Exploring the outdoors with a child in tow has to be one of the best ways to spend a day. Enabling them to discover the world around them, burn off some of their endless energy and all for free! What's not to like? Believe it or not prior to Isabella I used to think I loved the outdoor, but when it came to it I would much prefer to cosy up with a cup of tea inside. That all changed when Isabella was born, the outdoors has become my favourite place to be and somewhere we spend most of our time.
From adventures in the woods, climbing hills, paddling in streams to building dens out of twigs, having a picnic or visiting the farm. It all is so much fun with an energetic toddler in tow, but there are some tips I've learnt along the way to make exploring fun for everyone. No one wants an overtired, emotional toddler on their hands!
My first tip to embrace the outdoors is to time your trip with military precision. I prefer to head out after Isabella has had a morning nap (which is usually 10.30am-12.30pm), that way she's refreshed and won't fall asleep in the car. I've tried going out before her nap, but unless we're just going for a walk around our village, she will always fall asleep in the car. Resulting in a nap that isn't long enough and one emotional toddler.
My second, and most important, tip would be to bring snacks or even better a picnic. Toddler's work up quite an appetite with all of their running, climbing and splashing. Isabella loves the Organic Mamia products from Aldi for on the go because they are easy to eat independently. No one can help Isabella eat anymore, if we even dare to walk too near to her highchair she'll start flinging her spoon around and all of the contents on it! So the Aldi Mamia fruit pouches and rice cakes are ideal for her to eat by herself while we are exploring the outdoors. I also love them because they're organic and so reasonably priced, with the fruit pouches at only 59p, rice cakes 69p and Apple and Blackcurrant Spring Water 85p. It's almost unbelievable that they are 100% organic for those prices! Snack time or a picnic is also the perfect excuse for a break, I don't know about you but I find running around after a toddler exhausting!
We don't give Isabella savoury pouches anymore because she's old enough to eat a 'proper' meal now, so I have used the Aldi Mamia Carrot, Apple and Parsnip Pouch (59p) to create some delicious mini vegetable bites that we take out with us on adventures.
Here's the recipe:
What you'll need:
1/2 cup Red lentils, rinsed
1 Aldi Mamia Apple, Carrot and Parsnip pouch
1 Large Sweet potato, peeled and diced
1 Large Egg
10 Aldi Mamia Apple Flavour Rice Cakes, crumbled
1 tsp Dried Sage
1/2 tsp Italian Dried Herbs
Black pepper, to taste
What to do:
1) Preheat the oven to 180'C. Place the red lentils in a sauce pan with 1 1/2 cups of water. Bring to the boil and cook for 10-15 minutes, or until most of the water has evaporated off. You don't want to lentils to be too soft. Set aside.
2) Place the diced sweet potato and a splash of water into a microwaveable bowl and microwave for 5 minutes, or until soft.
3) Add the cooked lentils, sweet potato and apple, carrot and parsnip pouch into a bowl and mash together. Stir in the dried sage, Italian dried herbs and black pepper.
4) Crack in the egg and combine. Stir in the crumbled rice cakes and spoon into a silicon mini muffin tray (if you don't have one use mini muffin cases). Cook for 15 minutes or until slightly browned.
5) Leave them to cool and pack a few up for days out with your little ones.
My third tip would have to be to plan your route to be the safest it can be, based on the number of hands you have to help. When it's just Isabella and I we visit places I know are relatively safe, i.e. minimal water, no big drops or uneven floor surfaces etc.. However, when my husband is home too we will visit pretty much anywhere because there are 2 pairs of eyes and hands to look after Isabella. It just makes it a bit more enjoyable, rather than trying to tackle tricky terrain solo.
My fourth tip would be to take a camera with you. Even if you're not planning an adventure, you never know what's around the corner. Beautiful lighting, coming across a hidden treasure or just having an over energetic toddler who needs to burn off some energy can all result in special moments. Personally, I love to capture these because it means we can remember and treasure the day in years to come. Having said that, I also try to have adventures without taking any photos so that I can be in the moment a bit more. Anyone who likes taking photos will know what it's like as your walking around, creating visions are beautiful shots or constantly checking what the lighting is like. Sometimes it's nice to take a step back and just enjoy the moment.
My final tip would be prepared for all weathers, whatever time of year. Always pack a sun hat, woolly hat (ok, maybe not in August, but definitely in autumn, winter and spring), sun cream, wellies, rain coat and a spare outfit. We keep a lot of these in the car, like the wellies and rain coat, so that we aren't carrying everything around with us. The British weather can be unpredictable at the best of times, so being prepared is just one less thing to think about as you're leaving the house running through the 'have we got everything we need and the kitchen sink?' list in your head.
What would your top tips for embracing the outdoors?
Feel free to leave a comment :)
*This post is an entry for BritMums #MamiaDaysOut Linky Challenge, sponsored by Aldi Mamia.