- Schedule family time first
Each year, since the kids were young, we planned a family adventure before everything else. Then we filled in the rest of our time with all of the other responsibilities. We think about, “What do we want to experience together as a family this year?” The second part of this, then, is taking the kids with you, and not leaving them behind. We had to make personal sacrifices when the kids were young. We didn’t get as much time running, biking, and skiing with our friends, but we knew this would pay dividends later as a family. The kids won’t ever learn to love the outdoors if you leave them home with the babysitter.
- Make it fun
We learned early on to call it “exploring,” not “hiking.” Be sure to take your time and smell the roses. Kids pay attention to the tiniest details and nature is amazing. Don’t get upset if you don’t make it to the top. Instead, enjoy the process. Let them have the opportunity to try new things. Assess the situation to make sure they are safe, then watch them jump, splash, climb, and hop around. What is the worst that could happen here? Scrape their knee?
- Make it easy
First, have the correct gear. If carrying them in a pack, make sure they are comfortable. If riding a bike, make sure it’s the correct size. It doesn’t have to be expensive or fancy. We have purchased most of our kid’s gear from second-hand stores.
Second, use the gear in a way that is easy for them to take care of things on their own. For example, when our kids were little, we would let them sit on the paddle board with a kayak paddle. If they fell off, they could flip it over and climb back on themselves.
Third, bring a friend for the kids who likes to do that activity. Having a companion who knows the ropes and enjoys being outside always helps. Fourth, find things to do that are close to home, like sledding, swimming, and playing in a creek.
- Let them get dirty
That is just part of the fun.
- Don’t forget the snacks
No one does well when hangry.
- Teach them
Kids love to learn through experiential education. They like to be hands-on! Give them a role in setting up the RV, cooking dinner, doing the dishes, making the fire, loading gear, etc. With that said, be careful not to be too critical of the quality of work the first time they try something. Encourage and compliment them. “You are so strong,” “so helpful,” “you can do it.” They will tap into what you are feeling. Make sure you are projecting positivity. “We are so lucky to be out here as a family”
- Just go - rain or shine!
As long as you have the appropriate clothing/gear, continue with your plans. We have never regretted getting outside as a family. Some of our best most memorable adventures were during a total downpour!