This morning while walking together to school, my daughter launched into a rather involved tale about a game they’ve started playing in her after-school program: *Who am I?*. Apparently, it’s very silly as she explained it. And you don’t like silly? – I countered. “I DO like silly,” she proclaimed, “only this is just too silly.” Six year old logic in full force.
Our morning walks to school are filled with little snippets of brilliant conversations like the one above. It’s the morning walk to school when I hear about the exciting, the upsetting, and the too-silly. It’s not that we don’t speak at home, it’s just that typically she’s too busy playing — and I’m just too busy. The morning walk gives us that perfect opportunity to connect, when we’re both fresh and ready for the day. Typically, my daughter has a lot to share with me. And as we walk, I can give her my focused attention.
Other times we notice the various seasonal changes that occur — whether it’s the neighbour’s new snowman, or summer’s last tiny flowers sticking out through the snow, which she picked and handed to me. The walk to school is an opportunity to connect with the world around us and each other — it’s a tangible experience, and offers many benefits besides, including improved health, better air quality (less driving means reduced emissions), and a safer environment.
So why don’t more families take the opportunity to walk? According to Dr. Catherine O’Brien, who’s been researching sustainable happiness for over 20 years, a lot of it comes down to routine: “Sometimes when we develop a habit, we’re not consciously thinking about the actions we’re taking,” she says.
One Halifax mom wrote about her experiences, celebrating her family’s full season of walking to school this year. She’s still working on getting everyone to do the walk home. As for us, my little person and I notice things on the walk home from school too. Recently, I pointed out a squirrel in the middle of the road to her. “Squirrel, get off the street! A car can come and run you over!” she warned. The little creature scampered off to the side of the road and up a tree. Turning towards me Mikaela’s eyes were full of amazed wonder as she exclaimed: “Mom, she heard me. I can speak to animals!”
Now, that’s the kind of habit that’s hard to break!
What adventures have you had with your kids on the walk to or from school?
We’d love to hear about them!