The leaves have peaked and are now starting to really fall of the trees. It seems that our fall days are numbered here in the midwest. Before long we will be stuck inside looking for indoor playgrounds and searching Pinterest for “how to keep our kids entertained” or “how to burn off energy indoors“.
Last week Jill shared her tips for planning a hike with your children. This week, she is sharing two other pieces of advice: be patient, and just get out and do it! Before you have to trudge through inches of snow, GET OUT AND GO. Your hiking days may be numbered until next Spring so don’t wait any longer.
Hiking with your Kids
Hiking with kids takes some planning, patience and practice, but it is always worth the time spent. Once you know where you are going, chosen your destination and time of day, and have planned and dressed accordingly. The first rule of hiking with your kids is to be patient. Once you have that all down, then just get out, try it out, and practice- we learn from experiences.
Hiking Takes Time: Be Patient
Our kids set the pace when we are hiking. We have two fast little dudes. Sometimes we have to work to keep up with them, other times we are constantly saying, “keep going,” “come on,” or “speed up.” Balance would be awesome but they will learn.
We have a walking stick, rock collection, pine cones or leaves from every hike this summer. They both love scavenger hunts so being on a trail is an awesome place to collect some things. Plus, this is a way to play games with them to keep them moving and their mind from wandering. Singing songs, playing I spy, counting, and story telling work, too. The journey is important!
We take lots of breaks, some long, some super short. Our long breaks happen at points of interest and we try to set up a time expectation. Super short breaks are water breaks that we call energy breaks. I had Emerson convinced this summer that energy comes from water, which kept him moving for the last mile of a long hike.
The one thing that we will always be working on is paying attention to our kids. Pretty much most things can be fixed from a break, food or water but listening to them and watching them is important because that is when we learn if we need to modify our expectations. Our hikes take longer now and we cannot walk near as far but giving Emerson and Rhys these experiences is important to us.
Hiking takes practice: GET OUT AND GO!
This past spring, we knew that we were going to have to let Emerson hike and when he got tired he could get in the pack. Our first outing he hiked about maybe an hour and by our last hiking trip he only got in the pack once the entire weekend and that was because we were hiking in complete darkness. Don’t worry we had headlamps!
Next year, we will not be able to use the pack when Emerson gets tired. So, we will start with half day hikes that will be three to four miles long, that we know he can do and work our way up to day long hikes that could be eight or more miles. We have started working with Rhys recently and when we start hiking next spring he will start out walking and then use the pack when he gets tired.
The best way to handle hiking with kids is believing every time is practice. Some hikes we have it all figured out and they go so smoothly and then there are times where we all meltdown. Our last major hiking trip took us three attempts to complete one trail. The first time we had forgot to take care of a home issue that we had to drive out of the park to find wi-fi. The second try ended because of rain. Then finally, we made it but not without everyone having a meltdown.
First Emerson, we could not coax him along anymore. Everyone was frustrated and after about a half hour of talking him into getting into the pack, he lost it. Rhys was next, he was cold, hungry and thirsty, nothing we gave him made him happy. Then, I hit my wall. The last mile and a half had such a steep incline that I thought crawling would be better, at times. Rhys was crying, dropping his water bottle and bear every five seconds, that I just wanted to turn around. Last, Eric could not motivate us any farther, so he just started walking faster to get away. We didn’t give up. We knew that the end was close and worth all the turn arounds and frustrations.
November is right around the corner. Take advantage of the possibly the last month of hiking weather. Most of us live within minutes of a park to be explored or public lands to wander. It is important to explore the outdoors and find a connection with nature. We are all happier when we get our hands dirty.
Take Jill’s advice, friends: GET OUT AND GO. Being active as a family is important. As you can tell, Jill’s boys are not just being active, but they are learning life lessons along the way. The great outdoors is an awesome classroom. So plan your trip, have some patience, and GET OUT AND GO.
Your turn- tell me!
How often do you hike with your kids (big or small)?
What is your favorite outdoor activity?