Friday 18 January 2013

10 Ways to Keep Young Kids Walking (Outdoor Play Party)

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If you read this blog regularly you'll know that we are big on outdoor play and we try to get outside every day, but getting outside with kids is fine in the Summer, but the rest of the year IT'S HARD!!

One of the best ways I've found to ensure we get outside is to walk everywhere, but with three under five this is not always easy either so to try and make it lots of fun we play on the way!  Here's my top ten tips for keeping young kids walking.....

1 - Distract: Keep Talking
Walking is great concentrated time with kids, there are few distractions you've just got to keep putting one foot in front of the other!  So what better time to chat!  We chat about the boys latest interests, favourite food, the weather (we are British!), anything and nothing.  This does mean I have to have VERY prolonged conversations about Yoda and Peter Pan, but the time goes quick.

A good conversation starter is 'which is better...', for example 'which is better chocolate covered in strawberries or strawberries covered in chocolate'.  Or, 'who's stronger Hulk with one hand behind his back or Batman with a lightsaber' and so the discussions begin!

2 - Distract: Make Up Stories
More talking, but this time they have to engage their imaginations more!  Great story starters for us often begin with something we see, for example a plastic bag in a tree.  I make up crazy ways the bag may have got there (a giant dropped it, the tree grew it, a bag fairy lives there etc) and then encourage the boys to create their stories.

Another good imagination game is saying 'if I were a ....'.  For example 'if I were a dragon I'd have pink wings' then get your child to tell you something they'd be like if they were a dragon and so the conversation begins!

3 - Distract: Play Games
Favourite games include not stepping on the cracks in the pavement or spotting things (essentially travel bingo), blue cars, buses, the number 7 anything that springs to mind!  Plus, hide and seek is always a good one, letting them run ahead and jump out at you, always a winner!

4 - Distract: Feed Them
OK, a bit more practical now!  My kids are always hugely distracted when eating and they just keep on walking, plus making sure they're not hungry or thirsty minimises a spiral into complaining that they're tried.

5 - Don't Walk, Run, Skip and Jump
Despite the fact that it consumes more energy and should make them more tired the boys seem to enjoy walking more the more adventurous they are.  They could walk or climb on walls a lot further than they could on the pavement, so generally (when safe) I encourage them to take an alternative route, balancing on a low wall, weaving through bushes, swinging on a railing all make the journey more fun.

6 - Be Prepared
Again minimising negative distractions stops kids focusing on their tiredness so make sure they are warm enough, cool enough, fed, watered.  Sunglasses, hats, suncream all needs to be there.  For us the youngest is still in a buggy so I use Hamster Stroller Bags* to carry all the extra stuff.  And I always leave heaps of time - double what I'd take if it was me on my own.

7 - Set Targets and Rewards
So you've distracted them like crazy, discussed everything you can think of and they're starting to flag, time to start encouraging them.  Set targets, 'as soon as we get to that red car we can have a rest / drink' and rewards 'wow you've walked so far I think if you can get all the way home walking it'll be ice cream tonight'.  You get the idea!

8 - Look After Yourself
All that preparation  distraction and encouragement is hard work.  Make sure you're up for the task, have a drink and snack for you too.  I was going to put make sure you're not too tired, but if you have young kids 'exhausted' is probably your permanent status!  But, seriously the happier you are the more energy you'll have to distract like crazy!

9 - Bribery and Corruption
Yep, when it comes to it I'm not above a bit of bribery and corruption.  For desperate times I carry chocolate and sweets (candy) and I'm not afraid to use them!  If it gets them round the last corner I am not afraid to use a sugar high!

10 - Have a Back Up Plan (a.k.a Give In)
Sometimes young kids are too tired and they really just can't go any further that's when you need a back up plan.  When Bud was younger I used to let him sit on the front of the double buggy, not often as pushing three kids was hard work, but sometimes it was the better option.  Now Bud walks everywhere and Champ is allowed to use the Buggy Board* when he's too tired.    Just think it's still outdoors time so you ticked that off the to do list even if you ended up pushing them!

(*Affiliate links)

Now to the Outdoor Play Party, my featured post from last time is Ice Jewels from Fireflies and Mudpies I only wish we had the weather to do the same, so far just a sprinkling of snow for us!

I'm very excited to see what outdoor play you've been up to.  Please link up any child related outdoor posts, doing so gives us permission to share and pin your post, and you can check out previous shared ideas on our Outdoor Play Party Pinterest Board.


  1. Great post - wish we had done some of these when J was walking but the week after he started walking we had T and a c-section, newborn and newly walking toddler made all sorts of problems. We've changed his attitude and now him and T won't do anything but walk. T is the only under 2 that I know that walks a minimum of 4 miles a day 3 days a week!

  2. Thanks for all these ideas. My kiddo is finally starting to get pretty heavy to carry (more because he's stronger and pushes away, because he's still a skinny little guy!), so I've been trying to get him to walk more and more. Nice to have a few more tricks up my sleeve!

    I'm also happy to find this link party. We have trouble getting outside even in the summer, but I'm trying to change that this year.

  3. such good tips my eldest has always been fab at walking because he was only 18 months old when I had Chloe so I never got a double and he walked most places from very young.

  4. Great tips, it can be exhausting keeping them going.

  5. These are brilliant tips.
    I'd love if you could share them on #MotivationalMonday tomorrow please.

  6. All great ideas and ones I have used myself on so many occasions! Thank you for linking up over on Country Kids. Linked right back!

  7. With 8 children, we spend a lot of time walking. They learn early that they have to walk, because mom and dad can't carry everyone!


    1. Wow, eight kids! It's true though if they don't have a choice they can just keep on walking

  8. Walks are hard sometimes. My favorite distraction is having races...picking a finish line and racing to that point.

    1. Completely forgot about races, that's a brilliant addition, thanks!

  9. Brilliant tips! Feeding certainly works for my boys. They seem to forget their tiredness if I whip out some food :D (popping over from Country Kids)

  10. Great post! I love outdoor time, too & this winter it has been SO cold... Thanks for linking up to Share It Saturday!

  11. Thank you for linking up to Tuesday Tots and supporting it each week. I love seeing your posts linked up.

  12. These are some brilliant ideas and I'm taking quite a few of them on board as The Boy is getting to the lazy stage with walking, "Daddy can carry me!" He's 3.5 years for goodness sake! I like the idea of the games and making it into an adventure, I'm rubbish at coming up with things to distract him.

  13. These are great ideas. I especially love the distraction techniques. I've featured this post at The Sunday Parenting Party this week. Thanks for linking up.

  14. I love these tips. My kids love walks, but sometimes the little ones don't like to go as far as the older ones. These tips should help! Thanks for sharing at Mom's Library.

  15. Great ideas - thanks very much. I used to have an invisible map in my pocket that I would whip out and give to my 3-year-old son for him to find the way with. He loved this. It worked particularly well when we had no special destination in mind and were out to get some fresh air or to get the baby to sleep as then I could also let him choose the route with his map. Taking explorer props such as a magnifying glass or pretend binoculars with us (nothing big or heavy) can also help a walk become an adventure or expedition. And of course games such as I-spy always help to pass the time. You can play this with colours for children that are too young to know their letters ("I spy with my little eye something that is green"). Or do a hearing variant - "I hear with my little ear something that goes ..." then imitate or descibe the noise.


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