First off, get over the idea that you’re going to hike like the animal that you were before you had kids if you are bringing said kids. It’s not all about you and how far and how fast you can go. It’s about making sure the next generation is exposed to the outdoors and will remember what an awesome parent you are for taking the time to do it. Your kids are lucky they have a parent that wants to do this stuff with them and even if they whine now, they will remember it when they have their kids…and the circle of life, yadda, yadda.
But in the here and now you need to be practical. So here are my tips for having fun hiking, staying sane and making sure everyone wants to do it again.
1) Take it easy on yourself and give yourself every advantage. Charge the phone and the juicepack. Make sure you have a map as a backup, or download them on your phone before hand. Don’t be a martyr. Download some apps that can give you details on flora and fauna as you hike in the area. Also do yourself a favor and download some pics of Poison Ivy, Sumac and Oak. You’re welcome.
2) Dress according and bring extra clothes. Weather changes on a dime and a cold or overly hot kid, is a miserable kid and a miserable hiking buddy. Bring T shirts and an extra sweater and depending how long the hike, extra socks etc. Cold weather requires multiple layers. Think Under Armor.
3) Bring food and water. Duh, you say but how many people go out without enough water. Remember you’re bringing not just for yourself but the kids too. Snacks, snacks, and snacks. And throw in a few Hershey’s kisses and get over it. A low blood sugar meltdown in the middle of the woods has it’s own special place in hell.
4) Wear the right gear. Suck it up and buy the kids the best hiking boots you can afford. You don’t have to go crazy, but get some kicks with serious all terrain treds. I moved to NYC and went on a three day trip with my daughter’s fourth grade class. I thought I’d see 40 pairs of overachieving, top-of-the-line hiking boots that could handle Everest, lined up outside the bunks. And there were some. But I was surprised at how many kids were hiking in rubber rain boots. Don’t do that. The kids managed but the steep slopes were extra treacherous. I’d rather they were in sneakers.
6) Ticks. I can’t emphasize enough how much you don’t want your kids getting bit by a tick. As someone who suffered a long time with Lyme Disease, it’s not fun, or pretty, and can be expensive. I hate telling kids to wear long pants on a summer hike, but if you can, do. And if you don’t hike in long pants, make sure you cover everything with bug spray including the hair lines and socks, then hose off or shower and do a good tick check under the arm pits, behind the ears and knees, ankles afterward. And be diligent even for a good twenty four hours afterward. If you do see an embedded tick, save it and take pics of it if you can. Oh and a word on DEET. If you have a homeopathic bug spray that works, go for it. Me personally, I go for the strongest thing I can get my hands on. Yes, it was so powerful it peeled the ink off the marshmallows package and transferred it to my legs where it touched (my legs were covered in Deep Woods OFF), but I’m willing to take that. And the freaky thing was, the only way to get the imprint of the marshmallow label off my legs was more bug spray. I know, I know. I don’t like all the chemicals either but I like Lyme disease even less.
6) And bring these other things accordingly:
Hats, sunscreen, diapers, bottles, backpack, baby carrier, baby food, towels, swim clothes, swimmies, band aids, neosporin, and don’t forget the aspirin, you’re probably going to need it.