Hiking Mama: Introducing your kids to the outdoors

Introducing your kids to the outdoors for the first time can be scary. YOU MAY START TO THINK:

“What if they fall?”

“What if something bad happens when we are out?”

“What if I can’t handle it?” or,

“What if they don’t like it?”

It’s okay to think these things, but lets not let these thoughts be something that prevents us from doing it. I first took my son out to hike Torrey Pines (located in San Diego, CA) when he was three years old. I was a bit nervous because I started thinking negative thoughts. I decided I was going to take him. We started up the trail where he found himself a good walking stick and was imagining he was Gandalf from The Lord of the Rings. Seeing how adventurous he was warmed my heart.

I laughed to myself thinking, why was I so nervous?

Just seeing how he was in such awe over the cliffs, rocks, ocean and birds was so rewarding. He even climbed up the rocks to get a better view. I’ll be honest – he did fall once, but he just got up and continued to hike. He is now seven and he still enjoys getting outdoors. For my daughter’s first hike, we took her back to the same trail.  She pretty much ran the whole thing, climbing the rocks as they appeared. It was a very heartfelt feeling seeing the two of them enjoy it so much together. Seeing her big brother guiding her made me feel like one proud mama.

With technology ever-present in our daily lives, going outdoors with your family is such a nice way to break away from it all. Here are a few ways to ease your way into introducing your kids to the outdoors.

Find a trail that is short and kid friendly.

I use the All Trails app and it’s so great because it lets you filter out kid friendly trails, level of difficulty (easy, moderate, hard), length, and you are able to see reviews and view others photos from those trails.

Almost all kids have some toys they absolutely adore.

Let them bring one or two to make them feel more at ease about trying something new. They may end up forgetting about them because they are simply enjoying their time outside, or, they may use their imaginations and have their toys go on an amazing adventure with them.

 Bring plenty of snacks and water.

Let’s face it: kids can get tired quickly, and, let’s be honest: us parents may get tired chasing them. Take snack and water breaks to break up the hike.

Stop to let them enjoy what playgrounds the outdoors has to offer them.

If you’re rushing through the trail on their first time, it may not allow them to fully grasp all that surrounds them. Hiking is not a race enjoy every minute you are able to spend outside.

Make it a family affair.

Bring other family members out with you. Having other loved ones out there can make your kids feel comfortable and hey who knows you may just strike a fire inside another family member to love the outdoors as well. My kids both look up to my younger brother so it is very exciting for them when he comes along with us.

Be sure to bring sunscreen.

No matter what the weather is like outside, you want to make sure you’re applying some to your kids and YOURSELF. I can honestly say I have applied some to my kids and completely forgot about myself. It was not a very good look or feeling the next day. So, be sure everyone is getting some.

Bring a first-aid kit.

REI has some amazing Medical Kits you can purchase. You can also build your own and if your kids have any special medications they may need while you’re out, be sure to pack them. My son has exercised induced asthma and I, too, have asthma so we both make sure to pack our inhalers just to be safe.

These are just a few things to help introduce your kids to the outdoors. If you are unsure or have any other questions, don’t be afraid to reach out to other mothers. There are so many amazing groups out there now that love supporting other outdoor mothers – Mothers Who Hike, Hike It Baby, and Trail Mothers – just to name a few.

If you have any tips or just want to share your first experience you brought your kids hiking, please feel free to comment. You may just help inspire another mama.