WALKING WITH CHILDREN – TOP TIPS TO ENJOY THE HIKE
Walking with children can be hard work, but it doesn’t have to be.
Before we became parents, my husband and I walked all over the UK. We have always loved the great outdoors and walking offered us both great exercise and an enjoyable and relaxing way to spend our free time together.
It doesn’t cost a penny and we have seen some amazing places on foot that we never would have seen. There are some beautiful and interesting places tucked away that you don’t even know exist until you go on a hike and stumble upon them.
When my son was born, it was always our hope that one day he would be able to join us on our adventures, so over the last 18 months we have slowly started to introduce him to the world of walking.
He has enjoyed it from day one. Just like any other child he moans about walking around the shops or walking somewhere if he’s bored but our hikes have never been a problem. I believe that this has been down to the way we introduced him to it and what we do on our walks.
Today I will share with you our secrets in the hope that you can get your children to enjoy walking too!
1. Make the Walk Sound Like Fun
From the very beginning, we have always called our walks ‘an adventure’. We’ve never just said shall we go on a walk? This automatically places interest in your child’s mind. We talk about how exciting it will be to see new places and find new things. Talking about what we will be doing or games we could play along the way helps too.
2. Go Somewhere Interesting
Check out the route beforehand and make sure the walk will have some areas of interest. Coastal walks where you can explore a beach on the way are good, or walks where you may need to cross some streams. Kids love having to step over rocks and logs. This all adds to the adventure. There are plenty of books you can buy for family walks, like this one here for just 1p. You can also visit your local Tourist Information Centre where there is always plenty of information and they will be able to advise you on suitable walks for children.
3. Do Some Fun Things Along The Way
Children are not happy just walking. You need to make it fun. Here are some ideas that we have used to help my son enjoy the experience:
- Let them carry the map and get involved in the map reading
- Collect things along the way such as pebbles and slate and any usual finds
- Play games such as Eye Spy or Name That Tune
- Play spotting games (eg, count the narrow boats on canal walks)
- Do some berry picking
- Draw your own map on route
- Take some binoculars for bird and animal spotting
- Take a bug catching kit to collect bugs along the way
4. Take Some Unusual Treats
If there is a treat that your child doesn’t have very often, take it along for them to have inside their packed lunch. This reinforces that going on a walk is a special occasion and something to look forward to. My son loves his ‘special’ packed lunch that we take when we go walking.
5. Dress Them in Suitable Clothes
It’s so important when walking that your child is comfortable. May sure you take layers of clothing so they are not too hot or cold. Ensure you have suitable waterproofs in case the weather suddenly changes. Without the right clothing you could end up with a miserable child so getting this right is half the battle.
Make sure they have suitable footwear. My son has these ones from Sports Direct and I can highly recommend them. They are waterproof and give plenty of ankle support.
Get your children the same gear and equipment as you. A little rucksack and water bottle is essential and my son loves his walking pole because it’s just like his dad’s. He’s also got a seat pad just like us for when we sit for lunch.
6. Have an End Goal
Where possible, see if you can end the day somewhere fun, like near a play area, or on a beach, or a park. This is their reward for “doing a great job”.
We love walking as a family. Walking with children doesn’t have to be difficult and it can be a great way to spend time together and explore our beautiful country. I do hope this helps to get your little ones walking too.
Do your children like walking? Do you have any tips to add to this list?
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