Now the fun really begins….and the pace stops.
For small toddlers you can still use the Child Carrier, but as they grow the weight will become noticeable.
Hiking now becomes about carrying them in manageable chunks between locations, and then stopping in places for them to ‘explore’.
The exploring is important, and gets them used to being outside, as well as getting some exercise.
Just as the right gear can make a difference to adults, it can make it even more so with children, who can get cold quite easily (and too hot also).
You can pick up items from the high street, but just as with adult gear, you get what you pay for. Some brands, such as North Face, create child versions. If you are planning on doing an amount of outdoor activities, it is worth investing in the right gear for them.
As your child grows out of toddlerhood, they should be doing a lot further walks, and start to tackle some gentle climbs easily.
Time of day and how tired they are can play a big factor here. Some walks we’ve been on they’ve walked miles without the “I’m tired”; other days it’s not far before the “I need a carry”.
Whilst they do get tired easily, a lot of it is psychological, and they haven’t yet learnt how to push on as adults do.
• Make sure you go at their pace. If they want to explore something, make time to do so.
• Have plenty of stops – if required. If they are happy carrying on, don’t force a stop – they may not get started again so easily.
• Pick a route with interesting things in it. Some challenges, such as crossing a small stream, make it fun.
• Take snacks to keep their energy up…but avoid ‘junk’, just as in adults, you need the right fuel.
• Use distraction techniques. Point things out to them and make it interesting.
Avoid carrying them unless necessary. If you carry them often they will soon learn to expect it all the time, and not build the skills and stamina for them to hike themselves.
As children get older, then you can start to expose them to ‘proper’ hiking. You may still need to use some of the techniques used with younger children.
Now you can make challenges bigger. In summer time a climb up different hikes in Troodos mountain is a good challenge.
This is a hard climb, and you need to have some common sense (steep falls, changeable weather), but is quite achievable, and you’ll see many other families making the trek up and down.
When they get older they get more independent. Make sure they carry their gear, such as additional clothing, food, and an emergency kit, and teach them how to use it.
It is also a good time to teach them map reading skills and navigation techniques.
Even if they have learnt to ‘read’ a map in school, you’ll find that school would not have helped them relay what they see with their eyes to the map. A great way to learn what contour lines really mean is when climbing that steep slope on the route they decided to pick!
It’s a cliché but very true – before you know it that little baby you carried over the hills is off and hiking in the Scouts or Guides without you. It may be slow when they are very young, but enjoy rediscovering the outside with them.
If you keep it up, you’ll soon be off doing ‘real’ hikes again, but this time that little baby has grown and is now a walking partner, who helps their old folk out if needs be.