The Reality of Inspiring the Future of Outdoorsing @thereluctantexplorers
by Martha Tewkesbury on Mar 08, 2023
Well hallo there! I’m Sam. I LOVE the outdoors and I love hiking, but my kids…well, I’d love to say that they share my enthusiasm for all things outdoors…but I’d be lying. They don’t.
However, as an ever optimistic Mum, I refuse to give up the battle with their devices and I pledge to forever enthusiastically declare, ‘let’s go for a walk!’ Even when the response to said declaration attracts the following selection of responses:
‘Do we have to?’
‘But, we did a walk LAST week!’
‘Mummy, you suck!’
(Ok, maybe the last one isn’t explicitly said out loud, but…I sense the vibe).
As a mum of two increasingly reluctant explorers (and they weren’t all that keen to begin with), I feel the pain of the battle that a lot of us have with inspiring a love of the outdoors in the next generation of outdoors-ers. But I still plug away. I have not given up hope. And here’s what I do to at least ATTEMPT to be an inspiring Outdoorsing mum.
I Dress for the Outdoors…
Well, of COURSE it’s going to be my first stop!
I’m going to estimate that most parents will know that if you don’t enter into the outdoors fully prepared for rain, cold, hot, moderate temperatures and the absolutely freeeeezing, the entire spectrum of snack emergencies, accidentally falling into a puddle, INTENTIONALLY falling into a puddle, and all the other kind of shenanigans that come with outdoorsing with kids, then you will be facing a moan-fest of EPIC proportions.
But can I tell you a secret? YOU need to be prepared too! (Is that a sharp intake of breath I hear?)
Being prepared to be warm outdoors is basically my whole goal. There is so much FAFFING that goes on when walking with kids, that being cold can be your worst enemy at maximising and really enjoying that outdoors time. Let’s face it, ‘snail’s pace’ can reach a whole new meaning when it comes to walking with the kids.
So YES! You will need 700 pairs of socks, spare gloves and trousers for the kids… but don’t forget you!
So, what do I wear in the outdoors?
When it’s chilly, I love a thermal base layer because I hate being cold. In fact, I basically wear them 70% of the year!
I also love my ACAI fleece as a top layer or even layered up as mid when it’s really cold, because not only is it snuggly it has MASSIVE pockets for all the snacks (and we all know, there are NEVER enough snacks when you’re hiking with kids!)
Also, I SWEAR by my ACAI thermal skinnies. The quick-drying outer is ace for if you need to sit down on a damp cold rock (on account of the faffin’) and with them also being shower resistant, you also have FULL licence to join in with the muddy puddle jumping!
But how on earth can you build a passion for the outdoors?
When I started writing about walking with kids, my two were very young. We’d spend ages collecting conkers and pine cones, taking stone rubbings and thinking about what we could do with our sticks back at home. It worked and they KINDA got on board with the walks.
Walking with preschoolers is a game of patience, taking a LOT of time and making room for all of the ‘nature treasure’ that’s collected along the way.
But as kids like to do, they grow. Like REALLY fast! (Nobody warned me about that!!)
Now, the collecting factor has diminished (although I STILL have a stick graveyard in the garden, what is the DEAL with that?!) and I’m facing a whole new WORLD of hurdles when it comes to encouraging outdoor time.
Getting older kids involved outdoors
Generally, my absolute top tip is to get the older ones involved with the planning process when it comes to hiking. Map reading, navigation, compass usage, deciding where we’re going to walk, designing a route so that they can go to the park, or challenge themselves (or usually plan the shortest route) and it helps.
If you have the time to chuck in an epic part like a sunrise or a sunset, or a trig point then ACE! But it doesn’t have to be fancy to fit. Ultimately, if it’s outdoors it’ll do. A picnic, a bike ride, grabbing the skateboard or the ultimate eye-roll inducing suggestion of going on a walk.
Do it regularly enough and it becomes part of the routine. That does make it easier.
Is the future bright (ish) outdoors?
Ok. I don’t have a crystal ball to predict what will happen in the future as the kids grow. But having outdoorsing as part of our family routine might just be working some magic … (if I whisper that bit, it might not scare it off).
And as we approach the teenage years, I will be facing a whole new level of challenges for SURE!
But my message is this: don’t give up! It IS worth the battle, it IS worth the eye roll, the sassy comments and the sulky stomps.
The future of outdoorsing is 100% in our hands and together, we can do it!!
Sam is the creator and editor of the website The Reluctant Explorers: Yorkshire Walking With Kids . Visit the website for inspiration on how to get outdoors with the kids in and around the Yorkshire Dales!