Ok, first things first, I've been keeping a secret from you. It has been so hard not to spill the beans, but today I can finally share the news! A few months ago I was contacted by Nonni's THINaddictives who somehow (??) discovered this little blog and wanted to showcase me and our Mommy Hike LA group for their Get Addicted to Hiking Spotlight Series!
For the better part of 6 months, the Nonni's THINaddictive Team has proudly featured scores of active, inspiring women in their communities with the hopes of encouraging others to get moving, get fit and get happy! It was a match made in heaven and I couldn't be more honored to be a part of it!
Check out our Get Addicted to Hiking Spotlight Video below and check out all of the other vivacious and victorious women they have spotlighted on their THINaddictives' Facebook Page!
Now, on to getting those little tykes of yours excited about hiking! Here are seven simple tips that have worked for me to keep those little feet moving on the trail!
It has been my experience that any time I have set out on a hike with my toddler (which is, at a minimum, once a week) with the mindset that it will be a great workout for me, it almost always ends in frustration; me wanting to strengthen those glutes and her wanting to sit in the middle of the dirt looking for ants. Nowadays, I know the moment I step on to the trail with my 2 1/2 year old, it's all about her discovery and exploration.
There have been days when it takes us 30 minutes just to walk from the parking area to the trailhead, little hands already full with rocks and sticks and that is OK! Be engaged in what piques their interest and go from there!
Combine Your Hike with Mealtime!
If you know my daughter, you know that any time is meal time! Ha! The promise of a picnic when we've reached our turnaround point is most definitely a motivator for my kid.
Make it fun, bring some of their favorite snacks or a special treat to enjoy while basking in the satisfaction of having made it half way! This also gives kids some downtime, just sitting and relaxing to the sounds of Mother Nature.
Invite Other Friends!
This was actually the root of the idea that gave the Mommy Hike LA group its wings! As a new mommy, I started taking V on solo hikes the moment I was up and able to move again. Then, I invited a few of my friends to go hiking with us. Those friends just so happened to be mommies and they brought their kids and next thing you know...
a group was born! An amazing group of friends who share the same passions and are there for each other when you need them; and in turn a beautiful group of kids are emerging, growing up together with shared experiences and discoveries.
Create a Hiking Scavenger Hunt!
This one, I'm giving full credit over to fellow Outdoor Blogger Debi Huang Klump! On her blog, Go Explore Nature she has created a great Scavenger Hunt Series and recently we were lucky enough to get her to do an Exclusive Mommy Hiker Hiking Scavenger Hunt! V and I actually did the hiking scavenger hunt this week and you'll get to see that adventure in its entirety, next week!
Download our Scavenger Hunt List, check out Debi's lists, scour the interwebs or write your own Scavenger Hunt tailored to your kid's favorite things! Use the discovery of a smooth, hot rock as a launching pad to discuss what made the rock hot to begin with, what lives underneath it or how it came to sit on this particular spot of earth in the first place. Just beware you don't fall into the role of the task-masker, barking orders and insisting on finding the next item on the list. Make it fun! Looking for a lizard? Call out for him! "Oh, Mister Liiiiiiiizaaaaaaard! Where are youuuuuuuu?"
Hike Trails That Have Water Features!
One of the best motivators I've found yet to keep a toddler moving on the trail is to entice them with a waterfall! We are lucky in Los Angeles, to have our pick of numerous day hikes which follow streams and many that end in gorgeous dramatic waterfalls.
Combining a hike with rock-hopping across stream crossings, mid-sentence splashes and frolicking in waist-deep, sparkling pools is a sure-fire way to get even the most reluctant kids to get in to Nature! Water also adds an additional vast ecosytem of plants, animals and insets to explore. Just make sure you bring additional clothing, because you can rest assured that no kid will finish their hike dry!
Give Them the Map!
This is one of my favorite things to do. I love giving V the control and sense of ownership of her own experience. Letting kids lead the way is an incredible confidence builder and helps to shape their decision-making skills!
Let them navigate. Allow them to make mistakes, get (moderately) lost, then let them try to figure out how to get back on track. Or, let them discover a new route! You will never know where it may lead you!
Know When to Call it a Day!
As parents, we all have a pretty good radar for "Imminent Meltdown" or the dreaded "Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day Syndrome." Everyone is allowed to have an off day, so know when it's time to cut your losses and head home!
There are definitely times when all I want to do is sit down with a cup of tea, on the sofa and read a book, so be understanding. If hiking becomes a battle, the chances are their affinity for the activity will diminish, so know when to say when and keep on trying!!
What are some of YOUR best tricks and tips for keeping those kiddos excited about hiking?