Make outings with your offspring fun for the whole family (and avoid meltdowns) with these top tips

Words: Phoebe Sneddon

Like all aspects of parenting, riding with your children will bring both tears of joy and tears of frustration. There is no greater pleasure than sharing your passion with another, especially when that other person is a mini version of yourself.

My top tips

  • Plan your route carefully with an enticing destination and a fun stop along the way.
  • Bribes – (I mean rewards) pack an endless supply of snacks useful for keeping morale up for all involved.
  • Prepare for the worst – pack plenty of spares in case of changes in weather/mechanicals/ emotional breakdowns.
  • Make it fun – look out for interesting wildlife along the route, or failing that, a play park.
  • Bring all your patience – super-parenting levels of patience might be required!
  • Limit your expectations – like all things with children, reality may not meet your expectations, but you are outside on bikes and that in itself is awesome.

Early exposure to the joys of riding will give your littl’un a good headstart

Once my daughter, Sabine, was old enough to ride her own bike we had to find ways for her to participate in the riding but also to bail out if she got too tired.

It’s a good idea to invest in a child’s bike that’s as light as possible because you will end up carrying it

It’s a good idea then to invest in a child’s bike that’s as light as possible because, regardless of the enthusiasm of your child, you will no doubt at some point end up carrying it. Hopefully not like me, with it strapped to your back, a beach bag slung on your front, and a small child and half your mum’s groceries on board. In these times marginal gains are key.

As your child/children/small relative progresses, start to plan rides more suited to them rather than you. When planning a ride for preschool to primary school aged-children, less is more. Yes, you will hear tales of children who have ridden 100 miles aged six on only one snack-sized Mars bar but chances are that is not your child. As we know, comparison is the thief of joy, do not compare your small person to anyone else’s.

Photo of family (mum, dad, two kids) all riding mountain bikes in the forest

Riding with the family can be fun for everyone with a little prep

Once confident you can head further afield most children of this age developmentally have an attention span of roughly one minute per year of life – so if you are four-years-old you can be expected to concentrate for about four minutes.

It is for this reason I suggest having regular stops along your route. Ideally a park halfway round is always a good plan and a decent destination with a promise of an exciting reward (bribe) which in our case is usually in the form of an ice cream.

The old adage strength in numbers is also true when riding with children. Peer pressure is a wondrous thing and finding other like-minded families to ride with tends to bring children on in leaps and bounds (or bunny hops and skids). To reap the benefits of riding with your children you have to put in the effort when young. I can assure you that the overwhelming sense of love and pride you will feel, as they pedal off shouting “WOOOHOOOOO” is 100 per cent worth it.

Who is… Phoebe Sneddon?

Phoebe Sneedon is a paediatric doctor, super mum and a Specialized UK ambassador.