I did not hike when I was younger, actually I didn’t start until I was in my twenties. My wife and started to walk in the outdoors and really enjoyed the workout. We progressed to steeper slopes, wilderness areas, even urban areas.
When we had our two children we would carry them on our backs as we hiked. We didn’t hike all time, but when we did we would get into it. It was only natural for us to involve our kids, we wanted a close family, so all activities included all of us.
As our daughter and son grew we continued to hike. Not as often because of time constraints, but whenever we would have some spare time or were on vacation we would hike. Many times our kids would begrudgingly come (they did not realize this was their only option), or fight us on the way to where we were going to hike.
A funny thing happens just about every time we hike. As soon as we start walking and let the kids take in the nature and feel the freedom, they stop complaining. The nature walks and hikes have become a great family activity for many reasons.
We do not allow electronics, like ipods, on the hike. Cell phone calls are frowned upon except for emergencies. The lack of these devices frees up our attention span and opens up our conversation.
The time that we spend alone as a family unit in the outdoors is the best time to talk with each other. Since we are not sitting down staring at one another the conversation can start and stop freely, which I have found leads to a more open conversation. With all of today’s distractions any time that parents and kids can openly speak about what is on their mind in a worthwhile time.
Another great plus of family hiking is that our children do not notice that they are exercising. Since they are into the conversation, looking at what is around them and exploring, they forget that they are exerting themselves. By making the walk/ hike interesting we have been able to give our kids a workout.
We like to go off the beaten path, finding and seeing cool things that anyone hardly ever sees. Favorites of ours are historic areas, not touristy spots, just old places where we can scavenge, seeing different animals and rock formations. These different experiences make for great memories for all of us.
This is how my family spends some of its’ available time. Some times it is hard to make the time. Somehow my wife and I find it imperative to open up these windows of time to share with our kids.
Anytime that we can spend with our children, while exercising, enjoying the outdoors (nature or urban), and talking about our lives is a valuable and important time.