Back in August, my dad took a road trip from Florida to Washington for our wedding. My dad has travelled all over the country, but hadn't made it to the Pacific Northwest yet, so that was a big treat for all of us! We were anxious to share our home with him, as well as our favorite local places.
The day before our wedding was my dad's birthday. Since everything was ready to go for our big day, I wanted him to enjoy his birthday and not have to focus on helping us as he had done since he arrived. So, everyone piled into two vehicles and we headed for the forest to go hiking!
When we take our kids hiking, we let them really explore. We ensure they don't mess with nature's order, but everything else is fair game. Walking sticks, climbing logs, skipping rocks...
I've been hiking with these little ones for the past few years, since Kate was barely walking, and I've found a few great things to ensure a good experience.
1. Stay flexible and take breaks. You may not get where you hope to go, but having fun along the way will ensure your little ones enjoy what they're doing. We allot a certain amount of time to hike, and despite how far we make it, we go as far as their little legs will go. Kate used to fit in a hiking pack, but now that she's an avid walker and runner, it's too much for our backs, so our hikes are very kid friendly these days and we pace ourselves accordingly.
2. Be prepared. Each kid brings their own backpack (usually), filled with their choice of snacks. I'll carry another pack with plenty of water and sandwiches. It helps to bring fresh foods to keep your energy up. Oranges, PB&J, wraps, granola bars, and fruit snacks are just a few things we bring. This really helps that they enjoy their down time. Don't forget things like toilet paper, wipes, diapers, band aids, neosporin.
3. Stop to eat. Depending on the time of day, we stop to eat a good meal before or after our hike. After a great hike outdoors, it's rough for the kids to be cooped up in the car, so we head straight home when all is said and done, although, depending on the length of the drive ahead, we'll even stop for a break for the kids to run around one more time. This often leads to a nap afterward!
We really enjoy these times with our kids. There's nothing quite like exploring the outdoors and sharing experiences like this with them. It's nice to do more intense hikes just the two of us at times, but I really enjoy hiking together as a family and making memories. I can't wait to do more, and will start prepping for the colder months and wetter weather.