When everything shut down due to mandatory social distancing back in March of 2020, I had to find something to do with my active family. We were used to leaving the house every day for one activity or another, but when the libraries, parks, and extracurriculars all closed down for an indeterminate amount of time, we took to the trail. Walking, running and hiking became the one ways our family was able to get out of the house safely. At that time, my kids were nine, two, and nine-months-old. I bought a double stroller so we could all spend time outside exercising together, and we started to frequent the rail trail in our town every afternoon. The double stroller was perfect because the 9-month-old couldn't walk/run yet, and the two-year-old could move as much as she wanted, and then when she got tired she could hop in and be pushed. My oldest proved to be quite the athlete, and often outran me! Being able to be on the trail allowed us a healthy outlet for our cooped up and stressed-out minds, and it was the perfect way to spend quality time with the family while also getting their wiggles out.
When outdoor masks were eventually mandated, we stopped going to the trail in town, and created a trail in our own backyard, which connected to a service road that ran behind our property. I was determined to keep our daily walk/runs, and we did. It was a time for me to chat with my oldest about anything and everything, and the little ones loved exploring nature.
Even as the world began to open up again and our schedules returned, we have remained committed to exercising as a family and we are still on the trail at least three times per week. We have also expanded our hikes and explored some local trails that are jogging-stroller friendly, and that has kept our exercise time from being boring. The most important thing is that all the kids and I can access the work-out at our own levels. Using the stroller gives the littles a break when they need it, and allows the big ones and me to move a bit faster.
I got an Apple Watch in the fall, and the fitness tracker has helped motivate me. My now 10-year-old decided she wanted to know how many steps she is taking and calories she is burning, so she used her own money to buy a fit bit (because she's too young for smart phones and smart watches.) This way, we are able to encourage and motivate each other through competition. Surprisingly or not, she often wins!
One added benefit besides the obvious healthy lifestyle that walking/hiking/running promotes, is that when we are on the trail, it gives us a chance to connect as a family in a new way. My 10-year-old and I have had some conversations as we walked that I don't think we would have ever broached otherwise. There's something about walking side by side and talking, instead of face-to-face, which gives an added sense of comfort and allows young people to open up in a way they might not otherwise. Raising a preteen, there are so many important conversations that need to be had... I'm glad we've found a special place to be able to have them.
Indeed exercise and time together with our children is key to our mental and physical healthReplyDelete