I hope you joined us last Monday, when Rachel Zupke shared the basics for snowshoeing as a beginner. After reading her post, I am so inspired to get out and try something new this winter. Today, we’re thrilled to have her here again, sharing about snowshoeing with kids. Read on and get ready to lead the way, while taking family adventures to a whole new level!
I’ve heard too many people say, “I’ll never take my kids snowshoeing again.” After asking them a few questions about how they prepped for their outing, we both figure out that a little forethought can go a long way. As a mama, I want to instill a love of the outdoors in my kids but not force them into enjoying something just because I do. Snowshoeing is a great way to get kids excited about being outside…who doesn’t love playing in the snow?
Choose the right spot
Make sure you pick a snowshoe hike appropriate to the level of your kids. Just as with hiking, make sure that you are challenging your child[ren] without pushing them too hard. Consider elevation gain, distance, things to see along the way, etc. If it’s too easy, they’ll get bored but if it’s too hard, they’ll want to quit right away.
Our family is currently at the point where we have to think more about how far our kids can walk versus how far we can walk carrying our kids. In this case, choosing the right spot is key for us as parents. I have to think about how far I want to pack the baby in an Ergo while my husband considers how long he’d want to carry the three year old on the way back along with all the stuff stashed in the bottom of the Osprey Poco Plus (2 great carriers I highly recommend for the outdoorsy family with itty bitties!!!). Please remember regular babywearing safety…clear airway, proper hip alignment, etc.
Make sure you dress them in proper clothing: just like you, they need appropriate layers, gloves/hat, and boots. A warm kid is a happy kid! In regards to footwear, local company Northside makes legit toddler hiking boots (we use as everything boots!) that even my teeny three year old can wear; there are other brands as well like Keen that make boots for kids.
Snowshoes come in fairly small sizes but perhaps not small enough for your kiddo. If your child fits in a pair, realize it may be slow going while they figure out how to walk in them. If they don’t, it will also be slow going especially if you’re in an area with lots of powder (in which case, see previous point about carrying kids!). They can also follow you and walk in your tracks.
Classic phrases such as “are we there yet” and “you said this was going to be fun” will most likely surface sometime during your snowshoeing outing. Brace yourself and prepare for this by thinking about – ahead of time! – how you’ll combat the complaining. This obviously depends on your parenting style but regardless of whether you’re the type to deliver a quick quip or detailed explanation, you need to anticipate frustration and negative attitudes. Kids are the most honest truth tellers but if you’re ready for it, you’ll be able to deflect it and hopefully channel their energy into having fun the rest of the time rather than regretting ever bringing them out in the woods. Can you play a game as you walk? Point out birds or cool trees? See who can throw a snowball the farthest? Creativity goes a long way with crabby kids.
Have a way out
While you can’t exactly summon a SnowCat to the rescue, you can bringing a sled or extra kid carrier as alternative means of hiking if you child has seriously had enough. We’ve all been there on a hike…you’re at the top/turnaround and they refuse to walk another step. Instead of the obligatory piggyback ride, in the snow you can tow them on a sled or have them sled back to the trailhead themselves! When our littlest is in the hardcore hiking pack, I’ve been known to bring the ergo or a woven wrap to anticipate one of us carrying our older child back to the car.
Bring fun snacks
This should go without saying. Kids. Love. Food. Well, most do, anyway. Remember my comment about a warm kid being a happy kid? This is your chance to really do it up, parents. Bring a thermos of hot chocolate. Pack their favorite sandwich and crunchy snack. If you really want to do it up, bring your backpacking stove and s’more ingredients. They’ll forget they ever complained about hiking in the snow.
P.S. If snow isn’t your thing or you’re just an uber planner, I wrote a similar post on camping with kiddos that might be helpful!
My name is Rachel and I’m a stay at home mom to an energetic preschooler and a crawling baby. My husband brings home the big bucks as a high school science teacher and I help out money-wise by coaching after school (cross country, basketball, and track). On my personal blog, I write about faith and family, real food and natural living, and my obsession with mason jars. I also write about sex and sexuality for Christian women over at Intimate Truths. You can find me on Instagram and onFacebook.