I became a father October 17th of 2015.
It's funny how that one little sentence completely changed my life. I was thrown head first into fatherdom without a paddle, we had twins - twin boys no less. I couldn't have been prouder, but deep down I was absolutely terrified.
We experienced an immense emergency after 3 days in labor, my wife was knocked out, we almost lost one of our boys, and I quickly became known in the hospital as "the dad who breastfed the twins". NOT the mighty "superdad" title I had envisioned, but then, nothing is how you "envisioned" it when you become a parent, you just do what you gotta do!
There's nothing like the weight and responsibility of raising little humans resting on your shoulders (or in your arms). It's the best thing and the hardest thing all at the same time. When I held my first two sons for the first time that realization hit me like a Mac truck. As if Dad (heavenly Father) was saying here you go (haha) have fun. The overwhelming feeling of blessing, self-doubt, excitement, and fear.
These are moments that pass by us so quickly, yet alter our everything.
I now have a third son, who is a newfound joy to our family. Though the challenges continue to arise (poop in the hallway yesterday) Juli and I have found more confidence through surviving several years of two serious wildling children - Tripp and Cade- so Mumford has enjoyed a more 'seasoned' set of parents, you might say. haha
Raising Kids to Love the Wild
Raising three boys would be impossible without my loving and adventurous wife Juli, she's been the nurturer that these boys need - while I continue to try to make them tough and ready for all life serves them. Juli appreciates the little things of life and helps me to slow down and enjoy these moments with our young men as well. She's always the first to tell them to go for it when it comes to climbing up a wall or jumping belly first into a muddy river to catch a frog. Early on we both decided to instill our huge love for the outdoors into our boys, immersing them in all things wild.
Getting our kids outside helps them (and us) to explore the world in a completely new way, with a new set of eyes. Everything is new and exciting (or terrifying) to a 2-year-old or 4-year-old and there's a new breath of fresh air that ignites my old bones when I get to explain the wonders of a crustacean to eager eyes and ears.
6 Tips for Helping Kids Love the Outdoors
It's been challenging to find the ways to do this in their early years, but we think we're finally starting to catch on 🤣. Here are a few tips that we rely on in raising our children to love and appreciate the wild.
1.) Critter catching!
Walk through the woods, flip the rocks, and find every single bug, lizard, salamander, frog, turtle, or spider available! Take close up pictures of them so you can look up what they are later and keep a critter journal! Teach them about identifying and keeping a safe distance from snakes, and returning animals to their homes and their homes back to how they found it.
2.) Let them jump into the mud puddles!
They're going to grow out of those "new" shoes really soon anyway! (I can admit this is Juli's thing, lol. I cringe every time, but it actually is helping them connect more with that free-spirited, "getting dirty is OK" side of wilderness adventuring)
We've found one of the best family activities is piling on to a paddleboard (10-12ft in length) and enjoying a flat-water creek! Usually, we start with two kids on my board and Juli has one + gear on hers. They've gotten so comfortable with it they are known to jump from board to board as they please! We also bring critter catchin' nets along for the ride to scoop up cool critters as we glide!
From a young age, we've taken our kids on easy hikes (1-3 miles) to get them used to experiencing nature. It's paying off, now just about every other day "I want to go for a hike to swim at our waterfall" rings out from their little mouths!
5.) Getting a Dog
Having a tag-along friend that they can romp with has proven to be a huge perk in the brother's outdoor activities. Swimming, digging, and smelling out the critters is much easier with a K9 counterpart.
6.) King of the Mountain
Climbing has always been a passion of ours, and though we've got the boys on ropes a few times, seeing our boys race to the top (of anything) always puts a smile on our faces.