When I attended a neighborhood party last night, I noticed a very loving, doting grandmother carrying her 2 1/2 year old granddaughter around on her hip, handfeeding her snacks. Busted…..I suddenly remembered carrying my petite younger daughter around on MY hip when she was still hovering around 18/24 months of age. My excuse? She wasn’t yet walking (no wonder!), she was small so it “easier”, and well, I enjoyed it! (Fortunately, she turned out OK and is now walking.)
I also thought back to a time that a Montessori teacher/friend offered to babysit our daughters when they were about 3 and 5. We were flabbergasted when she told me they had taken a long walk that afternoon – over 2 miles! Our little children?
Not long after that, my husband and I visited friends in England and spent a Sunday afternoon walking through the Dales with them and their two young children, also ages 3 and 5. Now that turned out to be a bit tedious for the adults towards the end – lots of breaks and games of Hide & Seek – but we did it! And it was a wonderful outing that we all still talk about.
Where am I going with all this?? In short, we underestimate our children’s ability to walk!
Though our tendency might be to coddle and protect them, children actuallty are quite capable of walking long distances! The key is to honor THEIR pace and interest. Granted, many times it’s necessary for us to walk from Point A to Point B in the shortest amount of time: errands to run, places to be. But can we also set aside time specifically for Children’s Walks? Times when we can put away our cell phones, go to a local park or even just the neighborhood, and let our children take the lead. Can we follow them, marvel at what they marvel at, share conversation with them? This not only slows us down and gets us back in sync with our selves, but also empowers our children, encourages their independence, and develops a lifelong healthful habit.
Oh…..I see you’re putting on your walking shoes……