Walking and Talking – invigorating for all age groups!
The concept is currently experiencing a revival and rightly so. Management journals have been talking about it for decades, but it does wonders for you and your family too. Not necessarily to discuss a certain topic, but more to clear one’s head, collect one’s thoughts and perhaps to see what your little ones come up with when strolling leisurely.
It is also not so much about where to go, although having a playground en route helps, but more about raising the spirits by exploring nature or your local neighbourhood. Most importantly it allows your kids to switch off from their daily routine and perhaps also their confinements. Additionally, there is nothing better than returning home for a hot chocolate or a cold drink and perhaps new ideas for future family activities.
Beginnings may be difficult. We have all been there! Ask your kids to get ready for the weekend walk and firm moaning follows. But give it 10 minutes, once you have made it out of the house, and most of the times happy jumping and walking sets in. And if your daily routine during the weekdays allows, give it a try to introduce occasional short walks before or after dinner. It does wonders for a good night’s sleep.
What are the do’s and don’ts when approaching this sometimes mission impossible-like activity?
Make it a regular outing – something which is an integral part of your family life. Routine is the key to introducing new ventures.
Managing expectations – be transparent about how long and where to you want to walk. Do find common ground on the time and whether the walk can pass a playground. Your kids should be part of the planning, to some extent. The golden middle is key here. Why not alternate your walks and destinations and allow for choices?
The journey is the reward – this is particularly true for kids. Adults tend to focus on a target when walking, and push on to reach it. Time pressure should be handled carefully, kids just walk at a different pace and indeed may find something intriguing they want to spend some time on. As this is a family undertaking, do take the time to cater for your little ones’ wishes and it may help for the next walk.
Clearing one’s head, reflecting and talking – kids open up to their parents in different ways. A walk does not necessarily have to be about discussing a topic. But it can be. Some kids like to share their feelings when you are reading them a good night story – some when doing a puzzle. Others do so while walking.
Good for the body – physical exercise is important and an absolute must for kids’ well-being. Walking with your kids also sets a good example for a healthy lifestyle. Also walking does not require expensive gear and starts right in front of your apartment. Ideally inspired by the family’s tradition of taking a walk, older kids might get together with their friends for their own walks, choosing their own routes and activities along the way.
Great opportunity to learn to read a watch! This may be an odd thing to drop in here but: often, when taking our child and her friends for a walk we are confronted with the re-occurring question ‘how much longer do we have to walk?’. And that comes already shortly after setting off. Learning how to read the time is a great tool to allow kids to become more independent and start to estimate distances. Just make sure when buying a watch for your kids, that it is sturdy, waterproof and practical to wear.
Activities for the way – there are numerous fun things to do. That does not mean you always have to have an activity planned ahead, but it can help, particularly for the beginning of your family walking project. Activities en route will most likely slow you down, but it is part of a trade-off. Take a kite on a windy day and find a good, spot free of trees where to fly it. Just make sure you buy a good kite! There is nothing worse than setting up your kite and then it does not fly properly. Another fun and educational activity is to start the walking adventure with a good pair of binoculars or indeed a magnifying glass and a practical container to collect plants. The Rabbit is a big fan of pocket sized books on plants! You would not believe how much joy it is to find exactly the plants as pictured in the booklet – for young and old! Fun fact: another, more recently discovered walking project was taking balloons attached to a string on a walk. And believe it or not we managed to bring the balloons back home rather than watching them fly away.
Getting ready to go out – not just a hurdle for going for walks, but for every move outside your apartment. Indeed the topic is so big that it has inspired many hilarious cabaret performances. What is the secret? Well that might be the topic for the next The Rabbit blog! In the meantime, keep it simple. Depending on how long your walk might be, take some water, some fruit, a first aid kit and some tissues. Of course comfortable clothing and shoes where it does not matter if they get dirty, and potentially some rain protection comes in handy.
The Rabbit wishes an inspirational walk, good for the body & soul, as well as your relationship with your kids!