Tips on Hiking with Kids
We are fortunate to live in a place where is about 365 days of summer. It’s amazing; if you are a outdoors person. We aren’t exactly that family, but we try.
When we first moved here we had grand ideas and multiple of to-do lists to check the boxes off on. We wanted to experience it all. However with our children having ASD, it can provide some challenges and limitations. But realizing to embrace life, and not the diagnosis, I have never let that stop us from experiencing life.
This past weekend was on of those life experiences and completed box. We went hiking. Not only did we go hiking- we went HIKING! Six miles, five hours, three kids under 6 and no tears (well maybe one). It was an incredible experience. Why? Hello! Did you just read those last sentences?
We had tried this particular hike two years ago. Bug was only 4, Diva was two and SB wasn’t even born (and I was 9 weeks pregnant with a baby we lost). We got about 500 feet down the trail when Bug feel and got a scraped knee, which to him felt like his leg was ripped off and spewing blood. It was a utter disaster.
Since then we have done a few more hikes. Most were miserable. However, we kept doing them. We hate that our kids are so attached to the boob tube and want them to have a childhood similar to ours when we spent hours outdoors. So we pressed on. Trying new hikes and new strategies to keep the kids moving. Somehow last weekend we found the right concoction of tricks to keep the kids moving (that or they were just delirious from a 6 mile hike they forgot to whine and complain).
Here is what we did:
Unlimited small snacks- We misjudged the length of the hike horribly. Disastrously. We thought it was 3 miles round trip; not three miles one way. Whoops. Luckily, I know my kids excuses. 1) I’m hungry 2) I have to go to the bathroom and 3) I’m tired/my legs hurt. So I decided to find answers for them.
I packed several small snacks (instead of large ones). Using small snacks helped them stay focused longer. We used applesauce, fruit snacks and gram crackers. We know for our kids it’s just a excuse. They weren’t starving. So no need for a massive snack where they would need to stop and sit to eat. We packed things that could be eaten on the to and be pieces out. The best was the crackers. I brought a whole sleeve of them. The kids would eat one and be great for about 30 min to a hour.
Next, we keep them active. I’m not talking physically active; mentally active. We of course did some geocaching along the way, pointed out the millions of caterpillars along the trail, stopped and watched jeeps play in the mud, sang songs, asked them questions about what we saw and we each made up a story (one of Divas favorite things to do). Keeping them mentally focused helped them from asking “are we there yet?” And telling us like a broken record their legs were tired. When they finally I said it was at that point I ask them if they wanted to carry SB in the pack.
Then the final excuse- I have to use the bathroom. Well, it’s a hike. There are no man built bathrooms. Pop a squat. I was amazed diva told me only once she has to go. When I told her what she needed to do; she no longer needed to go.
Overall it was a great experience. I think it worked for several reasons-
We hiked during winter, early in the morning (plus 5 hours), feed them regularly, kept them mentally entertained, zero elevation gain and a trail along the beach with a nice breeze always helps.
So get your kids away from the boob tube, and when the weather warms up- head out doors.