Today’s post is sponsored by Febreze In-Wash Odor Eliminator. Thank you for supporting the brands that help keep KSW going.
I’ve dreamed of having a family that rode bikes together since I was a young girl. The same way most girls dream of what their someday wedding will look like, I dreamed of the family I would once have.
Three kids – boy, girl, boy, great father, an active outdoor lifestyle. We would hike, and camp and bike and just generally enjoying spending time with one another.
Dreams are kinda funny in the way that you can spend your entire life visualizing and wishing for them but when the opportunity is put right in front of you, many times we resist. Afraid it wont work out the way we planned or be as good as the images we’ve created in our minds.
I’m happy to say having a family that bikes together is EXACTLY the way I dreamed it would, maybe even better! And best of all, it is so simple to get started.
Here are a few tips to get you and your family riding bikes and on the road in no time!
1. SAFETY FIRST!
Above all else, keeping your family safe is priority #1. This means making sure the route your on is safe for even the smallest members in your family. If they can’t handle the inclines or if the declines are way too steep for them, hop off the bike and walk together!
Many times, my husband and I will split up, one riding ahead with our older two and one walking behind with our young one. He honestly relishes this alone time to have us all to himself.
If I’m riding with the kids alone, I make them ride ahead of me single file so I can keep my eye on them at all times and we keep the distance short enough that I can warn them of cars, bumps, whatever and if need be they can relay the messages to the next rider.
If my husband is with us, we sandwich them. Especially during trail rides! One experienced rider in the front and one to bring up the rear and keep tabs on how their energy levels are doing. My oldest son is becoming strong enough to take the lead position now.
This also means making sure your bikes have reflectors and/or lights and everyone wears their helmets. If you make it a non-issue, much like wearing a seat belt in the car and don’t give them the option not to wear a helmet then it will be a normal part of your adventures together.
Need lights, helmets or reflectors? Here’s a few my family loves
2. Start Small
When you first start riding as a family you might not get very far. That’s ok.
You won’t increase your distance unless you keep doing it. This is a life lesson we teach our children every single day. If you want to get better at something, all you have to do is practice. Keep trying. Don’t give up.
We started just riding 1-2 blocks around the neighborhood and never even left our subdivision until we knew they could ride a couple miles without tiring out.
Even when we started trail riding, we were careful to find places that had trails 1 mile or less and lot of adjoining longer trails in case Dad and the big kids wanted to keep going. It’s important everyone feels like a part of what we’re doing and no one feels left out.
3. Plan your next ride together!
So you’ve done a few rides and you’re starting to get the hang of this family bike routine. Great! Now, try something new. Go somewhere you’ve never been. Make it a day trip or rent some bikes on your next vacation. Anything goes.
If you’re lucky enough to live near great parks like we are, explore them online – many will have maps and virtual views of the trails and surrounding areas. Show them to your kids and decide as a family where you’ll go next! We’ve discovered some great trails and parks here in Texas and I’ll share with you some of our favorites in an upcoming post very soon!
This week, my youngest child chose our next ride. He simply wants to ride around the neighborhood looking at Halloween decorations and is already planning our evening ride to see Christmas lights later this winter. That makes my heart so happy, secretly I am already planning the thermos full of hot chocolate I’ll surprise him with!
4. Have fun, make memories
The whole point of riding as a family is to have fun together. If that’s not happening, you need to take a step back and really think about why. There’s no pressure on these rides and no time limits or places we have to be. We’re simply there to enjoy one another’s company and that’s the same feeling I want my children to get from these rides too.
Note: If the rides are too hard, we push them too far, or you can see they are just generally frustrated from the whole experience — see Rule 5!
I know it’s working because they initiate our rides now. When we talk about our favorite parts of our day before bed, they tell me it was riding, or when their school papers come home and their stories about their favorite part of summer involve our family on bikes … I know we’re doing something right!
5. Take Breaks
Like I said, when we’re out on our bikes with the kids. We’re in no hurry. And sometimes the best parts of our trips happen when we slow down, stop and chat or even get off the bikes completely and just explore the world around us.
6. Dress Appropriately
What’s appropriate in some regions might seem crazy in others. But no matter where you live, your family should have comfortable shoes while they are riding. Pants with some stretch, as few seams, buttons and zippers as possible and tops that allow them to move. Moisture wicking and fabric with UV protection that breathes is helpful too, but can be something you build on over time. Riding bikes with your family doesn’t have to cost a thing!
If we’re going to be in the woods, I prefer to cover as much of their arms and legs as possible but sometimes in Texas you have to weigh your risks. See Rule #9 for some quick tips on staying warm, or overheating and possible dehydration.
Mom Tip: Being outside all day in the hot sun can make for some especially stinky laundry! I end that problem real quick by adding Febreze In-Wash Odor Eliminator to our cycling load. Those are not clothes I want to leave lying around all week! And this stuff leaves them smelling as good as new, maybe even better!
7. Don’t forget your ABC’s
The last thing you want to deal with while riding is bicycle maintenance. Check these 3 very important things before you head out and if you are away from home bring your tire pump and a small bike repair kit with you on your ride. You never now when you might need it.
8. Be Prepared
And by be prepared I mean an all-encompassing kind of prepared. You need to be prepared for the weather and outdoor elements (this might mean sunscreen or bug spray or toe warmers, ear muffs and mittens depending on where you are). You need to be ready in case of an accident, have your route back to your car clear in your mind and some wipes, antiseptic spray and band aids or gauze in your basket (more on my Mary Poppins basket and all you’ll find inside coming soon!).
You need to know yourself and your kids well enough to know when they are over exerted, hungry or just tired. Have enough water and snacks on hand to get you through the trip and if you’ll be out long enough bring a picnic lunch! Or tabletop grill like my husband does to grill a few hot dogs while we are at the parks.
I saw a few too many kids suffering from heat exhaustion this summer. Be aware their bodies will burn through water and nutrients much faster than yours and keeping some healthy snacks and even some gatorade or juice around can give them the boost they need. On the flip side, know their bodies must have water in order to stay properly hydrated so try to give them a healthy mix between the two. A ride with nothing but sugary drinks and snacks could be a disaster.
9. Get out and explore!
Don’t be afraid to go off the beaten path or get off your bike and hike for awhile. You never know what you might find out there!
10: Make it a Date
Once every month or two we take the kids to my husband’s parents and go out to dinner and a movie. Before we pick them up the next day, we do a long ride together just the two of us.
Just like your family element at home often changes from the whole family together at dinner, to boys watching sports together, mom and daughter doing their own thing. The dynamics on the bikes can change too. Switch it up to make the habit even more engrained in your lives. Ride with your little guy today, race your older child tomorrow. Go for a slow ride with your man or try racing him just for fun.
The more time your spent on the bikes no matter what combination the more your family will come to love being the family that cycles together.
Disclosure: This post is a part of the Healthy Families Campaign with KSW Media. Thanks to Febreze In-Wash Odor Eliminator for sponsoring today’s conversation. Click here to find special offers and coupons for this product. All content and opinions as always, are our own.