Many professionals in my field of Human Movement frown upon using strollers with kids. They point out that while you exercise, you encourage your kids to sit… and in the worst possible position imaginable, too. I get all of that. But I would argue that losing my sanity would be far more detrimental to my boys. I also think using a stroller can be a great way to spend time together when you use it correctly. Plus, I WANT my children to see me enjoying this aspect of fitness!
Many clients tell me that they have a hard time getting their child to come along in the stroller. So, they just quit. If that’s you, maybe this will help. Even if your kid does get in the stroller, maybe this will encourage you to think about that time a little differently. Today, don’t put your headphones on or give your kid your cell phone. You’re fostering little people’s minds in there. Get them involved!
Keep their hands busy.
I’m not talking about with an Ipad; I mean the good ole fashioned way. Fidgeting is just starting to get attention among researchers. HERE is a book to learn more if your child needs help with paying attention. The authors believe fidgeting distracts part of the brain that’s become bored so the other parts can pay attention to what we’re reading, hearing, or seeing. I find that my son does just about everything better when he has something in his hands. This includes eating dinner. We have an art station at the dinner table complete with stickers, scented markers, wiggle eyes, etc.
If it’s an early run or right after nap, this might be a healthy but special snack. Please don’t give them some crap food to lure them in while you simultaneously are burning off some crap food. Mid-morning or late afternoon, I like miniature play-dohs or Thinking Putty. I always use miniature play doh with Colt because I don’t have to worry about losing a whole container. He usually plays with it the rest of the day and it never survives. The thinking putty has a special container and holds together so you won’t find it everywhere if you have a messy play doh kid.
Mindfulness is simply the ability to take in surroundings and appreciate them. This skill creates an awareness of what’s going in your world. If the moon is up (yes, my kids go with me in the wee hours of the morning), talk about it, chase it, notice that no matter how far or fast you go, it’s still there. As the sun rises, the birds all make tons of sounds. You might try listening for different birds and mimicking the sounds. When we do the dreaded 3:30 pm run, we look for shade on the sidewalk and talk about the trees and hunt for squirrels and cow birds to chase.
You always wanted your own personal running coach, right? My son is naturally bossy (I’m sure he gets that from his dad…..). So, he loves when I put him in charge. I also, consequently, get some of my best runs this way! We play versions of Red Light/Green Light. Notice that this gets annoying because you have to stop so much. Thus I created Walk!/Jog!/Sprint! It’s a great way to create a different training stimulus for yourself. Plus, there’s an added benefit of starting to make them understand the different ways to run. Later, you can use this to encourage more endurance with pacing.
But before you even go, set your own mind right.
Running with the stroller can suck, but I want my boys to feel like part of it. I also want them to see that when you love to do something, you make it happen and share it with others without. This might mean… Scratch that… This DOES mean that running now is absolutely nothing like it used to be. It’s now a shared activity. The boys and I have to compromise to keep us all happy. When I need to run, they come along. I use this time to have quiet conversation and to encourage mindfulness, awareness of the sights, sounds and smells around us.
I ALWAYS set out knowing that when they are done, I am done. Period. I hope for 30 min and usually get at least that. But when I don’t, I know I will live to run another day. My hope is that when they get older, they will join me. I want to cultivate positive feelings about this time together starting now.