The idea of gorgeous family walks, soaking up the sunshine and immersing the whole family in nature and wildlife is definitely one thats flitted through the minds of most of us parents, but in reality a badly planned hike with the kids in tow can result in a lot of tears (yours and the kids!) and far more hassle then its worth.
Have a look over our top tips for managing an enjoyable hike with the whole family.
1.Choose Hiking Trails Carefully
Depending on the age of your little ones and the amount of walking you’ve done their capabilities will vary greatly. Start off with easy short trails that have lots of interesting things to see, this builds confidence and interest in walking which means you can gradually increase the length and difficulty of the trails that you pick.
Hiking with the kids might mean you can’t get up that big hill that you’ve always wanted to see the view from, but you’ll enjoy the walk in other ways as you see it through your childrens eyes.
2.Allow Lots of Time
We all know that doing anything with children takes longer than we ever plan for, especailly with younger children who ALWAYS need a last minute nappy change, 25 drinks, 15 bicuits, 12 toilet stops and so on.
By allowing lots of time you are eliminating the rushing around, stresful part of the walk and will help to make hiking with the kids much more enjoyable.
3.Stay Chilled and Go With The Flow
Try not to get too hung up on seeing and doing particular things on your hike, allow yourself to go with the flow and be led by the children more, they will be far happier if they are allowed to explore rather than be dragged from place to place against their will.
If you’ve planned a five mile walk and only manage two because the children wanted to smell EVERY flower on route, so be it!
4.Pack Loads of Food and Water
When hiking with the kids (or in fact hiking at any time) be sure to have plentiful supplies of water and energy boosting snacks. This will be essential to a enjoyable trip. When sugar levels dip things can start getting messy when children are involved so keep healthy snacks to hand.
5.Get Out and About Early
Every parent knows that children are at their best in the morning, they wake up at stupid o’clock full of beans and raring to go, so cash in on this, get everything prepared for the hiking trip the night before so that you can just get up, have a good breakfast and get on the road.
As the day progresses your kids are sure to get tired but hopefully by then you’ll have completed your hike and will all be suitably happy with your walk and have had a lovely day out in nature.
6.Check out the Forecast Before Hand
Don’t get yourselves caught up in rainy downpours if you can avoid it, if the weather is looking grim then be preapred to change plans at the last mintue. At the same time if its going to be too hot that won’t be fun either.
Make sure to pack rain macs and layers just incase and of course suncream if its going to be warm.
7.Pack a First Aid Kit
Kids are prown to accidents, don’t leave to go hiking with the kids without a first aid kit. There will likely be falls and scrapes along the way and antiseptic wipes, creams and plasters will be a must have. Its always fun to invest in some novelty plasters with their favourite characters on to try and ease the pain of those falls as much as possible so that everyone can get back to enjoying the walk.
8.Don’t Push Your Children Too Hard
Take notice of your children and look for signs of them getting tired and losing interest, you want the hike to be fun, if you push children past this they are going to get grumpy quickly and likely put them off walking.
Once things are becoming a little harder then call it a day as soon as you can or have a decent break and some food and see whether the children fancy pressing on.
If you have very little ones who can’t (or won’t) walk for long periods of time then keep that in mind. A backpack that the child sits in is a great investment for when little legs get tired.
9.Give Your Children Roles for the Hike
If you are hiking with the kids then give each one of them an important role before you set out, this can keep their interst going and help them to feel an important part of the walk.
Simple things like bug spotting, collecting litter in a bag and so on can work really well.
Most of all though just have fun! If you are hiking with the kids then the chances are you are likely a keen walker yourself and you probably want to pass this down to your children.
Keep things light and fun, let them explore and take their time looking at all of the little details around them, play games, laugh and enjoy the fresh air.