Hiking with kids is exhausting, but mainly in the run up to it. Once you get out there with your little tribe, it is so worth all the effort to get your family ready to hit the trails 🙂 I know only too well the effort it takes getting small people ready to go outside, especially during a Swedish winter. I have a blog post dedicated to the whys and wherefores, joys and frustrations over at this link http://mammasschool.co.uk/parenting/we-are-going-out-in-quite-a-while/ Today I want to talk more about why it is so good for families to get out there and go hiking with kids, and offer some handy tips for making it more enjoyable. In the future I will be writing more about how we prepare and the logistics of what we take. First off, as the parent, you need to stay motivated and focus on the end goal of getting out there, knowing that everyone will be happier, have a great adventure together, and be immersed in nature. To motivate everyone else through that door you need to be motivated! I also try and let my trio experience a range of weather conditions (within reason!). I am careful not to make hiking a sunny day only activity, as with the right clothing, fun can be had in most weathers. Want to know about why it is so good hiking with kids and tips to make it great for everyone? Read on……
Why Go Hiking with Kids?
- They need to be in the great outdoors. It is good for their development, self esteem, and makes them healthier.
- They need exposure to nature and wildlife. Their enjoyment of nature will help protect it in the future. If they have experienced it and been immersed in it, they are more likely to want to nurture and conserve it in future…you are investing in nature’s future as well as your child’s.
- They are learning new skills…they climb, they run, they negotiate together, they learn to take risks more and manage those risks, as well as learning skills such as looking after themselves in the great outdoors, some basic survival skills, using a compass, and using a map.
- They are exercising! Need I say more 🙂
- Out on a hike, everyone can truly unplug, leave screens and technology behind, forget about jobs in the home, and it gives an opportunity to reconnect together as a family.
- Hiking is known to be a stress buster, therefore increasing happiness and decreasing stress.
Tips to Survive Hiking with Kids.
- Make sure you are carrying secret, emergency bribes. Tired little legs sometimes need encouragement of the sweet variety. It boosts morale, provides a little energy boost and you are good to go a little further. Some days you may not need them, but keep them with you at all times!
- Take some props. Our favourites are compasses, torches (winter), binoculars, bug pots, and cameras. This in turn can lead to little tasks to help them along the trail’s way….we also like looking for tracks, especially in the winter snow.
- Plan the hike a little around food and play. When I take my three trolls out, we hike a while, then I plan at least an hour, more like a 1.5-2 hour stop, then hike a little more. During that stop they play and I cook. They climb, adventure, explore, paddle or anything else that takes their fancy. I get a fire going and we all get hot morale boosting food. They will tackle the second stage of the hike with renewed enthusiasm even though they’ve still been expending energy throughout the break.
- Pitch your hike at their level…the distance to be covered, the weather conditions, the terrain. However, feel free to stretch them a little bit. Just get the balance right.
- Have little games up your sleeve to play….I don’t mean card or board games…I mean little games using nature while you are walking. Or suggest a small stop to pick berries that can then be munched on route.
- Allow time, lots of it, and more again. There is nothing worse than trying to hurry children along, they naturally get slower doing that. They need to go at their pace, and not just their walking pace. Their pace of life….looking, experiencing, collecting things all along the way.
- Take lots of food, and lots of water to make sure you are not caught short with the essentials. These 2 things can alter a child’s mood substantially when the going gets tiring!
If you like the idea of hiking with your children and as a family, there are lots of hiking websites out there for inspiration and advice. I like looking at https://highpeakshiking.com it’s a great site for the hiking community to share experiences, tips, and inspiration 🙂 I enjoy just browsing through and getting ideas or being a little nosy! So go on, get planning your adventure!