This week I've seen and explored more of the Connecticut outdoors than the previous 15 years Matt and I have lived here. What started out as a way to break up the day and keep the kids entertained has quickly turned into a daily ritual that each of us cherish. I'm not sure if it’s the Vitamin D or simply the change in scenery, but we each look forward to our family walks and the chance to get out of the house; needless to say, we are very cautious and always maintain proper social distancing per the CDC's guidelines.
Unfortunately, as the week's progressed, the number of towns closing down access to parks and trails has grown, but luckily we've still managed to visit a decent number in and around our neighboring towns. To stay active we shifted away from town trails and have now taken to walking the town streets, which was actually a nice change and continued to offer us the fresh air and family time. The added benefit to this is we can push Daniel in his little car, which means I don’t have to wear him in the baby carrier; definitely a win-win for me.
With each walk we try to use the time as a family to connect. We have a no electronics policy and most days we either play games or simply talk about our day and how we're feeling. Our favorite game is what we refer to as “The Alphabet Game." We make our way through the alphabet letter by letter taking turns to think of as many things as we can within a specific category (animals, foods, etc). Whomever runs out of ideas first loses the round, the other players receive a point, and we all move on to the next letter. We've already completed the entire alphabet with animals and we're now working our way through foods and drinks. It’s really quite simple, but helps keep our brains active and takes our minds off the reality of the current situation.
While this blog entry may be a short and simple, the underlying message is in fact very important: self-care can come in all different shapes, sizes, and price points; you don't necessarily need to go to expensive or elaborate places like spas, salons, vacations or restaurants in order to feel the benefit. By taking a simple walk each day you can release so much tension and learn so much about your neighbors, your family, and even yourself.
If you don’t trust me try it out. Dust off those old sneakers, grab a jacket, and head outside. Each day, consider trying a different route; walk up and down streets, head into dead ends, it really doesn’t matter, just walk. It's not important how far you go, what's critical is that you look around, listen to the sounds of the street, and maybe even give those neighbors of yours - you know, the ones that live across the street that you've never met - a smile and a wave; instead of benefiting just yourself, you may find you're able to bring joy to a neighbor who goes weeks without social contact.