Be sure to make the most of your time together while running with your little ones. Exercise is important for staying healthy, so keep it fun for your kids by incorporating games into your routine.
Here are just a few activities my daughter, Maven and I enjoy during our runs:
1. “I Spy…”
While this guessing game is a classic, taking it to the streets offers a fun opportunity to engage kids in the world around them while also teaching them critical thinking.
In case you’ve never played, here’s how it works: Taking turns, choose a random item you see during your run and have the other person guess what it is by offering a descriptive clue.
For example: If you choose a stop sign, you would say, “I spy, with my little eye, something that is red & white.” You can continue to offer descriptive clues if your child is having trouble guessing (or if you’re about to pass the item and you want them to hurry up and guess it while it’s still in sight!)
Mix up your stroller running route from time to time so your kids can explore and learn about different items found in specific locations.
2. Scavenger Hunt
Like “I Spy,” scavenger hunts allow your little ones to observe a specific environment or landscape. Rather than just being a spectator, your kids can be investigators. (It also teaches them to be aware of what’s going on around them, which is a great safety tool).
Decide on a route that is stroller-friendly and offers visual stimulation. Write down a list of items you know you are likely to see while running this particular route. Bring the list with you and help your child cross off each item once you locate them together. Be sure to include some easy, difficult and even funny items.
For example, if you plan to run on a bike path around a lake, include items like ducks, kayaks, cattails, fishing poles, etc. Make sure the items are age-appropriate and that your list is long enough to last the majority of your run.
3. Grateful Hide & Seek
We all know how easy it is to get so wrapped up in the hustle and bustle of everyday responsibilities that we forget to talk to our kids about being thankful.
There are many ways to structure this game, but the main idea is to choose an item that you know you’ll see frequently during your run. Every time you see the chosen item, name something for which you are grateful.
You can take it a step further and ask “why are you thankful for that?” to get your kids thinking about what is truly important and valuable.
4. Destination Run
End your outings at places that will keep your kids on the edge of their seats during your run (yet buckled in of course!).
Run to your favorite bakery and get a small treat, or run to the lake and take a bag of breadcrumbs to feed the ducks.
On a hot day, you can plan a run to your local splash pad. Dress everyone in their swimsuits and pack a few towels and snacks. Whatever the destination, make sure it’s something your kids will look forward to during the run.
If you keep your children engaged and entertained during your runs together, they will likely view exercise in a more positive light. I hope these four games give you a good place to start.