If You Pick One Activity From Your Summer Bucket List, Make It This One

by Christine Organ
Originally Published: 
Marathon Kids

Summer is well underway

I don’t know about you, but most of the time when I ask my kids any questions of substance, I get one-word responses in return. Sure, my oldest son can ramble on for hours about Fortnite, but ask him something more substantial – like how he’s feeling about starting middle school in the fall — and he’ll shrug his shoulders and mumble, “I don’t know.”

It seems like since the beginning of time, parents have been lamenting the struggle that is getting their kids to engage in meaningful conversations. The one piece of advice that seems to actually work is to seize on the conversations when they happen. You can’t force these things, people say. And they’re right.

But you can help set the stage.

And one way to get our kids talking to us is to do something active together. Just like kids might open up more while driving in the car to soccer practice, they may also open up while exercising or playing a sport together. That’s one of the reasons I was so intrigued by Marathon Kids when I first heard about it.

The goal of Marathon Kids is pretty simple actually – it’s to help families connect while walking together. They even provide a FREE summer Walk and Talk challenge filled with tons of conversation starters.

Marathon Kids Walk and Talk program, which is partnering with the TODAY Parenting team to reach more families, was created with social-emotional learning tools (SEL) in mind. In schools all over the country, teachers are using SEL to help raise kinder, more empathetic, more positive kids with fewer instances of depression and stress. SEL can improve achievement, and it also increases positive behaviors such as kindness, sharing, and empathy; and improves attitudes toward school too.

When parents register for the program online, they’ll receive two things: (1) a link to a set of topics created by family physician Dr. Deborah Gilboa, with each topic matching up with a mile of walking or running; and (2) a special mileage log so that the family can work toward completing a marathon over the duration of the summer. The conversation starters cover a broad range of topics — from health, education, and friendship — and even include knock-knock jokes and dreams of travel.

I recently signed up for the Marathon Kids Walk and Talk challenge, and while it took a little convincing to get my kids to walk with me, once we were off, the conversations did get rolling. We’ve walking around the block, and in the country while visiting family in Wisconsin. We even walked to the neighborhood carnival. After talking about their latest Fortnite adventures (because of course), the conversations shifted to things like vacation bucket lists and favorite summer activities.

Summer days might be waning (in fact, some of us are counting down the days until the kids are back in school), but there’s still time to check a few things off your summer bucket list. And this activity is the perfect one. Summer is a great time to get outside and connect with your kids in new ways. The days are longer, and we’re less bogged down with things like homework and band practice.

Let’s be honest, any time we can connect with our kids in meaningful ways is a triumph. And if we can spend a little time in fresh air doing something active together? Well, all the better.

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