The walk home from school always improves our days

by

Walk home from school

My kids walk home from school each day, plodding a well-worn path out the back of the school, down a track past the scout hall, across a local oval and playground and down our long, winding street by the bush. It’s about a 15-20 minute walk, depending on enthusiasm.

Max, my eldest, begged me to let him walk home from school by himself at the ripe old age of nine. This was in contrast to how he was at the gates of school each morning, where he was like a skittish horse, baulking at the idea of leaving the nest for the day.

So I had to let him walk home from school, of course.

An anxious kid who isn’t anxious about things other kids are anxious about gets to do the things. That’s just the way it is.

Mobile phone to go or no?

When Max first started walking by himself, I kitted him out with a mobile phone, which he promptly forgot 4 days out of 5. Left it at home, left it at school, left it anywhere but in his bag, ready to make the emergency phone call to his mother when the men in the white van offered him the lollies. After a while, he stopped taking it altogether. 

By then, I was comforted by the fact that there was a procession of kids tracking the same route he was on. He never wanted for company. Our street seemed suddenly full of kids treading the path that generations of kids have worn down before them. 

Walk home from school - the ritual that makes a world of difference

My girls, age 9-years and 12-years, on the other hand, would do anything to get out of their walk home from school. As early as the night before they start talking about ‘sore feet’ and ‘worrying’ that they ‘won’t be up to’ the walk home the next day. Lottie, my youngest, has taken to limping up the stairs after brushing her teeth.

“What’s wrong with your leg?” I will ask.

“Oh, nothing,” she will sigh. “I’ll see how it feels in the morning… I might not be able to walk home from school tomorrow… sigh…”

The fact is, I notice a huge difference in my kids’ temperament on the days they don’t walk home.

Without that slow transition from school to home, they tend to bombard me with all their woes and whinges the minute they see me in the schoolyard. When they walk home from school, they seem to walk off their woes and arrive home full of happy cheer.

News, not whinge

“Hi Mum!” they call from the road outside our house, knowing that I will then meet them at the front door, eager to hear their news. They are always full of great stories and laughs, and they are often holding wildflowers picked from the side of the road as they go.

When the weather is inclement (I do love that word, inclement and am happy to have included it here), we have a rule: if Mum’s at the tree in the school yard, I’m driving them home. If Mum’s not at the tree, walk home.

A simple, elegant rule, easily understood without a trace of wiggle room.

Which is why I was very surprised to get a call from the school last week, when the weather was on-again-off-again, with rain followed by sun. I’d made the call to keep working rather than head out to pick them up. A little light rain followed by sun never hurt a kid, surely?

“Your daughters are here at the office,” said our lovely office lady. “Apparently no one came to pick them up from school today?”

Oh the shame!

“They walk home from school,” I hastily informed the office lady.

“They said there was thunder rumbling,” said the office lady. “Can you please arrange someone to come and collect them?”

“It’s sunny out right now,” I protested. “I’m happy for them to walk.”

“Our policy is that if they have reported to the office as uncollected, a parent or guardian needs to come and sign them out.”

When she said ‘uncollected’, we both knew she meant unloved.

So, I had to front up to the office like the world’s most neglectful mother and sign my daughters out of school. I must have had a face on me like the non-existent thunder, because the girls looked suitably chastened. The office lady was not.

“It’s a long way for you to walk home,” she said mournfully to the girls.

“No, it’s not,” I snapped. “It’s just over a kilometre and it’s good for them.”

She made a little sad face at the girls anyway. I love our office lady, but not then.

“Do you even know where we live?” I asked her, in a tone that implied I was really saying “I know where you live, Lady”. She made another little sad face at the girls.

A privilege and a joy

Now the girls are even less excited to make the journey home each day. My claims that it is a privilege and a joy to get to walk home from school fall on deaf ears.

“It’s so healthy!” I exclaim. “It’s exercise without even trying! Through our neighbourhood! A nice break between school and home! A good way to spend time together! Fresh air! So many of the world’s children will never get to experience the independence of walking home!”

“The office lady said it was a long way,” the girls reply.

“You walk,” I said. “It’s just what you do.”

Image by Jamie Taylor/ Unsplash

Written by Bron Maxabella

Bron is the founder of Mumlyfe and is so happy to welcome you here. Bron has been writing in the Australian parenting space as Maxabella for more than seven years and is mum to three mostly happy kids and wife to one mostly happy husband. Mostly happy is a win, right?

We’re very social

More for you

Help! My Kid is a Gamer! – so what happens next?

Help! My Kid is a Gamer! – so what happens next?

This year, more than any other, gaming has been a constant companion for some kids. The increased time spent online playing games and socialising in digital spaces can be confronting for parents who hate not understanding what their kids are up to. It's tempting to...

Happy people raise happy kids

Happy people raise happy kids

After almost a decade of writing about parenting, and 16 years as a parent myself, there's only one thing I know for sure: happy people raise happy kids. It makes sense, of course. While there's no doubt that happy people can and do raise unhappy kids (we have all...

It’s time to banish ‘mum guilt’ once and for all

It’s time to banish ‘mum guilt’ once and for all

Confession time: I'm over the whole 'mum guilt' thing. Yes, mothering is a b*tch of a thing because we love those little terrors so deeply and utterly that we want everything to be absolutely perfect for them. We often sacrifice our own happiness to make that happen...

Affiliate links

From time to time Mumlyfe uses affiliate links.  It means that Mumlyfe may receive a small commission at no cost to you when you make a purchase using the link.  You can find out more about how it works here.

You may also like

Related

The rise of the finsta to relieve the pressure of perfection

The rise of the finsta to relieve the pressure of perfection

Fake Instagram accounts, often referred to as a “finsta” or “spam account”, have become the norm for many teens – but their reasoning for creating these is not as sinister as you think. by Dr Joanne Orlando, Researcher: Technology and Learning, Western Sydney...

6 tips for getting prepared for Year 11

6 tips for getting prepared for Year 11

Being prepared for year 11 - which in Australia means senior high school - feels almost as daunting as getting your five-year-old ready for 'big school'. Only this time the school is actual big school and your five-year-old is HUGE. My son starts year 11 in three...

What my kids do when ‘there’s nothing to do’ in the holidays

What my kids do when ‘there’s nothing to do’ in the holidays

Happy new year! I know, I'm slow with my happies this year. We've been away climbing in the (non)snowy mountains (where I achieved the unimaginable) and doing beachy things down the south coast of NSW. Matter of fact, we had so much on in the first few weeks of the...

0 Comments

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. 10 hacks for organising school mornings better | Mumlyfe - […] is not possible for everyone, but I find that walking to school is less stressful than packing all the…
  2. 16 really good podcasts for tweens that the rest of the family will love too - […] Listening while going for a walk around the […]
  3. 16 really good podcasts for tweens that the rest of the family will love too - […] 14 February 2018 […]

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This