Many parents believe the fallacy that hiking is strictly an adult thing to do, but there are few things kids love more than an adventure with the grown-ups, so why not include them?
Don’t ditch a fun family hiking trip in favor of easier, more predictable outings, like heading to the playground. Instead, take advantage of my family’s tips on hiking with kids.
Stock Up on Pantry Snacks
A few days before your planned adventure, add a case of Raw Almonds Snack Packs to your Fresh Direct order. While you’re at it, throw in chewy treats for the grown-ups, too. My family’s choice is Krave’s Basil Citrus Turkey Jerky, which liberates us adults from snacking on bland animal crackers (yet again).
Plan for Messes
No mom should be shocked when the kids find a mud puddle and decide to splash around or stir the newfound “soup” with sticks. When it’s time to clean up, be prepared. Have biodegradable wipes on hand, like the Medline ReadyFlush Biodegradable Wipes from Walmart, which will break down if accidentally left behind.
Prevent Bug Bites
According to the American College of Healthcare Sciences, lemon eucalyptus effectively repels insects. Our family uses Eden’s Garden “OK For Kids” version of Shoo Fly, an inexpensive, child-friendly essential oil blend that contains the powerful repellent. It’s harmless to young hikers and, thankfully, prevents bugs from eating my little ones alive while we’re out.
Even with the best preventative measures, a good hike usually involves some thorny scrapes and scratches. Be ready with a variety pack of Band-Aids from Walgreens. The collection includes clear, flexible, and yes, Disney-themed bandages. Simply clean the boo-boo with one of your handy biodegradable wipes, apply a Band-Aid (and a kiss), and keep going.
Games, of Course!
There’s nothing worse than when kids start complaining 100 yards into the hike. When—not if, but when—this happens, be ready. Have a game on hand to challenge young minds to seek, find, and document nature’s coolest elements first as a competitive challenge, and then as a treasured keepsake. How? With a list like the one in the Kids Scavenger Hunt Game by Outset Media, found at Newegg.com. When given a challenge, kids see the miracle in every mushroom, fern, and mosquito. The Appalachian Mountain Club has other creative games to play with kids on-trail, too, including hiking Bingo, I Spy and Knot So Fast. Keep a list of them in your pocket, since a simple game is the best way to diffuse complaining.
Here’s a trick that doesn’t add bulk to your heavy gear pack: Help kids learn while you journey. It’s not difficult, and there’s no lesson planning involved. Instead, have educational apps for kids downloaded and ready for use when you spot a paw print or bright feather. The best mobile programs for family hiking with kids include these fun teaching apps:
A Child Carrier
Plan on at least one of your kids needing to take a break while the rest of the family moves on. Seriously outdoorsy families buy premium gear and swear by it, but just to dabble, you should be set with a LILLEbaby Complete All Seasons Carrier to ergonomically hold a weary young one as you walk.
A Child’s Child Carrier
Serious hikers without kids may balk at this suggestion, but parents know that pretend play is part of life with kids. Your kiddo loves to “act grown-up,” and letting them nurture another little person on-trail can give them a sense of adventure and responsibility that may make all the difference. The Mattel Laugh & Love Baby Doll from Kmart is a great choice for family hiking because it comes with a walking carrier, just like Mommy’s.
With games, apps, snacks, and helpful gear, you’ll be able to have just as much fun hiking as the kids.