For our first Hike it Baby 30 Challenge, we started with a “no zero days” goal. At the time, the baby was 10 weeks old. And it rained. It rained a lot. My then 5-year-old was going crazy from the lowered activity level due to me recovering from pregnancy and birth so it was definitely time to get on the trails again.

During the previous year, my son had attended a great preschool, and I knew he was getting at least an hour outside regardless of the weather. This year, we are homeschooling, so if I didn’t get him out, no one would! I liked the idea of focusing on minutes rather than miles. I already knew that the more “adult” goal of miles might make our time outside less enjoyable.

We discovered that I could pretty easily nurse in the front carrier, making the need to feed the baby every 20 minutes doable. We also found out that it was challenging to change a poopy newborn in a downpour (but doable).

Taking the classroom outside for the Hike it Baby 30 Challenge by Natasha Zimmers for Hike it Baby

Doing the Hike it Baby 30 Challenge meant each day was an adventure

Thanks to the motivation of the challenge, we sometimes went out in the evening, after dark, just for a walk around the neighbourhood. Glow sticks and flashlights made it a fun way to end the day, and we certainly all felt better for even 30 minutes of fresh (damp) air and a little wild puddle-splashing, glow-stick waving fun. We added in more deliberate stops outside on our travel days. This made the days longer, but certainly more enjoyable. We also discovered new parks along along our travel routes, making it easier to add those “adventure stops.”

After the challenge, I was grateful to take a break from counting minutes and miles, but we still tried to get out every day. We missed a few, and I found those were grumpy days for everyone. Our family doesn’t stay home and relax well. Doing a January challenge was a tough one for weather, and we missed our “no zero days” goal by about two days.  But we still got out tons, and really made an effort to enjoy nature in big and little ways.

It got easier as the weather got better, and by April, we felt confident that we could get out every day! As the weather improved and we moved toward summer, we found it easier and easier to get outside. We spent so much time outside in the summer, I think we slept more in tents or hammocks than at home!

“No zero days” is more for me than for the kids

I’m a better parent when we get outside. I feel connected and positive, creative and excited. I am more present, as I’m not trying to multi-task. And I definitely need that outside time every day. For the kids, it teaches them to be confident in nature. We don’t pack any toys, yet they happily play for hours. They are at home in the wild. The baby learned to walk by hammock cruising, and the big kid is becoming an accomplished naturalist.

We also found that we naturally had little to no time for TV. We are too busy having fun together, so it just doesn’t fit in our schedule. Instead, we listen to science podcasts for kids, audiobooks and Sparkle Stories on our way to and from the trail, building a strong pre-literacy foundation. And as we are homeschooling, we tell stories and play games on the trail.

I am grateful that Hike it Baby gave us a boost to get ourselves outside every day.  We are ready for this next dark, wet challenge. My big kid has a Glowey Zoey suit that lights all of Snoqualmie tunnel, so he’s ready for Dark Park!

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