Guest Post: 8 Tips for a Great Winter Hikes
Please welcome our dear, sweet friend, Kami MacIver as she gives us excellent tips for Winter Hikes!
In a year like 2020, it is so important to do things that help you feel like a person. Maybe you’re like our family and have taken more walks this year with your kiddos than you have any other year! Or, maybe you’re like I have been and are completely overwhelmed at the idea of bundling up your precious crew. I live in Alaska with my husband, our two busy girls, ages 3.5 and 1.5, and it is always worth it for us to get outside! It has surprised me how much taking even just a short walk improves how I feel in my body, my brain, and my mothering. Here’s my eight best tips to get you motivated to go out with your crew.
1. Live in your season
Embrace the season that your kiddos are in! You might be in the season of short stroller walks around the neighborhood, or epic mile hikes through a nearby National Park. Set expectations that will allow your family to succeed! Getting outdoors for a hike - no matter how long - is the goal, and you can do it!
2. Start Small
Don’t plan on your first walk with your littles being a several mile hike up a mountain. Set manageable goals for you and your family. When I first started going on walks and hikes with my babes, they were just weeks old! It was easy to go longer distances because they were content to sleep in their baby carriers. Then, as they grew it was better for our family to do shorter walks so their short little legs could keep up. Start with a walk to the end of your road, around your cul-de-sac or around the block. Work up from there as your kiddos get used to hiking.
3. Choose a time.
Pick a day and a time and GO. In the winter, I’ll easily talk myself out of a walk because it’s JUST SO DAUNTING to gear us all up. I actually timed us a few weeks ago and it took us 9 minutes and 40 seconds to get in full winter gear. Ten minutes is doable and I bet we can beat our record the next time. It’s a motivating game to set a timer and race it - “Let’s see if we can all be in our snow gear before the timer goes off!” Speaking of time, leave plenty of time in your schedule to go! A walk that used to take me 15 minutes before I had kids, now takes us well over an hour.
4. Choose a place.
Some days, we walk to grandma’s house about a half mile down the road but some days we are up for a two mile loop around the neighborhood! Next time you’re out doing some errands, consider driving a path near your home to see how long it is. Then you’ll have a plan for when your family is up for a half-mile walk or two mile walk. Ask other moms in your neighborhood if there are any good walks near you. You might be surprised at the streams, lakes and meadows that are hidden right near your home! If you live near a State or National Park, visit their website and see what hiking trails they maintain. Many parks maintain trails in the winter, and this could be a good option for a path that is well kept.
5. Use the right gear!
We live in Alaska and gear can make or break your experience. It’s worth it to invest in a few key items that will last your family a long time! A good stroller, an old fashioned pull behind sled and good winter gear are all investments with immeasurable return. But, don’t get too fancy - start with what you have! Facebook Marketplace and Buy Nothing Groups are a great place to watch for great deals!
6. Take a friend!
If you’re still feeling unmotivated to get outdoors with your kiddos, ask a friend to go with! The accountability of meeting a friend at a certain time will get you out the door. BONUS if your friend has kiddos your kid’s ages and everyone has a friend to visit with.
7. Bribe your kiddo.
Hear me out on this one. First step, sneak a fruit snack pack into your pocket unbeknownst to your child. (Or other snack that is best for your family, I’ll use fruit snacks as an example here.) On your walk, when your child begins to complain about the hike, assure them there is a “fruit snack rock” juuuuuust up the hill. (Nope, not this hill, must be the next one. Let’s keep walking!!) When you find a good resting spot/halfway mark/you’re tired about hearing about “where’s the fruit snack rock?” take a break. Let your child spend a few minutes assessing which rock is THE ROCK. Then, while they are looking, hide the fruit snack pack near a rock. (Or a log, tree, bush, etc. work with me, mamas.) When they find it, GASP in amazement at what a great explorer your kiddo is!! “WOW! You found it!! The fruit snack rock!! Woohoo!” Next, let them eat. Rest in the silence of your toddler munching down the fruit snacks. It will only last a moment. Embrace this moment. After the moment is over, finish your hike. Promise that there are more fruit snack rocks ahead or that there’s a snack in the car if needed. This works so well for my kiddos that when they pass ANY kiddo on the trail they say “there’s a fruit snack rock up there!!”
8. Take a “Proof of Mom” picture.
Susie at Busy Toddler was the first mom I heard coin this term and it’s something you’ll never regret doing. Take a proof of mom picture. While we all adore pulling out our phones to snap Instagram worthy photos of our precious babes, it is ALWAYS worth it for us to get in a photo with them. Ask a friend, a stranger passing by, or take a selfie. Someday, you’ll love looking back on these fleeting days with your bundled little munchkins and that tired and proud expression on your face.