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Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Hiking with Kids....

I have always loved being physically active and particularly enjoy hiking. For me half the fun is getting my heart rate up and breaking a good sweat. Physically challenging myself is a big natural high for me! But, sadly while fun for me, NOT so fun for the kids!

Our hikes with the kids started off more like forced marches! I couldn't understand why they seemed disappointed when we'd get ready to go instead of being excited like I was. What was wrong with them? Nothing! It was me who had the problem!

So, I slowly have learned how to slow down and enjoy being with my family and enjoying the beautiful nature God created for us to enjoy!

Here are some tips for enjoying hiking and nature with kids:

Bring/use the proper equipment for us that means not only proper shoes and clothing for the trails we will be hitting, but with a toddler it means picking the right stroller or pack. We are a little adventurous and while our Jeep stroller is great on dirt paths, it is just to difficult for rocks or goat paths:

We find this pack much more convenient(well, I do, I don't know if my husband who totes the chubby toddler would agree)

Make sure you investigate and buy the best you can afford as it needs to be sturdy and comfortable for both baby and the person toting him/her.

Always bring water and a snack or food even if you're going just a short distance. You never know when you might get lost, even in your own backyard so to speak!(See yesterdays post, it happened to us!) We aren't always so diligent on this one, but I plan on becoming so after yesterdays experience, plus sometimes the activity and calories you burn make you quite hungry unexpectedly. Even if it's just a Cliff Bar or Granola, bring something. Please be sure to not leave wrappers behind! If you take it in, bring it out! While at it, pick up after others who weren't so considerate.

Slow down and enjoy! Don't do what I did and let it become a forced march! This should be enjoyable for all of you! Take time to let the kids climb a rock or two, smell the flowers, look for animal tracks and just enjoy nature.

Be extra careful to plan to return before dusk. It is no fun trying to find your way back in the dark, worse yet it can be downright dangerous. This is when most of the animals start to come out to hunt!

Stay on the marked trail! While it may be fun to go off the beaten path, it is not always safe, especially when hiking with small children. If you are looking for a good trail in your area check out Local Hikes. Not only is this site great for finding local trails, it tells you whether dogs are welcome, the difficulty level of the hike and more! We use this site quite often!

IF you have pet and/or babies please bring a plastic bag and pick up your dog "messes" and dirty diapers and take it with you!

Most of all, have fun! Have the kids find or make hiking sticks to take with them, print up an animal track identification sheet and have them search for and identify tracks. Take pictures, have the kids make a nature journal, have a nature scavenger hunt. Save the forced marches for another time, this is time with your family!

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