A Socially Distant Walk: The Reprieve My Family Needed

As I write this, we are in the thick of social distancing from the COVID-19 pandemic. In our family, our daily life looks something like this: My husband works from home and I homeschool my oldest two. We play, we make messes. And repeat. We rarely leave the house. When we do leave it is only one of us — usually on Saturday morning for our weekly grocery run.

We are taking social distancing seriously but over time, that can wear on anyone. 

One Sunday, just a few weeks ago, it was a beautiful day. It was in the 70s. It was a great day to be outside. We were finishing lunch and about ready to put our two-year-old down for a nap. One of my kids was grumbling about something. I said, “you know what? We are going to go for a family hike after nap. We are going to leave our house and go on a socially distant walk.”

We had seen pictures of a trail not far from us that was not overly busy. We decided to try that one. At this point, my kids had not left our neighborhood in close to seven weeks. We had not left our neighborhood as a family since the Sunday before spring break.

It had been a long time. We were overdue for an outing. 

enjoying a socially distant walk

We packed up the jogging stroller and a bike and took off on our little adventure. What we found that day was some much needed togetherness outside — and outside – of our home.

We also found joy in little things.

My son had fun riding his bike on paths that weren’t busy. My daughters had fun exploring nature — picking and attempting to keep every dandelion and flower they could find along the paths we walked. And, we just enjoyed being together in fresh air and nature.

For just a little bit, all felt right in the world again.

As we loaded up the car, ready to head home, our son said, “that was really fun! We should do that again!” What I did not share was that earlier he was the one that really did not want to go. He ended up being the one that appreciated our outing the most. After that day we decided to make this a weekly Sunday occurrence, weather permitting. 

exploring during a socially distant walk

What are you and your family doing for self-care?

Before this outing, I did not realize how much we all needed it. I mean, there is no shortage of family time and togetherness since we are all under the same roof 24/7. There was just something about leaving our home together to get some exercise and to be outside together that was refreshing for our souls.

This has also been good for our mental health. Our kids have handled this new normal pretty well. That being said, they, like all of us, miss our life before COVID-19. There are things they miss and there are emotions they do not know how to deal with and express.

We can talk as much as we want, but sometimes we just need a break from our normal and need a change in scenery to clear our minds. That is true for my husband, me —  and I am fairly confident — our kids, too. 

A family enjoying a socially distant walk

The next time you are feeling you need a little escape but want to remain socially distant, consider going on a walk with your family.

It is amazing what a little fresh air, warm weather, and sunshine can do for our mental health. Be well and stay safe! Check out this map of local trails in Johnson County and plan your next socially distant hike.


Brenda is an Iowa native who has lived in the Iowa City area since 2005. She is married to her love, Robert, since 2012. Brenda is an elementary teacher by trade. She spent almost nine years as a stay at home parent but is now back in the classroom spending time with her school kids and being a mom to her own kids. She is the mom of three; Gabe (April, 2013) Maggie (April, 2015), and Julianna (September, 2017). Brenda enjoys being active by running and working out. She also enjoys trying new recipes, volunteering, playing board and card games, and being involved in church. Brenda is an elementary teacher and loves cheering on the Cubs, UNI Panthers, and the Iowa Hawkeyes. It is a busy but beautiful life!


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