Today we welcome Carrie Visintainer to the blog. She has a fabulous site encouraging women, men and families to “free your wild” – to find your passions and pursue them (and not let adding children to the mix suffocate them). Be sure to check out her bio at the end of this post. Thanks, Carrie, for joining us today with some great tips for hiking with kids (because we all need a little kick in the pant sometimes to get out there.)
Hiking with kids offers the perfect opportunity to explore the wonders of nature, stay fit, and bond as a family. My husband and I have been hitting the trails in the mountains near our Colorado home with our kids, ages 7 and 4, since they were newborns. There have been challenges, for sure! But because it’s is a priority for us, we’ve kept at it, and we’ve learned a lot along the way. Here are five ideas for keeping kids smiling and walking, and not whining.
Make it a mystery. Look at trail descriptions in advance, and choose a path that includes varied scenery and plentiful opportunities for discovery. Maybe you start in a dense forest, emerge into a big meadow, and then finish at a crashing waterfall. Other fun landmarks include rivers, lakes, scenic overlooks, or historical sites, which can also serve as milestones along the way. As you walk, say things like, “Okay, now we’re at the old miner’s cabin. Next, we’ve got to look for…”
Rest often, but not too much. Young kids often act like they’ve climbed Everest after walking for ten minutes. They complain of tired legs and failing lungs. However, do you see how they run circles (literally) around you at home? I’ve found it works well to rest every thirty minutes. Even toddlers can make it; really. During the rest, offer water and high-energy snacks like granola bars, nuts, and dried fruit, and compliment them on their progress.
Keep it engaging. Adults often have a destination in mind, but for kids it’s all about the journey. Point out interesting plants, trees, and flowers along the way, and take time to stop and look closely at birds, insects, and strange rocks or logs. Kids never seem to tire of looking into holes and speculating about what might live inside. (Of course, they also always notice scat.)
Offer rewards for milestones. Even if you’re not really into sugar at home, it works wonders on the trail. I like to bring treats that are novel for my kids— creative lollypops, pop rocks, gummy bears—and hand them out when they’ve accomplished something noteworthy. It doesn’t have to be anything major. Maybe your child made it to the end of the trail, or didn’t whine for a certain period of time, or did way better than the last time you were out hiking. Each kid is different, so encourage them!
Celebrate success. After every hike, our family sits down for a big meal (at home or in a restaurant) that includes dessert. This is nice for adults, too. During the meal, talk about the hiking experience. Go around the table, with each person sharing their two favorite things about the day. Little kids often contribute powerful insights. It’s also helpful to ask about challenges, which will help you identify ways to modify the hike next time, or identify areas where your child might need an extra reward. End on a positive note, maybe even discussing what kind of trail you’d like to do next time.
Let’s keep the conversation going. What tips do you have? What’s worked for you on the trail with kids?
Carrie Visintainer is a Colorado-based writer and the founder of Free Your Wild, empowering women and families to unlock their inner wild. Her work has appeared in Outside and 5280, and she’s the Wild Mama columnist for The Coloradoan. Her first book is forthcoming, represented by Wolf Literary. Visit Carrie and share your insights at www.freeyourwild.com.
To be perfectly honest, this post has been in the works since Father’s Day. Since it’s now July, I totally failed on that one! However, there is some great gear that he has been testing that we don’t want to miss out on sharing with you. And since people don’t JUST get gifts for the men on their life on the big holidays, we figure the information is still valuable. It’s a hodge podge, but it’s what he’s been loving lately and thinks is worth sharing.
Really and truly, Ibex makes amazing clothing and gear. It’s expensive (mostly because of the merino wool they use), but you can be sure to get a really high quality piece of clothing that will make your life easier. Mtn Papa was on the quest this year for some great running shorts and we turned to Ibex first.
What he says: “The Pulse running shorts are the most comfortable shorts I have ever worn running. They are light, breathe well, and stay in place to prevent chaffing.”
The shorts’ liner is made with Ibex’s signature Pulse fabric – a blend of merino wool and spandex.
Ecoths (pronounced “ecos”) is a new shop out on the market just in the past year. They are a sister company of Aventura, and a brand we scoped out at the Outdoor Retailer show a while back.
Because they say it much better than I ever could: “Ecōths is 100% natural and unparalleled with its unique styling details and approach to creating a brand with a true SOUL. Our desire with Ecōths is to combine urban fashion elements with rugged outdoor influence to create one cohesive brand that unites style, community, and goodness. As part of our GOOD SAM program, Ecōths will be supporting regional food banks around the country. For every Ecōths garment purchased in the United States, three meals will be provided to someone in need through their regional food bank. Ecōths mission is simple – bring together the triple bottom line of People, Planet, and Product.”
This summer Mtn Papa was given a chance to try out Ecoth’s Tallac Shirt ($62). I have to admit I wasn’t sure what to expect (and Mtn Papa never is ;)) but we were both very pleasantly surprised – the Tallac has become one of his favorite shirts to wear (super soft, wears well, gives some outdoorsy style) and my favorite shirt to see on him.
When Mtn Papa was on a hunt for a new wallet this year, he stumbled upon an advertisement on a magazine (I know, I know – people still do that?!?) for Butterfly Wallets. They had a promo going at the time so we ended up buying three of them. They looked like exactly what he wanted – small, lightweight and low bulk.
The wallet is really very simple – it only weighs 0.2 ounces and is 3mm thin. However, it is very durable, holds all the cards that he wants it to hold (currently 8 + IDs) and doesn’t get in his way. And really – at less than $13 the risk is super minimal. He has been using his for the past 7 months and has no complaints at all.
It seems almost TOO simple to work great, but it sure does! Available in 6 different colors.
Ibex and Ecoths generously provided us this gear in order to facilitate this review per our request. However, as always, the opinions expressed here are completely and honestly our own. You can find my full disclosure here.
I’m not the most structured individual as a rule – but I really like having a rough “plan” for our days. When the summer days are long and HOT – I rely on my rough “plan” so that I can prioritize and address everyone’s need given the perimeters of the day: the HOT, the afternoon thunderstorms that are more than likely, how urgent the need to shaky-the-sillies-out, and planning for naps/quiet time. That means fitting in outdoor/active playtime, my own exercise time, the to-do list in the back of my mind – and managing these needs without MELTING in the sun. For me – the most important check on the list of things to accomplish is finding healthy outlets for busy bodies and growing minds! In addition to the essentials – hydration and sunscreen – we’ve come up with a few tricks in our family that help us BEAT the HEAT of summer and keep getting outside – even on the hottest of days!
5 Way We Beat the Heat:
1. TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THE EARLY/LATER HOURS
When I’m on top of my game first thing in the morning, I drink my coffee in the driveway, open the garage and send the kids into the culdesac on scooters, bikes, etc. Who doesn’t like a little breakfast picnic? If you’re really on top of your morning game – you could take breakfast to the park or even somewhere more adventurous. We haven’t quite made it to the beach in time for sunrise – but we’ll keep trying. We also like to get out again in the evening when the sun starts to fall. Take your pick – I prefer the morning hours – but some of you night owls may like an evening stroll at sunset instead!
2. ADD WATER
When in doubt, add water to your play! We’re blessed to be surrounded by water: lakes, rivers, pools, and my personal fav – the beach. Even if you don’t have access to a large(ish) water source, adding water to your outdoor time makes it bearable in the blazing sun. Plan for a water fight, make your own slip’ n slide, fill up buckets of water and “paint” the driveway/sidewalk/back porch with paint brushes (large & small), fill up water balloons and set up targets, add a running water source to your outdoor play space, make a water wall. There are endless possibilities for adding water to outdoor play!
We enjoy a good snack around here and the right fuel keeps the bodies moving and the faces smiling (mostly!). We love making “smoothie popsicles”- I mix up frozen fruit, hiding spinach or kale in the blender :), and pour the mixture into popsicle molds (it sure helps to include bananas and/or pineapple for extra sweetness). You could make this process an indoor activity of its own and then plan for your outdoor adventures later on – or the next day.
4. ADD FRIENDS
Including friends in our outdoor fun usually (usually!!) increases everyone’s threshold for a little extra time spent outdoors. Spending more time with friends is an incentive – and they offer a healthy distraction.
5. MAKE IT QUICK
Some days just don’t allow for any of the above – or your own creative solutions. So if you’re thinking outdoor play time just can’t work – make it a quick one! Even a super quick trip outdoors to get the blood pumping and observe a change of scenery can make a BIG difference. One little trip, or several quick trips outside across the day raises the mood around here!
We hope to inspire more families to have the confidence to get outside, even when it’s not easy or comfortable. With that said, getting outside to get outside is not the aim. Healthy bodies and healthy minds are the goal – be sure to listen to your own body and to the little (and big!) ones who are in your care. Hydrate. Lather up the sunscreen. Repeat. And have some fun!
YOUR TURN! What are your solutions for getting outside when it’s blazing hot??!
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