Hiking with Kids
We've been hiking since we were kids. Naturally, we didn't see a reason to stop once we were grown with kids of our own. We learned from some crazy hiking adventures as kids how to push through to accomplish a goal, and how to enjoy yourself along the way. Hiking with kids isn't always easy, it takes extra effort and planning. However, when they grow up loving the outdoors, it makes it worth it (at least that's the plan). So without further ado...
7 tip for hiking with kids.
Pick the right time of day. As the parent of your child you probably already know your kids best time of day. Choose that time to go on your hike! It's usually not a great idea to make your kids hike during nap time. It's hard to get your kids motivated when their little bodies should be sleeping. On the other hand, if your kids sleep in your hiking carrier then it's a perfect time! Especially when out on a camping trip. During these times our kiddos tend to only catch naps in cars and carriers!
Frequent, timed breaks. Frequent breaks are important to keep their little legs moving. You'll get distracted though, so we set a timer on a watch, or just watch the time and take breaks every 15 - 30 minutes. Every other break involves some sort of snack or maybe a break for lunch. The breaks in between are just for a short sit and water break.
Water. We like to take camelback type backpacks. The kids find them fun to drink out of, and there are even small kid sized ones. We all drink better out of a camelback that is readily available, than digging out a water bottle from a pack.
Snacks. During those every-other breaks, we have snacks. We try to keep them pretty healthy, and energy providing. It is a lot of walking. Sometimes snack breaks are great motivation. "We have __ minutes and then we'll get to eat some grapes! Yay! How far do you think we can walk before the time is up?" Have specific trail snacks that you ONLY have while camping or hiking, it makes them that much more yummy! Here are some more snack ideas!
Motivation, distraction, education. Our kids are often excited to hike until about 10 minutes up the trail and then they start to claim boredom, tiredness, and other complaints. First, make sure you, yourself, are well fed and have your "Patient Pants" on, then get creative. These are probably our real best tips
- Tell them to look for particular rocks. Shiny, pretty, big, little, interesting shapes.
- Look for leaves of a particular color, or flowers, cactus, whatever.
- Point out the features of the trail. Look at that tree! Look at that bird! Teach them what you know about the plants and things around you.
- Give them an assignment. Look for your next rest spot, lead the way over the next hill, etc.
- Sing songs. This one works really well for our kids. Plus, it's a great cardiovascular challenge for you! We sing the Ants Go Marching, You Are My Sunshine, Down By The Bay, that song about the hole in the bottom of the sea, or the Green Grass Grows All Around. Building songs like that take forever but are great for the trail.
Praise and encouragement. A little acknowledgment of how well they're hiking and how hard they're working goes a long way. Especially to get them to want to do it again sometime.
It's the journey, not the destination. Remember that hiking with your kids is about making memories. It's about instilling a love of nature and the earth. It's about making family bonds. It's not about finishing the hike or getting to the end. Or at least not all about that. So take the time to smell the roses, laugh, and have fun. We hope this gives you the courage to get out there and hike with those little ones! We know hiking with kids can be a lot of work but it's so worth it! Check out why!