Let’s be totally honest. It’s a lot of work to get out and explore nature with our kids.

Despite the beautiful pictures, and the incredible video, in the moments you don’t see or hear, that I don’t always share, our kids are whining about no WiFi and no video games and how they really can’t possibly walk another 10 steps. And trees are boring, and they never want to see the desert again, and a canyon is just another canyon to them.

In other words- they are still the same. We didn’t all morph into the embodiment of a L.L. Bean commercial when we took off on this adventure.

Taking our kids to national parks and state parks and other very nature-y places is an intentional choice that we know will require a lot of effort. No doubt, it WILL pay off in the long run, and we do see glimpses of that already, but in the short term, those days can feel very long and not always very gratifying.

I talk about this exact topic in our weekend YouTube episode here. Have you subscribed to our new channel yet?? We would LOVE for you to!

Not to mention that it’s exhausting- physically and mentally- keeping them safe while we are there. We are always balancing restrictions for their safety with giving them the freedom to explore and experience places in ways that feel fun and natural to them.

If you’ve followed me over on Baby Rabies for any amount of time, you probably know that I fight anxiety most days. That anxiety can make taking kids to spaces like these 10x harder. That’s a topic I hope to cover in depth a lot more, both here and on our YouTube channel over the next weeks and months.

The short and immediate answer, though, is YES, it absolutely affects how I parent them even more now that we are on the go and visiting places like national parks often. I have to be very conscious of how easy it is to helicopter and overcorrect them, and how it feels sometimes like all eyes are on us when we are out when in reality we aren’t bothering many people.

Sometimes Scott and I catch ourselves feeling like we’re doing this wrong- we’re nature-ing wrong, national park-ing wrong, we’re parenting kids through adventure wrong. Not because we aren’t trying our very hardest to give them incredible experiences that they will remember and learn something from, but because it is SO very hard to do that. And it’s very rarely magical in the moment.

There are probably families out there that can’t relate to this at all. Their kids find a deep connection with the outdoors, they play and magic happens before their eyes. I envy them, but I don’t resent them. I also think, though, that there is a place for the families like ours in this life. The ones who have to work harder to make these experiences happen aren’t doing anything wrong, I’ve finally come to believe. We are just starting from a different place, and magic looks different and comes at it’s own pace for us.

That’s what I remind myself. It doesn’t matter that sometimes it feels like we’re doing it wrong. It just matters that we’re doing it.

advice for taking kids to national parks