Not Your Mama’s Neighborhood Stroll
“Time to get that butt off the couch and take yourself outside!”
If you're wondering if I am talking to, you or your child, the answer is BOTH!
Below I am going to provide you with unique ideas on how to make neighborhood walks with your children MORE FUN, but first I am going to fill you in on the benefits of walking.
Not only does going for a walk get you in touch with nature, but it is exercise, and it forces you to escape, even for a short while, your ever-growing to-do-list.
Here's why going for walks with your children is so important:
- Walking instills and promotes the healthy habit of exercise.
- Walking has numerous health benefits.
- Walking has been known to spark creativity.
- Walking with no set destination can be exhilarating.
- Walking in the fresh air is good for you.
- Walking can lead to you finding unexpected and unforeseen inspiration with each new turn.
- Walking can be an instant mood improver.
- Walking will help the whole family sleep better.
- Walking can strengthen the parent/child bond by providing opportunities for direct and attentive conversation.
But, what happens when your children don't want to go for a walk? That's inevitable, right? How do you convince them to put down the television remote or their tablet and get their bodies out of the house and move? You accomplish this by spicing up your walks — by finding ways to make walks less boring.
Here are some suggestions:
Have them dress up in costume before heading out. If they are dressed as a princess, they can pretend they are in a Disney parade. Walking with a Ninja Turtle? Well, he can imagine that he is searching “the streets” to battle any evil he comes across.
Bring snacks. The prep will be just as much fun as the actual walk with this one. Let them create and prep their own “trail mix” style snack bag to munch on during the walk.
Bring some bread or nuts or seeds with you. These can be used to feed any ducks, birds, or squirrels that you may see on your path.
Have them bring some insect/lizard catching supplies with them. Such items can include goggles, a magnifying glass, tweezers, and a container.
Create a scavenger hunt. On the list include things for them to find on the walk and let them point each item out and cross it off their list as they find each.
Sing and walk. Make it karaoke style and then each time you take a turn switch to a new song.
Listen to a Pandora station created by or with your child. Let this music be the soundtrack for your walk.
Let them bring their wagon, ride-on, scooter, etc.
At the beginning of the walk, make some guesstimates. Have your child estimate how many people, dogs, birds, squirrels, cats, bikes, (and so on) that you will see. Then, keep track as you walk and at the end see whose guesses were the closest.
Have your child make and deliver positive notes to neighbors. Your child can draw or color numerous pictures and include a positive handwritten note on them such as “I hope this brings you joy today.” If they want to, your child can keep a stockpile of their inspirational artwork and over time as you go for a walk they can deliver them to mailboxes throughout the neighborhood.
Listen, there are so many excuses made by our children, and let's face it, ourselves too, as to why we can't go for a walk.
“It's a waste of time.”
“We don't have the time.”
“It's too hot/too cold.”
AND. SO. MANY. MORE.
Still, the reality is that walks can be so beneficial for us — physically, emotionally, and mentally and even if it is just 15 minutes, take that time today to get out of the house with your children and go for a stroll.