My husband and I started hiking regularly when we were dating. After we had our first son (now 3 years old) we just kept at it, hoping that it could become a family hobby. Baby 2 has joined our family now and we’re still at it- even in colder weather. Here are four things I love the most about hiking with my kids
They See Things You Don’t
My 3 year old is so curious about everything! He points out things that my eyes would have glazed over. He’s constantly asking, “What’s that?” and it’s really cool to see what he spots out on the trail. In fact, we’ll often play a version of the game, I Spy. Now, instead of just staring at my feet, trying not to trip on a tree root, my eyes are all over the place experiencing the beauty of the surrounding mountain.
They Push Me To Persevere
Kids are tough. They’ll whine on the trail, sure, but mostly I’m amazed at how much my kiddo can do even at just three years old. When we hike in the snow, he bounces from snow drift to snow drift laughing and it helps me keep my mind off the cold and on the memories we’re creating instead. I’ve learned that if I’m dragging and complaining about aching muscles, then he’ll do the same. But if reaching deep down for the energy to go just a little further, then he’ll match me. It’s important for me to show him that we can do hard things and that hard things can be fun and worth it!
They’re Excited By The Little Things
A pinecone? A squirrel? A tiny yellow flower? All extremely cool and interesting in the eyes of my 3 year old. It’s a fun way to experience the trail. Last year we gave him his very own Camelbak and suddenly drinking water was the most amazing thing ever to him. It’s pretty fun to watch his eyes go wide over every little thing along the trail. It’s also been fun for me to come up with things to excite my son when it comes to hiking. For example, sometimes on our winter hike I’ll pack a thermos full of hot chocolate which is normal to me, but extra special to him.
They Remind Me That The Experience Is More Important Than The Distance
This is a big one. Hiking used to be about the miles for me. Now, it’s about the experience. Sometimes it’d take us ages just to make it to that first mile. At first, the snails pace was frustrating to me. Then I reminded myself of what we actually did during that short distance- skipped rocks in a nearby stream, collected pinecones/sticks, played froggy jump over fallen tree stumps, used the binoculars to find hawks… and had an amazing experience that I wouldn’t have had if I’d just been focused on distance.
So yes, hiking with kids can be hard. Right now I have to pack diapers and sometimes I have to stop on the trail and feed the baby. I have to pack extra clothes for the toddler who just can’t resist puddles. We do short, easy hikes that we know will push- but not discourage our son. It’s not exactly a workout for me anymore, but hiking has become so much more when I’m experiencing it with our kids and I’m pumped that they seem to love it just as much as we do.
Would you hike in the snow?