Our love for hiking as a family has grown over the past number of years. It is one of our favorite things to do together. However, it sure wasn’t always this way.
We have noticed on social media as we communicate with our wonderful outdoor adventure community that more and more parents seem to be asking for help in motivating and teaching their kids to enjoy family hiking.
Families just starting to travel and adventure together have often contacted us to ask how we do it without killing one another and how we motivate our three kids to get out there and explore more! These parents really want to love it, but the challenge of motivating their kids can make the experience less enjoyable.
We are not touristy travelers; we are more adventure travelers that seek out outdoor activities over urban tours as a family. Collectively we love skateboarding, mountain biking, long boarding, surfing and pretty much anything that involves water. What we struggled with was hiking because at first the kids weren’t motivated to enjoy it.
As parents we love it, but for some reason we have procreated little people that haven’t quite arrived in the same place. For the longest time we wondered what was wrong with them or worse yet what was wrong with us? Why were our kids not passionate about the things that we were passionate about?
However, the more we connect with this amazing travel and adventure community on IG the more we realize that there is nothing wrong with our kids and more importantly nothing wrong with our ability to parent. We are not alone in this struggle.
Our kids are just normal kids that need encouragement, coaxing and training to instill the truth in them that they are way more capable than they think they are and that pushing them outside of their comfort zone builds strong character. We have really dug deep into this issue and developed some strategies to gently encourage our kids to come along on the adventure. Here are nine tips that we have learned along the way.
- Set your expectations low to begin with and work your way up gradually. Don’t tell your “new to adventure/travel 10 year old” that you are doing a 10 mile with a 8000 ft elevation gain…that would have made ME go run and hide.
- Take it slow and easy, and engage in meaningful conversation as you go. As homeschoolers we are always on the lookout for “teaching moments.” We have found that it is helpful as a parent to brush up on the details of the trail and its surrounding area and share fun facts along the way. Remember that kids are more about the journey than the destination. We as adults could learn a thing or two from them in regards to this.
- There is nothing more motivating than being personally invested in something. Involve your kids in the planning and packing. If at all possible, provide them with a map of the hike ahead of time. This will help fuel the fire a bit.
- SNACKS! This one is pretty self explanatory and we learned the hard way with a hypoglycaemic son. Hangry is a real thing!!! If there is a concern of unfriendly wildlife in the area we just refrain from feeding our son…He can scare off any living creature LOL Just Jokes! Our favourite snacks on the go are Paleo Protein Power Balls (I only say paleo because you tend to get recipes with whole foods), +Beef Jerky and lots of salted water.
- One of the most amazing things we discovered near the end of last year was geocaching. I wish we had started it early. So motivating for kids and the great part is, the kids just wanted to keep going. You end up putting on way more miles with all the weaving you do, but as a family, it is so much fun. There are many different apps available for your mobile device. Our favourites are Geo Bucket and GeoCaches.
- Make sure to have down days in between the really active days. We found that if we spaced the hikes out every 2-3 days, they were more inclined to “agree” with at least a half smile.
- Set aside your own agenda, give the kids space to whine a bit and know that once you get moving they will be ok. Getting going we found to be the hardest part.
- Involve them in documenting the adventure. We have invested in good cameras for all of our kids, although an iPhone would do the trick. We have found that they get more excited about their surroundings and the adventure when they are fully immersed in it with camera in hand.
- Last but not least…ensure there is an ice cold beer waiting for you back at camp. Pat yourself on the back and say way to go. You did it and with all three children still alive and breathing!