the scavenger hunt trick

For some reason, my kids don’t like to be smashed into the bike carrier and then go on a long, hot bike ride with me in the middle of the summer.

Which is a bummer, because I need the exercise and would rather not go to the gym when it’s so gorgeous out. But we can only last about 20 minutes on a bike ride before I’ve had enough “she keeps touching me!,” “are we done yet??,” and my personal favorite, “I’m bored. Did you bring any snacks?”

It’s a wonder I don’t just abandon the bike and walk myself on home. Except that those little rascals would find their way home too because we recently taught Ellie our home address.

I knew that would come back to bite us in the butt.

bike ride with kids

So here’s the new game we’re doing, if I want to go for a long walk or bike ride: I put together a scavenger hunt list. It’s just a random list of things I know we will see or are likely to see while we’re out and it has done wonders for keeping the girls entertained. Ellie is just starting to recognize words so I’ll go through the list out loud about three or four times and then we’ll take off. She can sound out most of the words if I’ve read them to her first so she’s in charge which is right up her alley. (If I had younger kids, I’d just use some really simple drawings of things we wanted to find and then label them–learning and fun at the same time! Extra parenting points for you!)

Harper and Ellie are then intent on finding the things before the other person and while this occasionally leads to arguing about who saw it first (although for the record, it’s normally ME, but no one seems to care when I say that), it’s also allowing me to take a longer walk/ride which is good for my mind and body. When we have a little more time than normal, I’ll even add some activities that we can stop and do to get them up and moving too.

bike ride scavenger hunt

Ellie likes to mark each thing off as we find it (or make a check mark if we’re trying to find multiples of something) and Harper is content to watch her. Eventually I’ll probably have to make two lists to avoid chaos, but so far so good.

Now here’s the thing: I’m creative but not normally without a reason that comes back to me being selfish. Flattering? No. True? Yes. This activity that the girls have come to love came about only because I wanted to be able to do something for myself and not hear whiny kids the whole time.

Before you’re all super-impressed that I’m spending the summer teaching my soon-to-be-kindergartener to read, don’t be. Super Why is teaching her to read, I’m just trying to take a freaking bicycle ride. So if you need a sneaky way to get in some exercise too, try the scavenger hunt trick.

Or bring lots of snacks. That works too.

If you’re going to be gone a while, pack the snack in an insulated lunch box so nothing spoils. (I love these options from Shutterfly!)

bike ride with kids tricks


  1. […] If I just *need* to sweat and raise my heart rate, I’ll load up one of the girls in the bike carrier and we’ll go around town for a half hour or so. With both Ellie and Harper plus the carrier, I’m pulling about 100 extra pounds and while that is QUITE the workout, it’s almost too hard at this point. So they take turns getting some one-on-one time with Mommy as I burn some calories. Ellie is good at entertaining herself by loading up the carrier with books and toys, but Harper just TALKS THE WHOLE TIME so I come back mentally and physically exhausted if she’s my partner. Still worth it, though. (If I do take both of them, I’ve shared before how I keep them entertained.) […]

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