Attention: working parents or anyone looking for a way to add in more family hikes. The after work rush can be intense, fighting traffic, picking up the kids from daycare, letting the dogs out, cooking dinner, etc. How do you fit a hike into such a busy evening schedule? Below are some strategies that help my family get out with our little one after work.
1. Plan ahead and organize. I start by looking at the weather forecast for the week, pick the days with the nicest weather, and dedicate those days to getting out. I spend a small portion of my Sunday planning the week ahead so I can balance work, chores, exercise, and family time. I have an excel template that I fill out and stick to the fridge to keep me organized and focused.
2. Meal plan. Next, I plan a dinner menu for the week. The days that I plan to hike, I plan for an easy meal such as a Costco roasted chicken, a crockpot meal, or sandwiches.
3. Schedule dinner. Figure out what ideal timing for dinner. What works best for my family’s schedule is to eat dinner as soon as we get home, hence the need to plan meals. My son typically eats dinner at 6:30 pm, but on hike days he eats dinner at 5pm, and then has a snack after we get home or in the car to hold him over until breakfast. This is best for us because the motion of the carrier winds down his evening.Another option, if you don’t think your child will eat dinner at an irregular time is to pick them up from daycare all ready to go on your hike. Pack the car and your hiking clothes the night before, pick them up from daycare and go straight to your destination. They would most likely need a snack/ drink on the trail, then eat dinner post hike.
4. Get your hike on! For my family, an hour long weeknight hike is ideal. We choose trails/locations that are easy to access and close to our house. For example, we wouldn’t hike along Eklutna Lakeside Trail because the drive time alone would be an hour round trip from our home in Eagle River, Alaska. We live close to Mt. Baldy and can ascend and descend within an hour, which makes it a perfect weeknight hike for us. Make a list of nearby trails in your area that are easy to access and start hiking!
What are some of your tips that help your family hike together?
Brandi White is an accomplished hiker and super mom who is a full time Accountant for the State of Alaska and part time student working on her second Bachelor degree who manages to get out 3-4 times a week with her 22 month old son Dylan.