Tuesday, November 28, 2017

10 Flower Essence Remedies for New Mothers

Last post I went over the basics of Flower Essence remedies and how easy they are to implement into your care routine! If you are someone who uses and appreciates essential oils and herbal remedies, you'll see the beauty and value of flower remedies, too.

Flower Essences are not medications, they are catalysts that stimulate our inner abilities to respond.  Essences don't make changes in us, they free us up to make the changes within ourselves.

Starting with Dr. Bach's original 12 remedies is the simplest place to start, then working up to 38, then, if your interest deepens, expanding beyond to the myriad of North American, Australian, and other flowers available to us.

But for now, here are some of my personal favorite original Bach remedies for new mothers with accompanying descriptions from The Bach Centre and from Dr. Bach's Twelve Healers. 

Pick five that speak to you and combine them following the directions in the last post. If none of these remedies speak to you, download (for free) and read through Dr. Bach's Twelve Healers and pick up to five of your own remedies.

1. Impatiens

The remedy for impatience and the frustration and irritability that go along with it. This remedy helps us be less hasty and more relaxed with others.

2. Elm

For women suffering from a temporary loss of confidence due to overwhelming responsibility. These women believe in their work wholeheartedly but feel that the task they have taken on is too difficult and not within the power of a human being.

3. Gentian

Addresses the downheartedness we can feel when things go wrong. Easily discouraged, but are prepared to try again. Gentian may help lift the feeling of disappointment sooner.

4. Willow

Helpful for recovering from a traumatic pregnancy or birth. This remedy encourages the rebirth of optimism and faith after an unjust experience which has embittered their heart. Women who will be helped by Willow also find less interest and activity in the things of life which they had previously enjoyed.

5. Red Chestnut

The women who will be helped by Red Chestnut find it difficult not to be anxious for other people and frequently anticipate that bad things will happen to those they love. Their fears are normal, everyday fears that are magnified.

6. Olive

Helpful remedy for right after and the days following childbirth. Olive assists to restore strength after a strenuous effort has been made, leaving the woman feeling so exhausted and weary that they feel they have no more strength make any effort.

7. Cerato

For those who experience self-doubt after a decision has been made. Useful for those who make decisions without trouble but then experience second-guessing and doubts afterwards. Cerato helps us to have more faith in our judgement so we can listen to our inner voice and intuition.

8. Walnut 

A useful remedy for big transitions, such as the transition of a new family member and all that comes with it. Walnut also provides protection against outside influences (such as unwanted advice or opinions) that might affect the person.

9. Hornbeam

For those who feel they lack the strength, whether mental or physical, to undertake any effort. Unlike Olive, this remedy is for those who feel insufficient to the task before any effort has been made. The affairs of everyday life seem too much for them to accomplish.

10. Mustard

Helpful for Postpartum depression. Mustard addresses the deep gloom and feelings of despair that come on for no reason, as though a dark cloud has descended onto the person. Everything looks hopeless, and it is impossible to appear happy or cheerful.

11.  Rescue Remedy or Five-Flower Formula

Bach's original crisis remedy formula contains Rock Rose, Impatiens, Cherry Plum, Star of Bethlehem, and Clematis. This blend helps the person to deal with an immediate situation or emergency and get through stressful situations, as opposed to addressing underlying, ongoing problems.

Please Note: This is not medical advice and I am not a doctor. Individuals suffering from clinical depression or other mental health issues should contact a licensed mental health professional for treatment. While flower essences will not interfere with other health programs, they do not replace professional medical care if that is appropriate.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Flower Essence Remedy Basics

One of my favorite ways to support well-being is with a different kind of herbal preparation, called Flower essence remedies or therapy.

Have you heard of or used Rescue Remedy? Then you've used flower essences!

My first experiences with flower remedies came in my early 20's. I was working in a stressful job at a nonprofit and taking all-around terrible care of myself. While visiting with one of the families that I worked with, the mother and I had a personal chat about how I was doing. She said, "Oh here, I have something that will be helpful for you!" She put a few drops of something in my tea and mentioned how she was being trained in flower remedies. I gratefully sipped the tea and promptly forgot about the experience.

Fast forward a little while later and I felt like Ruthie was struggling with attachment. She was raced away from me at birth to the NICU and I did not get to hold her at all...and there's a gut feeling that she's got some trauma to work out from this. I was in an herbal supply shop in Portland for something different but inquired about essences for children, and discovered that they custom blend flower essence remedies for a really great price. I sit down with the BIG book of remedies (Flower Essence Reperatory) and with the on-duty Naturopath's help, we craft a blend just for my little girl. I used the whole bottle, and I can't scientifically prove the results, but I do believe it helped deeply support Ruthie as she was struggling to process her birth. I wrote about about my experience creating her essence at Natural Parents Network.  Later, I discovered a wonderful little formulation by Flower Essence Services (FES) called KinderGarden and I usually keep a spray bottle on hand to mist on my kids or in their mouths.

Personally, I've been working through some hard things over the past few years and was given Star of Bethlehem essence by a friend. I recently decided to practice some further self-care and create my own flower remedy for myself. I did my research, headed to the herb shop, and gave them the list.

Flower Power! 

"All know that the same disease may have different effects on different people; it is the effects that need treatment, because they guide to the real cause." - Dr. Bach, the Twelve Healers (free download).

The concept behind flower essences is that every single living organism has an energy. Flower essences capture the imprint, or energetic pattern, of each flower through sun infusion or boiling, dilution, and preservation. These preparations are then used to treat emotional imbalances that manifest themselves into physical ailments and act as obstacles to our personal growth and our equilibrium as a whole being. 

Flower remedies don’t heal you, they allow your body to heal itself. Flower remedies aren't a substitute for healthy food, movement, spiritual practices, and working with a intuitive healthcare practitioner, but they're a complimentary and powerful tool that can act as a catalyst to waking us up to respond to the growth and healing work our body and psyche already wants to do for us. 
As mammals, we are easily affected by our life experiences. But because babies and children haven’t yet had the life experiences that shape their personalities or “soul patterns,” they respond incredibly well to flower essences.
Dr. Edward Bach discovered these distinct flower energies and their effects in the 1930’s and abandoned his practice and all other endeavors to seek out the answers to his questions about the power of flowers. Dr. Bach wrote extensively on the subject, focusing on 38 specific flowers. He understood the connection between our emotional state and our physical health, and developed 38 flower remedies to correspond to all types of emotional issues that manifested into physical afflictions and dis-ease.
Flower remedies are accessible to everyone and are not as complicated as systems like homeopathy, which I've had hit-or-miss experience with in choosing correct remedies and potencies. Essences also do not interact or interfere with other medications or treatments, and cause no side effects.

And, you don't need to invest in highly priced books or courses to get started with flower essences, either! You can get a free download of Dr. Bach's original publication the Twelve Healers and Other Remedies from the Bach Centre HERE and learn about what Dr. Bach taught. To purchase flower essences, you can visit your local natural foods or herb shop, or get them at several places online, including some Bach remedies listed on Amazon. 

Flower Essences are simple. 

Dr. Bach originally found 12 remedies, then added a number more until he reached 38 and declared his work complete. Those 38 remedies are divided into seven categories addressing different emotional states.

  • Fear
  • Uncertainty
  • Insufficient interest in current circumstances
  • Loneliness
  • For those over-sensitive to influences and ideas
  • Despondency or despair
  • For the over-care for welfare of others

Any of these states sound familiar? 

The most well-known flower essence formula is Rescue Remedy, Bach's original creation to promote calm and balance in states of high stress or emergencies. Definitely worth keeping in your medicine cabinet, and great for kids. 

Other flower essence pioneers have added to the repertory, particularly from Flower Essence Services (FES), but you can easily support yourself with just the original 12. You can read the full description of all 38 remedies in the free  Twelve Healers PDF, and to get a taste, here are some descriptions of the original twelve, directly from the Twelve Healers text: 

The Original Twelve

  1. Rock Rose
"In accident or sudden illness, or when the patient is frightened or terrified, or if the condition is serious enough to cause great fear to those around." 
  1. Mimulus
The fears of everyday life. These people quietly and secretly bear their dread, they do not freely speak of it to others. 
  1. Cerato
Those who have not sufficient confidence in themselves to make their own decisions. They constantly seek advice from others, and are often misguided. 
  1. Scleranthus
Those who suffer much from being unable to decide between two things, first one seeming right then the other.
They are usually quiet people, and bear their difficulty alone, as they are not inclined to discuss it with others. 
  1. Gentian
Those who are easily discouraged. They may be progressing well in illness or in the affairs of their daily life, but any small delay or hindrance to progress causes doubt and soon disheartens them. 
  1. Clematis
Quiet people, not really happy in their present circumstances, living more in the future than in the present; living in hopes of happier times, when their ideals may come true. In illness some make little or no effort to get well. 
  1. Water Violet
Very independent, capable and self-reliant. Almost free of the opinions of others. They are aloof, leave people alone and go their own way.  
  1. Impatiens
Those who are quick in thought and action and who wish all things to be done without hesitation or delay. When ill they are anxious for a hasty recovery. 
  1. Agrimony
Though generally they have troubles and are tormented and restless and worried in mind or in body, they hide their cares behind their humour and jesting and are considered very good friends to know. They often take alcohol or drugs in excess, to stimulate themselves and help themselves bear their trials with cheerfulness. 
  1. Centaury
Their good nature leads them to do more than their own share of work, and in so doing they may neglect their own particular mission in life. 
  1. Chicory
Those who are very mindful of the needs of others; they tend to be over-full of care for children, relatives, friends, always finding something that should be put right. They are continually correcting what they consider wrong, and enjoy doing so. 
  1. Vervain
Those with fixed principles and ideas, which they are confident are right, and which they very rarely change. They have a great wish to convert all around them to their own views of life. 

How to get started with flower essences

"First determine the personality and temperament – the fears, worries, emotional upsets and the subsequent effect in outlook and attitude. More than one remedy can be taken at one time, but it should not be difficult to limit your choice to within six or seven." - Dr. Bach 

First, download Bach's Twelve Healers or visit the Bach Centre for detailed information about the full 38 flower essences. Bach noted that combining all 38 remedies into one wasn't effective - as tempting as it may be. Limit your choice to six or seven. 

Find Bach remedies to purchase. 


Take two drops from each chosen stock remedy in a cup of water or other beverage and sip frequently. Replenish cup to continue treatment if need be.

To stretch your remedies for a more cost effective method, and for giving to children, put the drops in a 1 oz. glass bottle with a dropper and fill up with natural spring water. Take four drops on the tongue directly from the bottle. Take as often as needed but at least four times a day, and especially first thing in the morning and before you go to bed. Hold the dose for a moment in the mouth before swallowing to gain the full effect (this also applies when sipped from a cup).

Treatment bottles will keep for about three weeks if stored in a cool place, or in a fridge if weather is too warm. You can also add a spoonful of brandy or cider vinegar to the preparation to act as a preservative. 

Most remedies sold are preserved in brandy, so they should be diluted if possible to reduce the alcohol intake. If this isn’t possible then drops can be taken direct from the stock bottle. 

Any of the remedies can be given externally by moistening the lips, behind the ears and on the wrists, or placed in a spray bottle diluted with spring water and dash of cider vinegar or brandy.

That's enough to get you started! I'd love to hear about your Flower Essence experiences.  

"And may we ever have joy and gratitude in our hearts that the Great Creator of all things, in His Love for us, has placed the herbs in the fields for our healing."  - Dr. Bach

Further learning: 

For further study, you can learn more about North American flower remedies at the FES website. 

Flower Essence Society 
Bach Centre
The Encyclopedia of Bach Flower Therapy 
Flower Essence Repertory

Please Note: I am not a doctor and this is not medical advice. Individuals suffering from clinical depression or other mental health issues should contact a licensed mental health professional for treatment. While flower essences will not interfere with other health programs, they do not replace professional medical care if that is appropriate.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

My 10 Favorite Pregnancy & Birth Books

For the last year I've been teaching Prenatal yoga here in in Portland. I see beautiful, glowing women come in to the studio every Sunday afternoon and I love spending an hour leading them through a gentle, supportive class. So even though I'm not pregnant, my mind returns to my experiences and also sits with the experiences that my students' are having on a daily basis as I prepare sequences for classes and just think about what my mamas might need. For some, it's their very first time. For others, they've been through it before, although every pregnancy and birth stands alone. I'm putting together some resources for them and thought I'd share what I come up with here, too.

Reading about pregnancy and birth is so fascinating, but sometimes its hard to know where to start. The books I've listed below hopefully cater to a variety of personalities, so you'll find something you like, or a tone or perspective that suits you. Pregnancy and birth is a very sensitive time in a woman's life and it doesn't help to hear condescending or doom-and-gloom voices coming off of the page...but everyone's tastes are different. Explore this list, maybe stop in at the library before committing to a purchase, and see what you like. It was hard to narrow this list down to ten. Two of them are journals, so technically it's eight...but ten is a nice round number and I wish I'd have thought to find a very pretty journal to write in! This list is by no means exhaustive, so if you have a book you'd put on this list, let me know in the comments!

(All links will take you to the book's Amazon page, and are affiliate links.)

Pregnancy & Childbirth

The Mama Natural Week-By-Week Guide to Pregnancy and Childbirth by Genevieve Holland

Magical Beginnings, Enchanted Lives: A Holistic Guide to Pregnancy and Childbirth by Deepak Chopra, David Simons, and Vicki Abrams.

Our Bodies, Ourselves: Pregnancy & Birth by the Boston Women's Health Book Collective

Pregnancy, Childbirth, and the Newborn by Patty Simkin

Ina May's Guide to Childbirth by Ina May Gaskin

The Big Book of Birth by Erica Lyon

Mindful Birthing: Training the Mind, Body, and Heart for Childbirth and Beyond by Nancy Bardacke

Nurture: A Modern Guide to Pregnancy, Birth, Early Motherhood by Erica Chidi Cohen


Expecting You: A Keepsake Journal Pregnancy by Amelia Riedler

Bump For Joy: Guided Pregnancy Journal by Studio Oh! 

Watch for my favorite postpartum book list coming soon! 

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Simple Autumn Family Rhythm Ideas

So far, we've been delightfully in tune with Autumn this year. I love this time of year in the Pacific Northwest. The weather is usually balmy, sunny days with a few chunks of gloomy rain here and there, but the sun comes out again before the moods start to drop too dramatically.

Having seasonal family traditions or rhythms has always been of interest to me but deciding on them and following through has not been a strength of mine. So whenever we intentionally try or complete a seasonal activity it feels like a huge win! I also know that our rhythms will change as we move through different ages and stages. That's also why I like the word "rhythm" over "tradition," because it gives a lot of space for change and ease.

For now, with three small kids, these are my favorite five fall rhythms that don't take a million supplies and the whole family can participate in together. They are SO SIMPLE  yet leave us with warm fuzzy memories of time together.

1) Leaf Walk + Beeswax Leaf Dipping Garland

My neighbor invited us to do this with her and now it's a little tradition. It's very simple and easy for the kids to help. Simply collect medium-sized and varied shapes of beautiful leaves. Buy beeswax at the store or Amazon and melt it in an old or thrifted saucepan that you're happy to "donate" to the yearly beeswax-melting activity. Once the wax completely melts, dip the leaves in and let them dry on waxed paper. String baker's twine or ribbon through the leaves and you have a lovely festive garland! Invite friends or family to join and have snacks and hot cocoa afterwards.

2) Family Pumpkin Patch Day

This one is trickier than it sounds up here in the Portland metro area. Pumpkin patches are big business and incredibly popular with us outdoor-romantics, and there are several scattered around the area that are huge operations. Visits to those places tend to lend an air of frantic anxiousness to me and then subsequently to the kids, so this year we were on the hunt for a smaller place with less "attractions" and just pumpkins, and maybe a wagon ride. We luckily found a place outside of town that was not crowded at all, and had the most gorgeous Clydesdale horses pulling a wagon, plus pony rides and a slide/playground area. We kept looking around wondering when the throngs of people were going to pile into the parking lot but they never did. Best pumpkin patch year EVER.

3) Attend a Fall festival or carnival

We have two Fall Festivals we attend - one at our church community and one at the girls' school. They get to do the fun carnival activities like fishing, cornhole, photo booth, and facepainting, all with people they know. Both our church and school are very small and so the community feel is strong and feels safe and not overwhelming. This is definitely a tradition the girls are loving.

4) Check out Autumn-themed books at the library

I love incorporating seasonal books into our reading! Try these we've enjoyed:

5) Begin lighting a candle at dinner.

This is my favorite, and it normally carries into winter, too. As darkness begins to fall earlier, it's so cozy to light a candle at dinnertime. The older kids can take turns lighting each evening. We are sensitive to scents and I don't like the smell of burning paraffin so we use pure beeswax tealights. Because our table is small and I'm not quite confident in a tall taper candle not getting knocked over, we burn a tealight in a himalayan salt tealight holder. It has a lovely orange glow and paired with the subtle scent of the natural beeswax, it feels very Fall!

6) Family Leaf Walks

When the weather is good we spend as much time outside as possible, because when the rain comes, we're indoors for what feels like months. A before-dinner walk, extra time at the school playground, or weekend outdoor adventures get us fresh air and we also get to watch the trees change, leaves fall, and the air grow more crisp! The girls gather leaves, pinecones, and other nature items. Plus the lingering smell of wood fireplaces begins in the evenings and it feels so cozy.

That's it! So simple, right?

What are your favorite autumn rhythms/traditions? 

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Have you heard about MightyFix?

Learn More About the MightyFix One Simple Change Each Month

(This post contains affiliate links. I'm a MightyNest affiliate but pay for my MightyFix out of my own pocket.) 

I'm a subscriber to MightyNest's MightyFix and October marks my one year subscription anniversary! I have really enjoyed this innovative subscription service from MightyNest - it's affordable, dependable, and I've been able to incorporate some cool new environmentally-friendly products into our home. Because I've subscribed for one whole year before writing about my experience, I feel like I have a solid perspective on the program and whether or not I'd continue the service. Fortunately, I have been pleased for a year and will continue to subscribe!

MightyFix is a monthly subscription service from MightyNest that sends a new eco-friendly product(s) straight to your doorstep. You never know what you'll be getting and that is a fun aspect. As another subscriber perk, MightyNest also offers MightyFix member-only deals on the site, too! As a subscriber, I get up to 25% off products that I can add on to my MightyFix shipment, all with free shipping. Pretty sweet.

The MightyFix subscription is only $10 per month, with shipping included, which I think is a good value, especially to discover new products and support a small business. You can also pay a year up front for $99, giving you two months free. To be honest, I usually forget about it until a box or bag arrives in my mailbox with the MightyFix sticker, so it's like getting a little gift every month.

Once you subscribe to MightyFix, you also have the option of sending a MightyFix invite to a friend, and if they sign up, they'll receive their first month free! You can gift a MightyFix, too.

As a business, I also appreciate MightyNest's commitment to schools, to the environment, and to their products. I'm happy to send my dollars their way and have been happy with every purchase I've made.

As a MightyNest affiliate, I have a great offer for my readers to save $7 off their first month and get their wool dryer ball set as your first Fix. I hope you try out the MightyFix for yourself!

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Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Affirmations for Kids: The Good Night Game

Sometimes I feel goofy using affirmations.

Maybe you feel the same way?

But at the same time, it's easy to get caught in a loop in my own head and have a hard time breaking free. Especially when it comes to parenting.

My therapist recommended a new (to me) book called Growing Up Again (affiliate link) by Jean Illsley Clark and Connie Dawson. It has helped me SO much in so little time, not only in my own life but also as I learn to respond and nurture my kids. This book is GOLD and I'd love to talk about it in no less than 10,000 words, but I'll start small. 

One of my very favorite practical tools they offer in Growing Up Again is the Affirmations - positive phrases that "shore up" - that can be used for both adults and children. The authors' working definition of an Affirmation is "anything we say or do for others to let them know that we believe they are lovable and capable" (217).

Clarke and Dawson state:

"When we offer developmental affirmations to children, we offer powerful support that strengthens their ability to accomplish their developmental tasks successfully." (pg. 290)

Clarke and Dawson offer a quite a few different practical and helpful tips for working with affirmations, but I've been most interested in their Good Night Game and it is SO simple. 

The Good Night Game

Either copy and cut out, handwrite, or read straight from the book the affirmations that begin from Stage 1 all the way up to your child's specific developmental stage.

At bedtime, have each child pick three affirmations from a basket each night, and say these affirmations to the child as you tuck them into bed. Keep your affirmations in a basket that is easily accessible. As you repeat the affirmations to them while they are tucked snugly into bed, it's the last words they hear (hopefully! but with kids...well...no promises!) before they go to sleep.

An important note: "The affirmations we deliver MUST be sincere or they become crazy-making double-bind messages" (217, emphasis my own). So if you aren't completely comfortable speaking an affirmation and then letting your kids (or yourself!) live it out, then leave it out of the pile for now. 

Here are a few of my favorite affirmations for the different stages. Try them out for the Good Night Game, and pick up the book for yourself to get all of the affirmations for each life stage. 

Prenatal Stage (Becoming)

- I celebrate that you are alive
- We are connected and you are whole. 
- Your life is your own
- I love you just as you are

Stage 1, Birth to 6 months (Being)

- I'm glad you are alive. 
- You belong here.
- I love you and care for you willingly
- You can grow at your own pace

Stage 2, 6 months to 18 months (Doing)

- You can do things as many times as you need to. 
- You can be interested in everything 
- I like to watch you initiate and grow and learn
- I love you when you are active and when you are quiet. 

Stage 3, 18 months to 3 years (Thinking)

- I'm glad you are starting to think for yourself
- You can learn to think for yourself and I will think for myself 
- You can think and feel at the same time. 
- It's okay for you to be angry, and I won't let you hurt yourself or others

Stage 4, 3 years to 6 years (Identity and Power)

- You can explore who you are and find out who other people are. 
- You can be powerful and ask for help at the same time. 
- All of your feelings are okay with me. 
- I love who you are. 

Stage 5, 6 years to 12 years (Structure) 

- You can think before you say yes or no and learn from your mistakes
- You can learn when and how to disagree
- I love you even when we differ; I love growing with you
- You can learn the rules that help you live with others. 

Stage 6, 12 years to 19 years (Identity, Sexuality, and Separation) 

- You can know who you are and learn to practice skills for independence. 
- You can learn to use old skills in new ways
- I look forward to knowing you as an adult
- My love is always with you. I trust you to ask for my support. 

Stage 7, Adults (Interdependence)

- Your needs are important
- You can trust your inner wisdom
- You can be creative, competent, productive, and joyful. 
- You are lovable at every age. 
- Your love matures and expands

Stage 8, Toward Death (Integration)

- You can grow your whole life through. 
- You can share your wisdom in your way. 
- You are lovable just the way you are. 
- You deserve the support that you need. 

The authors offer more affirmation activities in the book, and the "ovals" that appropriate to the age you're working with are found in each different developmental section within the book. The ovals are tiny and not too pretty, so I took the ovals that pertained to my girls' age and printed them out on computer paper. Next step is to laminate them, if you want! I didn't have any lamination paper so I wrapped them in clear packing tape. Still, not so pretty, but a little better. I forgot to type in the developmental stage on the little slips so I went in with a sharpie after I taped them up and added the age stages on the back.

I'm hoping to put a little more time to beautify these cards because they'll be used for their entire childhood, and I've also had many friends asking about them! And these affirmations are for adults, too, so I'm going to experiment working with them as well. 

For adults, you use the affirmations starting from Prenatal stage on up. The book IS called Growing Up Again, so it is as much an adult guide as a parenting/child guide. No matter how amazing our parents were, they weren't perfect, and we all have gaps in our development. Every human receives uneven parenting in some way, because our parents are 100% human. This has been hard for me to accept as I walk my own parenting journey and it is a hard truth to accept - that we can't be perfect? Feels like a given, but we want the very best for our kids and it's part of my work to accept that I can't home-run their childhood like I want to. But, I can do my own work and do my best by them. Anyway...With compassion and attention, we can utilize the practices and skills in Growing Up Again to help fill in those holes.

I encourage you to try this exercise. It may feel funny at first, but "remember, experience is the architect of the brain." (pg 208)

Let me know how it goes!

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Our Kid-Friendly Glacier National Park Itinerary {Adventures in Family Camping: Part 4}

We planned. We packed. Now it was time to load it all up and hit the road!

Coming from Oregon we'd be driving for around 10 hours. It could have been done in one drive but we decided to split it up into two days and stay one night in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho. The next day, we hit the road in the morning and pulled into Glacier Campground in West Glacier (with a pit-stop for Huckleberry milkshakes along the way and for new sleeping bags in Kalispell) later that afternoon. The next morning, Andy drove into the Park at 7AM and found a campsite for us in the Apgar Campground. We made it! Commence GNP Itinerary!

A few notes: 
  • This was our itinerary with two 6-year-olds and a 3-year-old. Their endurance is limited and it would have been easy to try to cram in a lot of hikes and trips. But, we want these kinds of trips to be a) enjoyable in their memories and b) sustainable for us as parents. So we majorly downgraded our expectations and as someone who normally plans out itineraries to the hilt, it was the best thing for our family! 
  • If you have small kids, plan for a "camp day" in between day trips. We found that the every-other-day schedule worked beautifully for us. 
  • There are a lot of itinerary ideas online. Take what you like and make it your own! We barely scratched the surface of Glacier National Park and our trip back next time will most likely be a totally different experience. 

Our Kid-Friendly Glacier National Park Itinerary

Day 1 - Settle In and Explore Apgar

Settle into camp. Walk to Apgar Village (.2 miles) to check out the lake and the grocery/ice cream situation. Get huckleberry ice cream at Eddy's and walk down to the lake shore. The view from McDonald Lake is beautiful and the water is crystal clear and that glacial water is COLD! Walk back to camp and eat dinner, then walk over to the Apgar Ampitheater for a ranger talk. Get your Junior Ranger booklets to complete and turn in for your badges in the next few days and learn about the geological history of Glacier that led it to be designated a World Heritage Site! 

Day 2 - Trail of the Cedars/Lake Day

Trail of the Cedars. Go early, if you can, to find parking. We went late and it took us a while to park. It's a congested area with all the hike entrances and the Avalanche Campground. Don't forget snacks. If energy levels are good, continue on from the Trail of the Cedars and do the Avalanche Lake hike. 

Come back to camp and gather swim stuff and head to the Lake. Go to the Day Visitors area of Apgar for more shoreline space. We brought an inflatable SUP and it works perfectly. Walk back to camp for dinner and IF spirits are good, head to the Apgar Visitor Center parking lot for astronomy viewing with volunteer astronomers. 

Day 3 - Camp Day

Spend the day close to the campsite. Go to a Junior Ranger talk at the Apgar Nature Center and get your Junior Ranger badges which will be pinned to the kids' clothing each morning from here on out. Maybe get some rest/naps in, if you're lucky. Bedtimes are late here as the sun is still shining until at least 9pm. Take a picnic dinner down to the lake for more swimming/SUP. 

Day 4 - Bowman Lake/Polebridge

Pack up early and head out to Bowman Lake and the town of Polebridge. The "town" is an off-grid collection of buildings: mercantile/bakery and a saloon built in the early 1900s, with cold beer in mason jars, a selection of groceries, and food.

If Polebridge is busy, head to Bowman Lake first. The lake is up a 6 mile dirt and rock road, and you might see a bear on the road! You'll drive into the Bowman Lake Campground and find day parking. Walk down to the lake and gasp at the stunning views. There are not very many people here and it's very peaceful. The only downside to Bowman over Lake McDonald on the kid-friendly perspective is the biting flies that hang out on the shoreline. They aren't terrible, but just annoying. Enjoy the water and maybe take a short hike along the North side of the lake. Come back to Polebridge and purchase some pastries from the Mercantile, making sure to get a few huckleberry bear claws for breakfast. Between the Mercantile and Northern Lights Saloon is a sand volleyball court and some kids play structures that the kids can dig in/climb around on while you sit out on a picnic bench under the saloon's shady trees and enjoy a cold Montana-brewed beer.

On the way back to camp, if you're hungry and don't want to make dinner, stop for BBQ at Home Ranch Bottoms. It's a very small restaurant serving locals and some tourists with filling food and deliciously smoked BBQ. Hear locals talk about the effect of the wolves coming back and feel conflicted. Remember that there are no simple answers when humans and animals co-exist.  

Day 5 - Camp Day/Laundry Day

After a busy day trip, this morning is relaxed and you toss around ideas for the day. In our case, you may have had one child who had a nighttime accident two nights in a row and you need to find a laundromat to wash sleeping bags and throw in all the clothes, towels, etc. to wash, too. In this case, pile into the car and drive into West Glacier to ask at the KOA (you have to be staying to use facilities), then find a frightening place in Coram that is a definite NO, then finally find one in Hungry Horse. Load your clothes into three triple-load washers and then walk to the adjoined grocery store to find cheap cast iron pans and groceries that you'll probably need. 

Find a distillery on the way back to West Glacier and get some small-batch whiskey and vodka. You deserve it! Get back to camp late but load everyone up and drive down to the lake anyways for an evening swim/paddle. Dinner is quick and bedtime is needed. Make a much-deserved cocktail with your local liquor. 

Day 6 - Going To The Sun Road and Many Glacier/Swiftcurrent Lake

Finally getting to do the Going to The Sun Road! Head out as early as you can (in this case it was STILL 10:30am before we got out of camp) and hope to get to Many Glacier for a hike and to see if there are any campsites available in case you decide to move over to the east side. 

The Sun Road is breathtaking and beyond words - a bucket list experience. It's nerve-wracking, too. The narrow roads climb high and the going can be slow. The road was completed in 1933 and its history is fascinating. Stop out at a few vista points and hope for parking at Logan Pass Visitor Center. If there is no parking, keep going. Change plans to do one of the hikes that starts at Logan and postpone it for another day. Cross the Continental Divide and see the immediate shift in the landscape.

Come out at St. Mary, leave the Park for a few miles, and circle back in at the Many Glacier entrance. Here, the Park is much drier with a more "Wild West" feel to it. It is supposedly the "remote" area of the park but note how many people are here - it's crowded! The scoop from a reputable source says there are less amenities in Many Glacier but the hiking is better. The Many Glacier campground hosts say it is fairly impossible to get a campsite here unless you've reserved, and they start handing out first-come, first-serve numbers at 7am. Abandon plan to move to this side of the park and decide Apgar is treating the family well. Next time! 

Find the Many Glacier Campground picnic area and have lunch before heading out on the hike around Swiftcurrent Lake and the Swiftcurrent Nature Trail. The trail is 3 miles long, which is the perfect length for the kids' stamina. If your energy level is higher and there is enough time, veering off to the Grinnell Glacier hike would be a highlight experience. Another time. Remember the Boba carrier this time and put the 3-year-old up to see if she'll nap. She does! Enjoy the beautiful hike around the lake and end at the century-old Many Glacier lodge for an ice cream sandwich stop. Continue to circle around to the picnic area and realize you're going to be getting back to camp really late. Decide to embrace the journey and instead of going home on the Sun Road, head outside of the Park to East Glacier to Serrano's Mexican Restaurant for dinner and margaritas. East Glacier deserves some more exploring next time, too, because there won't be time to head to the Two Medicine area until next visit. Drive the LOOOONG way home around the South end of the park and drive back in with enough time to put everyone in bed. 

Day 7 - Camp Day

After such a long but fun day yesterday, it's time for another camp day. Enjoy your breakfast and coffee around the campsite and let the kids play. Walk up the Nature Center for a Jr. Ranger talk and ask for a replacement badge because someone already lost theirs. Get ice cream at Eddy's in Apgar Village. Scoot into West Glacier to Glacier Guides to reserve a Scenic Float Trip for the next morning. Relaxing dinner and bedtime and a camp cocktail. 

Day 8 - Scenic Float with Glacier Guides

A Scenic Float with Glacier Guides can be done by all ages, which is perfect for the small children. In the morning, get to the Guides headquarters at the appropriate time and ride a big blue school bus to the Flathead River launch. Your kids will think the bus ride is the best part of the adventure. Your guide will row you down a gentle section of the river while chatting about Glacier, wildlife, river life, etc. There are 3 "rapids" just bumpy enough to get the kids excited and there are quite a few calm spots to jump out into the frigid water and swim. If you're lucky, see a bald eagle. Enjoy the rainbow-colored rocks of the Flathead and take a deep breath. After the float, hit the burrito food truck Wandering Gringos on the way back and realize how massive these burritos are. Save them for dinner. 

Back at camp, either relax or head to the lake before going to another Ranger Talk at the amphitheater. After the talk it takes a long time to get everyone settled as they're becoming adjusted to the new later bedtime. No one blames you if you fall asleep with the kids! 

Day 9 - Junior Ranger Hike

Eat a quick breakfast with your late risers and send an adult to the Apgar Visitor Center to get the free tickets for the Star Party tomorrow night - they'll only hand out as many as the parking lot can hold. Hustle up to the Apgar Nature Center for the Jr. Ranger Hike with one of the rangers. With 10-12 kids, hike along Lower McDonald Creek, stop at a beaver dam, do a nature scavenger hunt, and try to help your kids use all their senses in the 1.5 hour hike. The kids will be in awe of the ranger and shy at first, but by the end of the hour, they'll want to hold her hand and tell her everything about their lives. Circle back around through Apgar Village and either eat lunch there or back at camp. Relax in camp and go for an early evening swim before an early bedtime because tomorrow night is the Logan Pass Star Party and it's going to be a late night. 

Day 10 - Hidden Lake Overlook / Logan Pass Star Party

This is the last day in camp! Time to tie up loose ends. If your kids wake up early and the day stretches wide before you, take the beautiful drive back to Polebridge for pastries and to buy cool souvenir hats and stuffed animals because the shops in the Park all have the same merchandise and none of it is catching your fancy. On the way back, circle through West Glacier to the distillery and get more whiskey and vodka. You're definitely taking some home with you! 

Pack up parts of camp that you can for the early departure tomorrow morning. Get on the road to Logan Pass for the Star Party around 3pm or 4pm. Plan to do the Hidden Lake Overlook hike before the Logan Pass Star Party starts and be SO GLAD that you did. This hike is gorgeous! See mountain goats congregating on the boardwalk paths up by the lake. They are walking right by you and the kids think it might be fun to chase them. Nope! Don't do that. They're close but still wild. 

Come back down to Logan Pass and make dinner out of the back of the car. Bundle everyone up as the temperature is dropping. Walk up to the Center to get a seat along the rock walls to watch the Astronomer presentation before taking a look through 10-12 mega telescopes. When darkness falls, around 11pm, be astounded at the Milky Way while the kids want to go back to the car and go to sleep. Take shifts with the two adults still awake - one at the car looking at the stars, the other walking around looking through the telescopes. See the moon, star clusters, nebulas, and the andromeda galaxy. Stay in the parking lot until midnight and make your way back down the Going to the Sun Road in the middle of the night which is it's own experience. Everyone stays asleep as you put them in their sleeping bags. 

Day 11 - Ready to go! 

Camp is mostly packed up and around 8am, hopeful campers will begin driving through the campground to ask you if you're leaving. Someone reserves your spot and you quickly take down the camper and get everyone strapped in. Say goodbye to Apgar, to Lake McDonald, and to Glacier National Park. This place has been so good to your family! You'll be back. You only scratched the surface. You're already planning for your next trip back to Glacier, where you'll spend more time in Many Glacier, Two Medicine, and will not forget the passports so you can visit the Waterton-Glacier sister park in Canada. 

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