Walking with different people can call for a lot of adjustment. If you have a regular walking pattern, family walks can be a challenge. If you walk by yourself or with the same person or persons all the time, it can be hard to change your routine. Some people may walk too fast or too slow. There may be either too much rushing without looking around or too much tarrying when you have a destination. The words, “Let’s take a shortcut,” or, “The scenic route is more interesting,” may make you want to scream. It’s unfortunate that we don’t all walk the same but, there are payoffs to family walks: it’s more time spent together, it’s easier to separate people from their phones and it’s being with people you love in a new situation. So, while making the most of the time your family shares together, here are some tips to make it more pleasurable!
1) Don’t Ban Cellphones Completely
Not all teens are obsessed with their phones. But, the teens that are can drive you crazy. You may want to rip the phone out of their hands. However, it can make them more likely to go on a walk if they can use walking apps, games like Pokémon Go or Geocaching. We might find it irritating when teens look at their phones instead of looking us in the eye. But, the fact is, they are interacting with the world, just differently. When you’ve grown up with the Library of Alexandria in the palm of your hand, it’s hard to put it down. So, suggest they put the phone down, but let them bring it if they want.
2) Dress Appropriately
You don’t want to wear either too much or too little. Enough layers to be warm but not enough to get hot. And remember, if the kids remove a layer from working up a sweat running around, you might be the one who ends up carrying it. Don’t make life harder for yourself by dressing inappropriately. In most locales, comfortable and well-fitting shoes will be the most important thing. Make sure they have good grip and can stand up to ice, slush and mud. After that, you’re good to go!
3) Track Your Distance
Using a pedometer, pedometer app or a Fitbit, to track your trek can be fun. An app may also show you your path and speed. If you are walking in a new location, it can be fun to see the differences in your pattern. This can also engage kids and teens who want to look at their track or their achievement if it’s a longer walk than they are used to doing.
4) Breathe In
It’s easy, during the stress of the holidays, to go through the motions without feeling joy. Things that should be fun become tasks to get through. Take a moment to take it in. The children will grow up and go off into their own lives. Paths change all the time, and it’s important to enjoy it while everyone is together. Their speed may not be what you want, a sulky teen’s eye rolls might be grating, a baby crying may get on your nerves, but you’ll miss them being young when they are grown. It’s important to live in the moment but, every once in a while, remind yourself to pay attention while they’re young.
5) Don’t Bring the Dog
A lot of the lists we’re sharing tell you to bring the family dog. We disagree — albeit with caveats. A dog might make it more fun for children, or give a sense of purpose the walk may not already have. On the other hand, if the dog is one that tugs on the leash — or if anyone in your group is afraid of dogs — this might be a terrible idea. Taking a dog somewhere foreign with a large group of people is not ideal for many nervous pets. Evaluate your dog individually. Does your dog bound ahead of you, even in a new place where he or she doesn’t know the way? Does your dog force a pace that’s likely to clash with the group? Does your dog jump to say hello in a way that could scare/harm kids or strangers? Bring the dog if his or her presence will enhance the experience for everyone. Walk him or her separately if they’re more of a hassle than a help.