For a long time, it was really hard to get out and go on adventures (and by "adventures" I mean leave the house in general) with our kids because they were so little and curious and literally always went in different directions. My friends would invite me to go to the park with them and I would hesitate because I knew it would be exhausting and not fun at all. It would not be the play date they imagined because I'd spend the entire time wrangling my free-range children. Ultimately they would convince me it would be easy, after all they would be there too. Then about 30 minutes into our park date, we'd all be exhausted and it would take every thing we had just to bribe them with a granola bar to get in their car seats.
Every day gets easier with my kids as they get older and become better listeners, but it's often hard to get out and adventure for a boatload of reasons. Lately it's just been so freaking cold and my kids have been sick since November. This has been the shortest winter of my life. Our Minnesota winter didn't start until well into December and we have had may 40+ degree days so far this year (global climate change FTW), but winter in MN is still just way too long. Cabin fever and toddlers is not a cocktail I'd wish even on my worst enemy. Speaking of a cocktail, is it happy hour yet?
Feeling the need to run wild and free, my husband and I woke up on a Sunday morning, read the room and decided to skip going to church and experience our Lord out in His original sanctuary: the great outdoors. We all put on our winter boots and our puffy jackets. Titus grabbed his handy dandy magnifying glass and we went out to explore our world.
We live in a suburb of Minneapolis called Bloomington and feel so incredibly blessed to live 15 minutes from downtown, but are also so close to Nature. I read somewhere that Bloomington, MN is 60% Nature preserve. What the what?! That is absolutely unheard of. We have an incredible Parks and Rec department that invests in our city and it gives us a lot to enjoy. This particular Sunday morning, we headed to Richardson Nature Center which has miles upon miles of trails to explore and nature to experience hands on.
Adventure doesn't have to cost much (or anything for that matter) and you don't have to go far. For a toddler, adventure can mean walking around your neighborhood and observing things. My son and I like to look at all sorts of things. Dried leaves on the ground, can start a 10 minute conversation about colors and textures and seasons and lead in to wondering why how a leaf can fall from a tree and shrivel up.
This whole world is new to these little eyes, and sometimes it can be so hard to slow down to indulge their curiosities. They may seem unfocused or like bad listeners sometimes. Their little brains are growing a million miles a second. I know how frustrating it can be when your kids are little and you have the desire to instill an adventurous spirit in their little souls. You may see your friends who are hiking the Rockies with their babies on their back, and all you can think is "there is no way in hell that I'm doing that now!" Adventures don't need to be extravagant. Adventure is all around (this feels really cheesy to write and I now I have the song "Love/Christmas is all around" from Love Actually stuck in my head...sorry about that).
If it's not too cold where you are today, go out and make an adventure for yourself and your toddlers. And take lots of pictures, because if you didn't Instagram it, did it ever actually happen? Just kidding, but really my strongest memories from my childhood are the ones that I have pictures from, so it's truly an important part of adventure. As Doctor Scott, the paleontologist from Dinosaur Train, would say, "Remember, get outside, get into nature, and make your own discoveries!"