Your tolerance for adventure is probably much higher than your five-year-old's. But that doesn't mean you can't find outdoor excursions that are enjoyable for the whole family -- experiences that might even bring you closer together.
Engage your kids with hikes and their appreciation for all things outdoors will only grow. Here are some tips on how to turn that two or three-mile jaunt into an adventure that everyone can enjoy.
Fallen leaf? Check! Coniferous tree? Check! Caterpillar? Right there!
Kids are natural explorers at heart, and their brains are like sponges. Use hikes to look closely at bugs, plants, and animals. (Just not TOO close with animals.)
Teach them about different types of trees by having them identify a Douglas Fir and a Japanese Maple. Keep a tally of how many bugs you find. Encouraging curiosity in nature at a young age can lead to a lifetime of appreciation for the natural world.
And when kids are engaged by a goal, you get to enjoy the fresh air for longer.
Kids can generally hike one mile for every year of life, so round up a few hikes in your area that correspond to their age, and let them decide which one looks the most fun.
Narrow it down to hikes that have cool features like waterfalls or caves, or ones that are known for their wildlife. Letting your child choose where they want to go makes it easier to stay focused once you’re on the trail. They'll be able to take ownership of the experience, and feel connected to the places they discover.
Getting outside is more important than mileage or elevation gain. Wandering around an apple orchard or a pumpkin patch is a great way to engage with nature, and not have too many meltdowns in the process.
The opportunity to pick fresh apples off the tree is exciting for kids, and allows them to learn a little bit more about where their food comes from. Taking the apples home and turning them into homemade applesauce or apple pie turns this into a full-day activity.
It's so important for kids to get away from their screens to enjoy nature -- and it's important for parents, too. Getting outside opens the door for new conversations, and a new type of relationship with each other. As kids get older, tackling challenging hikes together can be an incredible experience for families to share. Start now, and there's no limit to this shared appreciation for the great outdoors.
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