Recently my 3 oldest kids (ages, 10, 12, 13) have started asking about taking bike rides and jogs by themselves. I love that they are taking advantage of these last days of summer by spending every waking minute outside, but it does make me worry that something could happen to them while they are out there in the big bad world all alone… I think most moms and dads would agree it’s a constant struggle between giving our kids some freedom and keeping them latched to our wrists (and hearts) permanently….
Who better to ask than Trainer Becca, who works as both a personal trainer AND a soccer coach to several teen girl soccer teams. I asked her for some solid advice for “letting my kids go”. I think her tips offer a lifetime of wisdom, and definitely the type of practical advice I want to have drilled in them before they go off to college.. (where, if I remember correctly, I spent many, unsafe exercise trips on my own)
Here were the bullet points she shared with me and a couple teen girls (Riley + Friend) as to HOW to be safe while exercising outdoors:
1.– Partners!!! I am sure you have heard this as a child and it stays the same for your kids. Safety in numbers. Make sure your child is with someone whether it’s a friend or another adult that you and your teen can trust. Remind them to always stick together and not to leave anyone behind.
2- Cell phone! It is very easy these days to keep in touch. Make sure that your teen has a cell phone if they plan to venture out without you and that it has a fully charged battery. We are huge fans of Mophie Battery Packs. They provide enough charge for 3 phones and have saved me at times where I really needed that extra juice to make a call. Also, There are apps that can be downloaded on the cellphone where you can track where they are with GPS. Not a bad idea to have especially if you are in territories that might be unfamiliar or where there might be a bad connection for cellular service.
3- Check point! Arrange a time and or place to talk or meet. Whether it’s every two hours or a specific time they need to be home, be clear on when you will touch base with each other. Without getting too morbid, this one tip alone could be the difference between life and death. Related to this, make sure your runner has a watch that they like wearing and feels comfortable, otherwise they will not wear it. Check out NIXON for some cool choices.
4- A Bag of tricks helps everyone feel in control! A few signature objects can go a long way and save the day. In a bag that can be easily carried, throw things like a water bottle, sunscreen, a hat, bug spray, a snack, reflective gear .. They can either run with the sack or use all needed items before they leave for their run / hike / bike…
5- Carry an ID: my kids aren’t driving yet so they don’t have an official license to carry around. Instead, I have found these super cool, easy- -to- attach ID bands from Road ID and from 1BandID.com . Or, make your own, laminated, small ID card. The most important information to include is:
2nd Phone #:
6- Headphones: this is an important one. If headphones are worn at too high a volume, it is impossible to hear the cars coming behind you. Really encourage your kids to wear their head phones at a level that allows them to hear cars and even other runners coming up behind them.
7- Don’t wear noticeable jewelry: there is no reason to attract extra attention. You are out for a run, not a fashion show. Sadly, there are situation where girls have been robbed while exercising.
8- Ignore Verbal harrasment: it NEVER makes sense to engage. Ignore, ignore, ignore.
Exercising safely outdoors offers a lifetime of inspiring fitness. At this point, I’d say I feel cautiously optimistic that my 13 year old could stick to these guidelines and do OK for an hour in our small summer beach town. It won’t be hard for her to find a partner (all the kids here love to exercise outside) but it will be hard for her to stick to the agreed upon time frame… I can already hear the excuses of who they ran into and how they misjudged the mileage… or even more likely they decided to catch a few waves to cool off from their adventure…
Rebecca + Michelle