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My parents took me out on hikes from an early age and being outside in nature was an important part of my childhood. When I had a daughter, there was no question that I would do the same with her.


The first time I took my daughter on a five-day tour in Norway she was only 18 months old. Now, at the age of six, she treks Nepal with me. I know many families who don’t go out with their small ones because they’re scared their kids wouldn’t walk that far, or the trip would be more stressful than enjoyable.

During the last years my daughter and I have developed some methods that work perfectly for us and guarantee that every hike is an adventure and a fun day together. Hiking at a young age instills a love of nature in children and can be the basis for a lifelong connection, so there’s no real reason to wait until they are older. Even young children can walk quite some distances and enjoy hikes in nature if you follow these 10 tips.

1 | Choose the right length

Especially when you just start out hiking, it’s important not to choose long hikes that would be too much for your little ones. You want to create good memories and positive associations, so start with something simple and short, take many breaks, and give yourself the option of turning back if necessary. Once you feel comfortable with your own and your kids abilities, you can reach higher and climb that mountain you’ve had in the back of your head forever.

2 | Research the location and share stories along the way

Kids have almost unlimited energy, sometimes it’s just difficult to steer it in the right direction. They can play tag forever and run around chasing butterflies, but when it comes to walking they claim they are tired. The key is to find ways to keep them motivated.

One thing that works for my daughter is if I find any gripping stories connected to the hike. Research the destination and area beforehand and see if there is anything catchy. Are you walking to a castle? Read the stories about kings and queens that lived there before. Are you hiking along a river? Tell stories about the ships that travelled the river, carrying goods and people from one place to another. When there is an interesting story behind the hike, kids will love to explore it for themselves, even more so when they can directly relate.

3 | Take breaks according to their abilities

As adults we might have a set plan for the hike in our heads. Walk for some time, take a small break, keep walking until the final destination, and make the big picnic there. But kids are different.

When they’re hungry, they need to eat, when exhausted, they need a break. Listen to them and don’t force your tempo on them, even if that means the big picnic happens one mile before you reach the mountain top or the lake you are headed to.

If you make them do more than they can at once, they might not get back on track. Also, bring small snacks and plenty of water for the journey so they can stay energized along the way. 

4 | Know your child

You know your child best and can distinguish if he or she is just whining or really needs a break. Listen to what your gut tells you. Sometimes it’s the right thing to push through, sometimes it would be the worst thing to do.

We have had the most beautiful experiences on days where the first 30 minutes of a hike were awful because my daughter just didn’t want to get started. But then, once she found something interesting along the way, she didn’t complain again and was sad when we reached the final destination. We also turned back once or twice when she wouldn’t stop complaining, and in the end it was the right decision because she got sick afterwards.

5 | Chose fun hikes with rewards at the end

Hikes are always much more fun when they have a great final destination – a mountain top with a great view, a lake to swim in, a waterfall to bathe under. Try to choose hikes with rewards at the end to keep up motivation.

Even small kids cherish experiences so much more when they actually had to earn them, so walking to a special destination will keep them motivated. My daughter and I had one of the most special experiences together when we hiked to a remote Buddhist monastery, and even at only five years old she took in the specialness of the moment for 30 minutes without any of us saying a word.

6 | Make it an adventure – camp out, climb rocks, go swimming

Instead of “just” hiking, try to make it an adventure. Camp out and sit around the fire at nighttime, include some rock-climbing or go swimming in spectacular gorges. The more adventurous your hike is, the more your kids will love it and will want to go back for more.

My daughter will forever remember the hike where we discovered a series of waterfalls along the way that were a bit hidden and climbed them only to find the most beautiful pool to hang out. She keeps wanting to go back, even though the hike was quite challenging in itself.

7 | Listen to your children and take their suggestions into account

The best way to motivate your kids to go hiking is if you take their suggestions into account and show them that their opinion counts in the planning. Do you have this one mountain peak that you can see from your house and that your kids are always talking about? Try to climb that one. Did your kids see something on TV that they loved? Try to include this in your next vacation plans.

They will feel valued and empowered if you take their opinion into consideration and will own the hike. Of course, that doesn’t mean that you have to climb Mount Everest  because they talked about it in school.

8 | Know the flora and fauna along the way

This one is again about doing some research before you go. Know the flora and fauna along the way and teach your kids about nature this way. Make them look for deer or groundhogs along the way and they will not notice the distance they’re traveling.

Tell them about benefits of medicinal plants and they will be looking for them excitedly. Maybe there are some rare species in the area that you can look for – and your small ones will become wilderness rangers in no time. My daughter always refers to hikes we took in reference to the wildlife we saw there: “Mum, do you remember that hike where we saw the weasel? That one where we found all the different kinds of mosses? Do you remember the time when we saw all the beautiful flowers?”

9 | Don’t lie to your kids about a reward

As much as you want to motivate your kids, make sure that you keep it real. Nature is exciting enough the way it is, so you don’t have to make stuff up to get your kids going. I will never forget when I was young my mother took me on a hike in Switzerland. The mountain we were trekking was called “The Cross” and she told me there would be a spectacular cross on the top. It was a long and challenging walk, but I rallied only to find out that on the top, there was no cross at all. I still fault her for this 25 years later.

10 | Don’t listen to others – you and your kids know best what works for you

I can’t count how many times I’ve been labeled “irresponsible” for taking my daughter on challenging hikes in different countries. People always tend to judge parents for their decisions, and particularly in today’s world, letting children enjoy nature and being outside seems to be a thing some people don’t want to agree upon anymore.

Don’t listen to other people though. You know your children and yourself best and know what works for you. While of course you should never put your kids in danger, challenging them sometimes is not a bad thing. Only if they have to leave their comfort zone every now and then will they learn that they can do much more than they previously thought.

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For the first couple years of a child's life, their feet grow so rapidly that they typically need a new shoe size every two to three months (so, no, you're not imagining how many shoes you've been buying lately!).

Fortunately, things tend to slow down as they start walking and hit school age. Even so, it's important to make sure they're wearing the right size for maximum comfort and healthy development.

That's why we teamed up with the experts at Rack Room Shoes for tips on helping the whole family get back to school on the right foot.

1. Get professionally fitted at least once a year.

We love online shopping as much as anyone, but for the health of your child's feet, it's worth it to make at least an annual trip to a store to get them properly sized on a Brannock Device (yep, those old-school sizers you remember as a kid are still the most reliable indicators of foot length and width!). Back to school is a great time to plan a visit to a store with trained associates who can help ensure your little one is getting the right fit.

2. Remember not all feet (or shoes) are created equally.

Most babies have naturally pudgier feet that thin out as they get older, and many kids need a wider or narrower shoe than their peers. Visiting a store and speaking with a trained associate can help you gauge which shoe brand will best suit your child. Once you have that benchmark, shopping online will be easier.

3. Get good closure.

Shoe closure, that is. Nowadays, there's a variety of ways to fasten kids shoes, from slip-ons to velcro to elastic laces. Provide your child with a few options to find the closure that works best for you both.

4. Watch for tell-tale signs your child has outgrown their shoes.

Children will often be the last ones to tell you their favorite shoes are uncomfortable. If your child is tripping or walking funny, it may be time to size up.

5. Try the push-down toe method.

Think your kid has outgrown their kicks? Push down on the toe of their shoe with your thumb to see how much wiggle room they have. The ideal size is to have about half a thumb's width between the tip of the toe and the end of the shoe. (That space equates to about half a size.)

6. Pick a style they'll want to put on. (Here are some of our favorites!)

Most moms know the struggle of getting kids out the door in the morning—the right pair of shoes can help cut down on the (literal) foot-dragging. Opt for a fun style (consider shopping for their favorite color or a light-up design) that they'll be begging to wear every day. (But feel free to buy a second pair that's more your style too!)

You'll love that they're classic converse. They'll love the peek of pink.

Converse Girls Maddie, $44

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7. Don't forget the sneakers.

Whether they're running through the recess or racing in P.E., school-age children need a pair of well-fitting, durable sneakers. Be sure to get them professionally fitted to ensure nothing slows them down on the playground.

8. Understand the size breakdowns.

Expert retailers like Rack Room Shoes break up sizing by Baby, Toddler, Little Kid, and Big Kid to make it easier to find the right section for your child. For boys, there's no size break between kids shoes and men's shoes. Girls, though, can cross over into women's shoes from size 4 (in girls) on—a girl's size 4 is a women's size 5.5 or 6.

Looking for more advice? Step into a Rack Room Shoes store near you or shop online. With a "Buy One, Get One 50% off" policy, you can make sure the whole family will put their best foot forward this back-to-school season. (We had to!)

In the moments after we give birth, we desperately want to hear our baby cry. In the middle of the night a few months later it's no longer exactly music to our ears, but those cries aren't just telling us that baby needs a night feeding: They're also giving us a hint at what our children may sound like as kindergarteners, and adults.

New research published in the journal Biology Letters suggests the pitch of a 4-month-old's cry predicts the pitch they'll use to ask for more cookies at age five and maybe even later on as adults.

The study saw 2 to 5-month olds recorded while crying. Five years later, the researchers hit record again and chatted with the now speaking children. Their findings, combined with previous work on the subject, suggest it's possible to figure out what a baby's voice will sound like later in life, and that the pitch of our adult voices may be traceable back to the time we spend in utero. Further studies are needed, but scientists are very interested in how factors before birth can impact decades later.

"In utero, you have a lot of different things that can alter and impact your life — not only as a baby, but also at an adult stage," one of the authors of the study, Nicolas Mathevon, told the New York Times.

The New York Times also spoke with Carolyn Hodges, an assistant professor of anthropology at Boston University who was not involved in the study. According to Hodges, while voice pitch may not seem like a big deal, it impacts how we perceive people in very real ways.

Voice pitch is a factor in how attractive we think people are, how trustworthy. But why we find certain pitches more or less appealing isn't known. "There aren't many studies that address these questions, so that makes this research especially intriguing," Hodges said, adding that it "suggests that individual differences in voice pitch may have their origins very, very early in development."

So the pitch of that midnight cry may have been determined months ago, and it may determine part of your child's future, too. There are still so many things we don't know, but as parents we do know one thing: Our babies cries (as much as we don't want to hear them all the time) really are something special.

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I can vividly remember the last time I remember feeling truly rested. I was on vacation with my family, and my dad and I had started a tradition of going to sleep at 10 p.m., then waking up at 10 a.m. to go for a run. After five days of twelve hours of sleep a night, I remember actually pausing and thinking, "I am truly not at all tired right now!"

That was probably 15 years ago.

Of course, being tired pre-kids and being tired post-kids are two entirely different beasts. Pre-kids, tiredness was almost a badge of pride. It meant you had stayed up late dancing with friends or at a concert with your boyfriend. It meant you had woken up early to hit a spin class before gliding into work, hair still damp from your shower, for a morning meeting. Being tired meant you were generally killing it at life—and I was still young enough that, with a little concealer, I could look like it.

Tired post-kids is a whole other animal.

Tired post-kids means you probably still went to bed at a reasonable hour, but you're still exhausted. Maybe you even slept in past sunrise... but you're still exhausted. You may not have worked out in weeks... but you're still exhausted. And staying out late dancing with your girlfriends? (I mean... is that real life? Was it ever?) Nope, didn't do that. But—you guessed it!—you're still exhausted.

Sometimes I look at my husband and say, "I think if I could sleep for about five days, then I would feel rested again."

But considering the average new mom loses almost two months of sleep in her child's first year of life, even that is probably a low estimate of what I really need.

Because being a mom is exhausting.

It's exhausting always putting someone else's needs above your own. I often find myself actually giving my daughter the food off my plate (because, when you're two, mom's meal must be better even if you're eating the exact same thing).

Or I'll sacrifice sneaking my own nap to lie uncomfortably with her on the couch because it means she sleeps an extra 30 minutes.

Or I'll carry her up and down flights of stairs she is perfectly capable of scaling on her own because, well, she's tired or it's just quicker than nagging her to hurry up all the time.

I often end the day bone-tired, shocked at the physical exertion of just keeping this little person alive.

It's exhausting remembering all the things. The mental load of motherhood is so real, and sometimes I'm not sure it won't crush me.

I schedule and remember the doctor appointments, keep the fridge stocked and plan the meals, notice when my husband is low on white shirts and wash and fold the laundry, add the playdates and the date nights to the calendar, and add any assortment of to-dos to my day because, well, I'm the parent at home, so I must have time, right?

And when I drop one of the thousand balls I'm juggling, I writhe under the guilt of failing at my responsibility.

It's exhausting not getting enough sleep. The sleep gap doesn't end after baby's first year.

Studies have shown that parents lose as much as six months of sleep in their child's first two years of life. That sounds unbelievable at first...but I completely believe it.

Because sometimes I stay up later than I should just to get a few minutes of "me" time. Because sometimes my sleep-trained daughter still wakes up in the middle of the night with a nightmare or because she's sick or for no real reason at all and needs me to soothe her back to sleep.

Because sometimes I'm so busy trying to keep it all together mentally that I don't know how to turn my own brain off to get to sleep. And because sometimes (almost always) my daughter wakes up earlier than I would like her to and the day starts over before I'm ready.

It's exhausting maintaining any other relationship while being a mom. I try not to neglect my marriage. I try not to neglect my friendships. I try to make time for friendly interaction with my coworkers. I try to be there for my congregation. I try to keep all these connections alive and nurtured, but the fact is that some days my nurture is completely used up.

It's exhausting doing all of the above while being pregnant. Okay, this one might not resonate for every mom, but we all know being pregnant is hard. Being pregnant with a toddler? I'm shocked it's not yet an Olympic event. (I'm not sure if we'd all get gold medals or just all fall asleep at the starting gun.)

Most days, I'm so tired and busy I honestly forget that I am pregnant, only to be reminded at the end of the day when I finally collapse on the couch and the little one in my uterus wakes up to remind me. My body is doing amazing things, sure—and I have the exhaustion to show for it.

Of course, I know that this is just an exhausting season of life. One day, one not-so-far-off day, my children will be a bit more grown and be able to get their own breakfast in the morning. One day, they'll actually want to sleep in, and I'll be the one opening their curtains in the morning to start the day (maybe before they're really ready).

One day, they'll always walk up and down the stairs themselves and will stop stealing my food and I'll be able to nap without making sure they are asleep or with a sitter. One day, they won't need me to remember all the things.

And the really wild part? Just thinking about that day makes me miss these days, just a bit.

So, yes, I'm tired. I'm always tired. But I'm grateful too. Grateful I get to have these days. Grateful I get to have this life.

But also really grateful for those days I get to nap, too.

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Who knew Amazon had so many dreamy nursery must-haves? Maybe you have a friend or family member about to have a baby or you're preparing for your new bundle of joy—either way, you can save tons on grabbing some essentials on Prime Day.

We've rounded up our favorite nursery items from basics, like cribs and changing tables, to the essentials you never knew you needed (hint: lots of storage!).

1. 6-drawer dresser

This gorgeous dresser has plenty of space for baby's clothing and accessories—and will transition seamlessly to a big kid room one day. Even better? The top is large enough to be used as a changing table. The shade of white is great for any gender, too!

Dresser, Amazon, $239.99 ($329.99)

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Motherly is your daily #momlife manual; we are here to help you easily find the best, most beautiful products for your life that actually work. We share what we love—and we may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

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