Hiking as a family can be fun- you just need the right tools to be successful.
When I first met my husband, I knew he liked to be outside and occasionally hunt. I didn’t know his definition of “occasionally hunt” was different from mine. ‘Occasionally hunt’ to him meant nearly every season of the year, every animal and with every weapon- or so it felt to me. During the fog of toddler tantrums and busy motherhood- I began to resent my husband for his nightly, weekend escapes to the mountains for his hunt. It seems the season was always at the most inconvenient times. At some point in our marriage- I decided I didn’t like resenting my husband for leaving. That there was room in my husband’s hobby to include noisy children and we as a family could do it together… and then the “how to successfully hike as a young family” season began.
There are three things you must know about going on a hike with little kids. 1.) Everyone needs to be properly dressed, prepared and have a little responsibility and 2.) Bring snacks- lots and lots of snacks. 3.) Don’t worry- you don’t have to remember everything, here’s a packing list in our camping e-book to help you and your family pack everything you’ll need!
- Shoes- with excellent traction.
- Pants- jeans are best.
- Shirts- long-sleeved.
- Hat- keep those ears protected.
- Sweatshirt or jacket just in case.
Check out these darling shirts from Uniecho. Lexie and I were gifted these darling matching “Happy Camper” shirts and I was also gifted the “Life is Better in a Camper” shirt. These tees are by far the comfiest t-shirts I own. They are a perfect mixture of sports knit and cotton shirt. Fantastic shirts for hiking! To grab the “Life is Better” camping shirt click here or the “Happy Camper” shirt for yourself head to this link here.
- Hydroflask Water bottles
- Comfortable Baby backpack
- Toddler piggyback
- go girl!
- Toilet paper
- Bug spray
- Headlamp (Walmart sells these for $1!)
- Lip Balm by Duke cannon
- Baby wipes
Since I have a baby in my backpack don’t forget these essentials:
- Something for him to chew on- we love this giraffe.
- Diaper/wipes/changing pad
- Change of clothes or at least a new onesie.
Each of my kids take turns wearing a weight appropriate backpack. Now, this backpack is important to give the kids something to be responsible for, but it also has essential items *in case* someone gets lost or hurt. There have been many times on our hikes we were lucky enough to help another family with a bloody knee. Boom! Mom-win.
So- what’s in the backpack? I’ll show you!
- First Aid Kit- travel size.
- Whistle (in case they get lost)
- Headlamp (Walmart sells these for $1 a piece!)
- Lip Balm Dukecannon
- Sunblock stick
- Snack ideas: granola bar, fruit snacks (always bring extra), trail mix, Gummy Worms, Swedish fish, Fruit Leather, gogosqueeze, Nature’s fig bar.
- Jolly Ranchers- if mouths are full- it’s difficult for kids to complain! I give my baby dumb-dumb suckers. to suck on while he sits in the baby carrier. Yes, I get sticky, but it’s worth it.
- Water bottles for each child. (I enjoy using these Good2grow drinks as water bottles because they don’t leak!)
TIPS AND TRICKS
Right now my kids are 10, 7, 4 and 2. My kids don’t mind hiking for the first hour- after that- we run into problems. The heat starts to bother them or they’re dripping in sweat, tired feet begin to throb… you get it. It’s when the whining starts- that everyone begins to hate the experience. So from one experienced mama, I present to you- the tips and tricks to enjoying hiking with young kids…
- Lava- You can only step on rocks, or take 2 steps on the ground.
- I spy- One hiking trip I asked my son to point out the blue flowers. We never found any! But, he looked for the flowers the whole time- and the game kept him very entertained.
- Exploring for bugs- find ladybugs, bees, crickets, horned toads, spiders, lizards- look for anything that moves and try to identify it.
- I spy with binoculars. Since my husband is a hunter- he has a few spare binoculars. When our legs need a break, we hide in the shade and the kiddies each take turns with the binoculars looking for animals.
- Balancing act- walking along the rocks, twigs, path- without falling.
- “Name that song”- everyone takes a turn starting a song- and you have to figure out which song they are singing. This can be a very challenging game once the little kids start contributing to the song.
- “Guess the Character”- everyone takes turns describing someone. The kiddies enjoy playing this game too.
Using Snacks as a Motivator:
- Use a timer- My kids look forward to snack time- duh. But if we stopped every two minutes, all the snacks would be gone within the hour. So- figure out how far you’re hiking and split up the hike in snacking segments. I discovered my kids were great hikers the first hour. And then- every fifteen to twenty minutes after that the kiddies needed to be rewarded with a drink stop or a treat. What worked best for our family hiking in the heat was a fifteen timer.
- Make checkpoints- have the kids look for big areas of shade and decide that’s where you’ll pull out the snacks and drinks.
- Jolly Ranchers– I really can’t sing praises enough for these! If the kids are sucking on something sweet- their mouths are too full to complain! I’ve even used Jolly Ranchers for in-between snack breaks if we’re trying to hike further than fifteen minutes.
Do you like to go hiking with your family? What tricks do you use to make hiking more fun as a family? Share them with us below!
If you like being outside as a family- do you enjoy camping? We have a whole other article filled to the brim on the trips and tricks I use to make camping fun as a young family. Check it out here! Don’t forget to snag our packing list here. Believe me, even as a seasoned hiker- we forget something every time. When you have a list, your life is much easier and don’t forget to check out our favorite camping products here.