Making time to stay active
From long walks through the neighborhood to spontaneous dance parties, Project Director Kevin Durnbaugh talks about all the ways he and his family have stayed safe and active throughout 2020.
So how do you and your family get out and make time to be outside and exercise?
My wife, Tarah, and I have two kids-Ivy who is 4 and Linus who is is 20 months. So, we like to just go for walks in the neighborhood. They’re both now fully capable of walking. We’ll walk out in the neighborhood and just make sure we get out for, you know, a few times a week. Now that the weather is getting a little colder it involves some bundling up.
Where do you like to walk?
We live in Andersonville. There’s a little main stretch of shops, bars and little museums and all kinds of cool stuff on Clark Street. We walk down that whole stretch to the north end. There’s a flower garden that we used to visit this summer. We would go all the way up there and then take different paths back home. Sometimes we’d walk and explore parts of the neighborhood we hadn’t been to or we’d walk back east and go down Broadway.
We are looking for what will be quick and my wife and I try to get them to not stop at all the playgrounds that are closed.
How often are you able to all go on walks together?
Early on we tried to do, like, two quick walks a day, but it’s admittedly a lot of effort to get the kids in and out of the house on time. So now we keep it to a couple of times a week. That’s one way where we get out and exercise to stay active. On the weekends we’ll sometimes pick a park to go to and just find a space adequately socially distanced and everyone has masks on and just let the kids run around until they tire themselves out to help contribute to nap time, because that’s another way that I exercise: by sitting on the couch while they are sleeping.
Do you have any places that you’re planning on going now that it’s getting a little chilly?
There are some really nice forest preserves in the area. So out west, there’s LaBagh Woods or the lakefront. We like to go out there and look at like the trees changing.
And then once there the first big snow, we live right by a park, Chase Park, which has a big open field that they just completely redid. So, when it snows, we’ll probably take at least one trip down there to build a snowman because my kids are obsessed with Frozen and they need to learn the hard work that goes into building a snowman. That it’s not all just singing.
Do you feel your kids understand the safety precautions put in place when you’re all out together?
They’re both at different stages of their development. My daughter, Ivy, is acutely aware of what’s going on but not necessarily the overall impact. And my son, Linus, is at a stage where kids are nervous with strangers anyways. So, they both really like getting out to see things that aren’t inside.
Things can start to get crowded in our neighborhood. When the weather’s nice and if it’s crowded, we’ll just take a different path that usually keeps them calm.
But I think overall they’re feeling better about it. And, you know, we talk about the pandemic with them at an age-appropriate level. So, it’s really cute as Linus is under two. Both the CDC and the American Academy of Pediatrics say that a mask is not required for him. They’re more concerned about breathing issues, but he likes the ritual of it. He really wants a mask because we have a mask. So, he’ll ask for a mask and put it on to varying degrees of success. But it’s just really cute. They have these tiny, little Disney-themed masks and everyone bought them all at once and then people had way too many when they realized their kids wouldn’t wear them. So, we have been gifted like 10 or 12 different little Mickey Mouse masks that are cute.
How have your kids been interacting with other kids their age?
We live in a six-unit building. A lot of our neighbors have kids the same age. So, near the start of lockdown, when we were making decisions about education and childcare, we all got together and discussed our levels of comfort with the quarantining and the precautions that we were taking within our own bubble. Who were we seeing? What sort of procedures were we following? And all of us were at sort of the same level of risk and comfort. So, we started a learning pod in our building. For three of the kids who are 4, we have a preschool teacher who comes and does a full day of school with them every day. We also have a nanny share for the younger kids.
That has been really helpful in resetting their comfort with people now. They have friends; they have safe spaces together without masks. And it’s really cute.
Have you been able to do more walks and physical things with your family since lockdown?
We do an OK job and my wife, Tarah, does a better job of being like, “Let’s go out and take a walk.” So, I think we’ve kept it pretty constant.
How do you make sure while you’re out with your kids that you’re being safe while you’re in the outside world?
I mean, we keep our kids safe. I guess it’s the same sense of awareness you develop as a parent, but just keeping an eye on your surroundings, making sure they understand which things are really serious, like, don’t put your hands on stuff and then put them in your mouth. Don’t take your mask off. Kids don’t have the best inherent sense of personal space. So, when we’re in the neighborhood, if there are a lot of people around, it’s a lot of handholding, literally, and just keeping an eye on them. And also, Ivy, my daughter, is older and is a good role model for Linus. She understands actually; she is by nature a stringent rule follower.
When we were going out early on before people were aware of the importance of masks, we would all wear them, and she would say, “That person didn’t have a mask, don’t they know that people are sick?” And when she sees a lot of people gathered to be like, “People should be staying apart, shouldn’t they?” So, she helps us now follow the rules and keep an eye on how close we are to other people.
Do you find walks outside with your family break up your day and have some benefits to your routine?
Walks are really good, but to be honest, the other clutch move is spontaneous dance parties. Tarah has taught dance for a long time at a little dance studio in Skokie called Kaleidoscope Dance Center. When the pandemic started, they started doing nightly dance parties on Facebook. They’d find different theme dances for about 15 minutes to watch. We would sync it up to the TV and dance our brains out. It became a fun way for us to spend time as a family. Linus is a very good dancer. He is naturally gifted in ways that I was not. If we ever just need to get some energy going or start to feel better, clear up some sleepiness or some grumpiness from any of us, we’ll throw on some solid music and dance it out.
Do you have any music suggestions for spontaneous dance parties?
“Happy” by C2C. That’s really good. We like “Lift Yourself” by Kanye West because they say poop at the end, which is a solid payoff for a four-year-old dance party. I like ”Another Day of Sun” from the opening of the La La Land soundtrack because Tarah and I can really put our professional dance experience to work. Man, just anything, clean versions of Missy Elliott, we try to steer away from “Frozen”, but it makes it into the rotation, had a brief stint with “Frozen” techno remixes, which was both charming and depressing. And then if you ask Linus, which we are forced to, ”The Wheels on the Bus” by Bert and Ernie. Surprisingly, a good jam is “Popcorn” by the Muppets. You may have never heard it, but once you have, you can’t forget it. It slaps.
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