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Taking daily walks to reconnect with family, nature

My husband and I both have demanding jobs, and my 13-year-old is constantly on the run with after-school activities.

As a result, our chaotic schedules mean we often get home at different times, and most of the time, we do not get to eat dinner together.

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I feel like I get to spend time with my son while he is eating and then later with my husband when he gets home, but we don't all get the time to sit down together and talk about our day or what is going on in our lives.

At first, I tried making dinner later in order to wait for my husband, but this did not fly with my hungry teenager, so I decided that we would try to spend some family time together after my husband ate dinner. This "quality time" quickly turned into TV time, with the guys zoning out to an episode of "Swamp People."

I knew it was time for plan B.

We usually try to get outdoors on the weekends, and maybe one night a week to Soldiers Delight Natural Environment Area or to a local park, but many times it is just my son and me.

With the spring weather upon us, I thought if we went for a family walk each weekday after my husband ate dinner, this would give us a chance — sans electronics — to spend quality time together and get some exercise in, as well.

I will be honest: When I first proposed this idea, there was some hemming and hawing and some mixed feelings about missing "Swamp People." But eventually, my family agreed to give it a shot.

Even though it was my idea, it was hard at first to leave the dirty dishes in the sink, or put off the papers I needed to grade until later in the evening — but I knew those 30 minutes together were important.

It took a few weeks for the walks to be the family bonding time I had imagined in my head. The first couple of walks consisted of my teenager grunting about how he had homework or that he wanted to play his new video game, and my husband constantly checking his email.

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But I found that after a while, the walks became a normal part of our day. They no longer seemed like a chore to do after dinner, but a time to just relax and enjoy the outdoors.

Many of the walks are not even filled with conversation. Sometimes we are just decompressing from our day, and I have come to realize that the silence is good, too.

The walks seemed to benefit more than just our minds; I noticed they made me feel better, too. I was surprised that just 30 minutes of walking at a moderate pace gave me the energy I needed to make the rest of my evening productive.

Before we started taking these walks, after dinner, I would rush to do the dishes and then I would want to sit on the couch. Time to relax on the couch would be ideal, but there are there are always a million things to do, from helping my son with his homework to completing my own work. With this new extra burst of energy post-walk, I seem to be able to get through chores more quickly, and then get more time to relax and decompress before bed. These walks also had a positive effect on my dinner choices. Knowing we were going to exercise after dinner made me want to choose lighter, low-carb options for dinner. It was tough after a burger and macaroni and cheese to get up the energy to walk, because I would feel tired and weighed down. When we have a lean protein and vegetables, combined with a brisk walk, it is amazing how much better I feel.

I am hoping these walks will continue to be a part of our family routine for the next few years, or at least until my son gets too embarrassed to walk with us.

But for the time being, I am going to ignore the dirty dishes, shut off my laptop, and savor these precious moments in the outdoors with my family.

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Kelly Scible is a Reisterstown resident and can be reached via email at kellyscible@gmail.com.

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