Hike it Baby is so happy that Stephanie worked up the courage to lead her first hike! She has generously shared her story here with tips on how to make your first hike-leading experience one to remember fondly. Have you found other hiking friends on various social media like she has? If so, share the love and tell them all about Hike it Baby and how great it is to hike with us!
I’ve recently started leading hikes with Hike it Baby and I have to say I was very timid at first. While I can easily get out and do hikes on my own with my own children, I found it very intimidating at first to join a larger group with other moms and kids. More than one meltdown, not enough snacks, and weather conditions were all thoughts that passed my mind at some point.
But after leading my first hike (and consequently experiencing meetups with other moms on the trail), I felt a better sense of community and was grateful that there are other moms out there who could relate to my same anxieties. Here are few things to keep in mind when you’re thinking about joining other moms or groups on hikes with children so you can enjoy the experience and worry less.
- Add the hike to your calendar and set a reminder
I’m the first to admit, I get caught up in planning the actual hike with other people that I tend to forget to even add to my calendar. Yikes, right? I’ve now made it a point to immediately add the hike to my calendar, even if someone may cancel or the hike needs to be postponed. I even add the event link or email as well for easy reference. Setting a reminder will give you enough time to prepare for your hike before it’s time to go.
- Prepare your gear and supplies the day before
I’m a true advocate for preparation and getting things ready the day before. I try to pack up my carrier with extra snacks for us and others (in case someone forgets a snack or wants to share – which can be the case with kids!), fill my water bladder, and get out my socks and clothes the kids and I plan on wearing. I also do a weather check to see how the weather is going to be and make any last minute changes to wardrobe as needed.
- Remember there are other moms with children
It’s real easy to get into the mindset that something is going to prevent you and your child from enjoying a hike in the presence of other moms and kids: tantrums, sleep deprivation, fussiness, and hunger are all ailments that might plague your experience. I had to train myself to know that these things will play a part in my experience because my kid is a toddler and that’s what toddlers do sometimes. But, staying focused on other moms and their children will allow you to enjoy the hike that much more and show your child that collaboration and meeting new friends can be fun.
- Do some group activities on the trail
Hiking with kids is definitely challenging, especially if your child is getting at the age, like mine, where they want to explore more and be on their own. This is a great opportunity to do some fun activities that will keep your child interested throughout the duration of the hike. Exchange ideas with your new mom friends and kids as to what they’d like to do and take turns trying the activities out together as a group.
- Sharing is caring
Having a variety of snacks on the trail has been one of the most successful tips that have worked for me when I’m on the trail in a group. I try to keep a bagful of snacks including granola bars, raisins, nuts, and fruit snacks. Everything is individually packed in case someone else would like to share in the snacking. Have your child offer some of their snacks to whomever wants.
- Know that there may occasional stops and breaks during the hike
I always try to keep my expectations in check when hiking with other moms and kids. There will be some stopping and there will be some breaks for diaper changing, etc. Your pace by yourself is very different than when you’re in a group hiking. I like to check in with people throughout the hike and this makes us all feel more comfortable, knowing we aren’t racing to the end. As long as you commit to going at your own pace as a group, there won’t be any pressure to get done quickly. Besides, your kids feel that nervous energy and it will only make them anxious.
- Ways to connect with the outdoor community to get started
The best ways to locate a group hike and join a hike with new friends are Social Media and Facebook Groups. I found Hike it Baby through Facebook and found friends to hike with from Instagram and previous posts. This is a great way to meet other moms who enjoy the same things you do without any fuss. I also connect with other moms who may hike with their kids and write blogs because they have many resources to branch out from and meet other moms that I may not know. Here are some resources and things to keep in mind when looking for kid-friendly hikes to join around you:
- Use Instagram for searching for hikes via photos
- Stroller Hikes
- Facebook Groups using search terms like “Best Hikes For Children (enter your city/region here)”
- Reach out to your local outdoor company and see if they have a blog or events calendar. Most hikes will be listed there.
- Check out a book at the library or look for library events highlighting kid-friendly/local hikes
Stephanie Harper is a mother of four, avid hiker and runner. Follow her family adventures, recipes, and tips to inspire you to get outdoors more at raisingkidswild.com.