No matter what their age from 1 – 21 (and above!), sometimes it can be really hard to encourage the kids away from screens and outdoors for a walk.
No matter what their age from 1 – 21 (and above!), sometimes it can be really hard to encourage the kids away from screens and outdoors for a walk. They’ll moan, they’ll refuse, they’ll say it’s too hot, too cold, it’s BORING!!
Over the years, we’ve found a few tricks that seem to work (most of the time). With yet another lockdown school holiday approaching, we thought we’d share a few pointers. Sadly there’s no silver bullet, but every little helps!
‘A backpack!?’ You might say dismissively….. Yes! Definitely. I take my backpack EVERYWHERE we go – even on short walks! And it’s very much like a Mary Poppins bag.
We were always out on walks as kids and even though we loved being outdoors, walks could get a little dull and repetitive. Stuck in lockdown, it’s hard to tackle this given we’re all limited in where we can go and are often heading out on the same walks that we have done for the last year.
Over the past 12 months we’ve tried to make our walks more interactive and interesting and to get the kids more involved whenever we can.
A few ideas are;
*The Woodland Trust do a fantastic series of Swatch books that we used religiously on our walks last lockdown – Spring flowers to look out for, animals tracks, fungi and birds.
*We also downloaded the RSPB bird song app so that we can stop and listen to the birds we hear along the way and work out what they are… winter is a great time to spot them too as there are no leaves on the trees.
Now I’m not trying to encourage the eating of rubbish food but sometimes a treat is pretty good – especially when hard earned. For us, snacks on a walk are essential. My niece once said, when looking at a selection of snacks she disapproved of, ‘if there aren’t any good snacks then WHAT’S THE POINT!?!?’ She was right… we got better snacks.
Obviously, we don’t want our children eating sweets and treats all the time, and it’s all a balance with fruit and the good stuff, but a bit of snack bribery on a walk really works some magic.
We tend to have a little box of sweets in the trusty backpack that we call ‘energy boosters’ … when the kids have walked a long way, or if they have a hill ahead of them that they start to complain about.. we give them a little energy booster and suddenly their fuelled up and ready to go!
The same with drinks. On a long, cold walk a thermos of hot chocolate, hot juice or hot squash serves both to warm the kids up and also acts as an exciting treat.
Snacks for grown ups are important too. I’m less tempted by a banana and a sip of water on a walk than I am by a chocolate hob nob and a thermos of coffee…..
We once had a friend of the children over to play, and when I suggested going out for walk he said, ‘A walk!? Why would we do that…? That’s no fun!’
‘Fair enough’, I thought. The idea of just going walking isn’t too appealing to children. But when I replied that actually it wasn’t just a walk but a mission to set up a top-secret ambush, his reaction changed. ‘Cool’ he said.
Like a good rebranding act, we can jazz-up the idea of a walk and make it more appealing to the kids. For example, going out for;
Check out our ideas for local, easy mini adventures to entice the kids outdoors.
Growing up with dogs, our kids are used to the dog walk being a daily occurrence. But for most, having a dog is definitely not the answer. Instead, if you find a way to weave a walk, or adventure, it into your daily or weekend habits then the children will get more used to the outdoor routine, and less displeased when it’s suggested.
There’s no need to walk for miles everyday, or climb mountains, or set high expectations. Sometimes, just spending a little time outdoors can lift everyone’s mood and open up the opportunity to talk and laugh away from screens and other distractions.