It’s the weekend. We are gagging for a break; to slow down; take things easy; hang with the family. But what we actually get is an intensely fraught forty-eight hours with unmet expectations, unspoken frustrations and a whole load of unwanted hassle. Yup, it’s like a horrifically condensed lockdown but on an endlessly repetitive cycle…

Well, this is where fresh air is your friend. So many studies show the positive impact of nature on our wellbeing, on mental health, on childhood development and even on executive function and we’ve read those articles, watched those documentaries and heard the evidence build and build… but have you ever experienced how it palpably lessens tension, felt the physical space around you grow and heard the loud noises of the crazed indoors fade into a distorted and distant hum?

You have? Right, well wrap up and let me help you with how to further heighten those feelings of release and relaxation during your ever-so precious ‘time-off’. Because believe me, just ‘going for a walk’ on a cold, dark day can test even the hardiest of souls and the closest of crews.

  1. First up, get comfy…and by that, I mean dress appropriately. If it’s cold, layer up and get those waterproofs on, hats, gloves, double socks whatever. Likewise, if we’re ever so lucky, get the loose layers ready; the sunhats, the shorts, the comfy sandals. And this applies to you ALL… if one of the team is feeling damp and down/hot and bothered then those fresh air fun vibes are never making an appearance.
  2. Take spares. Inevitably someone will fall over, pick up snow and get wet gloves, puddle jump over the top of their wellies, drop their hat…the list goes on – but seriously, get those ‘just in cases’ in your rucksack.
  3. While you might fancy just seeing how things go, that rarely works out well with kids. A vague time/distance discussion is best before heading off really… keep expectations low and then everyone is a winner!
  4. Avoid ‘going for a walk’. This sounds dull to any kid, so get creative with your vocab and use your marketing strategies. This might need a hard ‘up-sell’ for some – a scavenger hunt, a treasure trail, a secret mission… which leads us nicely onto
  5. Bribery. Don’t worry too much though – you know Conker Crew…it has to be handy AND wholesome! So this is no forward planning type stuff. This is ‘I need to get out NOW for my own sanity’ type of stuff. Grab a packet of sweets or other wholesome snack/new toy/favourite treat and you can hide them on route as you go (drop them as you walk), use them as the carrot-dangler for spotting an interesting sight (potential for constant mithering here admittedly) or even as prizes for made-up-on-the-spot style challenges (not as onerous as you think, trust me, I’ll explain)
  6. Fun it up… the scavenger hunt is a great one. Now, you could use one of the many found with a simple internet search (Nature Detectives are good) for the greatest of ease and maximum head clearance space or let’s be honest, you can make this up as you go along according to the peace you require. Go with the educational version (spot an evergreen, a sparrow, a Banksy etc) or maybe the ‘Give-me-as-much-peace-as-possible’ version (green dog, a stick the EXACT length of your nose, a UFO). It really is up to you!
  7. Be physical. Movement will up the energy and clear the head every time… You can run, jump, balance, skip, hop in puddles, over gates, up trees, through fields with challenges, competitions, games (‘Simple Simon’ stylee is a great one for everyone to join in) and this is a perfect antidote to the usual soporific screen time.
  8. Slow, Slow, Quick, Quick, Slow… try to mix up the high energy of scavenger hunts, trails and physicality with some slower, more meditative moments too. Find a sit spot and just listen. Slow your breathing and clear your mind. Be present in the environment. We all need the highs and the lows, the fast and the slow – variety is absolutely the spice of life.
  9. All fresh air is valid fresh air. Green spaces and a natural environment do offer up greater benefits, but access to these may not always be possible. An urban stroll should not be dismissed… there are sit spots, potential scavenger hunts, physical challenges all to be had in every locale. Go grab that fresh air fun in your ‘hood, wherever that may be!
  10. Proactive has got to be better than reactive… Choose to get out before you have to get out!

And if these don’t work, book a Conker Crew session and we’ll do it all for you… Solidarity.