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We love hiking. Getting out in nature. The fresh air. The flora and fauna. The pretty views. The natural exercise.
But sometimes, as much as our kids love playing outside, it’s hard to motivate them off the couch to even get…to the hike.
Apparently, there’s a difference between just playing outside and playing or being “in nature.”
This, as you can imagine, presents quite the problem to the mom whose favorite mug looks like this:
But after much creative thinking and trial and error, I think I’ve finally come up with the three surefire ways to get my girls excited for our weekend adventures. These methods are super easy and very effective and will definitely help everyone have more fun when hiking with kids.
How to Have Fun when Hiking with Kids
Last weekend the forecast was finally calling for gorgeous spring weather here in Atlanta. Sunny and 70’s! No rain ANYWHERE in the forecast.
Let me just say that again.
No Rain! (Which is a big deal for the Seattle of the South).
So I decided to skip the gym, rally the troops, and get everyone out of the house and into the woods.
“Ughhh, hiking. I hate hiking. There’s too many trees. I’m exhausted. Can’t I just play outside?”whined my older daughter.
“Exhausted? It’s 9am. You just woke up. And besides didn’t you hike at your recent Girl Scout retreat? You said it was super fun.”
“Yes, but that was different. It was for Girl Scouts.”
“Well, this is for family. So it might be even better!”
“Ughhhhhhh. Noooooooooo. I’m exhausted.”
Exhausted is my 8 year old’s favorite term to use when she can’t think of an actual excuse.
I was determined not to let my dramatic pre-teen-wannabe ruin my Saturday.
I needed to get creative and outsmart my smarty-pants.
So I thought fast and came up with a good incentive that I knew she’d like.
Fun Hiking Tip #1: Create high value reward treats.
Ok, yes, I harkened back to my pre-kids puppy dog training for this one. But hey—kids are like puppies and vice versa, right?
I knew regular trail mix wasn’t going to cut it.
I would need some magical trail mix.
Something with pretty colors, yummy flavors, and hopefully something that they really liked. I searched the cupboard and found some rainbow colored chocolate covered sunflower seeds. Perfect!
Then I grabbed some super fun unicorn cookies. Even better.
Ok, now I had something pretty-darn irresistible. I added these special items to the regular trai lmix and casually waved them in front of the peanut gallery.
“I’ve got magical trail mix.”
“I want that! Yummy!” pipes up my younger daughter.
“Magical trail mix? Hmmm what’s in it? It looks pretty,” says my skeptical 8 year old.
I let her a closer look at the bag. Her eyes grew wide, and I saw a smile start to form.
“But you can’t have any unless we go hiking.”
“Ok maybe, but I want to see the cannons. Can we go to Kennesaw Mountain with the cannons?”
“Of course!” (I then shuffled everyone out of the house before anyone could change their mind.)
Which brings me to strategic tip # 2:
Fun Hiking Tip #2—Choose a trail that has a fun/unique end point or interesting vistas.
Whenever I’m trying a new hike that I’m not familiar with, I always like to pick ones with waterfalls. The thought of watching those beautiful majestic water ballets of nature always motivate me through even the toughest hikes. So when I’m planning a hike for my kids, I try to put myself in their shoes and think—what would I want to see if I were a little kid.
Sometimes we visit waterfalls. Sometimes we visit historical sights with cannons. Sometimes we take trails with beautiful rock formations or even just great vistas.
No matter what we choose, I always make sure there is something interesting, and it’s not just a hike in the woods.
Fun Hiking Tip #3 : Create fun games/challenges/scavenger hunt along the way
OK-so you’ve picked out the perfect trail.
And you’ve packed the most irresistible snack.
But darn it—the weather is hotter than you realized or you’ve hit a dull section. The whining starts. The constant breaks begin. You’ll never reach the top. You might be here all night.
DON’T WORRY—You’ve got this!
It’s time to escalate the fun-factor.
Try a challenge.
Not long after we started on our hike, the whining and whining and constant “need for a break” phase started. It was so bad we actually took some pictures, as you can see above. It was pretty pitiful. Sad. Sad. Sad.
And then to make matters worse, my older daughter would stop every time she saw a dog. I never thought we would make it.
Then it hit me…the dogs! Let’s COUNT ALL THE DOGS.
That will surely propel my daughter forward. And it did!!!
This was really one of my finer moments. It kept everyone busy the entire time. Even my husband joined in and got really into it.
We all took guesses as to how many dogs we would see. Whoever was closest won.
In the end, we saw 35 dogs!
And we ended up seeing twice as many on the way down. So, I we turned it into a word problem, and I made my daughter calculate the difference between both routes. She was very excited. She will literally do anything if dogs are involved. Dogs or unicorns.Having trouble motivating your kids to go hiking? These 3 tips will definitely get them off the couch. And #3 will make you wanna do a happy dance! Click To Tweet
Remember, don’t overthink it. Just get creative and challenge everyone to find or count something (like iSpy or a scavenger hunt) that they really like. And then within no time, you’ll make it to the top.
Now your turn…do you ever have trouble getting your kids excited to go hiking? What do you usually do? Leave me a comment below. And if you try any of these ideas, I’d love to hear about it.
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HI! I’m a Shana, self-proclaimed Media Mixologist, wife, and mom to two little girls. I love to mix up cocktails of crafts, recipes, wellness, family and business with just the right amount of sparkle to help you shine everyday. So, grab a glass, and let’s celebrate the cocktail of life!