I have an almost five-year-old son and an infant daughter. If I want to go anywhere, I find it helpful to put it on the calendar and plan ahead so we actually make it out the door between nap-times, meal-times, and other commitments.
When planning to go for a hike with the kids, I usually think about where we’ll be walking/hiking, what time we’ll go, how long or how far we plan to walk, what wrap or carrier I’ll use for my daughter, what snacks we’ll need to bring, who to invite to join us, etc.
Recently, however, I have thrown caution to the wind and just started walking with no plan of where we’re headed or how long we’ll keep walking. I want to teach my kids that they can seize any brief moment to get outside and get moving.
Sometimes life just calls for a spontaneous walk-about. One of the greatest things about the Portland Metro area is that there is always a park or hike close by. In most cities you will find this is the case, but even if you don’t have a “hiking” trail, you can look for a water front walk, a little neighborhood overlook, or just a walk from your parked car to a cafe or lunch stop. Hike doesn’t have to mean “hike”. Just getting out there and moving is what matters.
A couple weeks ago, I was driving my son home from preschool one late afternoon and I realized that we were going to get home a little earlier than usual, but we probably didn’t have enough time to get the grocery shopping done. As I was wondering what errand we could run or what chore I could squeeze into our time before dinner, we were about to drive past Gabriel Park. In that instant, I decided to turn right, toward the park, instead of going straight toward home. We parked the car and hopped out for a quick adventure in the sunshine and through the trees.
It wasn’t even a half an hour, but it made our whole evening special. My son loved being surprised by a fun outing on a whim. That impromptu walk through the park was a great way to transition from our busy work/school day to some fun and leisure before transitioning again to the dinner-making, breastfeeding, diaper-changing, and bedtime routines that awaited us at home.
We got so much out of those 25 minutes! We talked about our day. We found a bunny and posed for a photo with it . I felt instant relief from the back pain and muscle tightness that comes from sitting in front of a computer at work and caring for a baby at home. During this mini hike, we de-stressed, bonded, laughed, reenergized, and got a little exercise.
In a more common scenario, we find that we don’t have enough time for that big excursion we had hoped to fit into the day. On those occasions, I put my daughter in a carrier and head out our front door, unsure of whether we will only walk around the block once or meander our whole neighborhood and swing through the park on the way back. We discover new flowers in bloom or houses we like, and sometimes we meet neighbors also out for a walk with their kids or pets.
Whether you’ve got 10 minutes or 45, a walking adventure awaits. Let’s get out there, and bring the kids!
Lauren is a certified family-based Wellness Coach and owner of Healthy Roots Wellness, LLC. She enjoys hiking, yoga, camping, swimming, and anything outdoors or in the water. She finds daily health and happiness with her husband and their 5-year-old son and a 9-month-old daughter. You can learn more about Lauren or family-based wellness at healthyrootswellness.com.