It may be hard to convince your kids, but the best end to any meal isn’t dessert—it’s a walk. Families who walk together after dinner squeeze in one last bout of exercise and fresh air, health benefits (Walking after a meal aids digestion, regulates blood pressure, releases endorphins and promotes good sleep,) as well as some extra-credit family time before bedtime. The biggest sell? Evening walks provide fun experiences that daytime walks don’t. Here are some fun, creative ideas to incorporate into an evening walk to add to the experience.
10 Ways to Make the After-Dinner Walk More Fun
1. Light it up
Headlamps, glowsticks and lanterns turn an after-dinner neighborhood walk into an illuminated adventure. Headlamps, specifically, offer kids a hands-free light source to guide their way. The Black Diamond Children's Wiz Kids´ Headlamp is virtually kid-proof, with a child-safe closure, breakaway elastic safety strap, versatile head tilt (allows for functionality even when on upside-down), and an automatic shut down after two hours to prevent accidental battery drain.
2. Sunset appreciation
During the shorter days of the year, you and your family might be able to watch the sunset during an evening walk, which can be a great stress reliever and a rare opportunity to enjoy the beauty of nature. Psychology Today says no matter your age, slowing down to appreciate a sunset can help boost well-being, increase generosity, and enhance life satisfaction.
3. Follow the leader
Let kids take turns leading the walk and choosing the route. Making decisions without parental guidance builds kids’ confidence. Leading the way transforms the activity from walking to exploring and navigating.
4. Night tunes
Nature’s music peaks at night when animals and insects are loudest. Walk by a pond and listen for the croaking of frogs. Cruise past open space and keep an ear out for a coyote’s howl. Kids are highly aware of the sounds in their environment, which makes it easier for them to tune in—they’ll discover that nature is in constant communication.
Leave the phones at home. Walking keeps everyone present and away from their screens. It’s the ideal time for kids to open up and invite deeper conversation.
6. You’re it Pass a park and tag.
The high-intensity activity (parents, you might feel it tomorrow) mixes up the walk and always leads to fun. It’s almost impossible for kids to play tag without laughing, shouting and having a great time.
Play high/low and listen to everyone’s favorite and least-favorite parts of the day. This family conversation starter is a great way to connect, but it’s even more effective on a walk. Each family member has a turn to share the high point of their day (uninterrupted and with everyone’s full attention), as well as the low point.
8. Night tunes
Combining walking and music has been shown to improve mood and reduce stress, so why not play your favorite playlist on your nightly loop? The JBL Clip 4 bluetooth speaker is the perfect size for portability and can clip on a pant loop for convenient tunes to liven up any walk. Plus, it’s waterproof and dustproof for off-road adventures.
9. Wildlife hunt
Evening is a great time to spot birds, bats, bugs, and more interesting creatures. How many bugs can your child find under rocks, in hollow logs or around flower beds? Print out an observation chart and have kids note their findings.
10. Be Friendly
Get to know your neighborhood and community. There’s no pace better for getting to know your neighbors than a stroll. Show your children how to strike up a conversation with a neighbor. How long have they lived here? What do you like to do for fun? Forming positive relationships with those living around you makes your neighborhood a friendlier place.
There are so many ways to add fun and laughs to a nightly family walk. Does your family walk after dinner? How do you keep it fun?