Remember the time before you had kids, when you could spend hours hiking on the weekend? After the kids were born, you dreamed of when you could take them out on the trail and share your love of wandering. Hiking with kids isn't easy, especially when you're first getting started. So how do you turn your kids into enthusiastic hikers?
Try these 10 tips for reaching the summit with your little trekkers:
1. Start short and slow. Don't expect to cover five miles at a brisk pace for your child's first hike. Starting off with a short distance at the child's pace is best. Be prepared for frequent stops.
2. Toss out your agenda. Let your child lead. You may want to hike for hours, but if they call it quits after 15 minutes, it's better to head back to the car rather than force them to keep moving onward.
3. Be prepared. Bring a First Aid kit because there's bound to be a skinned knee. In addition, wet wipes, tissues, lip balm, sunblock and insect repellant are just as important.
4. Gear up. From mini backpacks to compasses to water bottles, there's nothing cooler to a child than a mini version of mom or dad's gear.
5. Snacks and fluids. Hiking requires a lot of energy. When kids run out of energy, what happens? They get cranky. Keep your child happy and motivated by taking numerous small breaks for hydration and snacks.
6. Bring a friend. Having a friend on a hike helps motivate kids. There will be less whining and more chatting about all the cool things on the trail.
7. Dress properly. Make sure that you take ample amounts of clothing in case your child gets cold while out on the trail. Always bring a waterproof jacket with a hood in addition to a hat and gloves. Make sure your kids have the proper shoes. Finally, always pack a change of clothes for each child and leave them in the car for your return from the trail; chances are someone is going to be wet and muddy.
8. Stick it. Kids love sticks. It can be used for so many things – a walking stick, for sword fighting, poking at plants or as a pointer.
9. Have a destination. Choose hikes with landmarks, like a trail that ends at a fire tower, a lake or a waterfall.
10. Emphasize fun. For the first few hikes make it as fun as possible. The whole goal is to make sure their experience is fun so they'll want to go again. Play a game of Eye Spy or have a treasure hunt.