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'Walking gives me quality time with my little girl'

As part of this year's World Car Free Day, Living Streets' Charlotte McHugh tells us about fitting walking into her daily routine.

I’ve always walked a lot and that hasn’t changed too much since becoming a parent.

Josie, my little girl, is almost two and we still try not to use the car for shorter journeys. Walking with little legs can take a bit longer so sometimes we’ll go part of the way by foot, and the journey is very much part of our day’s activities. There’s plenty to keep us entertained along the way: looking for cats, snails (a good reason to go out after it’s been raining), and we’ve been enjoying sniffing the lavender and getting to know the neighbours and their dogs.

We’re lucky with where we live because lots of things are within a 20-minute walk. We often go to the local park, playgroups or to the shops and I take a sling to carry Josie when she’s had enough! On days when we need to go further afield, or more quickly, we use the pram or sling and the tram, which Josie loves. 

I pick Josie up from childcare on my bicycle with a child seat on the back – we try to take a quieter route home along the back streets. We do use the car for longer journeys but, for me, it’s much nicer to be able to chat to Josie and look at things along the way, rather than concentrating on traffic (whilst enduring children’s nursery rhymes on repeat!). 

For me, it’s important to get outside and be active – it keeps us both fit and healthy and it’s good for our wellbeing too. It’s time out of the house without distractions, like TV or housework. It’s quality time together. It’s a nice way to fit some physical activity into the day and when Josie’s not at nursery we fit that around what she needs. If I’m working, we’ll walk to the shops in the afternoon. Walking alone – when I get the chance – gives me a bit of space and quiet and time to think. 


Of course, there are things that make walking with a toddler more difficult. Since becoming a mum, I’ve really noticed pavement parking and how bad it can be. Wheelie bins are also a huge bugbear of mine!

But walking, even for just 20 minutes a day, is so good for both Josie and me and we feel the difference if we stay indoors all day. I’d encourage more people – and parents – to give it a try! You might need to plan ahead (have a look at the weather and plan your route – and think about how long your walk will take you) but it’s worth it. At work you could try walking meetings or simply fitting in a stroll before or after work or during your lunch break. 

Give it a go – it might be a lot easier than you think.