Sometimes it’s hard to feel present. Between school pick-up and drop-off, making meals, after school activities, grocery shopping, and work who has the time or energy to just be?! But those grounding moments help revive us so that we can continue on our normal life without experiencing burnout – and kids need it too! Why not try taking a 5 Senses Walk with the whole family? It doesn’t need to be miles upon miles in a secluded wood – a jaunt around your neighborhood will do just fine. Leave (most of) the phones at home, and get outside!
See: Look around you. Observe your house from the outside, and imagine a stranger seeing it for the first time. What is beautiful? Is there something you had forgotten about that made you want this house in particular? As you walk, notice the flora and fauna around you. Savor the bright colors of the flowers and how fluffy a squirrel’s tail is. You may see plants or birds your child is curious about, but you can’t name – take a photo to look up when you get home. Notice if your neighbors still have decorations up or a funny sign in the window. How often do you get to enjoy your neighbors’ design aesthetics at a leisurely pace? Take in all the beauty of the natural world and your neighborhood!
Smell: Take big deep breaths through your nose and see what scents come to you. They might be heavenly or make your nose wrinkle in disgust. Notice them all! Invite your child to stop and sniff flowers – curiously, some of the most beautiful have no scent at all. Find out what each person can smell, as you’ll all experience things at different times, and notice if you can separate the smells as you go.
Taste: This one can be tricky, as you might not want to risk tasting something on the ground. But if you’re by salt water, doesn’t that usually show up on your tongue? You can also pack a snack or some sort of candy to enjoy as you walk, especially something with a vivid taste or texture. Maybe make it a surprise and give each person something different, then have them describe what they’re tasting to try to get everyone to guess what it is.
Hear: Invite everyone to describe what they hear. Sometimes closing your eyes can help, because sight is a really overpowering sense. Do you hear water burbling? Is there a bird on a power line above you? Can you hear the rustle of a lizard or the chatter of a squirrel? Bird calls are especially fun to try to identify, and if you go out at dusk, you might even hear the “hoo HOO” of an owl!
Touch: When was the last time you touched a plant on purpose? Not brushing it as you carried groceries inside or tossed it because you forgot to water it. Plants have such interesting and varying textures, and we so rarely get right in there with them. Encourage your kids to get curious! Discuss with them how some plants are pointy, some are soft, some are even poisonous (make sure to know what those look like so you don’t touch them). Flower petals can feel softer than silk, and tree bark can feel beautifully bumpy.
Feel: A bonus sense! At the end of your walk, touch base with everyone – how are you feeling in your hearts and minds now? Was it a helpful exercise? What did you learn? Is this something you could incorporate weekly to benefit everyone’s mental health?
It is surprising how much using all of your senses with intention can heighten an experience! Where would you like to take a 5 Senses Walk? Do you think your whole family would enjoy it, or would they struggle with certain aspects of it? Share your thoughts with us, and tell us what you discovered on your walk!
Originally featured on Kivity.com 1/18/22