It’s no secret that I love to get outdoors and hike. When you live in a city, it is so important to get a break from city life, and hiking is one of the best ways to get away from the noise and busyness of NYC.
Let’s face it. It is easier to hike kid-free, but sometimes the benefits outweigh the added complications. Moreover, studies show that kids who participate in outdoor activities, such as hiking, as children are more likely to participate in these same healthy, outdoor activities as adults.
When I am planning my outdoor escape, I often have to choose between hiking alone or with other adults or hiking with my kids. There is no right or wrong answer here! It all comes down to how I feel that day.
So, when it comes to deciding whether to hike with kids or to hike alone, the following thoughts guide my decision-making.
The Benefits of Hiking Alone
I can enjoy the peace and quiet. A major benefit of hiking is that you leave behind all the noise. However, if you hike with your kids, you are bringing the noise along with you. If I am in the mood for peace and quiet, then I hike alone. If I would rather hear the birds chirping and the leaves rustling than my daughters singing the same song over and over again, I’m going to go alone.
I can hike at my own pace. We all have a pace we are comfortable hiking. Some people like leisurely hikes, while others walk at a brisk pace. Either way is fine – unless you are walking with kids. If your kids are with you, you must walk at their pace for safety reasons.
I can choose more advanced or challenging trails. Similarly to walking at your own pace, you can choose the trails you want to try rather than the ones that are kid-friendly.
I can think. Hiking provides the space to think – especially if you unplug. However, if I take my daughters with me, all I am doing is thinking. My mind is constantly on them and their safety. So, if I need time away to think, then I go at it alone.
The Benefits of Hiking with Your Kids
I can teach my daughters to appreciate the outdoors. Kids love nature, but they must be taught to appreciate nature. When I point out trees and birds, I am drawing their attention to the beauty of creation. Likewise, hiking provides the parents a chance to explain the importance of taking care of nature and why it matters.
I can bond with my family. Hiking is a great family bonding experience. You are together away from the usual distractions. You have tons of time to talk and laugh together. Plus, it helps you bond when you conquer challenges together.
I can help my girls get out their excess energy. Kids need opportunities to burn energy – especially on days when they don’t have recess at school. Hiking is a great way to get them up and moving – and it makes bedtime so much easier.
I can use hiking to build my kids’ confidence. Each time my daughters hike, they are learning how to navigate more independently. When I allow them to push themselves a little more each time, they are building confidence.
Which do you prefer? Let me know if you see hiking as bonding time or kid-free time in the comments!