7 Ways To Get Your Kids Outside Over The Long Weekend
By Di Westaway | Chief Adventure Chick and Founder of Wild Women On Top
A summer long weekend can be a gorgeous, relaxing adventure with family or a beautiful backyard barbie with a beer and buddies. However, it can also be a mission in child-wrangling and heat management, the long days feeling longer with other people’s obnoxious kids and boob sweat.
My favourite family days always involve getting out of the house and into nature. And the best way to get into nature is to hike.
Here are my top tips to get your kids outdoors this Australia Day so your long weekend is more play than cray. Enjoy!
1. Make it an adventure
We’re all explorers at heart but kids thrive on adventure. Hikes for kids need to be fun, which means exploring trails that are rocky, bushy, steep and bouldery with lots of little nooks and crannies to negotiate. Forget long flat walks. Your kids will hate it and you’ll have to resort to bribing them with jelly snakes then managing the tanties and mood swings that follow. Make sure it’s an adventurous location with lots of interesting things to climb, explore and investigate!
2. Keep it short and sweet
In my experience, trying to convince kids to come for a full-day walk is hard, but a few hours is cool. Let them know it will be fun, not hard, and you can stop any time they want to explore the wild. Don’t try to cover long distances or go fast, just keep it light and fun. Just being in nature is good for them, and you!
3. Make it a goal
Kids love a challenge so choose a summit, a special beach, a cool tree or a lookout to reach and engage them with counting something such as flowers, tall trees, little shrubs or sign posts enroute. This is also a great opportunity to practice maths or mapping!
4. Bring treats
A delicious picnic overlooking a fabulous view or by a stream, or a well-timed piece of chocolate can rejuvenate even the most miserable kiddies. Keep it delicious and nutritious with a few indulgent treats for a ritual they always look forward to.
5. Involve water
Whether it’s the beach, a river, a waterfall or a rock pool, including some water play is ideal for kids who would prefer to be inside on their device. And pop a spray bottle in your pack if it’s hot cos this will liven things up when you squirt each other enroute.
6. Make it a game
Inspire them to collect shells, pebbles, leaves, flowers, insects or driftwood, or take photos from interesting angles as you hike. If necessary have a little prize to keep them motivated.
7. Let them bring a friend
We all love having buddies around so this works wonders, particularly for kids aged over 10. A mate can turn a boring family walk into a really exciting adventure, and make it easier for all of you to enjoy the experience. But make sure you have a few risk management rules to ensure a safe adventure for all.
My favourite family hikes to do this Australia Day
New South Wales
Coast North: West Head Lookout to Great Mackerel Beach, West Head
Mountains: Glenbrook Creek hike along the river, Glenbrook
Coast South: Royal National Park Figure Eight Pools hike, Royal National Park
Northern Beaches: North Head loop via Bluefish point lookout, Manly
Dandenongs: Hike to Olinda and Sherbrooke Falls, Dandenongs
Mornington Peninsula: Hike around Point Nepean with bunker and beaches
Surf Coast: Ironbark Basin Walk - Southside to Point Addis, Surf Coast
Gold Coast hinterland: Natural Bridge hike, Springbrook National Park
Sunshine Coast: Noosa Heads hike around the top of Noosa Headland, Sunshine Coast
Brisbane: Simpsons Falls and Eugenia Circuit, Mt Coot-tha
Hallett Cove: Hallett Cove Glacier hike
Fleurieu Peninsula: Kaiki Walk, Granite Island Circuit
Adelaide: First Falls Valley walk, Morialta Conservation Park