Does the thought of hiking with two young children send shivers down your spine? It shouldn't. I recently took my two girls out for a fall hike and we had a blast. The key: keep it simple.
You don't need to hike up a mountain or go deep in the woods to experience all the fun of a hike. For our hike we stayed local and chose a paved bike path in a wooded area. We also kept it short, stopping and turning around when the girls requested it. A long hike for a young child may not necessarily seem long to you.
Another thing that works well for me is to let my girls lead the way. I stop when they stop. We'll examine anything and everything that they want to look at.
We picked up sticks and laid them all out to examine and figure out which were the best ones. Apparently there is special 4-year-old criteria when it comes to finding the best stick.
Look high and look low and you're sure to find something interesting, like this bird's nest already abandoned for the winter. We also found bright yellow leaves, a big curvy tree, a small batch of berries (which we learned not to touch since we don't know what they are), a secret path leading to a dock on a small lake and lots of nature treasures.
Here are my tips for a successful hike with young children:
- Keep it short.
- Keep it slow. Let your kids explore and examine as much as they want.
- Go someplace familiar. You will feel more comfortable if you know the area well.
- Turn back if the kids start getting tired. You don't want to push them and end up having to carry an exhausted child!
- Use your eyes, ears, and nose to learn a little about the natural world around you. Experience the hike, don't just walk it.
- And the most important... Keep it simple! You will all enjoy yourself more.