Let me start by saying that I do not consider myself an “outdoorsy” person. I enjoy sitting in my backyard with a book in the sunshine, but getting sweaty and dirty outside on a hike isn’t my cup of tea. Pre-teen me, a total outdoors person, would be so disappointed in who I’ve grown up to be. I asked for a dagger for my 10th birthday, to give you a glimpse into who I was as a child. (I also grew up in the jungle, but I digress.)
Unfortunately, my children do not currently have the opportunity to grow up running wild and free through the jungle, like I did. They live in the city, so they don’t even have the opportunity to go running wild and free through the countryside. In an attempt to get them outside more, I agreed to go hiking more this summer. I live in beautiful Colorado, I feel like I should take advantage of some of what it has to offer.
So I tried to agree when my husband suggested family hikes, and I joined a group of other mamas who hiked with their littles. I have totally stepped outside of my comfort zone. Would you believe that I’ve learned some things?!
Here are just four of the things I learned this summer when I took my kids hiking.
1. My children are capable of more than I ask of them.
Honestly, I was worried the first time we went on a hike. My children are happy to stay inside (thus the entire reason for forcing them outside), and take after their non-athletic mother. However, they did a fantastic job! On our first hike, we hiked to Horsetooth Falls and only my 3 year old asked to be carried, and only at the very end (by this point in time, I wanted to be carried too, so I couldn’t blame her!).
2. Children know how to enjoy things.
Sure, a kid might not understand what’s so special about an expensive piece of art, or a fancy restaurant. My husband has sworn never to buy new furniture until the kids are off to college, but my girls know how to enjoy a beautiful flower. While for me, a hike tends to be fast-paced so I can get it over as fast as possible; for my kids, it’s a stroll. They stroll along, enjoying the challenge of climbing up boulders or finding the prettiest rock in the stream. Often they hold up the hike because they’re squatting down, inspecting some sort of insect. A hike to them is akin to strolling through an art gallery, and they know how to enjoy every piece of outdoor art.
3. Vitamin N does everybody good.
Ok, this one I knew, but it’s nice to be reminded. Getting out in nature, enjoying the sunshine and fresh air is a sure cure for grumpy kids and grumpy moms (unless it’s 100 degrees…then mom gets grumpier.). My kids often slept better and behaved better post hike. Part of that is because it wore them out, sure, but there are actually scientific studies showing how good getting outside is for your health.
4. I am capable of more than I know.
When my husband suggested going on family hikes, I thought for sure I would die on the trail. My fitness is a work in progress, but hiking isn’t high on my list of preferred exercises. I’d prefer to dance in an air conditioned space, or try some pilates…not hike uphill in the sun. However, our first hike was a huge encouragement to me. It showed me that I totally could do it. I didn’t die, and I was way less sore than I anticipated, which helped me feel good about where I am, fitness-wise. When I took my kids, sans husband, on a hike with other mama friends, I was once again surprised (in a good way) by how capable I actually was.
Hiking is still not number one on my list of fun things to do, but it will continue to be an ongoing family occurrence. (Cue my husband printing out this article for future reference when I don’t want to go.) There is too much value to be had in it to simply not do it. If you haven’t hiked with your littles yet, you should give it a try!