Toddler walks: We live just blocks from Green Lake, and, like many residents in the neighborhood, we regularly take walks there.
When my twins were infants, there were weeks when I would roll them around the lake nearly daily — meeting friends for a stroll, taking out-of-town guests there, or getting a workout with a speed walk.
Aside from a few blocks on either side of our house, we only walked around Green Lake — after all, why would we walk elsewhere when we had access to such a great path, especially when we were stroller-bound?
Then the global pandemic started.
This made getting out of the house on walks even more important at the same time that it made a popular walking path a much less attractive option (and off limits at times, when it was temporarily closed).
So we started walking in different directions around the neighborhood, exploring side streets and venturing further and further from home. We started walking to places I never considered reasonable for us to access by foot. The babies were always in their double stroller, except when my husband and I walked together. (In anticipation of summer hiking, we often put them in our hiking backpacks and “hiked” with them around our neighborhood.)
Now that we’re comfortable walking around the lake once again (with masks on and socially distanced), I still often take the babies on our newly discovered routes. Our parameters have expanded, and we no longer default to Green Lake; instead, we enjoy the diversity that our few square miles offer.
With nearly 90 P-Patches around the city, there’s a good chance that you can walk to one from your home. Less than a mile from our house is the Lichton Springs P-Patch. I knew about it, but had never considered walking there (it’s the direct opposite direction of Green Lake).
My husband and I started regularly walking up to the P-Patch with our babies, meandering between the numerous plots. Each plot had the unique touches of its gardener, with various plants, flowers, and vegetables filling the gardens. As the months of the global pandemic plodded along, the gardens bloomed and blossomed. By mid-late summer, each garden had a beautiful showcase of flowers and vegetables at peak production.
Our babies were too young to really understand or observe growth cycles and changing seasons. But if you have older kids, the P-Patch can be an excellent classroom for observing growth and change.
Is there a P-Patch or community garden near your home? Have you ever walked there?
Walking by home gardens
As we all know, our beautiful PNW really shows off in the summer months — the green, the sun, the long days. While walking different routes through neighborhoods during the spring and summer months, we observed the diverse efforts that people made to coax life and beauty out of the ground. From the tiniest of potted flowers to the unruliest mess of weeds to the most impressively landscaped garden, life abounded.
As an avid dahlia enthusiast, though not such a successful dahlia grower, I loved seeing all the different dahlias on our walks. There was one house in particular that had an amazing dahlia collection. Walking by their house was like a trip to a mini flower farm. I chatted with the gardener when he was outside one day. It turns out he considers himself an amateur and does nothing but plant the tubers and watch them grow. To my eyes, he was a consummate professional!
What are your neighbors growing? If you see neighbors working in the front yard, say hello and ask them about their growing efforts!
Walking in different neighborhoods
My husband had a colleague who was due with twins a few months into the pandemic. Naturally, we had to pass along some of our baby items to a fellow family with multiples. We packed up the car with the baby items, our hiking packs, and, of course, our babies, and drove to her neighborhood in Queen Anne to drop off the items.
We completed the drop off and then began our second mission — exploring a new neighborhood on foot with the babies! We walked up and down hills (a change from the terrain in our much flatter neighborhood!), and saw some beautiful homes and gardens. We were just a few neighborhoods from our own, but in an environment with all new sights. It was a refreshing change from the routes we had established, and we worked some muscles that we didn’t usually work on our local toddler walks.
Do you take trips to other neighborhoods? How can you incorporate toddler walks or exploration into these trips?
Walking in undiscovered (to you!) green spaces
With Green Lake just blocks away, I never considered walking to or exploring other green spaces in our neighborhood. I didn’t know that just over a mile from our house was another small city park. Licton Springs Park is now a favorite destination of ours: a small patch of green and trees in the middle of a residential neighborhood. We access it easily by stroller, take a loop around the park, and head back home. The babies get out to play when we walk there as a family (with a 1-to-1 ratio of parent to baby). They love running on the grass and paths on these toddler walks.
You may be surprised at the pockets of green spaces that are just blocks away from where you live. Head to Google Maps and check out the green spaces (yes, literally green!) that may be just around the corner.
Do you know of all the green spaces around your home? Have you explored them?
Walking to destinations (instead of driving)
We’d visited a friend’s house by car a few times, and I knew that we could feasibly walk there. We just hadn’t had the motivation to do it. Now that we didn’t have our default plan of walking around Green Lake, we had a good reason to try walking to the friend’s house. We got there faster than I expected, and found the family outside, picking raspberries and flowers. We had a brief, socially distanced visit while checking out the growing garden, and then headed back home. It was a little farther than our usual walk, but now we know how long it takes, and it’s another route to add to our list.
Try walking to places you usually drive to. Does it take as long as you expect? What do you see along the way that you miss when driving?
I love walking — and getting out of the house on walks is essential with little ones! Trying to avoid crowded outside spaces during the pandemic led us to visits to new neighborhoods, new gardens, P-Patches and parks. Although we have started to regularly frequent Green Lake once again, we have enjoyed discovering and exploring new places that we can access by foot.
As we return to a new normal, we will continue to get outside, enjoying old routes and expanding to new routes as our babies grow.