There’s nothing like the excitement and anticipation of going on a good long walk with the family. Depending on the age of your kid, maybe they’ve even helped pick the walk you’re going to do, make lunch and pack the bags. You get in the car, travel to the trailhead chattering all the way of the things you might see on your walk, and once there you strap on your hiking boots and get under way, full of positivity and that all important can-do attitude. You just can’t beat a family walk for that, but then it happens. All the enthusiasm for it has just been inexplicably zapped from the little ones, and trying to get them to move even one step further along seems like a mission impossible. They have sat on the path and they’re not budging for nothing. Sound familiar? Us too, we’ve had plenty of moments like that! Here are our tips for keeping kids moving along on longer walks.
Let them lead – Give them a little responsibility and they will run with it! You might end up following them at a slower pace, but it’s all in the right direction so definitely a win! And a well-deserved high five to the leader too!
Teach them about your equipment – We all know how curious kids can be, and being outdoors and getting to play with your outdoor gear is absolutely no exception. So why not give them a little lesson on reading a compass and see how far they can go with it.
Play as you go: Fighting superheroes, running away from the local dinosaur families or racing to the next tree/rock/bunch of flowers – Whatever moves you in the right direction, right?
Magnifying glass/binoculars – Exploration at their pace, with a little bit of equipment too. They can be light to carry, and fit in a pocket. Ideal!
Take a break and explore your surroundings – Let them discover for themselves why it’s so great to get out and explore. Give them a bit of time to discover something new, to fully immerse themselves in the outdoors and become re-enthusiastic about where they are!
Appreciate natural features – We’ve taken a few minutes before while he’s enjoyed a car ride on a rock in the shape of a car, and our favourite, finding the perfect platform to practice a dino impression. The summit CAN wait!
Walking poles – Gear envy is not pretty, even in kids! Mummy and daddy have walking poles, seems only right that little ones should have them too! Ours are 3-section poles that are the perfect height for our son when he wants them. They’re also good for spontaneous Star Wars fights….. you know what we’re talking about, surely we’ve all been there, done that, right? ….Right???
Discussing features in the distance and moving towards them – Having a goal works for everyone. See that tree in the distance? First one there gets a jellybean! (Has also been known to work a few times for mum too!)
Draw a map of the trail – Depending on the age of your kids, and the length of the trail, drawing a map of the walk is a great way to get kids involved in the walk from the carpark. Especially if it’s a map to hidden treasure and they know that a snack is the prize at the end of the trail!
Spotting wildlife – Can also be linked with the binoculars or magnifying glass! Let them know beforehand what to keep an eye out for, and see how many they can tick off the list as you go.
Something like a magazine (if wild camping) or a treat in the car – Bribery. ‘Nuff said!
Sit and admire the view for a while – If you can’t beat them, join them! It’ll only be for a few minutes.
Biggest tips for parents? – Have patience. It’s ok if you’re walking with your partner/friends to maybe have a minute or two by yourself and recentre any frayed nerves. Set realistic goals and be flexible. Don’t forget your back carrier if you think it’s needed on the walk, as well as plenty of food/drink, spare clothes and woolly/sun hats.
What do you do to keep kids walking in the right direction? It can be hard if you’re in the middle of nowhere, so share any tips below, we’d love to hear them!