How to Hike with Kids without Losing your Mind
By Kathy Chin Leong


If given a free day with no scheduled plans, my children would prefer to stay at home, lapping up snack food and text messaging friends on the computer. While down time is justified, getting exercise is equally vital for health and well-being. Hiking is one of the best ways to get the heart pumping while bonding as a family at the same time.

Let’s say your kids really don’t like to hike, but you do. What then? Your job is to introduce hiking as a positive activity, so employ all your happy energy into preparing for a pain-free outing.

Here are some tips that may help encourage your kids to enjoy the outdoors or at least go along without too much complaining.

* Find a flat hiking trail so it is not so strenuous on your little ones.
* Choose a time when it it not too hot.
* Locate a trail with shade.
*Tell your kids that you will be hiking for a limited amount of time , so they know what to expect.
* Give them small rewards at various points of the excursion such as a food treat or inexpensive toy.
* If your kids like animals or scenery , set up trails that feature a farm, such as Rancho San Antonio, or a lookout point such as Pt.Bonita. (See story on Ten Best Hiking Trails.)

* Plan a picnic at the end of the hike, bring a kite, or a visit to their favorite ice cream parlour so they have something to look forward to.
* Give them their own hiking gear so they feel special: walking stick, hiking hat, binoculars, water bottle and holder.
*Have the kids bring friends along .

* Try new places that you haven’t been to before.
* Think of games you can play while on the trail. Eye Spy is a good one for finding lizards, flowers, and deer.
* Give your child a disposable camera to take pictures during the hike.

Above all, stay positive and remain calm. There are seasons in life for every family, and children’s preferences change. Over time, they will come to appreciate the beauty of the Bay Area, and they’ll be the ones challenging you to get off the computer and onto a trail.

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