We walk a lot - around the streets to go to the shops or give the dog some exercise, short bushwalks in our local national park, day walks and longer hikes elsewhere. Our four-year-old Abbey joins us in them all, and has done since she was a little tacker.
Until earlier this year she had the option of sitting in a carrier on her Dad's back (although she'd always walk at least some of the way), but not anymore - she's too big for that now. Any walk we do, she has to do on her own two legs.
She does amazingly well, and that's what most people see: a child happily walking along and enjoying the great outdoors. But there's a bit more to it than that. Although for the most part she loves it, she certainly has her moments of not wanting to go in the first place, or not wanting to keep going once we're out. So I thought I'd share a few little tricks we've learnt that help us make it possible for us to enjoy walking together as a family.
Incorporate the outing into a game they enjoy. Abbey has been playing a lot of imaginary princess games of late so while the call of "Let's go for a walk" sounds to her like it's taking her away from the game, wording it as an adventure for the princess into an enchanted forest is far more appealing.
Invite someone else along. An outing is always more appealing to a child if it involves someone exciting, perhaps a friend, an aunty or a grandparent.
|On a day hike with her Grandad|
Play some games. If you choose something topical, of great interest to your child, this is the ultimate distraction from tiredness or the question of how much longer there is to go. We've been known to be out there finding letters and numbers formed in the bark on the ground, or playing firefighters who have to put out spotfires along the track, or singing songs. Have some fun with it.
Spot the wildlife. We've become quite adept at spotting animals and birds around our local national park (Dandenong Ranges), and it's rare for us now to go for a bushwalk without seeing wallabies, shy lyrebirds or other wildlife. Think outside the square, too, and if you can't spy any animals encourage some silliness with identifying some animal poo along the track! (Is there a kid around who doesn't love poo talk?!)
Snacks and treats. Energy food is a must when out on a walk, and no matter how short the walk is it's important to carry something to keep a little body's energy up. We pack fresh fruit and nuts, for example, but will usually also include a small treat for Abbey as an extra incentive to reach the next stopping point. A picnic lunch is also a great novelty for kids.
Do you go walking with your kids? What tricks do you use to make it fun?