Up in the mountains with kids

Little did I imagine when I came to Italy that one day I’d be walking through the mountains with my kids.

But do your kids walk? I get asked. Well yes, they do. I don’t know whether this is because they have a mother who walks and makes them walk. I can’t bear the thought of my kids not walking. And for that reason it’s always been a priority.

The following also helps:

  1. Everything is an adventure. Whether you’re looking for heffalumps, Eeyore or poisionous grass snakes, it always helps to be looking for something. Be careful with how you play the latter though. I managed to scare my 8 year old once regarding the grass snakes. Result: huge tantrum up the side of a mountain and refusal to go any further.
  2. Food. Sounds obvious but essential. Kids need energy, kids need food. As soon as the car stops on the way up to the mountains, my two will inevitably start. Mum, I’m hungry. Mum, what have we got to eat? Pack for breakfast, lunch and tea. On Sunday we went to the mountains and didn’t take anything. We were going to a mountain refuge for lunch so I didn’t think we’d need anything. WRONG. 11 o’clock and we’re all in the bar eating brioche. And we had breakfast before we left.
  3. Don’t be a pack horse. Give them a rucksack each. Pack bottle of water, sandwiches, crips, fruit (skip bananas, they get squashed). Give to the appropriate child and get him or her to carry it. The same applies if your partner is there that day. Like anything to do with kids, consistency is the key.
  4. Take a friend, their friend. Kids will do it if they see others do it. And if your kids are still quite young and any of your friends have older kids, you’re onto a winner. And excuse you if you just lie back in the lounger in the sunshine and finish off your glass of wine…
  5.  Don’t give in. Kids will come up with every excuse they can think of to get out of going in the first place. And really, why would they want to leave the comfort of their sofas? If all else fails, pack their bags for them, grab the boots, kids out of the door and you’re off. They can always put their boots on in the car.
  6. Don’t worry too much about the weather. Obviously you don’t want to be stuck up a mountain in severe weather conditions as that would be downright dangerous for all. But if it doesn’t quite turn out as expected, don’t give yourself a hard time. You’re not a cruel mother, you’re making memories. Mum, do you remember when we went to that refuge and it snowed? Mum, do you remember when we got caught in that storm and I ran down the mountain with Filippo under his jacket? One exception is heat. Heat and midday sun is not pleasant, and can make you ill. In summer, start early.
  7. Relax and enjoy. Okay, so it’s off the cliché scale, but really, believe me, you are giving your child a gift for life. My brother and I spent virtually the whole of our childhoods traipsing up and down some hill or other in the Yorkshire Dales and across the North York Moors. He now traipses round the same hills with his son. I traipse up and down mountains with my kids. Nothing beats getting to the top and your son running round with joy, shouting “Mummy it’s beautiful! Thank you, mummy!”

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Mummy, it’s beautiful! Angeloga, Province of Sondrio, Lombardy 

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