In my ideal world image of parenting my children were always going to be walked to and from school.
We live within an easy walking distance of our local public school and I wanted to foster an attitude within my kids that walking was what you did when you were close enough. I wanted walking to be something that was not questioned, but just a basic part of life.
I walked to and from school as a child, usually just with my older brothers, but have fond memories of the special times when mum would bring the dogs down to meet us and I’d have two waggling tails waiting to greet me.
I am fortunate enough to have a flexible workplace that allows me to work shorter days and thus be able to drop off and pick up my kids at normal school/preschool hours. I have just enough time each day to walk my eldest son to school then run my youngest son to preschool in the car (it isn’t walking distance!) and the reverse in the afternoon – picking up the youngest in the car, driving home, then walking up to school.
Of course the double drop off sucks big time. I’ve tried to reinforce that we’re only driving to preschool because it is too far to walk (or bus!) to still foster a healthy attitude. At least the school side of it seemed to be covered for walking. Everything seemed to be in place.
But as with so many things in parenting – it is the kids who throw all the curve balls in.
At the beginning of the year my youngest was so tired after a day at preschool that he’d flop onto the ground and refuse to walk. When I picked him up it resulted in a tantrum. He was a kicking, screaming, writhing mess, which I physically had to carry to try and get to school in time for the bell – a 20kg moving ball of emotions.
After a few weeks of this behavior I was so worn out that I decided to give up on the walking and drove straight to school instead of home first. Then my oldest had the tantrum – he never wanted to go home from school in the car again.
Happily I rediscovered our old stroller in term 2. The youngest was able to chill out after preschool and be walked up to school. The oldest got to walk home. It all worked so nicely… for two terms.
This term our oldest has decided that at 3 years old his younger brother is too old for the stroller and that it is terribly embarrassing for mum to have a stroller with a 3 year old in it on school grounds. He who ‘never wanted to go home in a car again’ now thinks that the car is a far less embarrassing option.
To save myself from the tantrums this term I have once again been driving to school. And now the youngest is having the tantrums as he wants to walk home!
The blissful parent who walks her children to and from school, holding their hands and teaching them the environmentally responsible way to travel remains a distant vision. And as for the dog – the no dogs on school grounds policy means that the dog walking will have to wait till my shy kindergartener feels he has the confidence to meet me at the school gate and not the COLA.
Maybe the vision might realise itself around 2012!
How did you get to and from school as a kid?
If you have kids how do you get them to and from school/care?
How can we foster walking and public transport use to be things that our kids take for granted?
Image taken from http://www.flickr.com/photos/adriennejohnson/5057024035/sizes/l/in/photostream/with thanks to Adrienne Johnson.