Kid-Walks

We walk a lot. Mostly we walk to get from one place to another. Namely, from our house to 1. The grocery store 2. The Parenting Center 3. The park 4. The Children’s Library 5. The bakery for a berry brioche.

I put both kiddlets in my beloved double stroller, and off we go. I walk at a deliciously adult pace, blithely ignoring all but a small fraction of the interesting things we walk through. Often the Toddler asks to walk, and I let her out on the condition that she actually walk, as in keep walking. “We actually need to get to the ______.” I say in my oh-so-important-grown-up-voice. This more or less makes no difference, by the way. If she’s out of the stroller, we’re meandering. But with an impatient mama. Which is annoying to both of us. And then I am constantly looking for an opportunity to get her back into the stroller. Oh wickedness.

So, at least once or twice a week, I try to make sure we take a Kid Walk. This means, I go out the door with nothing in mind. No place to get, no thing to do. She gets to be the leader. I follow and make my best effort to be half as interested in the world as she is. Occasionally, if she’s in a running mood, we might make it around the block. Other times we don’t make it to the end of our street.

I don’t get to say any kind of hurry things until it’s time to turn around. In fact, I try not to say much of anything. For her to truly lead us, I have to keep my trap shut with all the grown-up leading questions I might ask safely inside. Once out the door and on the sidewalk, I try hard not to ask which direction she wants to go, that would imply we need to go a direction. I just wait, and watch.

Lise of In the Purple House has been doing a series on getting outside every day with kids. I have really been enjoying it! She’s got a great way of expressing the wonder kids have for the world. I suspect she finds it easy to play with kids this way, just as My Man does. But for the record, and to encourage any other mamas out there like myself, I will admit to the fact that I don’t. I find it really very difficult to slow down to kid-pace. I get bored. Yes, I will admit it, playing bores me. My mind wants to keep jumping around to Things I Could and Should Be Doing. It fidgets. It plans. It fantisizes. Anything to keep out of the subject at hand, which is to say– the here and now.

All the more reason, right? It’s not just like meditation, it is meditation. If I could do it, that is. If I could really slow down and open my soulself up to the world the way my babes do. But it’s good practice. Maybe someday… though my life only seems to spiral away from that quiet place.

Although I like to think I would have come to the Kid Walks on my own, I must credit a good friend for the idea of an unspoken follow-the-leader game. When the Toddler hit two (err, I mean, Two) and the epic, twice daily, 40 minute screaming sessions commenced like clockwork, I pled for advice of any kind. And my best mama advisor, who thinks in a very ’cause not symptom’ kind of way, recommended doing “even just 15 minutes a day” of imitating the Toddler. Reversing the roles we usually play. Watching her every move, and trying to follow suit. I loved the idea. Made perfect sense to me that her screaming fits had to do with feeling powerless, and therefore anything I could do to help her feel powerful would be great.

But oh! How can it be so hard?!?! I never even came close to fifteen minutes a day. I did however try to infuse my general parenting with a sense of following her lead whenever possible. And the Walks. Somehow I find it a bit easier to follow when we are outside. More to distract my high-needs brain I guess.

And did it help? Who knows. Maybe? Her twice daily fits did fade out after about a month. Now they’re more occasional. But like I said, considering how inconsistently I managed to pull it off, I’m not sure I can credit the following game.

What I know for sure is, she loves it. And I do too, after the sluggish/forceful start, and before the squirrel-brain-boredom, I do get to share a few moments of blissful wonder. Absolutely worth it.

Cautionary Note: Kid Walks involve a lot of NOT walking.

12 thoughts on “Kid-Walks

  1. Wow, she is lovely and I think the idea of Kid Walks to lovely. If I ever have kids I can see myself doing this as I can quite easily get fascinated on one thing for a while.

    Hopefully anyway. I am sure that wont happen quite so well when I am sleep deprived and spending lots of times with demanding children!

    Jen

  2. That is an AWESOME picture!! Look at that facial expression! Wow.
    I was reading recently about something the same idea as kid walks. I think it’s a great idea! But even walking my dog, I have seen the same as you, it’s harder than it looks! My mind wanders too. Still, like you said, there are those moments when you actually see, and those, just like in seated meditation, are totally worth it. I can only imagine it’s a hundred-fold with real kidlets, both more challenging and more rewarding.

  3. Thank you so much for your sweet tribute! I’m so glad you’re enjoying the posts on getting outside. Does it help any if I say I have a double stroller, too, and when I take out the whole group, the two youngest are in there while the older ones walk? Or that it doesn’t come easily to me, either?–I’m often impatient and restless. I’ve really had to teach myself to slow down over my years with kids–my baby is lucky I got to practice on other kids first. :-) It sounds just right to me to balance sometimes needing to “get there” and sometimes dallying along at toddler pace. (And what an awesome photo of toddler pace!!)

  4. Love the face. Hmmm….
    I love this new series people are doing getting kids outside. We have been taking short kid walks first thing in the morning. Although today I cheated and didn’t go outdoors. There’s tomorrow.

  5. I started taking this kind of approach a few months ago, although I have a 3yo. It IS good, although I too can find myself grudging at the beginning. Oh and in the middle, when my patting-myself-on-the-back has been overtaken with boredom, and at the end, when Mr 18-months has run in front of the traffic for the 5th time and Mr 3 having a tantrum about going home and NOT showering me with the gratitude that I expected. But no, it IS good, and fun, and relaxing and often quite hilarious.

    Now listen woman. I need your address and SOME idea of what you would like in an apron (full/half, size, vibe) for the prize you won in my giveaway! Or I’ll make something for your adorable little terror. I know you’re busy and sick but just give my your address gosh darn it.

  6. I’m glad you mentioned the fact that you get impatient and bored – a big “me-too” moment there.

    Usually when we’re walking to the shops or something we’re not in a rush, so I try to do some of what my 2-yo wants anyway. I’ve never thought of a toddler walk, letting her lead the way. Usually when we don’t have plans she wants to go to the park, so we walk there. But I’ll try letting her lead, I think that’s a great idea.

    When we end up at a mall (usually to have lunch with my mum, who loves to shop), I’m usually pretty uninterested in the shops, so I tend to mostly follow Ellie around, let her push the pram (with assistance), wander into shops (with unbreakables), watch how she interacts with strangers. Almost every other shopper there with kids is either rushing or demanding things from the kid. It’s much less stress to just take it slow, but that can be hard.

    It must be much easier to do with just one.

  7. My kids have a thing at the moment about wanting to play the “beknockia” game (junior monopoly). And, oh, the BOREDOM of playing a board game with a 2 and a 5 year old. But when I force myself to do it, to slow down and play at their pace and really watch how their brains are working, I do actually enjoy it.

    And that is one cute photo – she has a look in her eyes that says mischief is on it’s way!

  8. She’s a cutie. I love kid walks & find them neccessary to balance the constant “Come on” etc of the non-kid walks, It’s the parks I can’t handle. OMG I must have the world’s lowest park tolerance for a mama. Ten minutes & I’m done. “Come on sweetie, let’s go for a walk!” ;)

  9. What a great post – I would do lots of meandering kid walks with my son who is now seven – he was a very placid toddler and would happily walk with me stopping to examine ants or leaves. My almost three year old daughter however seems to live by the mantra “Why walk when you can run?” So I am conscious that I am much more controlling with her as to when and where we walk.

  10. Oh, I hear you! How many times a day do I say, “Come on, let’s get going!” How can it take us 10-15 minutes to walk the 2 blocks to preschool? I feel bad strapping them in the stroller but it’s the only way to get things done. Then I say, what things are so important that we need to walk quickly. What am I hurrying to get to or from? It is SOOOOO hard to slow down.

  11. Just found your blog, and am really glad I did. What a great post- so truthful, hit the nail on the head. Its really hard to slow down to kids level and revel in the world the way they do. It can be mind numbing going to the playground for the 1031st time and still be excited about playing on the swings. But the look on their faces when you do get excited about the same stuff as them, its worth it…am going to do the fifteen minutes today.

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