Get Your Family Outdoors
The Summer holidays are a great opportunity to enjoy a walk in the countryside. You probably know a local scenic area, or if you don’t then get the Ordnance Survey map out or consult the internet.
For younger children don’t try to walk too far – you’ll just put them off and end up carrying them home! A short walk with some features along the way (especially if they can stand on top of it and be photographed!) is ideal. Encourage them to look carefully at things like ponds, as you’ll almost always find something of interest – always worth taking a jar to bring back the best creepy crawlies. Of course, you also need to take care to ensure your kids stay safe when playing near water features and other potentially hazardous areas.
The other great thing about Summer walks is that you don’t need much gear. Usually a small daysack is enough to take a few essentials: a lightweight waterproof (cagoule); a drink and snack; suncream; first aid kit; map and compass; phone; camera. Depending on your route and the weather, you may not even need this short list. You can also use the “we’ll have a snack at the top” technique which is good motivation.
Make sure your kids wear something suitable on their feet: a trainer or walking shoe is fine for flatter drier conditions, or a walking boot for more challenging conditions (but never wellies – these are fine for playing, but not for walking). In either case make sure they wear some socks: blisters are caused by movement of the shoe against the skin – socks reduce or elliminate this because the sock doesn’t move relative to the skin. There are various specialist socks on the market, but the main priority is that is fits well with no creases, and should have a composition and thickness suitable to the conditions – some polyester and/or wool content is desireable to keep the foot dry, although some kids don’t like high wool content.
If you have a toddler, a child carrier is a great way for both you and them to see the outdoors. Make sure you buy a model which has a good level of support for your back and adjust it so that the majority of the weight is on your hips. Many models have included accessories such as a sun/shower canopy, and CozyMole also offer big discounts on additonal accessories when you buy these at the same time as a carrier. Once you’ve had the confidence to try using a child carrier you’ll find it very rewarding and not too strenuous – even better if you can go with a partner to share the carrying. Most models have additional space for the things you would normally take a daysack for, as well as nappies etc.
Watch out for the bugs! If you’re going into the woods, or near fresh water, etc, you may find a number of flying insects around, expecially in warmer weather. If this bothers you, there are some simple repellents available which have child friendly compositions (did you know that ‘adult’ insect repellent can contain chemicals which are harmful to young children – read the label!). There is also increasing availability of clothing which has insect repellent properties, including the Columbia Bug Shield range.
Protect your Children
And if you are fortunate enough to be enjoying some time outside in the sun, don’t forget to take the appropriate precautions: suncream, hat, sunglasses, drink water. Be sensible about how long you spend in the sun – especially if your children are very young. It’s easy to be caught out, especially if there’s a cooling breeze, and you won’t realise until it’s too late – best to be prepared and cautious.
And if the Summer where you live seems like winter, don’t just stare through the window at it. As long as you keep your kids warm and dry, they don’t mind wintry conditions. Just be realistic about how far you go, and let them play without worrying about getting dirty.