Get outdoors: Our new weekly adventures

After a compliment from a neighbour, Crystal realizes how far her family has come since the start of the Healthy Family Challenge.

Above: Adam and I after a long walk in the rain. Below: Rob, Adam and Bella while on a family walk to clean up our ‘hood.

In BC, we have a sporting goods store called Comor. Their slogan is Go Play Outside. When I was in my 20s Comor had radio commercials where a man with a Jamaican accent said “Comor, go play outside.” Maybe it was the Jamaican accent, but whenever I heard the commercial I always had to imitate the man. Even now, years after the commercial has stopped playing, whenever I walk out our front door to go “play” on a beautiful day I hear a man with a Jamaican accent saying “Go play outside!”

“Go play outside” has become my family’s motto over the past few weeks. We’ve been making an effort to get out as a family as much as possible and enjoy the extra hours of sunlight and beautiful spring weather. In addition to daytime walks with the kids while Rob is at work, I’ve also implemented nightly post-dinner family walks.

Every evening, once the dishes are in the dishwasher, we pack Adam up in the stroller, Bella puts our four-pound Yorkie, Jake, on his leash and we head outside for at least half an hour. Some nights Rob and Bella ride their bikes, other nights we all just walk together.

Last week in celebration of Earth Day, we brought along our “garbage claw” and cleaned up our neighbourhood. As we walked we scanned the street and shrubs for garbage. For Bella it became a sort of game, almost like I Spy:

“I see a bus transfer!”

“I see a candy wrapper!”

“I see a plastic bag!”

I love that, in addition to being active together, we also are teaching Bella to care for our neighbourhood and that it’s all of our responsibilities to take care of this world that we live in. We’ve decided that from now on, at least once a week, we are going to do a family neighbourhood cleanup walk.

I find that the more time I spend outside, the more I crave being outside. When we first started our nightly walks, in the back of my mind I kept thinking, “Wouldn’t it be nice to just curl up on the couch and watch some TV?” but now we look forward to our nightly family walks and comment on how good it feels to be walking off some of our dinner instead of letting it sit in our stomachs in front of the TV.

One night, as we were walking home, a neighbour drove past us, stopped her car and rolled down her window. “Look at that healthy, active family!” she commented to both us and her family in the car. I think that was the first time that I’ve heard someone refer to us in such a way. It made me pause for a moment to reflect and I realized that I agreed with her assessment. We are becoming a healthy, active family — and that feels so good.