.  They’ll try them forwards and backwards.  Between their legs like a horse.  Over their shoulder.  It might turn into a gun. They’ll balance it on the palm of their hand.  And who knows what else they’ll think of.

Point is, they won’t think about the hike.  Tell them to find you one too–it has to weigh a certain amount, be a certain length, be the right height, have a curve for your grip, etc.  The hiking stick is the ticket to at least 100 extra feet.  And if you’re in the Mojave and there are no ‘sticks’ to be had?  Substitute something else:  find me a white rock, a tortoise shell, a flower, etc.  Scavenger hunts are wondrous motivators.

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

Tips for choosing a family tent

Our family tent is currently an older REI Half Dome 4, it’s worked nicely for us over the past 6 years. We currently sleep 2 adults, 2 kids and a dog quite comfortably. I suppose we can even fit the new baby in there for awhile, but eventually we’ll need an upgrade.

I’ve been thinking about what kind of tent to get for the next phase of our lives, so when Joe got an email from a friend last week (hi Dave) asking him for advice on choosing a family tent, I realized I wasn’t the only one stewing over this. And thus, this post was born.

Here are a few things to consider when choosing a tent.

1. What kind of camping are you going to do?

  • Backpacking (or river trips): Obviously you will need to consider the weight and size quite seriously.
  • Car Camping: You can get something more roomy and a little heavier, but make sure to consider how much       space you’ll have available in your  vehicle.
  • Road trips: You’ll be putting the tent up and down a lot (sometimes in the dark, often by yourself while your spouse tries to keep the kids from running through a cactus patch), so make sure to get something with a simple design so it’s easy to set up. Also, campsite sizes will vary if you’re moving around a lot, so pick something on the smaller side.
  • Stationary camping: If you’re setting the tent up once, in a place your familiar with, and staying put you can choose a tent that’s bigger and more complicated to set up. (more…)

Be road-trip prepared: Assemble a Car Kit

I got to thinking the other day that I needed to update our ‘car kit’. I started making a list of all the things I would need if stranded in/near my car with my family (in any season). After pondering the list I quickly realized I should consult Olivia.

As I read her list I had to laugh.

Why? Because being that I’ve spent a lot of time in the backcountry and on the road with Olivia I’ve personally seen nearly every one of these items in use. I can also recall several personal experiences where I wish I had this stuff (see stuck on beach photo below).

It may seem like a lot, but Olivia assures me she has all her emergency stuff shoved into one box that always rides in the back of her car.  In the winter she also tosses in the duffle bag full of extra clothes and warmish things (her duffle bag, by the way, has a shoulder strap, so if she had to walk , she could use it to carry stuff).

It’s all great info, so I thought I’d share the list with other travelers. (more…)

Teach kids to ski: 5 tips for keeping it enjoyable

I sent the following email to my friend Amber the other day:

I’m thinking of doing a blog post about teaching kids to ski. I was wondering if you could help me out since my kids don’t really ski (yet). Will you send me your 5 best tips/advice when it comes to getting kids off on the right track? Please. Pretty please?

This was her original reply…

#1. snacks
#2. snacks
#3. snacks
#4. sun
#5. patience

I can see why our kids are such good friends, they both speak the (probably universal) kid language of ‘snacks’.

Then she sent me a few more ideas. I was thoroughly impressed, and think that a lot of her ideas could actually apply to teaching your kids pretty much any new outdoor sport.

Also, FYI: She has 3 kids. Ages: 0, 4 and 7.


So you want to teach your kid how to ski? Nothing else can provide so much outdoor enjoyment during the cold, and hopefully snowy, winter months. But how to begin? I had to consult the practical, organized one in the family (my husband, Alex) to make sure all of the bases were covered and we came up with the following list… (Listed in order of importance. According to me).


For our children, everything is more enjoyable when there are snacks involved. Actually, everything’s more enjoyable for me when there are snacks involved!

The adults are in charge of stuffing the pockets of their coats with snacks of various kinds. The key to choosing an appropriate snack is taking into consideration the “sticky when damp” factor. Fruit snacks hold up surprisingly well, candy cane pieces, not so well. It’s also best not to take along candy that is individually wrapped (ex. Starburst), It’s no fun explaining to your little skier that you can’t go pick up the litter that is fluttering down to rest on the steep cliff beneath you on the lift.

We’ve found that it is necessary to be strategic with where snacks are administered: Ski lift…yes, ski run…no (it makes the run interminably long). Lodge…maybe (depending on how cold the day is). The lodge can be a black hole, once you venture in, the likelihood of getting back out onto the slope is poor. Our kids are usually good for only 2-4 hours of skiing. We feed them a good breakfast then tide them over with snacks until lunch time. We usually save the lodge for hot chocolate and lunch after the skiing is over. Or, if they let us get away with it, lunch in the car on the way back home.

Timing of snacks is key. Too many snacks and you have no leverage to encourage your tike to take one more run. Our system is to give 2 pieces of candy on the “baby lift”, 3-4 on the “big kid” lift.  It’s amazing what kids will do for 1 or 2 more pieces of candy!


As with any new activity you start with your child, patience is key to success (success in skiing = your child has fun and makes it home in 1 piece, you keep your sanity). (more…)

Outdoor teaching mistakes we make with our kids

A few weeks ago I attended a GreenTeacher webinar by Brad Daniel, Professor of Outdoor Education and Environmental Studies at Montreat College. The webinar was entitled Outdoor Teaching Mistakes. The aim was to help participants become better outdoor educators by presenting and discussing a variety of mistakes made by those who teach in the outdoors.

It was a good refresher for me as an educator… and yet I couldn’t help but start to apply this to me as a parent. What mistakes do I make while trying to ‘teach’ my kids in the outdoors? And by ‘teaching’ I mostly mean ‘being’ in the outdoors, and trying not to miss those teachable moments.

Note: Not all of these suggestions for fixing common mistakes have to be incorporated in every outdoor outing, but they are certainly things we should consider in varying degrees as we try to teach our kids the importance of being outside.

1. Silence your cell phone
It’s hard to resist the urge to answer every call or text, even when outside. But each one you respond to represents time in which you pull yourself in and away from the outdoor world–each one represents time missed in the outdoors with your kids; time that would be perfect for showing them the wonders that exist without the use of technology. When I see a status update declaring “out for a hike with my kids”, it makes me wonder… If you’re on your smart phone, what are you showing your kids that you value? How many teachable moments are you missing? (more…)


    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