Yesterday was one of my days to have my son (his mom and I are split up). My new GF took the car to work, leaving us at home. I had a $15 gift card to a chain grocery store that I got from my employer for Christmas, and a newly assembled hydration pack/mini-BOB just itching to get some miles put in. Right as I was about to suggest a trek, (not sure, but I think the grocery store is about 3 miles away) my son asks me for a banana. Yes! We have no bananas. So off we go.
It was a great start. Talking about everything going on around us (this was a semi-urban hike), stopping regularly to hydrate, introducing my boy to the fine art of public urination (recently stopped wearing diapers). I was very proud. Kids these days don't walk ANYWHERE. And here was a 3 year old holding his own on a 3 mile hike.
He was great all the way to the store. At one point, he fell down on the sidewalk, hurting his right knee. No tears, but he did want me to carry him for a little while. I put my mini-BOB on his back, and put him on my back. This was not only more comfortable than carrying him in my arms, but he thought it was way cool to wear my "packpack".
At the store, he had time to rest in the shopping cart. We got his bananas and a cheap toy, along with other food items for our PAW pantry.
The walk back was a little more difficult. In order to make things interesting, we took an alternate route back, cutting through our miniscule downtown area. He wanted to stop at every bench and every bus stop and sit down. We opened up some Cheez-its, had a drink, and kept walking. He never got whiny, but it took constant coaxing to get him to make it home on his own power.
I did this exercise with the intention of testing my ability to do a walking bugout with mini-BOB loaded to actual weight, including 2 liters of water, and 3 year old in tow. Here are some tips if you must bug-out on foot with a kid:
1. Anticipate needs- Don't let the nagging start before you address Jr.'s desire to pee, take a drink, or stop for a second. Initiate these activities yourself. You'll make better time than if you have to stop for 10 minutes having to clean up a "meltdown". And your stress level will be lessened.
2. Keep your kid distracted by things that are 20 yards ahead of you on your path. This works by the carrot-on-a-string principle. Kid continues to walk just so he/she can look at, or touch something interesting. Then redirect them to something ahead of you again.
3. Keep talking- a silent walk feels longer.
4. Have toys on hand. Ideally, have a toy that a kid can play with with one hand while you hold the other. They will keep walking, but on autopilot mode. Kind of like walking on a treadmill while you watch TV.
5. Piggyback rides are the way to go. Sooner or later, they're going to just quit on you. If your kid is light enough, shoulder rides would be easier on your back, but anything is easier that carrying a kid in your arms.
Other suggestions for future hikes would be welcome.