We know that the school summer holidays seem to have only just finished – but now it’s time for the half-term break! Parents across the UK will be wondering what on earth to do with the kids for yet more days of “school’s out”. This half-term, why not set yourself a family walking challenge? So long as you’re dressed for the weather – that’s waterproof jackets and trousers, hats, gloves and good quality boots – you can all enjoy a spot of fresh air.
Benefits of walking for all the family
* Walking is a great way to burn off energy – and a whole load of calories. These days, parents are forever being told that children do not do enough activity, so make this half-term the one when they get active.
* Walking is a brilliant mood booster, too. Even a 20-minute stroll outdoors can make you feel more energetic and happier.
* Walking is great for muscle toning, improving bone strength and keeping you – and the kids – in shape.
How to get the kids out walking
The only problem is that many children see walking as a chore. The chances are that once they are outdoors and walking, they will enjoy the activity but it’s getting them past the front door.
Here are a few tips for encouraging your kids to walk:
Outdoors clothing that does the job – that is, keeps them warm and dry – is essential. But clothing and kit that looks fab and funky will put a smile on your children’s faces. Many children like to look the part and if you let them chose a few items of bright and colourful outdoor clothing they will be far more inclined to want to go for a walk.
Have an adventure:
Instead of telling the kids that you’re planning a “nice country walk” (which is likely to be met with groans of: “Do we have to?”), tell them you’re planning an outdoors adventure. It could be a treasure hunt style walk, or an island adventure, or a camp-and-hike trip.
Treasure hunt walk:
Set a challenge while you walk. Ask the kids to find items that match the colours of the rainbow. They should not be encouraged to pick wild flowers but they could point out a purple bloom or an orange butterfly to you. Or give them a list of items or places to tick off while you walk. Having something to do while children walk will keep their minds off the strolling and firmly on the doing something else.
Pedometres are cheap and easy to use. Tell your kids there will be a prize for the family member who walks the most steps over a set number of days... and watch them become all competitive about walking!
Isles of fun:
Catching a ferry to an island, such as Cumbrae, Bute, Arran or Mull on the west coast of Scotland, gives children a great sense of adventure. You could choose a short walk while you’re on the island, followed by hours of play on a beach, plus an ice cream.
Go somewhere new:
Book a weekend away where you can also walk. Make sure that you have other fun activities lined up for the kids, such as swimming, but also insist on exploring the area on foot. Walk to a small hilltop or along a beach to give the kids a good goal.
The final tip is a must. Children can burn up lots of energy quickly on a walk so make sure you have lots of small treats with you. These do not have to be unhealthy, although a few sweet treats will not do too much harm if they are outdoors being active. And make sure you take plenty of water with you, too. If it’s a fine day – and, yes, we can still have lovely weather in the half-term weeks – take a picnic. Kids love the fun of eating outdoors.
What tips do you have for encouraging your children to join you on family walks?