Life moves fast. You’ve welcomed this new, tiny little bundle of love into your life. You’re tired and red-eyed but managed to get a few loads of laundry done, a couple of dinners cooked, and answered a few emails. Then, suddenly, your kid is turning nine. How does that happen?
The busyness of life can put a strain on your relationship with your kids. Spending quality time together can be challenging. And, let’s be honest, they aren’t always a bundle of joy.
Are you noticing that more of your evenings and weekends are spent shuttling your kids and yelling at them to clean their room or put down their phones than actually hanging out with them? You’re not alone! Maybe it’s time to shake things up a bit. Our suggestion – take a trip out to the shed and dust off your bikes.
At first glance, it may seem like riding bikes together is a simplistic solution to strained family relationships. But, look deeper. Engaging in activities with our loved ones strengthens emotional bonds that are vital for children’s development. Even teenagers! Riding bikes together can offer a marked improvement in family relationships and hits SO MANY birds with one stone. Trip planning, exploring, challenges, laughing, new experiences, exercise, and fresh air are but a few of the emotional, physical, and spiritual benefits of bike riding. It’s so much more than just a bike ride.
One thing is pretty much a given. Your kids will fight you at first. If not, can we have your kids? Push through! It won’t take long before they are trying to hide their smiles and even start looking forward to rolling together. You don’t have to tell them you’re healing relationships and strengthening emotional bonds. Some things are better left unsaid. Here are nine ways to use bikes to bond with your family.
Get to Know Your Community
Traveling by bike offers a unique opportunity to see your local community with a fresh perspective. It is a perfect occasion for children to learn to navigate the town. Make it a point to indicate landmarks, buildings, and crosswalks. This will build confidence when it comes time to commute by themselves, and they’ll be less likely to get lost. On your bike, you’ll end up seeing things you never noticed when driving through your neighborhood. Has this road always had so many potholes?
Practice Setting Goals
Whether it’s aiming for a certain mileage or attempting a challenging obstacle, setting goals can help create focus and encourage your kids to keep going. And, while you’re at it, set a goal for yourself too and let your kids hold you accountable. What an awesome experience to encourage each other to attempt and even achieve your goals, big or small, together. It’s the stuff movies are made of, only it’s your real life!
Choose a Destination
When it comes to getting out for a ride, kids tend to do better when they have a specific goal in mind. Choose a destination and include other non-riding activities. Choose a park, an ice cream shop, a historical site, or even a friend’s house as a destination. To keep kids engaged, include walking around to look at things, hiking to overlooks, or collecting treasures along the way. Even though sometimes it can complicate the process, get your kids involved with the planning. They can help with bike checks, reading maps, keeping track of stats on a bike computer, or packing necessary treats. When that process starts to get tedious and annoying (because – kids), repeat to yourself – family bonding is the goal, family bonding is the goal…
Practice Tricks in the Backyard
Every outing doesn’t need to be a major excursion. Bonding by bike can be as simple as going into the backyard to practice skills or tricks for a bit. See how long you can balance on a bike without putting your feet down. Practice wheelies, then laugh about how hard they actually are. Get a ramp or just put down a flat board and practice riding over. Maybe you try bunny hops or coming to a fast stop. Don’t take it too seriously. Laugh. All the while, both you and the kiddos are building skills that will help build confidence and ensure a lifelong love of riding bikes.
Going on one of those famous family road trips? Take your bikes along! We won’t pretend that getting the bikes loaded on a rack and gathering the extra helmets and tools in addition to everything else isn’t a pain in the butt. But you’ll thank us later. It’s totally worth it. Use rest stops as a chance to get on your bikes, stretch the legs, and wear out the kids so they will hopefully stop fighting. There are a lot of towns that are focusing on creating family-friendly bike trails and paths. Look them up and stop on your way through. And, if you’re feeling adventurous, let the kids take pictures and document the cool bike trails. They might have an interesting perspective. But, maybe get a cheap, durable digital camera. No one wants the trip highlight to be when dad lost it over a broken iPhone.
Explore Local Offerings
Have you ever made good use of what your local community has to offer? Utilize the bike path. Check to see if there are skate parks or pump tracks in your town. These are great places to explore on a bike without having to travel far. Consider it your tax dollar payout in family bonding.
Go For a Jog
Sometimes the best way to relieve stress and clear your head is some good, vigorous exercise. And, let’s face it, jogger strollers make running so much harder. With a Strider Bike, even the smallest of toddlers can scoot along at a decent clip. You can work out a little tension, and your little one can work off some energy. Now, you can use naptime to read a good book (isn’t our optimism adorable). You will be spending time together (other than cleaning their messes) and instilling a love for bikes early. It’s a win, win, win, win.
Head to the Sled Hill
Not every day is sunny, blues skies, and singing birds. Snow comes too, and when it does, we’ve got you covered. Attach the Snow Skis Set to the tires of a Strider Bike. BAM! Snow bike. Head to your local sledding hill and let your kiddos show off their biking skills. For you and your older children, check out bikes with fat tires specifically made for riding in the snow. Snow biking is becoming increasingly popular, and some towns are even grooming trails. Family bonding doesn’t have to hibernate during the winter months.
Participate in Events
When your family loves riding together, it’s hard to shut up about it. Going to bike races and events is the best way to meet other families who share your passion. With Strider Bikes, you become part of a close-knit club. Furthermore, you get access to all the amazing Strider events happening around the globe! The merriest way to bond, not just with your family, but with other families who are as committed to life on two wheels and togetherness as you are. As your toddlers become young adults, you can find races to enter and ride together. We’re not crying; you’re crying!
If riding a bike was just that, we wouldn’t have such a passion for getting more kids and families on bikes. We know first hand how transformative those two wheels can be for individual growth and strong family connection. Science calls it family cohesion. We call it a darn good time!