It was a new school year, and my eldest daughter had just started at a brand new nursery school. That all important year before school, and a full five morning a week schedule. It marked the proper transition from our life as we knew it (working part time, private day care provider) to stay at home Mum rocking the school run.
The pre-school we were lucky enough to get a place in wasn’t on my road, or even round the corner, so one of the down-sides was that we would have to navigate the school run traffic each morning. It just so happened that I wasn’t planning to be made redundant, so putting Tigs’ name down on the very popular local nurseries hadn’t crossed my mind.
Nonetheless, we got into our new routine, and blessed with the gift of eternal punctuality, we missed the traffic each morning, nabbed an ace parking spot and were pretty much always first in the door.
It occurred to me that very few other parents drove – because they probably all live on this street, I convinced myself. Not like us, we couldn’t possibly walk it’s way too far. And we’re far too busy – getting home to blog through naptime and do some laundry. Perhaps get to a playdate a full hour before anyone else, and other such important things. I couldn’t possibly sacrifice a nap on the move – the loss of efficiency was just too unimaginable.
There were a couple of conversations that year which stopped me in my (tyre) tracks.
Firstly, the Grandmother who kindly and softly told me I needed to slow down, as I explained to her I drove because I had far too much to do to walk to school. It kind of sat uncomfortably at that point.
The icing on the cake was when I got friendly with another family, whose Nanny walked pushing a double buggy every day from a house just opposite ours. “That’s amazing!” I exclaimed. “How long does it take?”…
“About ten minutes”.
This was the turning point. That and the timely arrival of some warmer weather that Spring. We made a decision that day that we would walk – one day a week, and set a new precedent. It was no way as far as my institutionalised driver head had convinced itself that it was.
And so it was, on Wednesdays, we walked. I would take the Mouse to a playgroup on route to school, which finished in perfect timing to walk on and collect Tigs morning session with her scooter.
Yes naptime was thrown under a bus, but it felt surprisingly good to feel the sun on my face and watch the world go by. The route home took us through a beautiful park and we’d sometimes stop and have a picnic lunch there. The school run that day became an experience, a happy memory, not just a process to rush through.
When Tigs tired of her scooter and complained her little legs were tired, we’d collect elastic bands dropped by the postman and to this day I can’t walk (or run) past one without wanting to pick it up for my elastic band ball apprentice.
Sometimes we’d call into the bakery as a reward for our efforts, and we’d enjoy a well deserved cake or sausage roll in the garden, where we would relax for the remainder of the day -satisfied we’d done enough activity to collapse in front of a movie by tea time.
As Tigs waved goodbye to that nursery and said hello to a brand new big school , we kept with the tradition. No longer Wednesdays we walk, but Fridays on foot. It’s quite a trek after a long day at school, but with some micro-scooter power, and new landmarks on the way, it remains to be a highlight of our week.
The idea of dragging two kids on a journey that you could far easier drive might seem like a total headache, but with the right mindset, it can actually be a really magical way to spend quality time together. To talk, to play, to see and to listen. Now, we love to stop and admire the Wedding dress shop, the Florists, and the bric a brac shop on the way home at the end of the week. I just know, that like those spring days walking home from nursery, one day these will be the golden summers of our past. Far more than the horror memories of crying kids getting in the back of the hot car.
In the long run, I’d like to up the number of days we walk home with a goal to be doing it every day, one day. It’s not easy with a teeny tiny two year old who isn’t keen on the pushchair, but I’m so pleased we’ve remained committed to at least one day a week. Not only is it a greener option, but it’s good to know that we can do it; and for the kids to know they can do it. We aren’t reliant on the car, and we can even relax and take our time, ditching the usual rushing around we so often fall into.
And, if we can do it, maybe you could too.
Such a beautiful evening, we attempted to walk home from school… Huge success, although I think they were too happy to be reunited to notice… #HappyWeekend #friyay #saturdaysiblings #happylittlebuttons #pinklinker #fiercelittleones #coolmumclub #rememberingthesedays #luckythings #cameramama #pixelkids #sisters #instakids #mbloggers
“What is this life if full of care
We have no time to stand and stare?
No time to stand beneath the boughs
And stare as long as sheep, or cows.
No time to see, when woods we pass,
Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass.
No time to see, in broad daylight,
Streams full of stars, like skies at night.
No time to turn at Beauty’s glance,
And watch her feet, how they can dance.
No time to wait till her mouth can
Enrich that smile her eyes began.
A poor life this, if full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.”
William Henry Davies 1871 – 1940