National Children’s Day UK, May 14th, is all about the importance of a healthy childhood and how we need to protect the rights and freedoms of children in order to ensure that they can grow into happy, healthy adults.
Walking is a fabulous activity for you and your children, providing benefits in so many different ways. Seeing that it’s also International Walking Month, it’s a perfect time to incorporate walking into your family life. Your children can be rambunctious and explore the world around them, and it’s a great way to spend quality time together.
It’s never too early to start walking, yes walking whilst your wee ones are in a buggy counts, and it’s one of the most effective and easiest ways to exercise. You can walk almost anywhere, within reason, at the cost of a pair of shoes and a little of your time. Having children get in the habit of walking with you as a youngster is an investment they will benefit from for life. It creates healthy lifestyle habits that will last throughout their adulthood.
Perhaps more importantly, you take the time to be fully present when you walk with your children. As you take each step, give lots of space for your children to talk. Let them tell you about their lives, about their ideas, daily experiences, their concerns, their dreams and wishes, their favourite book, TV show etc etc —anything and everything. Listen intently, as taking a walk negates all distractions and gives you the time and space to really listen.
Think “Walking More Driving Less”.
We live with a ‘Driving Mentality’ these days. Drive to the store, drive to the train station, drive to friends that are within walking distance …… it’s a grown up thing. When we were kids we walked or biked everywhere. Perhaps it’s time to get a little of that back in our lives. The next time you need to take your little ones somewhere nearby, think about going there on foot.
Walking them to places is a wonderful way to slow down your hectic lives and get off the beaten path of our normally over-scheduled lives. Talk about what you’re thinking, what they’re thinking, about where you’re going, and even who did what to whom in school. Hold hands (if they’re not too “cool” to be seen doing that) and swing your arms. If you’d normally drop them off for a lesson/class/activity and drive away to do something else, take along a book and find a quiet place to wait until they’re done. Imagine having an hour completely and utterly to yourself, without the distraction of errand running or checking your email every five minutes! You could position yourself nearby in a park, under a shade tree – letting yourself take a much needed breath.
Bask in the act of being truly present with your children as you walk. Don’t think about what’s happened in the past or freaking out about the future. Keep your whole self on what’s happening in the NOW. Your children desperately need your complete attention. This crazy busy hectic life we lead leaves little room for one on one time. Talking a walk creates a space for nurturing young minds AND bodies. Win win all around.