Top Picks for Outdoor Kids Gear

Summer Addition

There is a huge list of things that we as moms feel we need to have, from caring for infants to toddlers when playing outside, going to the beach, camping etc but what is really worth getting? Some of this gear is expensive so you want to be sure you are getting items that have one years of value and two have good resale value if you are buying new (find as much of this used, its definitely worth searching out in your mom groups and kid consignment stores). I’m going to break this down by age groups, so scroll to what age you need but some of the items listing in the younger years are still used as they get older. Enjoy my top outdoor gear picks and to make it easier shopping links.

Infants 0-12 years

Get a baby jail….yup you read it right. The top pick for this age group is keeping these crawling and rolling babies safe while playing outside. Now a playpen will work for this but its bulky, heavy and you will need to rig up some sort of shade, (easily done with a crib sheet over the top) I waited until my third to get this baby jail and it was the best thing. I regret not having it for the others, light weight and sets up fast I take it everywhere and my 18 month old even napped in it.

Both gear picks in use during our camping trip with friends

Be sun safe, the little sun suits are so cute and available at any of your favorite kids clothing stores. Finding a sun safe hat is another thing, this hat from MEC is worth the high price tag, it is adjustable so it will grow with your baby. I have gotten 2 years out of this hat, its adorable and keeps baby safe while giving comfort. Get a clip on highchair or this pop up high chair it makes feeding a baby at the picnic site a breeze.

Rocking the Sunday Afternoon Hat and Muslin blanket in the shade

My other list of items for infants is muslin blankets, they are light weight and help keep them bundled but cool. If your baby is standing or pulling up it might be time to get a water table….you will get years out of all of these items it is defiantly worth the price tag.

Toddler 12 months -3 years

Now, I still use the items listed above until they will no longer allow me to……keep those little’s contained as long as you can. Once they are running around like crazy banshees its time to get some good gear.

The hat still fits and wearing natives at the beach

I’ll start with shoes because my kids can burn through shoes like nobodies business, I almost died when I bought my first pair of native shoes for the kids but they have great resale value and if you are lucky you can find them used too. I have a pair for myself and I love them, I can run after them at the park and play in the water they are comfy, light weight and last….the kids have yet to destroy a pair so yeah they are worth the price. Although it is a summer addition it still can get rainy on the coast which equals mud, these amazing Muddy Buddies are perfect for wind, rain, mud, puddles, you can layer it and have it act as a outer layer in the spring and fall. I made the choice to stick with the same color, so my brats don’t freak out that one has a different colour… happens a lot plus I chose gender neutral and visible yellow so I can spot them as they explore.

This is why you need a Muddy Buddy……they are covered in mud. Bay of Fundy NB 6 months pregnant with our 3rd

Now lets get into gear, because the kids love activities but can’t walk or bike long distances yet. Hiking backpacks and run bikes are now your best friend because they will likely refuse to sit in a stroller at this stage. We have used our baby backpack for years, it has traveled with us to Iceland and local trails it is worth getting a high quality pack IF hiking is your thing, if not then its probably something you don’t need.

Run bikes or balance bikes are your first step into riding a bike, our kids have enjoyed gliding on bikes and it drastically reduced the time they needed training wheels basically until they knew how to petal and break. If biking is your thing (I hate biking) there are tons of great options for taking your kids along for the ride.

Balance Bike at the bike park

So we traveled a lot with our kids and we needed a bed that would fold up easy, small and light weight. I bought this pop up tent for our first over seas trip and it didn’t work well mostly because our son was too young ( only 10 months old) and would wake every time I zipped up the sides. But now that they are older it gets a ton of use, its perfect for hotel rooms, even at the beach if you need a little spot for them to sleep in the shade.

multiple tents for hotel sleeping ease

Little Kids 3-6

Now at this stage the gear you need is very specific to your families activities and needs. Your gear choices will depend on what you child is into and what you want to do together as a family. I won’t get into it on this post, once you get to this stage you will know what you need and want. But there are a few things that you might want to get, a pop up sunshade is great to have a spot out of the sun and to eat and change. I bought a huge folding outdoor mat at Costco and it is the best, the link is very similar to the one I have. I use it camping, picnics and at the beach. Its easy to fold up and comes with a little bag, plus I can clean it with a garden hose win win for low maintenance. I am waiting to get a wagon…currently I haul all of our crap in my stroller but once we are no longer using that I am definitively getting my self one of these babies.

I hope this helps you enjoy the summer months a little easier and to get the best bang for your buck try to find these items used, if your planning on having multiple children buying new is a good idea because you will use it with all of your kids and then sell it for a little money back.

When Life Gives you Lemons

I follow the mantra of when life gives you lemons, make lemonade and add vodka. Our lives just get crazy…all things that are solely for mom get dropped. The past few months have just been a frenzy of activity and it has been way too long since I have taken the time to write, it happens……I’m tired and chose to veg out instead of working, sorry not sorry. I have been enjoying the incredible summer like weather and sipping away on my nude vodka sodas….not lemonade but still fits the bill

enjoying my hard work on my mom deck surrounded by my pretty flowers and my summer go to drink

So why have we been so busy? I have no freaking idea!! I mean I do, obliviously it’s my life but I guess its just typical of life with 3 tiny humans and making the most of being outside in the beautiful summer like weather. The kids have wanted to ride bikes and play with friends in the yard…..yay! but wait that means I need to be with them outside… nothing gets done inside and I have to do it all once they go to bed. Plus there is a never ending list of things to get ready for the summer season….we work hard and play hard. So I guess I will do outside chores, the veggie garden needed to be prepped, planned and planted. The raspberries tied up, pressure washing the deck and setting up my mom cave of deck plant heaven. Not to mention getting ready for camping season, buying a new trailer (a upcoming post….its a good one, I’m pretty sure my husband hates my great ideas most days lol) It has not all been work, I had a incredible cup filling weekend away with my bestie that was so needed that we both didn’t realize how much until we we’re pampered and relaxed in our spa robes all day. Also a visit with my mom, which is always the best……can not wait until they move here ( hint hint) and we just got home from our annual May Long weekend camping trip with our wolf pack Kate plus 8 boys under the age of 6 and that was just our immediate crew not the extras. Life has been crazy but we have been attempting to enjoy it along the way, some days are hard but that’s nothing new.

Sorry not sorry I’ve been in Vacay Mode

So I will be working to get a few post ready before we head off for our annual family camping road trip so that I don’t go missing from your lives for too long again……admit it you missed me too! I have lots of great posts planned, everything from my camping/outdoor activities with tiny human hacks to the best new drinks of the summer can’t wait to do that “research”. Stay tuned and don’t forget to make lemonade with all the lemons that life throws at you.

Hop to it! Easter is here

Once a Upon a time I loved holidays. I loved to make each holiday super special with decorations, themed crafts, baked goodies, books, all out for all holidays. I am a pinterest mom, I just loved it…..note how I said loved not love. Now that I have more than one child, holidays have gotten out of control. I have created holiday monsters. Its horrible, they are so exited and won’t stop talking about whatever holiday is next…..its extremely annoying to constantly explain that Easter x number of days away or St Patrick’s day is not your birthday (my middle child name and so he and his siblings think it is “His” day) and its a constant discussion of holidays. Of course once you start something in a house full of children they quickly learn that it is now a “tradition” and you gotta do it for the memories right. Sigh I know I did this to myself…..I’m warning all you parents of singles and babies if you are planning on having more children lower the expectations now, because what you did for one you have to do for all. This advice is for all holidays, birthday parties and basically everything in your life. They will hold you to this, I’m warning you now and they will never let you forget “but he got to do it why can’t I” avoid this at all costs.

The hunt is on, they totally know how to find hidden things…..some how this only applies on Easter egg hunts

So now Easter is around the corner and I’m basically screwed because don’t you know I have to do all holidays by myself and I did not follow my own advice early in life. My husband to be honest he doesn’t care about holiday crap….its a mom job we all know it. They have no idea what they got the kids for Christmas let alone all the minor holidays that magically happen. This year he is also working, life of a shift worker sometimes you have to work during the holiday’s. So because we have always taken our oldest to the community Easter egg hunt…..guess what now we have to go every year. So you will see me stressed out to the max that my children will be lost, run away from me (extremely likely), get hurt (equally likely) or taken in a crowd of hundreds of families but I’ll put on my big girl panties and suck it up because my children are so excited and will not forgive me if they miss out.

waiting for the horn to release the hounds

We limit the amount of treats and chocolate our kids have, they don’t need it and frankly it never ends well for us…they are sugar monsters and my husband just ends up eating most of it, he is not sad about this and requests his favorites……really like I need a reminder. But because of this they are at the age where sneaking away their treats requires MI6 spy level skills, I’m too tried for that crap so here’s my go to non candy Easter basket treats that won’t break the bank and your kids will love too.

What I found at the local dollar store

Crayola paint, they sell them at amazon in the 10 pack, they are small and brightly colored so its fun and easy for them to find. All the kids really care about is finding tons of stuff so the more items you can buy and split up the better! works with markers and crayons too! Now my kids love the dinosaur hatching eggs, I found them online and at the Dollar store they are always a big hit in the Christmas stockings too! Bubble wands, now I find the cheaper the better because those jerks will dump out a tube in seconds again they come in packs so yay! more crap to find but make sure everything is in even numbers….because they will find out if one has more than the other. Go down to the dollar store and find some fun bugs, silly string, sunglasses, glow sticks, hot wheels and coloring books, the key to to get things that they enjoy doing and will use. So if you have a little crafter in the house get some fun supplies, books are always a great thing to find at the thrift stores, mix it up but don’t break the bank because they could care less how much money you spent, save it and buy a bottle of wine for yourself because its going to be a long ass day setting everything up and then the ticking time bomb of meltdowns all day long.

Enjoying new sunglasses and silly string from the Easter bunny

Now my kids do get a few treats that I put in the refillable plastic eggs, I change it up based on their ages. My older kids get jelly beans, foil eggs, smarties (careful if you are doing this outside if they get wet its not fun) , bear paws or annies cookies and I mix in a few of Dads favorites which we ask them to “share” they are always watching to make sure all their eggs are still intact, use your spy skills or be mean whatever works for you. When they where little and for my current baby, I fill them with yogurt covered raisins, love ducks, and baby food. That’s pretty much it, it ends up being a ton of stuff for them to find which is all they really care about but most of it is things that we use anyways in the summer months so its great because I was going to buy it anyways, now it counts as a gift….hahahaha suckers!!

I live in a frat house

I feel like at 33 I should have a house that reflects style, on trend, functional and have purpose. But I live in a frat house. At any given time there is someone crying, passed out, puking, eating, drinking, screaming, running, wrestling, fighting, excessively touching you or hearing “I had a poop” from the bathroom…..parents you all know what I’m talking about. This happens everyday all day, it never changes. Nothing has a place or goes together, its frustrating because I would love to just redesign my whole house. Alas even if I had the extra disposable income (hahahah what is that?!) my fraternity would never allow it.

You see when you have 3 small humans who have taken up residence in your house all sense of style and keeping on home trends goes out the window…..literally I have seen my children throw my things out the window. It is like living in Animal House, if you’re lucky you can escape the day without having rager at your place because of course it being the frat house our friends come over and add further destruction and chaos. But like any good party house I stock my friends drinks of choice, because sometimes getting day tipsy while your kids play and you get to chat with your friend is the best kind of party……or the only kind of party that I can have. Note to self do not use your children’s excessive whining, bugging and asking for snacks as a drinking game… will die.

All of my furniture was either given to us or free and decor……yeah its pretty much everything that I have gathered during our years traveling before children and family photos in cheap frames because they broke the nice ones already. One day I when they are more civilized I will get to start from scratch and design a space that reflects my style and personality (guys you all know you have zero say how your home is decorated) but for now I’m grateful all of my furniture can be tossed because they will have no life left and my wreaking crew will have done their worst and it didn’t cost me a fortune. In fact it cost me nothing! So I am trying to embrace my frat house style for as long as I can while I pinterest ideas and drink wine, dreaming of the day I can move out.

I used to have fun

A life time ago, I had a life that did not revolve around my army of children. I used to have fun and be carefree. I was lucky enough to find my best friend early in life and we made the most of it. Oh did we ever. We saw the world, we did “dangerous” activities. I use this term lightly because I am deathly afraid of heights, snakes, dark water and am not naturally adventurous but I did do things out of my comfort zone, not as cool as my husband but let’s just save that for another post. I saw things I never thought I would ever get to see, experience things I never imagined I would be capable of doing. We used to throw epic parties, load up our tiny truck and canoe and head out fishing for the day, we did what we wanted when we wanted and had so much fun along the way.

Camel riding in Egypt

I miss those days, the endless freedom and minimal responsibilities. The simple pleasures of lying in the sun and reading a great book, or staying up too late ( I still do this most nights, I’m a night owl but I regret it every morning…kinda) I miss who I was, who my husband and I were together, I miss the ease and ability to not have to plan around naps, food and bedtimes. Or spending countless hours packing and prepping to have forgotten to bring a soother on a freaking string so they won’t lose it 5 mins in.

But I regret nothing, we did so much before our family came that when we finally decided to have our first baby we were as ready to let go of that life as much as we could have been. I do not regret having my sweet and adorable babies……ok most of the time I just question my judgement and think what the F was I thinking having this many but I always wanted them. I always felt that in all of our adventures something was missing, it was our little buddies. My biggest adventures was having my babies, I literally climbed mountains while pregnant with all of them, and man do they ever make me work for the fun these days but I still get to have fun. We still get to see the world, we traveled to Iceland with our first at 9 months old and it was one of my favorite places. We still get to load up our canoe even if it sat in our yard for 5 years and we had to upgrade our truck, I may not get to go fishing but my children get to have those moments now, they get to see the world with us and experience “dangerous” activities……I swear they all take after their dad and will kill me one day.

Fishing with Daddy on our BC Interior camping road trip…..yes the baby had a broken collarbone I told you danger babies

I do miss my old life, but it is a different kind of fun now. The kind that takes more work but at the end of the day, I get to create the fun in their eyes because they don’t need to be burdened with the rest. All they need to remember is the camping trips, birthday parties, trips to the beach and lake house, all the big epic moments and the little ones. I do miss being able to have fun with my husband, but for now we have to tag team and that’s just the phase of life we are in, one day soon we will have that time back together but for now we each get to escape for a day or 2 and have a little bittersweet fun without your best friend to share it with.

Momcation 1st time snowboarding all day in 7 years on Mt Washington

10 ways to Keep your House Clean

Life is messy but you gotta clean it up, because you know sanitary reasons ( insert eye roll) and no one likes stepping on cheerios and mystery liquids. So here are my top 10 tips to keep your house clean when you have 3 tiny humans running wild and free. Full disclosure I am a shitty house keeper, it is one of my most hated obligations and responsibilities as an adult. But I love a clean house, I just would rather no be the one to clean it.

Tip Number 1: Hire a Housekeeper! seriously this is the best money you will ever spend. Now I know this is not budget friendly, your talking with the girl who hates cleaning but doesn’t have the luxury of hiring a housekeeper. But if you can swing it in your monthly expenses it is well worth it to have someone else come in 2x a month to decontaminate your bathrooms and wash your floors. If you have decided heck yeah I’m outsourcing this shit (literally) then forget the rest of this post because you my friend can sit back and attempt to “up keep” clean your house between visits.

Tip Number 2: Don’t have tiny humans in your home. HAHAHAHA no seriously those peanut butter covered jerks are the sole reason my house is a disaster zone. I remember the days when I had no children and worked, my husband being a shift worker and way better at cleaning, would clean on his night shift days…..ah the good ole days. Better forget about that because its only demoralizing and sadly those peanut butter, dirt covered faces are my reason for living…..( I have to keep telling myself this so I don’t run away one day and never come back)

Tip Number 3: Ok I promise this is an actual tip not just a pipe dream. Start training your children. Yup you read that right, I 100% believe that those tiny tornadoes can and are able help clean if given the proper motivation and incentives. Age appropriate tasks are perfect for teaching them how to survive as adults, this my parent friends is our most important job. To make our children self sufficient adults one day. My kids help unload the dishwasher, fold and put away laundry and clean up their crap at the end of the day. It takes a million years longer to get shit done but I think its worth letting them help most days

Tip Number 4: Pay yourself to clean your house. Heck yeah I bill out for cleaning my house, if you are like me and a SAHM its so often seen as my responsibility to do everything. Fuck that! I’m busy and my time is valuable too just because I’m at home doesn’t mean that I have to miss out on the fun because I don’t want to have to live in a hazmat suit. So when I have to clean, like deep clean my house, not the normal everyday clean I bill out. Sometimes its a reward of monetary value but lets be honest I’d rather do tip #1 if I could, so I mostly pay myself in lieu pay….yup every hour I bust my ass cleaning this house I get in time away doing something for myself or walking around Walmart without kids whatever floats your boat. You earned it! Bonus it counts as a work out right?

Tip Number 5: Split your house into zones. I find this very helpful because I only get a limited amount of time to actually clean after the kids go to bed, or when they are out of the house. Its my “break time” so I’m not wasting it when I have my shows waiting and a cold drink to relax with. So section off your zones, upstairs bathroom, downstairs bathroom, floors, windows, walls….yeah thanks kids for adding that chore to my list. I take one zone at a time on a rotation so I spend only 30-45 mins cleaning at one time…..notice how it wasn’t each day. I’d like to say that it gets done that way but lets be honest I hate cleaning.

Tip Number 6: Do what you can with your kids around, I often will tackle the laundry, dishes, windows, dusting and walls etc while they run around the house. I do this because one I want them to see shit doesn’t magically get done and two because it is things I want them to help with but I don’t have to stress that they are going to continue to get it dirty as I clean. Nothing pisses you off more than cleaning a bathroom to have all of your children need to use the potty that second. I live with little boys……gross lets just say they are gross.

Tip Number 7: Get yourself some good all natural cleaners. OK granola mom moment here, I try to limit the amount of chemicals I spray into the air. So I invested in cleaners from my fellow side hustling online business owners, I personally use doterra OnGaurd cleaning concentrate and Norwex cloths. But can pinterest this up and get some ways to make cheap and safe cleaners….hello vinegar it stinks but works like a hot damn. My kids get into everything so I need to make sure I don’t have to call poison control because I put the spray bottle down to go deal with one kid to come back to see the other one either sucking the bottle or spraying it on their siblings (eye roll) this happens every freaking time without fail so I feel better using “safer” products.

Tip Number 8: split your jobs up. In my house we have stereotypical Blue jobs and Pink jobs……I can feel the haters right now! hear me out ! we do this in jest, we are both perfectly capable of doing each of these tasks but doing the garbage is a blue job, along with recycling, composting and any ladder work (I do not do heights). While pink jobs are cooking and grocery shopping etc… me this is best for everyone in our house, we have had some pretty questionable dinners, I’d rather not remember. But what I’m getting at is it that it is not your sole responsibility to do it all, spit it up based on what works in your house.

Tip Number 9: Get a friend to do a kid exchange. This works well when you both have a major clean or project that you want to get done. And if your kids are past the toddler stage, basically you can let those crazy maniacs play while you “supervise” moderately. My dad friend and I each took all the kids for 2 hrs one weekend, he was able to paint the room kid free and I was able to clean my house kid free, well the baby was sleeping but it still worked out for us both. The extra benefit was that our kids had the best day ever playing with their best friends that they left us pretty much alone and we ended up getting way more accomplished than we had hoped. Although not something you would want to arrange all the time it is totally worth it for those big projects.

Tip Number 10: Plan a play date, dinner, business presentation, a party, whatever. Nothing gets my house clean like the mad dash panic when I know people are coming over, not just your village (they have seen you at your worst and don’t care) but new friends or people you don’t know well and want to show that you actually care about your house. Seriously you can rage clean and get your house looking spotless in like 30 mins. Plus it burns more calories right? Bonus then you get to drink wine with your guests, win win in my book.

Paw Patrol to the Rescue

OK so first time moms sorry this is not your post, at least not yet! I remember my first never watching TV, I was able to watch Ellen or any number of day time shows while he played and basically ignored the TV. Then when he was about 2.5 years old we started our love affair with the pups. Let me tell you the second and third children became obsessed with Paw Patrol very early in life. You can count on those pups and trusty Ryder to give you 20 mins to make dinner, god forbid sit down for more than a few seconds ( you best make a snack if this is your game plan, because you know those little jerks are going to NEED a SNACK stat) you can even attempt to shower…..also with the door open, we’re mom’s that’s just how it’s going to be but those magical pups might just make it a solo shower for 5 mins.

Now a few things I have questioned over my years of watching countless episodes. First is I’m a little offended that Netflix asks me after a undisclosed amount of time if I want to keep watching……um mm yes! isn’t that why I started at season one episode one, mommy needs to get shit done today, stop judging my parenting Netflix. All jokes aside, I don’t even know what I would do if I could not count on the pups to save the day? Best to not think about that! Secondly once you are forced to watch, you start to question how these magical pups have captured your children’s minds and hearts. Because my baby girl at 18 months can point and name all the pups and gets down right pissed off when the show ends. The more you think about it the more it makes zero sense, how does a 10 year old boy have a high tech look out with 6 pups, multiple vehicles but yet only drives the quad……because he made a robot dog to fly the plane, drive the boat and giant bus, perks right?! Also how are all the adults on the show basically inept (this is being nice, don’t even get me started on the Mayor), a little girl runs a business, where are the parents and if the pups can talk why can’t the cats??

My only conclusion is that Ryder is Batman only he’s decided to be good and almost too helpful. Instead of fighting bad guys he just saves the day the paw patrol way. Well Ryder you save the day almost every day in our house, I can count on you to get me through the early mornings that I refuse to enjoy until after a drink at least one cup of coffee, the times when my kids are fighting and the baby is crawling up my leg while I attempt to get dinner ready in time, the times we read the books on the pool deck while one child is in lessons and the others have to wait and watch, the countless hours of enjoyment with the endless amount of merchandise. All I know is ” when your in trouble, just yelp for help” all too soon they will be asking to watch even more annoying and strange shows….have you seen Skylanders, what the F it makes even less sense, Ninja Turtles always leads to “we’re just playing ninjas mom” while doing flying kicks off the couch. I’ll stick with the always helpful and kind pups for as long as I can get away with it.