I love nature and I love spending time outdoors. Most kids love being outside too but sometimes they need a little encouragement. Especially these days when kids get so used to their electronics! Outdoor fun is a great way to have them set aside electronics and engage in the benefits of family time. If you want to get outside but you fear that your family hiking trips won’t be as fun as you hoped, I have some great advice from Mark Danenhauer on how to get the whole family to enjoy a hike.
Mark Danenhauer is a stay at home dad who loves sharing the natural world with his two children. He is a pro at getting his kids involved in all kinds of outdoor activities. He writes a blog and is author of a soon to be published book, Jake’s Nature Guide: Rocky Mountains. You can learn more at Jake’s Nature Blog or on Facebook at Jake’s Nature Guide. I am so happy to have him share a guest post with us today on how to make family hiking trips more fun.
Take Family Hiking Trips For Fun
The weekend is always a great time to spend with family and what better way to spend it than by taking a nice hike in nature?
The most important part of the hike is simply the fact that the entire family is out together. It does not matter where you go or how long you go for. In fact, parents you should set your sights low. Do not pick a hike that is too long and have high expectations.
Another important part of the family hike is to make a rule that while out hiking there are no distractions such as iPods, headphones, or other electronic devices. If different people are listening to iPods then even though you are technically together you are not actually together as a family because everyone is doing their own thing.
The Goal of the Hike is Family Fun
As a parent, going on hikes with young children, the focus should be on taking your time and exploring the natural world. This means that you may not get very far, but at least the whole family will be enjoying themselves. Remember you are going for a hike with your family to have quality family time and to have fun in nature.
Have Fun Along the Way
Do whatever your family wants to do along the trail, but don’t feel obligated to hike as fast as you can. Some families may find it more fun to simply hike along quickly, but others may want to take their time. Do whatever suits you best.
If you want to take it easy be sure to climb rocks, walk along natural balance beams, and smell the flowers. Take a little detour to a creek to throw rocks or see what you can find in the water. Maybe you can find some beautiful flowers or neat spider webs with spiders on them ready to eat a meal.
Hiking Tips for Parents
Before you go on your hike, take a few minutes to do a little bit of research about the area you will be visiting. Try and learn at least two nature facts about the area. Then while hiking if you see the thing that you learned about beforehand you can share that fun fact with your kids. Both you and your kids will gain a deeper appreciation of the area. Here are a couple of examples of fun nature facts:
You could decide to learn the name of a common dragonfly if you will be hiking near a pond. Then when you see it and as you watch it you could talk to your kids about dragonfly’s wings. They have four wings that are attached to their bodies independently of each other. This allows them to have incredible control when flying such that they can fly forwards, sideways, up and down, or even backwards.
Or maybe you can research a couple of the common birds in the area. Don’t just learn the names of the birds though. Dig a little bit deeper and learn something about the birds’ behavior that is neat and you could share with your kids. For example, you could learn about barn swallows and how they spend more time flying than any other songbird. They are trying to catch and eat flying insects when you see them zooming across the sky.
Your Family Will Gain an Appreciation of the Natural World Where You Live
If you and your family go for weekend family hiking trips three times a month then you will all learn much more about the area you live in. You will gain more of a sense of place and understand how the natural world changes throughout the year. Before you know it you will have some junior naturalists who are ready to start sharing their knowledge of the natural world with you.
Have you been on any family hiking trips? Now that you have heard these tips for having more fun while hiking with your kids, do you think you will try it out? Let us know your favorite family hiking trails!