How I Trick My Kids Into Going on Walks With Me
My kids claim to hate walking and no “but it’s a good day!” or “we all need fresh air!” enough to convince them otherwise. So over the years I had to get creative and trick them into going on walks around the neighborhood with me, making it less like a walk and more like a game. Here are my top tips for getting kids off the screens and walking with you.
Walking in flowers was a pandemic Instagram trend that I stole and achieved great success. When we go on a journey, we choose a color, a theme, or a task. We can choose a specific color, like red, or we can try to find one item from each color of the rainbow. We chose seasonal color schemes like orange and black for Halloween, or to find specific colors but only in colors. For an additional challenge, we may have to find green things that are not leaves.
You can choose to collect items (if it doesn’t involve picking someone’s flowers) or you can just “spy” on it. To become even more interactive, take a photo together and make a collage when you get home.
A guided walk requires a little preparation on your part, but turns into a fun adventure. For my daughter’s birthday, I hid rhyming clues in the woods leading to each new location. For example, “If you follow this path to the right, you will see the next clue right in front of you.” You go with them as they go from clue to clue.
To make things easier for yourself, if you’re walking down a familiar path, you can think of things ahead of time, jot them down in a notebook, and then read them to your kids when you get to each new location. For example: “Our next location is a yellow house with a mouse-shaped topiary.” They will be more focused on finding a home and less on the fact that they are “on the go”.
If you put a prize at the end, you might call it a scavenger hunt, but we’re just letting it be a fun way to drive us around home without a prize. Children must follow the clues to get from one place to another and return home.
There is a drama game called “Rhythm Maker” in which one person creates the rhythm, such as clapping or clicking, and everyone else copies them, and whoever was outside the room when the leader was chosen has to guess who created the rhythm. I only have two kids, so I can’t necessarily play this game with them while we’re out and about – instead, we take it in turns to be rhythm makers and the rest have to copy the rhythm as we go through time.
One person can sing a song and the rest join in, or when someone inevitably gets hold of a stick, they can keep the rhythm for the group with it rather than use it as a sword.
Other, quick offers
When they get bored with colors, cues, and rhythms, try one of the following:
- Let the kids bring scooters and they can ride back and forth between you and the curb as many times as they want, as long as they are careful with the roads and cars.
- “We’re going on a bear/fairy/monster/whatever hunt!”
- Give them tiny notebooks and pencils and ask them to catalog bugs, plants, rocks, etc.
- Remember the old Monty Python sketch “Ministry of Stupid Walks”? Create your own version of wacky walks and let the kids change their walking style every quarter. Or shout out sentences once per block. “Walk like a robot!” “Walk like your legs are like jelly!”
Sometimes they’re happier when they’re outside, even if they don’t think it sounds fun when you suggest it. Everyone can enjoy a short walk around the block.