With the weather being so nice lately, we've enjoyed going on some walks. Today, we walked around the block (about .7 of a mile, according to usatf running routes), and I'm sure if anyone saw us it looked like the circus was coming to town. Ellie started out with her coat and helmet firmly secured, riding her bike. Norah started out with her coat, a balloon, and riding in the wagon. About 200 feet into the endeavor, Norah and Ellie were running down the sidewalk, looking back at me every once in awhile to say, "Ha-ha-ha-ha-Ha!" in a taunting voice. I was pulling a wagon full of bike, helmets, balloon, coats, and a couple of rocks they found in the road. Later, Ellie was pulling the wagon, Norah was riding on my shoulders and I was holding rocks in my hands. And later still, Norah was riding in the wagon and Ellie was practicing braking on her bike while I pulled the wagon and guided her handlebars down a hill. 45 minutes later we arrived back home. And I loved it. And they loved it. And life is good.
After nine years of having a toddler (four different kids, not nine years of the same kid), I think I have finally figured out how to take a walk with kids. I used to march purposefully around the block, thinking about how I needed to get home so I could clean the house/write a blog/lay down and perish. I was trying to get their little heartrates up, so I could do my part to combat childhood obesity. I figured walks should take maybe 10 minutes tops, and we should all move forward in a linear fashion, arriving at our destination out of breath and triumphant. That never happened. There were many times that I'm sure my neighbors thought, "That crazy lady is beating her children in public again. They should just stay in the house." When really, the children had insisted they wanted to go on a walk, but discovered halfway into it that they were tired. And when you're halfway you have two options: 1. Turn around or 2. Keep going. Both involve walking halfway again. But I've persevered with my walks, and now I bring you:
WALKING WITH CHILDREN: Tips to help you smell the roses
1. Bring a wagon. Even if they insist that they will walk/ride the whole way. They will want to ride their bike, or a scooter, or some bouncy ball thing with a handle, for about 100 feet. Just far enough for it to be a huge pain to walk back to the house and put the bike/scooter/ball away. So either you carry it, leave it in the road while your child screams hysterically and hits your back, or pull it in the wagon cheerfully.
2. Be prepared to take a rest(s).Even if you are only three houses away from your house. Don't be afraid to pull up a square of sidewalk and have a nice little chat while you're resting.
3. Don't try to count it as extra running mileage. Your heartrate will not go up. (It might spike at short intervals when chasing your child away from the road/garbage/dog poop they inevitably discover.)
4. Bring Food and Water. You might think "I'm just going around the block. I'll be right back." But you won't. (Don't leave the stove on either.) And you will probably have to bribe one of the children somewhere along the way.
5. Just think, "I don't have anything better to do. I don't have anything better to do." And believe it.