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Recently, all three of my kids have been more and more interested in nature. Katie with her soft, tender heart talks about flowers and dandelions and cute, little birds. Emma with all her energy longs to climb trees and boulders and jump off just about everything. William with his intellectual curiosity pours over science books and draws diagrams of life cycles and insect anatomy. Each in their own individual ways kept asking for the same thing: a nature adventure.
I’m not really a nature adventure kinda gal. My family never camped or hiked. The closest I ever got to nature as a kid was collecting roly-polies in my very suburban, very concrete driveway. Jane Goodall, I am not, but I AM ready to try anything for my kids. At least once.
So we started exploring San Diego county with some easy, kid-friendly hikes. I know. GASP. HIKING?! ME?!! Yes, and you know what? If I can do it, anyone can. You guys, I know people say this a lot, but for real. ANYONE CAN.
Hiking is a big scary word for people like me, we non-outdoorsy types who would MUCH rather sip our coffee in sedentary peace then get sticky with sweat while walking through spider webs on some dusty trail. But hiking doesn’t have to be big and scary. Don’t talk to legit hikers about it. They’re too busy being good at outdoorsy stuff, and it’s hard for us indoorsy people to believe them when they recommend naturey stuff.
Take it from me, a complete hiking idiot, you can do this, friend. Here are some thoughts to get you started:
1.Pick an easy trail
I mean, duh, but it is worth mentioning. I did a little internet research and found a trail that was not only a short distance with easy terrain but also easily accessible and not too far of a drive. Nothing will ruin your “adventure” like having a bunch of whining kids on your hands before you even START. Try to find something close to your home that isn’t too difficult to find or get to. Also, make sure the terrain itself is easy and interesting. Let’s ease our way into this hiking thing with a bunch of fun, painless experiences. No need to channel Bear Grylls the first time out.
2. Pack a few essentials
Water is obviously important when doing any outdoor activities. Also, make sure to wear sunscreen. Other than that, since you are on a short, easy hike close to home, you won’t need to pack for a cross-country trek into the wilderness. Keep your backpack super light, so as not to blemish your first hiking experience with the weight of an overstuffed bag digging into your shoulders. Water and sunscreen are pretty much all you need, though I also like to include one small bag per child to collect “treasures” like rocks, leaves, and sticks they find along the way.
3. Prepare physically
Make sure you have a good healthy snack before and another good snack or meal planned for right after. I like to pack a small cooler that I leave in my car. The kids and I snack in the car on the way to the hike, and then have food waiting for us to munch on our way home.
Another essential is a good vitamin. With increased physical activity, I like to make sure I’m giving my kids plenty of vitamin C. I hand out Nature Made® Kids First® Vitamin C on our way out the door as part of a healthy, tasty family routine. It’s a super easy way for the kids to take supplements, and they have great tasting natural flavors. They are also free of any preservatives, yeast, or gluten.
To make up for any nutritional deficits in my own diet, I make sure I take Nature Made® Multi for Her Plus Omega-3 Gummies. They are an excellent source of vitamins A, C, D3, and E, as well as key B vitamins (folic acid, biotin, niacin, vitamin B6, vitamin B12), and important minerals such as chromium and zinc. Nature Made® also had the 1st gummies verified by USP for purity and potency*, which makes me feel good about including them as a regular part of my self-care regimen (*Find those Nature Made® USP verified gummies on NatureMade.com/USP). I also like to take the Nature Made® Energy B12 Adult Gummies on a regular basis.
4. Promote personality differences
All three of my kids went into our first hike with different expectations and motivations. It was interesting how quickly I found myself getting snippy with one or the other of them for not having the right reaction to this experience. Will wanted to stop and read every sign, pour over his map and inspect things along the trail like the slowest scientist in history. Katie wanted to pick, and keep, every single flower she saw.
Her bag of “treasures” was overflowing before we were even a quarter of the way done. Emma wanted to scurry up every tree and scale every rock formation. I had to remind myself that it’s okay for them to all do their own thing while we are all doing the same thing.
So for those of you, like me, who never would have thought of hiking with my kids, I encourage you to give it a shot. Go to Target, pick up some water, sunscreen, snacks, baggies for your treasures, and some Nature Made® Vitamins.
† These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease