Hiking with your kids is a great way to strengthen your family bonds. It also gives you a unique opportunity to build your kids’ character and teach them your family values practically. Children today learn so much from the television, friends, and teachers at school that parental guidance gets edged out. Hiking together is a great way to develop your relationships with your children.
Hiking as a family can renew your kids’ faith in your authority and reliability. Although it is an outdoor activity, hiking forces your kids to rely on your immediate leadership and guidance. Your children learn to trust and value you more. It also creates memories that will last for generations to come.
This article is dedicated to parents and guardians of twins. There are many activities you can do with twins; however, hiking is one of the best. For one, it allows both your kids to burn their energy at the same time. Parents of twins face the unique challenge of entertaining two kids simultaneously. It takes a special talent to have both kids resting at the same time. Here are some tips to help you enjoy hiking with your twins more.
1. Prepare Well In Advance
No matter how old your twins are, you need to prepare them mentally for the hike. If this is your first time hiking with your twins, this stage is extremely important. You have probably been mentally processing your first hiking trip since your twins were in diapers. You probably even have the hiking route picked out and have visualized amazing photos with stunning backgrounds. However, your kids also need similar mental preparation.
Children love their routines, and a major change such as hiking needs to be introduced gradually in small bite-size pieces. The earlier you can introduce the idea of hiking to your twins, the better.
You can start by looking for cartoons or children’s stories that involve hiking. Better still, you can show them your old hiking photos and share your experiences. You will be surprised how many details of your story your twins absorb. If you prepare your twins well enough mentally, they will be begging you to take them hiking.
2. Plan A Kid-Friendly Route
When planning your hike, find a child-friendly route. This could mean finding terrain that is generally flat and smooth enough for a baby stroller. If the gradient is steep, your kids could get exhausted before finishing the hike.
There are two main reasons you don’t want to exhaust your kids on their first hike. The first reason is that you want them to enjoy the trip and be enthusiastic about hiking in the future. The second, more important reason is that if your kids get tired, you have to carry them. Depending on their age, it can be extremely challenging to carry your twins as well as their supplies while you hike.
3. Don’t Hike Alone With Twins
If you forget every other point in this article, remember this one. Never go hiking with twins if you don’t have help. You may be able to handle both kids at home, but there are no walls or lockable doors on a hike. Ideally, if both kids behave themselves and are calm, you can enjoy a quiet stroll. However, it is not worth the risk especially if you have not gone hiking with them before.
Nature has a way of calling out to us. While adults have learned to heed the call with caution, kids respond with open arms and shut eyes. Something in the environment is bound to attract your kids’ attention. Even the more conservative children who always stand by your side are prone to wander away when their curiosity is tickled. Hiking with another adult gives you an extra set of eyes so that you can watch both kids at the same time.
The best arrangement is to go hiking as a family. With your spouse, it is easy to watch your twins. The kids are familiar with and trust both of you. It also gives you a chance to enjoy each other’s company in a stress-free environment. At home, there are always chores to do and plans to make. During a hike, you can clear your minds and enjoy playing with your kids for a few hours. If your spouse or family can’t make it, you can hire a baby sitter to hike with you.
4. Stay Hydrated
Drinking water during a hike is more important than snacking. You lose a lot of water through sweat when hiking. If you are an experienced hiker, you may have built up your body’s resistance to fatigue and dehydration over time. However, your kids may not be so tough yet. Make sure you carry lots of water. With drinking water, it is best to have more than you need.
Your twins may prefer sweet juice to water. However, you should stick to water. Water is a neutral drink and is easily absorbed by the body. Try to abate their sugar cravings with healthy snacks like fruit.
The easiest way to deal with dehydration is by preventing it. The effects of dehydration such as fatigue, dizziness, headaches and acute exhaustion are much harder to reverse. Don’t wait until your kids are thirsty. Remind yourself constantly to give your kids water during a hike. Your twins may be too excited or distracted to notice that they need a drink.
5. Pack Two of Everything
When you have twins, it is a good idea to teach them to share early in life. If your twins can master the art of sharing, you can cut your budget in half for most of their needs. However, when hiking, it is advisable to pack everything your twins need in pairs.
Sibling rivalry is somewhat elevated when you are dealing with twins. If your twins are competitive, their rivalry may kick in at the wrong time. The last thing you want is your kids fighting over a snack bar during a hike.
Packing your supplies in pairs also ensures that you don’t run out. If you think you need two apples, carry four. This way, if your twins don’t eat as much as you expected, you and your spouse get an extra snack to chew on.
6. Allow Time for Free Play
Hiking with kids is not like hiking alone where you have set a target to reach a summit or cover a certain distance. It is more about enjoying the environment and connecting with your kids. When planning the hike, you should include about an hour for free play.
Twins are usually great at playing with each other. If you restrict their movements to a baby stroller or carrier, you can detach them from the hiking experience. Finding a safe flat space where they can explore the environment and play freely is a big plus for your twins.
This is very valuable if you live in the city or if your kids have minimal contact with nature. There is immense value in enabling them to enjoy the natural environment including trees, plants, animals, and insects. Laughing, running around and watching your children playing have therapeutic effects for you and them.
7. Work with Each Kids Strengths
Everybody is unique. Even identical twins have inherent differences that parents notice at very young ages. One may be outgoing and carefree, while the other is more calculated. You need to work with your kids’ strengths during the hike. For example, you may need to be more cautious with an outgoing child and encouraging with a calculated one.
In reality, your kids may not be complete opposites, however, nobody understands your kids better than you. You can plan your hike so that both kids enjoy themselves. If the hike is more inclined to the needs of one, then the other may develop a negative attitude towards hiking.
Later on, when they are older, they can consider going on different types of hikes. However, while you are still planning their trips and meals, you should find a way to strike a balance that suits both kids’ interests.
8. Break the Hike Down With Memorable Milestones
Find ways for your kids to connect with the environment in ways that create value for them. If you are familiar with the route, you can introduce key features to them before the hike. Features like river crossings, meadows, or epic viewpoints are memorable milestones that your twins can relate with. A good practice is to use the key features in the hike as resting stops. As they rest, snack, or play, the environment will sink into their permanent memories
You can also encourage your kids to create personal milestones. Ask them about things they can see or hear or smell. This encourages them to engage all their senses in the task of observation. It builds their imagination and enables them to create emotional connections with the hike. After the hike, your kids will be talking about the things they saw and learned for weeks.
9. Take Lots of Photos
If it is your first hike, be sure to document it as well as you can. Take many photos and video clips in different stages of the hike. In this digital age, there is no end to the value of pictorial data. You can make slideshows or mini videos that you can watch with your twins later.
Reviewing the photos and videos of the hike with your kids is more than a fun family activity. The photos create mental connections and help your twins to visualize the hike better. Also, the photos are evidence of your kids’ achievement and can contribute to building their self-confidence. You can use these photos to build their enthusiasm for the next hike.
You can also share the photos with other family members and encourage them to join you next time you go hiking.
10. Do it Again and Again
We pointed out in the first point that children love their routines. Although it may seem monotonous, you should repeat the same hike over and over again until your twins have mastered it. Hiking with kids is more about them than you. If you want to keep hiking with them in the future, you should be consistent in the beginning. Your children may identify the term hiking to mean visiting a certain place. It can get confusing if you keep changing the route.
Your kids also work with expectations. If they enjoyed the first hike, they will want to experience it in the same way next time. Your twins may remember some of their milestones and look forward to seeing them in a different light. This is why your primary route selection is very important. Your primary hike should be easily accessible, preferably somewhere near where you live.
Once your kids are familiar with the route, you can begin making variations. You can try doing the same hike in the reverse direction. If you start at the end and hike to the beginning, using the same resting points, you can exercise your twins’ mental acuity. They will begin to recognize different ways of doing the same thing; a valuable skill to learn at an early age.
There are several benefits to hiking with your twins. It is affordable, engaging, educational, therapeutic, healthy and many more. You can learn a lot about your kids on a hike. By taking them out of their usual environment, you will begin to see their specific characters shine forth. Many of your kids’ characteristics and abilities may be masked by the mundane daily routines at home. However, letting them express themselves freely in an open safe space can help you to understand your twins better and improve your relationships.