Contemplating taking kid(s) on an outdoors adventure? You know their temperaments and interests, how much sleep they need, and what foods they love and despise. Use this knowledge to your advantage.
KIDS – TIPS FOR SUCCESSFUL ADVENTURES
Tired or fatigued kids will sabotage even the most carefully planned adventure outdoors. They are typically uncooperative and crabby and will let everyone in ear shot know they are unhappy. Well rested kids, on the other hand, are cheerful companions. Their giggles and gleeful explorations help us see the world around us through their fresh eyes. Although a successful adventure starts with a well-rested child, it does not end there.
Rest and Fuel Are Necessary
Successful Adventures: Make Time Outs Fun
The younger the child, the more important it is to include planned rest time on your adventure. Take breaks often and bring something to keep their attention when they need to take a break. Engage them in a quiet activity and let them rest in a way that is fun for them.
For example, a digital camera for an older child or a few crayons and paper to scribble on for little ones are simple and fun ways to distract them while they take some needed down time. Because you want cooperation, make it fun! Challenge them to draw or photograph something blue, or big, or small… without moving around. Remain attentive and engaged and they will not even be aware they are getting the down time they need.
Successful Adventures: Healthy Snacks for Fuel
When it comes to kids, pack kid friendly snacks and drinks. Why? Because water does not hydrate if you can’t get them to drink it! Pack a favorite juice if this is your situation. In the same way, healthy snacks quickly replenish energy, but only if they are eaten. As such, bring a trail mix with things they love to munch on. Their participation will greatly improve the chance of success, so help them make their own choosing foods they like.
Cereals, cheesy mini crackers, dried fruits, pretzels, mini marshmallows, mini cookies, and some non-melty candies are all options. Be creative and let them participate to create a yummy fuel that is just for them. They will be happy to gobble it up.
Compromise for Successful Adventures: Right Size the Adventure
It can be tricky to find something that fits everyone if you are planning an outdoors adventure that involves kids of varying age, but that is what must be done. First, choose an adventure that has something of interest for everyone. Then, realize up front that some things about it may be too challenging for little kids and some things may be boring for older kids.
For the outing to be a success, everyone must have the opportunity for a good time. When it comes to kids, that means keeping them occupied!
No Boredom Allowed!
Older kids need a way to occupy their time while smaller kids are engaged in something which holds no interest for them. Likewise, young children need something to do while older ones do things they can’t. In either event, the point here is that “sidelined” doesn’t mean just sit and wait. Kids need something to do – or you (and anyone who happens to be in earshot) are going to hear about it!
One of the ways to deal with these situations is to divide and conquer. This strategy involves at least two adults or an adult and older kid (teenager) who doesn’t mind helping. One adult goes with the little one(s) and the other goes with the bigger one(s).
Have older kids who want to hike up a side trail to a fantastic overlook, but it is too much for the littles, who are too big to carry up the trail? Split up! Send one adult up the trail with the bigger ones and let the other stay with the littles to do something that interests them until the others return.
How about when the littles encounter a lovely creek and want to splash and play in the calm water, but it holds no allure for the older kids who immediately get bored? Split up! Let one adult hang out with the littles while the other takes the bigger ones off to explore something else nearby.
Nature is your friend here. There is always something to capture our attention outdoors, so look around and find the thing where you are at that will interest the kiddos. It could be hunting for heart shaped rocks with the littles. It could be climbing around and exploring boulders upstream for the bigger kids. If in doubt, ask them what they see around them that they would like to explore or do.
These are just two examples of when it is time to divide and conquer! Just be sure to set a time expectation for when the group that goes off to explore will return.
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