Learning to love the daily walk

walking home

The thing about parenting is that just because you succeed with one child, in a certain part of their life, it does not mean you have the answer for all the children that follow. It could be encouraging them to read, finishing a meal or going to bed. They are all different. Same parents do not equal carbon-copy children. It doesn’t. They all have their own preferences and their own strengths. (Thank goodness!) One parenting formula does not fit all.

lane in January

Let me give you a real example. For our school run, we walk along a narrow, country lane. I like us to walk, when we can. Using the car always feels like a fail. As babies, I carried them down the lane in a sling. As they grew too big and heavy, they moved into a stroller, until finally pushed out by the next toddler needing the ride. This means that they have pretty much walked down the lane, on their own two feet, since they were 3 years old.

As toddlers, I could encourage them, by looking at the sheep in the field, counting telegraph poles before a car overtook us, and identifying birds. The signs of the changing season is one they all still enjoy. When the novelty waned, I used a sticker chart with eldest, but she loved walking, so it was no big issue. Parenting job done.

farm and sheep

Second child loves polar bears. For her, we discussed global warming and how the polar bears were losing their habitat. She happily walked to school in her quest to save the polar bears. Parenting job done.

I sometimes think that a creative thinking workshop might be more valuable that a shelf full of parenting books, when it comes to parenting. One solution does not fit all.

Then came third child. He dragged his feet and often just stopped. I tried sticker charts. I tried reasoning. He was having nothing to do with it. To be honest, I have tried various incentives for the last three years. Even a few threats, out of sheer desperation. He was not going to fit into the same mould of either of his two sisters. Parenting job fail.celandine closed

Don’t get me wrong. He loves being outside in the normal playing kind of way. Exploring and having fun. A new walk sees him out front, leading the way. He would spend all day outside, but walking the same route is too boring for this 6 year old. I can’t change the route much, but I can try to change his attitude to it.

So this week, I found another game. In a flash of inspiration, as I looked, once again, at my youngest standing stock still in the middle of the lane, I thought of a new incentive for him. He loves stories and he loves to spell.first dandelion

I started to tell him a story, one word at a time, and he spelt it out. One word at a time. “The t-h-e frog f-r-o-g went w-e-n-t…” you get the idea. Reaching the village happened in a flash. Too soon for a whole story, so we picked it up on the way home.

I don’t know how long this game will last, but at the moment it works. Too soon to say that this part of my parenting job is done, but while it is working, he is learning to love walking, as well as improving his spelling.

catkins signs of spring

So one parenting solution will not fit all. Lucky you if it does. The rest of us will have to live on our creative wits.

Joining in with #CountryKids. Its just that little bit more difficult to go out and enjoy the outside at this time of year. For inspiring activities, hop on over.
Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall



  1. I have three children and I know what you are saying with regards to them all being different.
    We loved to cycle and we all had bikes but my daughter the middle child would always be miles behind hating every bit of it while the boys loved it.
    To this day she doesn’t like too much exercise.
    Well done with the spelling game, hope it continues .

    1. Makes an activity that suits all even more tricky as they grow older. Their preferences are more established. Just another parenting challenge. (Comforted that I am not alone)

  2. What a clever idea. It is wonderful how different they are isn’t it? But at the same time frustrating and difficult when a particular parenting solution won’t fit. My little Katie absolutely loves to walk and scoot (at the moment only on the way home as she’s only 2) but she is also very very easily distracted and she takes much longer that the others would have done, even though she’s actually much more energetic than Islay at the same age……haven’t found the perfect parenting solution yet.
    Hope the spelling and story telling continues to work! Juliex

    1. It can be so frustrating, but the joy of finding something that works well! Makes up for it all. I love that they are different. I wouldn’t change them. I like to think that the solution allows us to meet half way. Just as long as we get to school on time.

    1. We’re entitled to taxi transport to school as our lane is deemed as dangerous, but I’ve always turned it down. If nothing else the children know how to behave in a country lane. I don’t want them to grow up thinking we drive everywhere, which really easy to fall into when it comes to country living where there are no pavements and the nearest bus route is over a mile away.

  3. Oh, my 2 are exactly the same, they do everything differently. Love the idea of the story and spellings on the walk to school, I love it when they are learning but don’t realise it and think of it more as fun.

    1. Shh! Don’t tell him he’s learning! I agree. I think they learn best through play at this age. Serious book studying can come later. Much later.

  4. Well done for coming up with an inspired idea for keeping those feet walking! As you say it’s not that he doesn’t like the journey but that he’s bored making the same journey. As a mother to six I know exactly what you mean, what works for one doesn’t necessarily work for another – they are after all individual characters. Thanks for linking up and sharing your ideas with Country Kids.

  5. You are so right, they are all different, I am constantly surprised by quite how different my three are! Well done on finding a distraction technique, long may it continue to work 🙂

Comments are closed.