What I’ve Learned By Walking to School

Nearly every school day since mid-August we’ve had the same routine: Get up, eat breakfast around 7:00, head upstairs at 7:30 to get dressed and brush teeth, leave the house no later than 7:50 (but 7:45 is better) to walk and arrive at school by 7:55 as the kindergarten lines up to go inside. It’s a routine that works pretty well for us. If we eat earlier and the girls have time to play a bit before getting dressed, it can throw off our entire routine.

IMG_8633Really, anything can throw off our routine. It can quickly go from a well-run schedule to me nagging and asking sarcastically if Bea has ever seen a pair of pants before and if she knows how to put them on. (Model mothering right there…)

On the mornings that unravel, I’m tempted to buckle the girls in the car and drive. Even with the parking lot chaos, it would increase our chances of arriving on time. But more often than not, we still walk. It might mean we miss the second bell and Bea has to go in through the office. But it also means we have some breathing space between the rushed chaos and the start of school. It means we get some fresh air, a short walk, and time to hold hands and talk about the day.

I have to be intentional about putting aside my frustration on those walks. If I remained upset, they would do no good for a reset. I breathe, too, and remember that starting school excited and calm is much better than starting it with a grumpy attitude. So, I leave my last lecture at the door and as soon as we step onto the sidewalk, we talk about the blossoming trees, which specials Bea will have, and who she’d like to play with at recess. We talk about books and activities and notice our neighborhood.

By the time we reach school, even if we do have to go through the front doors rather than the kindergarten entrance, we are calmer, happier, and ready to give hugs and kisses. Elle and I wave to Bea, play on the slides for a few minutes and walk back home, ready to face the day.

This practice was especially important during those cold winter walks when our five minutes to school was a chance to see the sunlight and get outside. Now that it’s spring, it makes sense and this routine has taken on new life.

It’s reminded me that, even though it may make us late, building in space for pause and recalibration is so important. I know this is nothing new – that pause and rest and breathing all help me make better choices. They give space and perspective – both physical and mental. And yet this is something I forget over and over again.

I love May for many reasons but a big one is that it feels like a walk to school. After tax season and winter and going into head-down, hibernation mode, we’re coming up for air. We have a chance to recalibrate before summer when our schedule changes again. We are still in the school year routine but with all the hope and promise of dinners eaten outdoors and playtime extended after homework is finished.

This is the last week of Eastertide, this season of celebration. We are entering into Ordinary Time soon, which I love as much as any feast day. This year, I’m giving space between these seasons. I’m remembering to celebrate, yes. But I’m also remembering to look forward to a season of rest and recentering.

What ordinary habits have taught you extraordinary lessons? How do you pause and breathe during the changing seasons?

28 thoughts on “What I’ve Learned By Walking to School

  1. As a retired 74 year old teacher(by college graduation) I do not experience this. I really don’t know of a change in routine between seasons. But I do remember walking to school – elementary school. I loved it and still even look back on it with joy. What a joyful season of life you are in – impressing your children’s minds. I would love to go back through that again. I have a 6 y/o grandchild that I get to do this with – a little.

  2. This…”It’s reminded me that, even though it may make us late, building in space for pause and recalibration is so important.” Yes, Annie! Something we all need to remember!

  3. Reading many of your posts is a bit of reset time for me; a pause and settling of my breath. We never lived close enough for our kids to walk to school so ours was in the routine of riding. Still, the opportunity to talk about the day was there and for me to learn which child shared more or the moods they were in that day. It was a good time to be isolated from other distractions. Isn’t that what we need more of today?

    1. Sometimes I wish we drove because friends tell me of the wonderful conversations in the car. I think intentionally making space is the point, right? Letting our kids recognize this transition as part of our routine…

  4. The ordinary habit of washing dishes helps reset me and give me calm. I don’t use the dishwasher. I like to wash the dishes by hand. During that time, my mind pauses to listen to the water flowing and to feel the clean of the dishes. I also share conversation with God during those dishwashing moments. 🙂

    1. I love washing dishes, too! (I use the dishwasher, though!) After dinner, Frank takes the girls and I clean up. There’s something about that time to myself…

  5. The story made me think about the times I walked to school, they were special times. We all need to slow down and enjoy the walk more.

  6. After a weekend of having all of my children in town and sleeping over, while I miss them, it’s nice to get the house back in order. However, I loved the space in between an ordered house and an ordered house. I loved the time all my kids (grown now) were here. Late nights of talking and playing games, early morning coffee time, playing with the grandbaby, cooking and eating yummy food together. I have to admit, the mess in the house, air mattresses everywhere, was a treasure. I woke up today and was ready to clean. I decided to leave the air mattress out, and simply appreciate the time I had with my kids. 🙂 I’ll get to the cleaning tomorrow! 🙂

    1. I love that you kept the air mattresses up! A good reminder of that space. Even though this season is amazing, I’m looking forward to those times when the girls are older and we can interact as adults. Sounds so cool!

  7. I love your resolve to the commitment you made. Great lessons for your kids. And that’s from one who probably would have caved and revved up the engine on those cold days. God bless!

  8. I’ve learned to appreciate the busy times, because then when the ordinary moments come and I can breathe, I appreciate them so much more!

  9. I so enjoyed your post about walking to school. My son walks his kids to school each day and he has voiced the same opinions as yours.

  10. I love this! I am ALWAYS rushed no matter how well planned my evenings are for the following day. I love the time with my children where we have nothing else to do but focus on each other. I try my best to take out 30 minutes to 1 hour each evening just to play (try being the key word, but I am getting better at it). I read to them or build tracks or play ring around the rosey or dance to Bible songs. I have found that the more often this happens, the better my mood afterwards even if I have a million other items on my to-do list.

    1. Haha! I was never rushed – until having kids!! Now we’re always running around. 😉 I love the idea of putting aside everything at the end of the day. I need to be better about this in that hour between homework and dinner, especially. Thank you!

  11. Hi Annie!

    Those are two cute daughters you have there 🙂 Walking is medicine for the soul. This was a good reminder to remember the free pleasures of life.

    God bless!
    Edna Davidsen

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