6 tips to stop a walk being boring
This blog post is by Nicola Baird sharing ideas about thrifty, creative and eco-friendly ways to raise children. This post looks at ways to get yourself and the kids out walking. For more info about my book Homemade Kids, with lots of ideas about parenting, click here.
1 Feed off other’s enthusiasm
Walk to work week runs from 14-18 May and Walk to School Week is 21-25 May 2012 which should get an extra million people (at least) out of the door and on to the pavements. If you like clocking your miles and a pedometer seems fiddly then this is great – sign up to the online calculator and you can work out how many muffins of energy you’ve used up, or how many times you’ve gone around Wembley stadium.
Verdict: Just like an i-phone running app, except it’s free.
2 Go geocaching
Yes, this is a tip from a reader of my blog (Penny) and geocaching has turned out to be a brilliant way to make a regular route more exciting, especially if you’ve got older or reluctant walkers who can be motivated by finding treasure, anywhere in the world. Recently we tried down an old railway line half a mile from our house and found two caches – both in half litre containers.
Nell, 11, thought the rubber and sharpener she took home were fabulous rewards. Lola, 13, just liked knowing new secrets about a very familiar place.
Verdict: worth joining, not least because it is brilliant for teens – and something they can do with friends too. Plus it slows down the speedy members of a walking party which helps the ones with shorter legs keep up!
3 Borrow a dog
Even for a short spin around the block, taking a pet for a walk is fun. If you have your own dog it’ll soon develop a routine – but if you borrow other people’s you get to see all sorts of doggy behaviour. Small ones can be very different in character to big, muscly creatures.
If you can’t borrow a neighbour’s dog (or mine!) you can offer to volunteer yourself as a dog walker at a charity such as Battersea Dogs Home (in London and Windsor), Woodgreen Animal Shelter, etc.
Verdict: Why limit yourself to a dog? I’ve seen people walking alpaca and ferrets on leads, and one crazy dad (mine) used to exercise a lifesize mechanical elephant.
4 Learn a new skill
You may not eat up the miles but a stroll around the block is a great place for kids to progressively practice on their like a bike (pedal-free bike), scooter, bike with or without stabilisers, roller skates, roller blades, heelies, wobble boards or unicycles.
Verdict: Great, but to keep the price down and clutter in your home to the minimum, aim to try out a friend or neighbour’s equipment before you buy. Sometimes nurseries will lend equipment for a day or two so you can judge what’s a keeper, and what’s not.
5 Take a family challenge
Work out a route you want to travel. Could you get to granny’s by foot, or walk the whole way round your town, or the whole way down a canal path to see a friend? There are lots of long-distance footpaths and cycle routes to explore too. Older members may fall for the pub crawl (see this Charles Dickens route around London at my aroundbritainnoplane blog), or an endurance test like the Capital Ring (a 70+ mile walk around London).
Verdict: no need to do this as a one-off, keep it ready as an idea for whenever you feel exercise is what’s needed. For Londoners I recommend the Capital Ring as when you’ve finished it Transport for London will send you a certificate, how cute is that?
6 Tell stories
Singing and chatting are time-honoured ways to eat up the miles. Turns out another way is to turn your journey into a story. Legends, ghosts, famous people are all winners (either make it up or do the research) and look out for the new trend for taking a walk with a guide who has fascinating stories about the location desgined for the curious, not just tourists.
Verdict: top for stretching your imagination. For ideas look at this US elastic city website with sensory and experiential walks – best walk title has to be “get over it” – which is all about bridges.
Over to you
What are your tips that get the kids (and anyone else in the family) outside walking?