One of the most valuable times of day for me is the walk to and from school. Note that I said ‘valuable’ time and not ‘favourite’ time.
Besides the health benefits of these little doses of exercise, being outside also serves to expend pent-up energy the kids have in the morning and alternately, wake me up more fully. If it’s a ranting-mamma morning, outside allows me vast resources of air to breathe in, dissipating the frustrations along the way. If it’s a happy, smooth morning, our walk is filled with songs and chatter and appreciation for the day.
Some days we skip in the sun or puddle jump in the rain. Others we are too hot or grumble at more rain. But there is value in that too.
Coming home from school allows me to gauge the mood. Some days they are exhausted after a full day of school so it is a grumpy, silent walk home. Other days I am filled with stories and anecdotes from their day. Some days they run far ahead with their friends and some days they cling on tight to my hand.
Some days we skip. And some days we stomp.
At home or in the car, there are distractions. Chores to do, meals to prepare, phones to check, roads to watch. But out here, for 10 minutes, there is nothing but time to watch, no, see my girls. Space to be with them.
If it’s a good day, Kaya wants to hold my hand and skip or race or jump rocks while she tells me about friends and school. If it’s a bad day, she walks quietly beside me lost in her own thoughts. Both offer me opportunity to witness my girls personality developing.
For Brennyn, it is quite opposite. A good day entails a snails pace as she inspects every seed, bug, crack and leaf along the way. She daydreams and talks to herself about imagined lands happily yelling for me only when she wants to point out something particularly ‘super’! On a bad day, she sulks. She grabs on tight to my hand and will not let go as she mumbles on and on about booboos and getting bonked and the other great hardships of her life.
During that time, as I see and be with them, there is space to feel what will best fill out our day. Maybe the mood calls for snacks and cuddles with books, or maybe it’s mud pies outside. Knowing where they’re at, allows me to have a better sense of what will have the rest of the day flow smoothly. Because if I’ve planned a bike ride when they are exhausted, well, it’s going to end in disaster. Or if I’ve planned a quiet afternoon when they are skipping and singing on the way home, I am missing out on an inspired afternoon of giggles and creativity.
Such a valuable time, that 10 minutes walking to and from school, that paves the way to create our favourite times, whether that’s snuggling or biking or drawing or dancing.