Following on from a few back to back successful walks with our littles ones I wanted to share some of the top tips that have been helping us.
Our little ones are 18 months and 3 and a half. Before having children we would spend all of our free time running everywhere we could. Then after we had our children our distances, time out and expectation of walks changed.
We love our mini adventure walks with our little ones. It combines our love for the outdoors and spending time together.
Here are the things that have worked for us?
1) Plenty of snacks and drinks
I’m sure this is obvious to all toddler parents. Always take more than you think you will need. They really can save the day.
2) Have a back out plan
If you want to attempt a longer walk then you need to have a way out. This could be using a carrier. Having a shortcut planned. Getting a lift. Or simply turning back if it’s not on today.
3) Check the weather and pack appropriately
It’s ok to go out whatever the weather, but you need to be prepared for it.
In hot weather having suncream, hats and extra water not only keeps your child safe, but also keeps them happy. It is also a good idea to think about how exposed your walk is on hot days think of shady walks in woodlands.
To enjoy a cold wet day they need to be wearing waterproof clothing, with warm layers so they can easily be removed if they get warm. We also like to take a warm drink and a shelter with us or at least have a sheltered place in mind for a break.
4) Get out as much as you can
The more you go out for walks the more successful each trip is.
They will begin to build up stamina. You will be aware of how far they can go. If it is normal for them they feel in control of the situationa dn are more likely to enjoy it.
5) Have fun
There are endless games to play when you are walking along. Sing songs. Look for different plants and animals. Let them lead the way. Allow extra time for stick inspection, tree climbing, stone sizing etc whatever it is your toddler enjoys.
6) Don't be put off by a bad experience
We all have off days. If we let our bad walks put us off we’d have probably stopped when our first born was a newborn. Keep at it and you will find your flow as a family.
7) Be realistic with distance
This was a huge one for me. I used to be disappointed if I hadn’t completed the route I set out to.
Everything takes longer at toddler speed. It’s not long before they can keep up. Our 3 and a half year can keep a pretty good pace for about 5km now, but that hasn’t always been the case.
It is hard to decide how far they can actually go. You know your child and they will only ever go as far as they can.
If you go out often you will soon be able to know what distance works for them.
8) Set carrying expectations
If it works for you to carry your child then that’s great. Getting a good carrier can help out here.
It became difficult for me to carry my son when I had my daughter. I would often struggle along baby in the sling and toddler on the back, but I couldn’t keep this up for long distances. At weekends I’d have a helping hand with hubby, but eventually we decided no more carrying.
Once the expectation had been set we found other ways. If he had tired legs we would all sit down together. I was impressed how quickly this worked and how much further and faster we would get places.
It’s been easier second time round as our smallest follows in her big brother’s footsteps.
9) Indulge Their Interests
Show interest in the things they see and do. Their experience of the walk is very different to yours. For a start they see the world at a whole new height. Get down to their level and see things through their eyes. It can be really interesting to see everything from a new perspective.
Often when they see things it can be for the first time, they will learn new words, smells. Yes to us it’s a stick, but to them it can be anything. Their curiosty for how it got there? What tree it came from? How big it is? Why it’s there?
10) Compliment more than you criticise
It can be so easy to let the good things go as you are all enjoying the moment. Then your toddler does something you don’t want them to do and they get a negative reaction. Try to remember even on the most ‘behaviorally’ challenging walks to find the good things they do and tell them.
Instantly this will lift both of your moods and can begin you on a positive track.