Walking and running are the primary elements of body movement, so it is good to encourage kids to explore their body and capabilities from a young age. It is very important to get rid of the trolleys at early stage, what demands a lot of patience and time. Let them learn how to fall. It sounds crazy, but from kid’s development skills perspective it will pay off on the long run. This is parents’ mission: encourage them, motivate them, and inspire them with outdoor activities.
Of course, there is a trap – kids like to resist, so don’t give up too soon. They don’t want to dress up, they are tired, hungry, feet are sore… they just don’t want to leave comfy home. Be strong and persistent, you will be surprised how they will enjoy hours spent outside their home.
Hiking with kids is anything but racing with the time and miles. It is better to enjoy every step of nature as a family, observe plants and animals. Don’t be disappointed if you won’t be able to reach your planned goal. Sometimes they just need to throw hundreds of stones into the river. Leave them connected to outdoor environment. For a pleasant hiking trip keep in mind kid’s age and their capabilities.
Hiking with infants
You can find many carrying options for your baby (wraps, slings, structured carriers). These gadgets will let you do your own thing, your hands are free, while the little one relaxes against you. Make sure that your child is feeling comfortable, keep them dry, warm and fed. Pay attention to the area around legs, not tightening his legs too much and monitor how he keeps his head. In warmer months lay the baby on a picnic pad so he can stretch. You can use the break also for breastfeeding or feeding. In any weather season protect his head with hats or beanies.
Hiking with toddlers
Choose the time of the day when the child is mostly awake. If you plan longer hiking, there should be time for him to rest, unless he can fall asleep in his backpack. Pay attention to the fluid he drank before hiking, as it may happen that the diaper will get too wet. This can be a big problem in the cold months. An additional set of clothes and diapers is a mandatory part of the equipment. Don’t forget about hats against sun, cold, and wind. Provide hydration and make sure the baby is not too warm (even in the colder months). Before starting a longer hike, make sure your child is sitting comfortably in your backpack. Make shorter and longer breaks so he can stretch his legs and arms. These outdoor activities are great opportunity to explore the nature by touching objects (stones, branches, needles, leaves, flowers).
Hiking with small kids
Avoid carrying kids once they are capable to walk. Make carrying as a little reward when it becomes too hard to achieve the goal.
Don’t give up too quickly. Every new challenge requests time and patience. You will certainly experience resistance, moaning, crying, and protesting. With the right approach, you can alleviate any problem. It is usually difficult for them to leave home, but once they are in the nature, in the woods, by the river, lake, they quickly forget that they have ever complained about the idea of hiking. How can you overcome these initial difficulties?
Don’t promote hiking – rather invite them on a trip to the dwarf land
Children create their own idea in their head. They usually do not respond in the most moody and cheerful way when we invite them to one or two hours long walk. Rather, invite them into the world of fairy tales and heroes.
Invite them to choose the path – make it interesting and full of stories
In the bookstore or library you will find many hiking books also for hiking with children. Fairytale trails in connection with the local legends (giants, dwarves, dragons or princesses). Just being able to help choose a path will motivate them to explore this route.
Watch the weather and plan additional clothes
Review the weather forecast together and agree on what you need to prepare for yourself: spare socks, T-shirts, underpants, gloves and caps in wintertime.
Snacks – frequent energy stops
Unlike adults, children need several smaller meals. If you are not sure that a snack will be available on the way, prepare several smaller meals. These can be sandwiches, salty snacks, fruits, carrots, dried fruits, nuts, chocolate. Candies and lollipops will delight them the most. Parents aren’t the most excited about this, so it’s worth playing a game where dwarves are setting candies.
Mission or purpose of hiking is crucial even for the children. Walking around just like that doesn’t have any sense. But if you are going to collect cones, twigs or leaves for dwarves, then your hike will have a special meaning. This mission can include also treasure hunt, building an animal houses, animal bones searching, stamping booklets, whatever is present in this area.
Motivation – Teach, sing, and play games
Don’t loose your temper, they are just kids. Instead of negotiating with them rather distract them, ask questions about the topics they like. You’ll be surprised about how much they have to say, especially if this is friend’s kid. Teach them how to skip stones on the water, sing songs they learn in kindergarten or in school, play a game “what do you see and it starts with the letter B”, count the snails on the way…
It is much easier if you invite friends to join your family hike. Some kids are competitive so they will have a good motivation to be the first on the top. Pick a leader, especially if the know the route, they will feel very important. Don’t forget about the other kids, make sure they will rotate as hiking leaders.
Kids love exploring the nature and hidden spots. They will climb on every tree stump, or pick small a small trails. This will definitely slow you down. Don’t be mad, enjoy the trail and kids’ happiness instead. Let them play in the nature.
Take their worries seriously
When you put your kids into a new environment they have to balance their senses. Some are more adventures and fearless and some are hardly beating the fear, like fear of heights. Take their worries seriously, talk about them. At some point you might find out that they are just hungry. Whenever you are in the nature, especially in the summertime bring first aid kit with you.
Spice up the route
You can spice up your route by incorporating a navigation app. You will be able to record your route, insert some photos and make a nice video. You can also compare measurements from different devices (smart watch, smart phone apps). If you like treasure hunts then Geocaching mobile app is the right thing.
Rediscover your inner child
Outdoor activities will take you away from every day routine, job, house work. Stop thinking and start moving. Imitate your kids and stay curious, asking questions, don’t mind about others’ opinion. Let positive vibes take over you.