Walking with children can be delightful, or it can be a nightmare. If you go out walking with young children, sometimes their little legs can’t keep up or they simply refuse to go any further because “walking is booooring!” , “my legs are tired!” or “I’m a potato!”. They hit a point where they’re too big or too wriggly for a sling or a stroller and too heavy to carry very far. This is when I find it comes in handy to have a few tricks up my sleeve to motivate them. And for me those tricks are book related, because books are kind of my thing. These are some simple games nerdy parents can play to get tired little people moving again long enough to get up that last hill to home. If you don’t mind looking a little silly (and as a parent you’re probably used to that) you might even have some fun yourself in the process.
Walking Without Rhythm and You Won’t Attract the Worm.
Like the inhabitants of the planet Arrakis in Frank Herbert’s science fiction classic, Dune, you must cross the desert without attracting the attention of the giant worms that live beneath the sand. To survive you must make sure that your footsteps don’t create a regular pattern of sounds. Encourage the kids to change things up by doing a couple of quick steps, then a great big jump, then maybe a bit of sideways shuffling action. Anything really as long as it’s in the right direction.
The Walking Dad.
This works for mums too of course, but the title worked better this way. It’s very simple. You just lurch after them with your arms outstretched, moaning and generally giving the impression that if you can catch them you will eat them alive. A really good moan or dumb looking zombie face will usually produce giggles, and they may run ahead of you squealing or choose to pretend to be zombies themselves. The latter is fine too. Remember, slow progress is still progress.
Little zombies may move slowly, but slow progress is still progress. Author’s own photo.
Snitches Get Stitches.
In the Harry Potter books the game of Quidditch is won only when the Golden Snitch, a tiny golden ball with wings, has been caught by the Seeker. Your youngest/most agile child is the Golden Snitch and you are the Seeker. Tell them they’d better hurry up or you’ll catch them and Slytherin will win.
Stamping and Groaning
In his war memoir, Adolph Hitler, My Part in His Downfall, Spike Milligan describes a little game he devised to keep himself amused while marching. When Milligan had been doing this for a while the other soldiers started doing it too and eventually an official memo was sent out asking them to knock it off. Keeping a regular pace and counting to four in your head, on “one” you stamp loudly and on “four” you let out a groan. When you get up a rhythm it goes: “STAMP!, two, three, uggggghhh. STAMP!, two, three, uggghhhh…” . If the kids get into this you can throw in animal noises instead of groans, eg. Oinking, mooing etc. It’s silly and loud, but it does keep them moving.
Don’t Step on the Feegles
The Nac Mac Feegle are the little blue people of Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series. They can carry off live sheep and beat enemies 50 times their size. They do not like to be trodden on. Make sure the kids watch their step and keep an eye out for Feegles. Occasionally shout things in a small voice in a ridiculous Scottish accent like “ach ye jest missed me, watch where ye put yer great clodhoppers or ah’ll show ye the back of me ‘and, ye ken!”
Hopefully these games will help motivate your young ones , walking homeward so you can all crash on the couch and enjoy a much needed glass of water (or something stronger ….) and perhaps a good book. Happy trails!