Walking with Toddlers

My husband always says “walking is good for the soul”.

I walk a lot. If it’s not raining I walk most days. Until just recently, the kids have been in the double Phil and Ted’s and we walk to the shops, the fruit store and we go by the duck pond. It’s there where Tom stretches his legs, feeds the ducks and has a few trips down the slide. I’ve been finding that if we can’t get out for a morning walk for whatever reason, that things at home become stressful.

Tom is at a point where his stimulation needs are at an all time high. His speech has gone from next to nothing to NEVER STOP TALKING. And with that is NEVER STOP DOING. Don’t get me wrong. Most mornings he is good at entertaining himself. But he just isn’t the sort of toddler to be confined to walls (are any toddlers?). And he has decided to lash out. Hitting, throwing and just generally being naughty. Take him outside and he becomes a beacon of good behaviour.

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When he is like that and we are inside, the air feels thick. Every whine from either of them resonates in my brain. And tiredness hasn’t helped. Today? I’ve been up since 3:30am thanks to Mr J. I’m not a good person with lack of sleep.

When I saw a peek of sun I checked my weather app and whisked them out the door. The transformation in Tom’s behaviour was immediate. “Hold hands?” he said. “Watch out for the cars!” he said over and over as we walked. His chattering has become so continuous that sometimes I tune him out. I can understand him most of the time, but sometimes I have no idea what he is saying in the slightest. Now that he has decided to walk rather than ride in the pram he has a new lease on life. He can walk and TALK to me and see me. He can jump in the leaves and point out plants and flowers. He can stop to pat cats and say hello to people we pass. It’s like a brand new world for him.

The first day he wanted to walk he only made it one way. I put him under no pressure. The second time we walked we stopped for morning tea and he was able to walk both ways. Today he walked to the shops, the duck pond and all the way home without a break. At least 45 minutes on his feet with not a complaint in sight.

I really want to keep him walking. I’ve discovered it is as mood-altering for children as it is for adults. Far too often I’ve walked with a class of children to hear the incessant whining “Mrs East, I’m tired! Do we have to walk this far!?” And it’s simply because they’re not used to it. In a world where we are constantly jumping in the car to run this errand and that, to travel from A to B, we sometimes forget how beneficial walking is for children.

According to this website, studies have revealed that children who walk or ride to school are reported to beĀ more alert and ready to learnĀ than those who arrive by car. The exercise makes them calmer and happier. Not to mention the benefits of discussing road safety along the way and it being far cheaper and better for the environment.

I was lost in my winding thoughts this morning as we hit the pavement and Tom’s chatter rose up to me. When he started tugging at my hand and saying “Mum, Mum” I stopped to listen and realised he was saying “It’s a pretty day Mum…it’s a pretty day”

I took a deep breath and felt relaxed. Because it sure is a pretty day.

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Do you walk with their little ones? Does it work well for you?

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