We have all been there – we have planned a lovely family walk, the picnic is packed, the waterproofs and wellies are in the car, the parents are optimistically excited and then there are the children… tears, tantrums and quite honestly terrible behaviour! What to do?
Please don’t look at my Instagram, my walks, my family life and think ‘I couldn’t do that’ or ‘my children wouldn’t go that far like hers do’ because honestly even for me it is often not easy to get the children to be as enthusiastic about the walks as I am! In fact sometimes I’m not even enthusiastic about them! But one thing I can honestly say is that once we get back to our car we ALWAYS feel so much happier for doing it – even if everyone had been close to tears at some point ?
The key here is perseverance! Even if your children say they don’t want to go out today, or if you get half way round the walk and everyone is having the mother of all tantrums, just keep going! Children are like sponges, especially the younger that they are! The more often you get outside with them, the quicker they will adapt and it will soon become their Saturday morning norm. I recently did an article for our local magazine that outlined a few key questions that most families wonder when starting out on these outdoor adventures:
- How do you persuade them to go out? Snacks snacks snacks!! Any parent knows this rule! Most of the walks that you will find on my page will have a good place to stop, usually half way, and this becomes the snack point! “If we get to the bench you can have a snack” … “five more minutes of walking and you can have something to eat” … we all know how snacks are every child’s best friend!! I also find that by telling the children that we are going for a walk it can result in a negative reaction and I often hear cries of “we don’t want to go for a walk!” However, if I word things slightly differently and say “shall we go and see the trains” or “would you like to go and feed the ducks/go on your bikes” I find they are a lot more enthusiastic! Again most of my walks involve something fun to see and do during it – whether it be a play park, a mini waterfall, a lake or trains to spot!
- What do your children wear? This might seem like a basic question but some people really are put off getting out and about in fear of not having the correct gear!! All we usually have is an all in one suit for the children along with some wellies! These don’t have to be expensive and unless you are venturing to the higher wainwright’s this is more than suitable! We do have walking boots for the older children for when we are walking in the Lake District.
- Is there a better time to walk? I find that all our outside time revolves around food times!! We tend to go out either first thing so that we are back in time for lunch, or we go straight after lunch. My children tend to enjoy going out immediately after their breakfast (when energy levels are very high) and we take a little picnic lunch with us. This works well if the children are getting tired during the walk as we often make a promise of some quiet time or tv time when we get home in the afternoons – during the winter months it is always best to go out between the hours is 9am-2pm, before darkness hits!
- What do you do if they get tired half way round? The ‘snack bribe’ I mentioned previously always works a treat for my older boys! We also still use a pram for those pram accessible walks and have a buggy board for my two year old to sit on – I would highly recommend one of these boards. They attach to the bottom of the pram and allows both my two year old and three year old to hop on when their legs are getting tired! If you have a scooter with you then they can stand on that and you can pull it along with one hand! Great little trick ? after that it is all about distraction – stopping to feed the ducks, a game of eye spy or the promise of a mini waterfall for them to splash in!
I hope that these little tips help you and your family to get outside a little more and allow you to enjoy your local surroundings! It really is amazing what you can find right on your doorstep – and you will honestly be surprised at how much better you all feel after spending a little time in the fresh air!
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