There is so much to be gained from a family nature hike, for any and all ages. A special kind of peace can be found when enjoying nature, it is a shame not to enjoy it as much as possible-a waste of valuable time of life, even. My family and I determinedly enjoy nature to it’s fullest every day, we always have, even when our children were small. Through our first-hand experiences, we have learned the best types of places to take our youngsters and some tips on how to prepare for nature hikes.
It is surprising how many parents of young children avoid or consistently put off going on nature hikes while their children are quite young, possibly thinking of the stress in keeping youngsters safe, of chasing a toddler, of diaper-clad babies and so forth. I want to take a few minutes here in this article and address the possible concerns parents may have in taking their young children on nature hikes and what solutions might be found so that families can and will get out there and enjoy what nature has to offer us all.
The first important thing to consider in taking your family on a nature hike is the location of said hike. Choose wisely in the realm of safety and appropriateness as you prepare to embark upon your nature hike. For example, a family with very young children that must either be carried or put in a stroller, will most likely be more comfortable with paved walking paths that offer several places to sit and rest and observe nature from that standpoint. Just because parks or walking/biking paths are paved for ease of use does not disqualify them as nature hike options. There are still many chances to see wildlife flora and fauna along the way.
I there are toddlers present on the nature hike, wee ones that can walk and that in fact, prefer to walk or run about, the paved park paths are a good option but not the only option for those families. The most important consideration in this instance would be safety. Making sure the area does not have extreme drop-offs or deep water that will pose perilous risks to those pell-mell running toddlers. Pick a safe nature hike location and let that toddler burn off some of that miraculous energy they seem to regenerate faster than adults can blink! Simple common sense and close supervision are all that’s needed to let toddlers roam and enjoy nature hikes, keeping them safe and sound all the while.
Another important planning point to consider when taking your family with young children out on a nature hike is what to pack, how to avoid carrying a bona fide suitcase and therefore thwarting any attempt to enjoy a nature hike with your family.
In the car:
For all children, a complete change of clothing, a dry towel and sometimes even extra shoes left in the car at the point of the nature hike’s origin will ensure clean, dry clothing for the trip home therefore freeing both parents and young children to enjoy the hike-children on a nature hike are going to, and should, get dirty. A few extra snacks and drinks packed up to leave in the car will provide a revitalizing rest opportunity before embarking on the return trip home.
On the trail:
A regular sized backpack that can easily be carried by one parent or another should suffice for carrying any necessities and wants along for the family hike. Diapers for those tiny ones, wipes for all ages and many uses, a water bottle or two, baby bottle if need be and some easy snacks are all that’s truly needed on the actual hike itself, depending on the length of the nature hike. Snacks such as fruit, cereal bars, crackers or dry cereal to munch will most likely give everyone a needed boost along the way. A basic first aid kit is another good idea that will fit perfectly into an adult’s backpack for the nature hike. A few bandaids, a tube hydrocortisone cream for insect bites or other occurring itches are all that’s really needed for the duration of a family nature hike.
The last big thing of importance in taking youngsters along on a nature hike is the simplest of all, have fun! By planning an appropriate nature hike in terms of location, supervision and preparation, with the focus being completely on enjoying nature as a family, the nature hike with young children is guaranteed to not only be possible, but great fun and full of memories as well. Take your family out there and enjoy nature!