Planning an outdoor little adventure for you and your children can seem a bit overwhelming at first. Especially, when you start to think about all the things you may need, where to go, how to get there, and so on. Throughout our little adventures with our six kids, we have come up with our top ten tips for a more successful little adventure.
1. Allow your kids to pack their own bags:
We have strategically tricked our kids into thinking they are fully in charge of what they pack in their bags. By doing this, they become super territorial of their pack, and insist on carrying it on their own- works for us!
We figured the age of 4 is a good time for kids to start carrying their own hiking pack. This provides them with a sense of responsibility and encourages a sense of empowerment on a little adventure.
We made a special trip to MEC with our two 4-year-olds, and for the most part, let the kids pick out their own hiking pack. The MEC mountain fountain JR hydration pack is so far, a big hit with the kids. The pack includes a whistle to scare away all the cougars and bears- of course, and it has its own hydration, so the kids don’t ask you to stop every 5 minutes for a drink of water.
2. Include the kids in the snack packing process:
We have a variety of snacks we put out specifically for outdoor adventures. Some of the snacks we include are protein bars, squeezies, cheese sticks, peanut butter sandwiches, trail mix, and dried fruit. We give the kids a large recyclable ziplock bag or reusable snack bag, and they can pick the snacks they want. If you have a variety of healthy foods, their only options are to choose healthy, so again, another win for you!
3. Invite a friend for the kids and you
Whether you’re heading out to the park or up a trail, playdates are always a good way to keep the kids entertained and feel excited about the little adventure that you have planned. If your adding extra kids to your group, it’s always nice to have another adult friend too. Like our kids, we too need to feel motivated and empowered by one another to gain enough courage to explore the outdoors.
4. Pack an activity for the kids
Some activities could include washable paint for rocks, binoculars, kids camera, scavenger hunt clues- etc. An outdoor activity with lots of checkpoints like waterfalls, lakes and big trees, keeps kids entertained along the way, but once you reach your destination, a fun activity is always a big hit.
5. Bring a secret candy stash
Once you have reached your destination, you sometimes may wonder “how on earth will we make it back- we barely made it here.” Just like us, kids need a little reward system to keep them motivated, and a secret candy stash does just that- hence where we came up with our “jelly bean rating system.”
6. Pre-pack the night before.
Save yourself time and energy by pre-packing with your kids the night before. This will alleviate the extra stress of already trying to get yourself and kids out the door. Also, if you pre-pack, it encourages you to check the weather and ensure that your packing all the right items based on your preferred outdoor activity.
7. Pack an extra set of clothes for the kids
Kids like to get dirty and wet, in fact, we encourage it. However, moods can change really fast when kids get cold. Our rule of thumb in our “pre-packed items,” is to always have a rain jacket, extra pants, and a warm sweater/long sleeve.
8. Lower your expectations
Remember, kids are still kids. The meltdowns they have at the grocery store in the candy aisle will also be displayed to everyone in the middle of the forest near the blackberry bush. Sometimes you have to know your child’s limits and stay within it. As parents, we know that our expectations have to meet the needs of our kids, so if you don’t make it to the top of the mountain or end of the trail, don’t fret- it happens.
9. Include your kids in researching your outdoor destination
It’s always a good idea to research the location of the outdoor destination that you plan on visiting. This can be a fun activity to include your kids in, by showing them pictures of the locations. Like us, kids also like to know what to expect on their little adventure.
10. Have fun!
If you enjoy being outdoors, chances are, your kids will too.