Jessica and Joe wouldn’t take off their Bridgedale walking socks for days because they “they are so cosy and comfy”. Lucy was no better. She wore her pair for three whole days (and the nights in-between).
The girls, both aged seven, were also very reluctant to remove their shiny new lilac-coloured walking shoes, while Lucy also seemed to be glued into her pastel pink walking jacket. Six-year-old Joe reckoned that sleeping in his oh-so-soft “camo” fleece jacket might be a great thing to do.
If you’re keen to get your kids out walking with you then colourful, attractive and comfortable clothing has to be the answer.
When we asked the three children, who were testing a range of bright new outdoor clothing items, what parents should do to encourage other youngsters like them to go out walking in the countryside, their number one answer was new and exciting kit!
Of course, when buying gear for youngsters it’s also important to ensure it fits properly and that it will do the right job in bad weather conditions. Like adult outdoor clothing, children should be kitted out in waterproof jackets, trousers and boots, a number of layers, such as a baselayer and a fleece, and good quality socks. If walking in cooler seasons, hats and gloves are also essential.
But for parents on a tight budget, buying full walking outfits for several children could seem like a cost too far. The good news is that most children will grow so quickly that they are unlikely to wear out the clothing and boots. In this way, outdoor clothing can be passed down to younger siblings or sold on secondhand, with the resulting sale money going towards new and larger items of clothing.
Brands such as Regatta (see here) also offer great value for money. Because you are unlikely to walk too far or for too long with younger children, you do not need to splash out on hi-tech clothing. A waterproof jacket needs to keep out the rain but it doesn’t need to be highly breathable, for example.
Promise the kids a bit of an adventure
Instead of telling the kids that you’re planning a “nice country walk” (which is likely to be met with groans of: “Do we have to?”), tell them you’re planning an outdoors adventure. It could be a treasure hunt style walk, or an island adventure, or a camp-and-hike trip.
Treasure hunt walk: Set the kids a challenge while they walk by asking them to find items that match the colours of the rainbow. They should not be encouraged to pick wild flowers but they could point out a purple bloom or an orange butterfly to you. Or give them a list of items or places to tick off while you walk. Having something to do while children walk will keep their minds off the strolling and firmly on the doing something else.
Isles of fun: Catching a ferry to an island, such as Cumbrae, Bute, Arran or Mull on the west coast of Scotland, gives children a fantastic sense of adventure. You could choose a short walk while you’re on the island, followed by hours of play on a beach, plus an ice cream!
Go camping: It only has to be for a night but camping is a great activity to enthuse children. Tell them there will be a short walk to the camping spot and that they will have to carry a few bits and pieces in their own rucksack. Meanwhile the grown-ups can carry the rest. It’s fun to feel like you’re having a self-sufficient camping adventure, and the kids will be enjoy the whole outdoors experience. The chances are they will be trotting along to find the perfect camping spot, without even realising they are enjoying a family walk!
What tips do you have for encouraging your children to join you on family walks?