Monday, April 8, 2013

3 Ways the Family Walk is Saving My Family

Our family was struggling! Even though we gave up cable, our children were sucked into the Wii each evening hoping to get to the next level of Lego Batman or watching shows on Netflix. My husband spent most of his evening on Facebook or reading articles on The Drudge Report and I was just as guilty catching up on my emails, Facebook, and blog posts.  It's not like we intended for this to happen.  We're actually very conscientious parents and we do manage to have dinner together almost every night.  (I have to pack dinners for the boys on soccer night).  We have lively dinner conversations where we try to figure out what my two-year-old is saying while shoveling food at the baby and simultaneously listening to the latest adventures at the local preschool and first-grade classrooms :)  It's that time between dinner and bedtime that gets sucked into a television vacuum.  We knew we had to do something about it, but after long days of teaching and watching other people's children, we were just so exhausted that it seemed easier to let them do what they wanted to do...

Sound familiar?

That's when my husband suggested that we go for a walk after dinner.  I have to admit, I was hesitant.  A walk?  The baby was cranky, our two-year-old was close to melt-downs, the older boys were fighting, I was EXHAUSTED, and we still had baths to do....was he really serious?

My husband is a wise man!  For the past few weeks, we have been going for evening walks almost every day.  The answer was so simple.  I'm sure if I had asked my Granny, she could have solved this problem months ago!  Here are just 3 of the reasons our walks are saving our family:

1.  We're FINALLY making exercise a priority! - Back in January, I shared my goals with you for the year and that I wanted to start exercising 3x/week and lose 10 pounds.  If you saw my update at the end of the month, you know that life turned upside-down for us and the stress caused me to lose 3 pounds (woohoo!).  Unfortunately, that's where my weight-loss plateaued, right at 152 pounds (yes, I'm throwing the number out there).  I am still almost 15 pounds heavier than I was 4 children ago and only 8 pounds less than I was when I delivered my first child!  It's totally my fault.  I could tell you how busy I am, how I "work" from 7am-5:00pm (sometimes later) and then my evening Mommy job kicks in.  I could whine about how I can't get to the gym, how I don't have anyone to watch the kids, or how we're using "gym-money" to pay off debts.  All of these are true, but they're just excuses.  The fact is I'm lazy and I view running as some kind of inhumane torture!  Walking as a family has solved a lot of those problems and we're still getting all the great benefits of exercise (reducing body fat, lowering blood pressure, lowering cholesterol, and reducing the risk of depression!).  Plus, we're doing our part to combat childhood obesity, which has increased 5-fold in the past 40 years!!  (I did my research.)  The point is, I can complain about how I want to lose weight, but until I actually get off my rump and DO something, I'll never get any healthier (and neither will my family).

2.   We're "Unplugging" Every Evening! - This may not be an issue in your house, but my kids (and my husband) are OBSESSED with technology!  My two-year-old knows the difference between an IPad, a Kindle, and an IPod and will ask for which one he wants!  While we're still working on the best system for "earning" Wii time, I love that our evening walks guarantee that we are "unplugged" (myself included) for most of the evening and following the American Academy of Pediatrics recommendation for less than 1-2 hours of screen time a day (not that there aren't days that we go over this!!).  In general, we have dinner, clean-up and then head out for a walk (that usually includes a trip to the park).  By the time we get home, there's just enough time for baths and bed.  The best part is that the kids LOVE it!  They get to ride their scooters and play at the park - that's WAY better than Lego Batman! 

3.  It's Strengthening Our Marriage! - Our evening walks are a time for my husband and I to reconnect about our day.  The older boys are on their scooters.  The babies are happily taking in the scenery and we have 30 minutes to talk with very few interruptions.  It is glorious, and certainly something that never happens at home where there are constant requests for our assistance and attention.  Also, I've found that men are much more likely to talk when they are doing something.  It's biological.  Women can just sit and chat, men need to being doing something (like playing golf or watching baseball).  As a mother of boys, I'm learning that if I want to talk to my older boys (or my husband), I need to get them engaged in something first, or trap them in the car :)

I am just so tickled at the changes that this simple change in our daily routine has brought!  The baby is happier in the evenings, I get more time with my husband, and we're instilling positive habits in our children!  Every baby step counts, right? :)

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  1. Good for you! Small changes, really do make a big difference. Men need to be doing something when they talk - so true:)

  2. We use reading as a way for our son to earn time on the Wii or 3DS. For every minute he reads is a minute earned in the Wii or 3DS. It works very well for us as our son actually enjoys reading so once he gets started he will read for an hour or more at a time.

    1. Amanda, I love this idea! Do you have a system for keeping track of his time (like on a white board)? Do his minutes "rollover" to the next day? I could see this working well with our oldest :)

  3. We need to start walking. My family tends to get plugged in too.

  4. Oh we fall into the "plugged in" trap, too!! So easy to do, yet so unfulfilling... So why keep doing it??? Sigh! Thanks for the post!

    1. It is definitely our biggest challenge, especially when I'm writing articles that "have" to be done by a certain time. I'm always amazed at what a difference this makes for our whole family, especially the moods of our kids :) Thanks for stopping by!!