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How to be a great outdoor mom friend in all seasons


As I was packing to go swimming with friends last weekend, I realized I was going through the same checklist for them as for my five-month-old. Milk for Beckett? Check. Snacks for my friends? I have them. My cooler was filled with sparkling water and beers to share and a sippy cup for my child. I saw a few spare trucker hats on our coat rack when I grabbed the baby visor and stuffed them all into my bag, “just in case”. Noticing that the sunscreen in my truck was almost gone, I took a backup so I had enough to go around.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been my group’s mom friend, the one who brings food in case someone gets hungry and a few spare sweatshirts if someone gets cold, and I am always a little too happy to draw up a travel plan. But becoming stepmom to my partner’s 11-year-old daughter and giving birth to my son has elevated my role to a whole new level. Here’s how to hug your inner mommy friend too. (Editor’s note: The mom friend role is gender neutral and widely embraced by men, women, and non-binary friends.)

Pack as many snacks as possible

All mom friends know that the coat hanger is the worst enemy of pleasure. So when shopping for a camping trip, buy as many chips, trail mix, baby carrots and string cheese as you need for yourself; then multiply by the number of friends who come, plus two (and if someone brings a friend!). On the way to camp, text your crew, “Stop by Tia Sophia for breakfast burritos. You want something ? No answer? Better buy one for everyone. You can always reheat leftovers on the campfire later for dinner.

Bonus points for homemade

If you love to bake but know it’s unreasonable to have four dozen cupcakes around your pantry, you’ve discovered the perfect mommy friend opportunity. Make your friends your guinea pigs and have them try out that new salted caramel cookie recipe you’ve been wanting to try on your next group hike.

Volunteer for the Unorganized Adventures Crew

Sure, it’s fine working at a pit stop while your friend is running, but when your friend really needs you, it’s after a misguided solo ride on the 63-mile alpine loop under a downpour. Be there to guard her nice boys as she pedals up a mountain and hot spaghetti awaits when she arrives at camp two hours later than expected covered in mud.

Bring extra gear

The key here is to anticipate the worst-case scenario for a wide range of conditions. June in the mountains? Take an extra puff in case it snows. A hike around a lake? Carry enough insecticide for everyone; this is mosquito territory. Stock your first aid kit with enough bandages, neosporin, and superglue to repair an army. Even better: store everything in your car to be ready at any time.

Create a spreadsheet on the Down Low

There’s nothing like over-preparing for an adventure. Go ahead and lean into your urge to over-plan and over-organize. Create this spreadsheet! But just like real moms, Friend Moms can annoy as much as they help. So avoid sharing your well-documented plans with the rest of the group unless specifically asked to do so. “Oh, I think I read about a waterfall hike a few miles south,” you’ll say casually at base camp, mentally pointing to cell 21-D on your Google spreadsheet.

Designate a group photographer

Whether you’re on a rock climbing trip or a biking expedition, most people are too busy having fun to remember to take lots of photos. As a mom friend, follow your instincts: take the action shot of your friend grabbing that last jug or sliding down the trail, capture lots of candid camping photos, and insist that everyone pose for at least one. group photo. (Don’t take no for an answer. Stand firm!) Combine your photos into a shareable digital album, so everyone can add their own too.

Turn any campfire into a therapy session

Has anyone in your group started a new job, been through a recent breakup, or moved in with another roommate? This is your chance to get to the bottom of what they think about the recent change. Keep it cool until everyone has had a few beers or s’mores before you start asking the tough questions and offering unsolicited advice.

Clean base camp before going to bed

Your slobby friends may feel great in their tents with the stove still off and the beer cans lined up on the hearth, but you know everyone will feel more rested if they wake up in a clean camp. Plus, bears! While everyone is rolling out their sleeping mats and brushing their teeth, take a few minutes to pick up leftover food, protect the trash, and pour an extra cup of water on the fire pit for good measure.

Make sure everyone gets home safely

If you are traveling on a rough road, insist on following anyone without a 4×4. Always have jumper cables, a tire repair kit and a recovery strap handy. And when it’s finally time to part ways, as any mommy or mommy friend knows, there’s only one goodbye to the ones you love: “Text me when you arrive, so I know that you succeeded !”

About Ethel Partin

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