Biking with kids and toddlers can be very challenging and sometimes even overwhelming. Many parents wonder how to make biking a fun activity for the family. When is better to use a bike seat or trailer or, let the kid ride their bike with the training wheels?
But, what if you also have a 1-Year-old baby? How can you make this activity joyful and safe for the entire family is what we will be discussing here.
Whether you are new to cycling and looking for a way to get some exercise and nurture bonds with the family at the same time, this article will explore ideas to ride smoothly and safely as a family but, most importantly to have fun on the trails!!
HOW TO MAKE BIKING A FUN ACTIVITY FOR THE FAMILY
In the words of my 8 years old son, “it is an excellent way to feel free and in control”. So, biking with kids helps them develop confidence and boost self-esteem as a result, biking helps your kids to be physically and emotionally healthy.
Kids that learn to ride a bike from an early age learn the positives of being physically active. Riding a bike helps your kids to develop muscle strength and strong bones.
Ø Start Young
You can make the activity fun by encouraging your children to get out on the bike to explore and feel nature, let them feel free, and take a bit of a risk! The more fun the kids have, the more likely they’ll love the sport in their lives. If we promote biking from a young age, I assure you that you will have more active kids and more cycling in your lives.
Ø Be a good model for them
Go for a ride with them. Let biking become an integral part of your family life. Start taking the kids once a week to a park or trail. They will love it eventually. Have a positive attitude and teach your children the rules of the road.
Ø Talk about safety
Drivers and other cyclists cannot read your mind on the road. That’s why the importance of signaling your intent, whether it is to stop or turn right or left.
Ø Make it fun and educational
Riding a bike with the kids should be more than just a fun activity. It helps the kids build visual motor skills, motor planning, muscle strength, and endurance, you can talk about the environment while riding and how important it is to protect nature.
Every moment shared with our kids, count, helps in their development and giving them life lessons. Let them struggle and fail a couple of times, just chip in tips and advice and ensure safety.
Ø Get the kids fun gear.
A piece or two of fun gear can be hugely motivating for the kids. Pick a cool new helmet, a fun hydration pack, or bike-specific clothes, or a fun bike horn. You should also let your child pick the item that they are much more excited about.
- Have bells on the bikes, kids can get carried away riding down the street dinging the bells at passersby.
- You can also have speakers attached to the handlebars, you can listen to music and rock out while you ride. Do not use or encourage the kids to use headphones while riding. Small things keep kids entertained for long rides.
Ø Invest your time to find what works for your kid.
Make sure the helmet you get is appropriate for the size and/or age of your child and fits well. It should be leveled on top of the head, about two finger-widths above the eyebrows. It should not rock back and forth or side to side. The strap should be buckled and snug under the chin.
Ø Bring a snack along and do not forget to make it FUN
Do not underestimate the power of snacks in motivating the kids. Kids riding on their own are capable of working up quite an appetite, you should come prepared for when they need a refill. You can plan snack stops for every ride. These breaks also make the activity manageable for kids.
Do not forget that the kids should never get bored while riding, little things can go a long way in keeping kids engaged and having fun.
Ø Consider easy-to-pack snacks.
Granola bars, Chocolate milk, fruits, and crackers are my favorites. You can also make the snacks as incentives for when they get something right. Reward them with snacks like candy when they reach certain set goals or tasks, this keeps them motivated and ever ready to keep going.
Ø Chose perfect locations
When my husband and I started this journey, the first thing we did was find the best kids-friendly trails in our city. I like the adventure feeling but a bit of research can avoid not-so-good experiences. So, avoid overwhelming the kids with high hill trails. At first, you should pick the easier paths. You want the kids to feel completely at ease and safe at the beginning of the journey.
- Start the ride in an empty parking lot, trail, or park.
- You can do it for 10 to 20 minutes, then reassess to see if the child is fatiguing or getting flustered. You should make the destination a familiar place.
- A quiet place is the best decision before moving on to a busier environment like a park, where the child can get distracted or overwhelmed.
- Rest frequently, and take time to explore the surroundings. This way you can instantly motivate the kids when they get worn out or bored halfway through the ride, by reminding them where you are headed.
Ø Take note of the child’s fitness level
Notice when the child begins to complain or becomes emotional, this is most likely a sign that you should switch activities or head home. Young children can express how they feel, so, be sure to ask them to describe how they are feeling, or about any pain or discomfort in the body. You may need to take a break and come back to it when they are refreshed.
Ø You should not be disappointed if the first few times don’t go great.
Take your time to relax before giving it another try. You should reflect on what went wrong the last time, what worked great and prepare for the next round.
Ø Keep your decisions in balance
Enjoy the moment for what it is; a chance to pass on a new skill and spend quality time together on bikes. Be patient and do not try to force the process. A family bike trip is all about playing on the bike; biking as a family it’s not about exercise or about getting somewhere. Kids get to gain skills and confidence, seeing other children on bicycles and have some fun.
Ø Ensure you bring along a basic safety kit and a repair kit.
Do not compromise the family trip. At a minimum, you should carry a spare tube or patch kit, water, cash/credit card, and a pump in case of an incident.
Ø Think about the weather too
Always remember to dress your kid appropriately for the weather. You don’t want them to be uncomfortable while riding the bike.
We can just do our best, so don’t feel discouraged if none of the above helps your kid develop a passion for riding right away. Give it time and keep trying.
There is nothing quite as effective at getting kids excited about bikes and biking with them on trails and parks. If there is a bike trail or park in your area, go spend an afternoon there. Most parks now have children-sized pump tracks and skills areas.
We are doing it so you can too. I assure you won’t regret it, kids that love riding bikes are in good shape, less prone to obesity, anxiety, or depression.
Now it’s your turn,
How do you encourage your kids to ride a bike? Do you ride with them? Let us know in the comments below.