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Creating Darling Moments With Dad: Tips on Hiking with Kids
I’m Kevin. I work behind the scenes at Lucy Darling. With summer well on its way, I'm sure many of you will be getting out of the house and enjoying the great outdoors. In our family we love to travel and go on adventures.
When asked what I love to do with my 3 kids, this was at the top of my list and here are some of my tips for hiking with little kids:
1. Talk it up
Hopefully you're hiking some place you want to hike. Why do you want to do it? What do you expect to see? What can you tell them about the animals, the flora and fauna, the geology of the area you're going to? If you prep them with stuff like this you'll be shocked at how much they notice AND how proud they are when they point out something you talked about beforehand. There is a nature loop in Scottsdale, AZ, where we live and it has a section on identifying different types of cactuses. We went there last winter and talked about all the ways you can identify this or that cactus and my 5 year old loves to identify the cactuses she sees, and she loves it even more when I confirm her identification.
2. Set appropriate expectations
This may be the hardest one for me. I'm pretty hard charging when it comes to hiking and exploring, so my default expectations are usually way too high! Generally when I'm setting low expectations (in my mind) they're still a good 2 or 3 times what's realistic. Think about it this way: your goal is to indoctrinate them into the love of nature. It's actually not that hard because kids love nature: bugs, trees, creeks, rocks. But they've got to have time to play and do silly kid things that are in direct contradiction to what is likely your actual goal: complete the hike.
3. Be ready to go slow
This is tied to #1 but it's really important. You're probably going too fast.
4. Pack lots of snacks
They love breaks and they love snacks more. Keep them well nourished and they'll be much, much happier, whine far less, and you will enjoy the hike much more.
5. Don't make them carry much
For my 5 year old, she's just started carrying the smallest backpack we could find that would fit a 1.5L bladder. That's really all she can handle. You have to test this out through trial and error, but, when in doubt, have them carry less.