Step one: strap toddler to your back. For some magical reason, toddlers strapped to the back weigh at least twelve pounds less than toddlers strapped to the front. Also, there should be no orbs of milky deliciousness attached to your back. Toddlers will therefore, theoretically, not feel the need to lick any exposed skin like, say, the back of your neck. But they might do so anyway.
Step two: give toddler a rock to play with. Otherwise you must be prepared to listen to screeching for at least the first four miles of the hike. Maybe the first six. I suppose this depends on the strength of your toddler’s lungs. A good way to determine the strength of said toddler’s lungs would be to throw away a bit of banana they just mashed into the ground or maybe offer to change their diaper. It is a peculiar fact of toddler nature that they like to digest dirt and stew in poop.
A favorite hiking spot: Hellman Wilderness Park in Whittier, California.
Step three: promise toddler that you will recite Hey Diddle Diddle at least seventy times if they will please not pelt the back of your head with that rock you just gave them. Berate yourself for at least three miles for giving toddler a rock. Make mental note to next time give toddler something less dangerous to entertain themselves with. Possibly a machete. Yeah, that sounds good. A machete.
Step four: climb an infinite number of hills in search of the perfect one. You will know the perfect one because there will be shade where you can eat lunch with toddler.
Step five: reassure toddler that the perfect lunch spot is not very far away. It’s probably just over this hill.
Step six: okay, that hill. It’s over that hill.
Step seven: when perfect lunch hill has been located, allow toddler to roam. Feel breeze through hills. Think to self that this is something you should do more often! What fun!
Step eight: coax toddler back into carrier. This may require sedation or assault by savage beasts. Whichever you happen to have on hand will do.
Step nine: bribe toddler back into carrier with rock.
Step ten: promise toddler that you will never go hiking in 90F heat again if they will please for the love of all that is good in the world stop bashing your brains in with rock. When that doesn’t work, you might resort to threatening toddler. Threaten to throw away the next banana they mash into the mud. That should do it!
Step eleven: resign yourself to being scarred for life by that awful rock.
Step twelve: after hike, listen to toddler fall asleep in their car-seat. Toddlers are always exhausted after you spend several hours physically exerting yourself while they ride on your back. How sweet.
Step thirteen: after arriving back home, die a little on the inside when toddler wakes up and refuses all attempts to coerce them to take a second nap. Remember, you don’t deserve a nap! You only hiked a bunch of hills in the hot sun with twenty-something pounds of dead-weight banging rocks against your head. Anybody could do that.
Step fourteen: after a day or two of visiting air-conditioned buildings, think to self that you might save that rock. What a lovely reminder of a perfect hike. You really should go hiking with toddler more often. What fun!
Filed as Sarah Photographs of Sarah Parenthood Motherhood Parenting choices Natural parenting Attachment parenting Babywearing Family life Family photographs Charlotte Photographs of Charlotte Charlotte's toddlerhood; 12-24 months California