Getting the kids outside (and excited) for a family “nature” walk might not always be the simplest task. So, if you are able to pull them from their video games and TV, you want to make sure that everyone has a great time!
I find a few simple tricks ensure that everyone enjoys the fresh air and the wild world waiting for us to explore...
1. There is magic in a mud puddle.
When you set off on your walk, don’t fixate on your destination. What your kids remember (and enjoy) the most might be found in the mud puddles or wild flowers they find along the way. Enjoy the journey – because with little ones in tow, you might not even make it to your “destination!”
2. Age matters.
Perhaps one of the greatest challenges to family outings is taking family members’ different ages into account. Try to plan your trip with age appropriate expectations. If little ones are coming along, keep the walk shorter with more “observation” time. An option is for one parent to lead a faster track, with one parent bringing up the rear. If you plan on splitting up, bring walkie talkies or cell phones that will allow you to stay in contact with each other.
3. Boys Scouts know what they are doing!
Being prepared is critical when heading out into the woods. Make sure you load on the sun block and bug spray, and pack supplies such as snacks, water, tissues, band-aids, compass, and bear-repellent. If you are planning a long hike or going into the back country, make sure you take emergency supplies, map, and let someone know your plans!
4. Count to five.
To keep my kids entertained or focused on a walk, I often suggest we make a list of five things. It can be to find five different kinds of leaves, five different sounds they can hear, or even just five things to report when we get back. One trip my son even included reporting to Dad that our puppy tried to eat horse manure! I am not picky – it made the kids laugh and fun is what it is all about!
5. Pack a camera – and not just for you!
If you have an older child, giving them a camera to take photos along the way will not only keep them interested, it can help them notice things they may otherwise miss. As well, it is a great way to see the world through their eyes when you look through their shots together after the trip is over.
BONUS TIP: Be flexible!!! As in every aspect of life and parenting, being flexible is usually the key to success! If the kids tire sooner than expected, if the bugs are biting too hard, or if no one is in the mood to find five things to collect – no worries! Focus on the positives and you will always have a great time together!
Photos by Janice Croze
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