Ways to make a walk fun
Even though I live in London, there is nothing I love more (besides chocolate, thrifty kiddy craft and a glass of wine) than going for a walk. Ideally a walk which features trees, allows me to put my feet on some grass and is close enough to home to reach via bus or train, but also away from the traffic roar. With so many parks in London that’s easy – special autumn joys are Hampstead Heath and Richmond Park. Here are a few tips from me on how to keep your kids wanting to come along too…
1 Give teens enough time to get ready (ie, off Facebook or after finishing any homework) and don’t worry about what they are wearing.
2 Worry about the little ones’ outfit though. Make sure younger children have wellies that fit and the kind of clothes you don’t mind if they spoil climbing, rolling, ripping or even dribbling on. Take some spare clothes for them in case they fall in a puddle or get over excited splashing…
3 Be a weather watcher. A child-sized brolly is easy to carry, acts as a walking stick and a great drag along tool. And when it rains you can smugly open it.
4 An army marches on its stomach. If you want to do a trip like this again, bring treats (fruit, cake, sweets if you want) or be willing to pay for a snack. Munching an apple in a tree looking out for the wolves/fairies is more fun even than an impromptu picnic.
5 Add a tupperware container to your daypack so you can fill it with finds. This could be blackberries, sloes, mushrooms, leaves, conkers, sweet chestnuts or even the treasures unearthed by a mole.
6 If the weather is grim keep spirits up with a song, or invent a story that includes sights you can see (what happened under that viaduct? where is that train heading? who drowned in that canal years ago?).
7 Play spot the dog, or guess what tree is in the far distance – teach ID skills lighthandedly, and then go play in the tree or chat to the dog’s owner.
8 Avoid counting miles. Distance isn’t the point of a walk with children, and often leaves them footsore and furious. Making a den or searching for acorn cups or the perfect yellow leaf or guessing which Harry Potter character passer-bys would most like to be is likely to be more popular than a route march.
9 Back home, thank your kids for giving you a lovely time. Ignore any tantrums they had – especially at the very start of your walk – they need to blow away the cobwebs too.