I was telling Tina Finelli, a fellow entrepreneur, how hiking with my kids has been a wonderful coping strategy lately.
Covid-19 has been a challenging time with work, building a business, and my 3 kids (10 and under) at home for 6 months. Even when not living through a pandemic, I find it difficult to make time to prioritize my health and wellness.
As a lawyer, I am part of a profession that is only starting to talk about mental health in 2020, never mind address it! I wrote this blog on World Mental Health Day 2020 to emphasize that we all need to prioritize our physical and mental wellness.
Hiking with our children has given my family a (mostly) lovely weekend activity.
It is one of the few consistent fitness activities we do together, along with some cycling and downhill skiing.
We have hiked many of the conservation parks around Toronto. Some of the parks we have been to recently are:
- To the east: Rouge Urban National Park, North America’s largest urban park
- To the west: Rattlesnake Point and Kelso, and to the south-west Mount Nemo, all part of the Niagara Escarpment
- In the north-west: Rockport whose rocks formations, blue waters and paddle-boarders make me think of Thai island, as well as the Elora Gorge with its steep banks and exposed tree roots
- Check out more trails and neighbourhoods of GTA and beyond in these SeeWhatSheCanDo blog posts
Words I thought I would never hear: “Mom, I love hiking with you”
We have been hiking with our children for years. They have finally started to love it. It’s been a real exercise in patience, as everyone has different interests.
- I love it when we can walk far and fast and go to a park we have not been to before. I just want to be in nature and experience shinrin-yoku or “forest bathing”. My stress level drops the instant I am surrounded by trees.
- The kids love it when they can climb interesting rock formations, find large walking sticks, walk close to cliff edges, explore caves, see waterfalls, and build rock towers.
- My husband loves to see the kids run, play, explore, get stronger and get along. They also fall asleep early on hiking days!
- We all like walking under tree canopies and having picnics with lots of chocolate treats.
If you have wanted to add hiking to your family’s activities, here is what has worked for us:
- Safety. Have an adult walk ahead and behind your kids, especially if you have not been to the hiking grounds before. Could there be cliffs or caves? Or wild animals? Do you need to take precautions against ticks?
- Accessibility. For flat terrain parks, you may be able to bring wheelchairs, strollers, or wagons. Read about the terrain so you know what to expect.
- Covid 19. Bring hand sanitizer and face masks. Check to see if you need to book ahead, or if the park is even open.
- Bathroom breaks whenever possible. Especially being in a pandemic, plan ahead to know where the bathrooms will be. Bring extra diapers if you have little ones.
- Food. Pack lots of healthy food and some fun treats too. Whatever amount of food you are planning on bringing, double, or triple that amount. Pro-tip: Don’t forget the protein!
- Picnic. Take the time to have a little picnic when you arrive and again when you are done your hike. Leave some food in the car (in a cooler or thermos), as they will be hungry when the hike is finished. Bring a blanket.
- Constant feeding. Feed your kids every 2 hours.
- Drive-throughs. Plan ahead to avoid the local drive-through on your way home. On the other hand, be prepared to stop to feed them.
- Lots of water. Again, double or triple the amount you think you will need, especially during warmer days.
- Feet. Ensure they have good footwear. Sometimes little people leave their shoes at home. Or in the driveway.
- Extras. Bring activities or books for the car ride. My kids said to tell you to bring bathing suits, just in case!
- Be flexible. We went on a recent hike. After 1km, the kids found a river-bed with tons of rocks. We ended up spending the afternoon building rock towers instead of hiking.
- Make it social (distanced!). Arrange to meet friends or family. We have been on nice hikes with grandparents, close family, and family and friends that we don’t see enough of.
- Advice. Don’t treat this time as your exercise or workout time, because you will be frustrated. Instead, think of it as special family time in nature.
- Involve the kids: Let the kids pick some of your destinations. Watch them explore. Better yet, explore with them. I am still working on this one.
Check out the SWSCD Athlete Advisor, your online athletic business directory. Find, rate, and review programs, local community offerings, and businesses that will help you do your thing.
Need a place to connect and coordinate with fellow walkers? Start a group. Explore events. Check out our SWSCD Hub.
Look for advice, stories, news, and more on our Walking activity page.
Tell us about your favourite walking trail or route. Share your highlights directly on our Discover blog or by using #seewhatshecando on social media and inspire others to get active.
tinafinelli over 2 years
Love this article and the forest!
carolinewiley over 2 years
Hey @asandhu Thanks for sharing your experiences and insights around hiking with your family. Certainly, during these extraordinary times of COVID, time together in some ‘normal’ way like exploring local hiking trails together is showing its value in even more ways than you and your family had already come to expect. Cheers, Caroline