Spring has sprung and it seems like the weather is becoming a little more settled. So it’s an ideal time to make the most of it and go for a nice family walk. Yeah, about that…
Because parenting is often a matter of balancing expectations and reality. And, in this instance, it’s always my own expectations that are so far removed from reality.
Mark Twain once said that “golf is a good walk spoiled”. That may be true – I’ve never tried – but there are much more affordable ways of achieving this end.
So, based on more than one recent experience, here are five ways to ruin a nice family walk.
Let the kids bring scooters
Allowing at least one of your kids to bring a scooter – or roller skates – is a guaranteed way of elevating your blood pressure. You’ll miss the charms of nature as you break into a light jog and then sprint in order to not lose sight of them at first.
Later in the walk, you’ll have to defuse arguments about who should be in front. Then, when they get bored, you get the privilege of carrying their scooters, whacking yourself repeatedly in the shins for good measure.
Go anywhere paved
Venturing anywhere with any semblance of tarmac or paving brings guaranteed dog mess. Most of it, of course, is nearer the middle than the edge. With the exception of the stuff that has been bagged up and hung on trees, fences or anything else nearby.
It’s a veritable feast for the senses and a gift that keeps on giving. Particularly if the kids forget to take off their shoes once back home.
Go anywhere other people go
Next up, make sure you go somewhere sufficiently nice to attract other people. Groups of loud, sweary teenagers are always an aural treat and the perfect complement to the sounds of nature reawakening from its winter slumbers.
As well as gobby teens, you’ll encounter people of all ages with terrible pavement etiquette along your way. Think cyclists on pavements, vape clouds and smartphone addicts. Lovely!
Go anywhere near nature
The sounds of nature genuinely lift the soul after the bleak winter months. The sounds. And the sights – when they’re in the middle distance. But to properly ruin your walk, choose an environment where it’ll get in your face.
Big, drifty bees love nothing more than diverting you into the aforementioned dog matter, while slow worms are guaranteed to frighten the kids. Particularly if you tell them they’re Nagini.
Forget to bring snacks
Children always want a snack when out and about so do make sure you forget to bring any. Even for the briefest of sorties. To make this more effective, remember to bring them on two or three prior occasions to create a Pavlovian response.
No family walk is complete without at least one child whingeing, after all.