Our society has changed over the years and grown by a lot of people. We have more technology available to us and way more options when it comes to extra-curricular activities. Of course everything comes with a heavy price, which means more families have dual-incomes in order to stay afloat. The sad part is sometimes we lose our connection with our neighbors and community.
I see it all too often a line of elementary aged kids waiting at the school bus stop alone and occasionally there may be one or two parents waiting with them. When did we become so disconnected? I live in a town house community and I don’t even know all my neighbors. The ones I do know happen to come out of the house more and/or live closest to me. Additionally, I notice their are parents on my street who actually drive their kids to the bus stop. The bus stop is literally at the end of our street, you are telling me you can’t walk that far? It is ridiculous how lazy our society has become and then we wonder why we have a rise in obesity and childhood obesity.
I think I am the only person on my street who choose to skip the school bus stop and walk my kids to school. I will admit initially it was the fear of my little kindergartner riding a school bus by herself that got me started in walking to school. In addition, I knew it would be a healthy benefit for all of us to walk and with her being so hyperactive I worried she would struggle paying attention. I thought walking might help release that energy and get her started being focused for the day. Now both my kids are in school and we have been walking to and from school most days for 2 years now. My youngest initially didn’t want to walk, but she has learned to love it now.
Now I know some of you may be thinking, oh that’s just cruel she made her kids walk so far when there is a bus stop. Well let me tell you something interesting about that, the street I live on use to be a walker’s street back in 1996. Not sure when they switched it to a bus stop, but my guess is they did it because our population grew and the school was getting crowded with cars.
It literally takes my kids and me 10 minutes to get to their school and that is while walking our dog who likes to stop and poop at least once. So again, just because you have a bus stop, does not mean you cannot walk to school. Try it on a day you are off, maybe on the weekend and time it. Sometimes there are times where I will walk my kids to school and drop them off and on my way back the bus still hasn’t showed up yet because they were running late or short a bus driver.
I realize that some parents don’t have the luxury of taking their kids to school in the morning due to their busy schedules or because they live to far from school. If you don’t have the time to walk your kids but you still want you kids to have the opportunity to walk, find out if your school has a walking school bus or maybe you can find a way to start one www.walkingschoolbus.org . But if you have the time and walking to school is literally only 10-20 mins, I highly recommend you join your kids on a walk to school. Here is why:
- Both you and your kids will benefit from the extra sunlight and exercise. Here a few links that explain the benefits. http://www.startwalkingnow.org/whystart_benefits_walking.jsp and http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-5999/10-Healing-Benefits-of-the-Sun.html
- It gives you that time to bond with your child. While on a walk to or from school your kids share with you about their day or plans or just have silly conversations. Occasionally there our tantrums, but it doesn’t happen often and they usually settle down by the time we get to point B. It is always interesting to hear what your kids have to say and sometimes their (“kid logic”) ideas or views can be quite entertaining.
- You meet all sorts of great people along the way including crossing guards. The one we pass loves to give treats out to the dogs and on holidays she gives out goodies to the kids. She is awesome! All the other parents who walk their kids are extremely friendly and believe it or not they are not all stay at home moms! You will run into dads and moms some who work full-time and some who work from home. They become a part of your community and once you get to know each other you have another set of eyes helping you look out for your kids.
- You become connected with nature and you meet all sorts of great dogs too! Or if you happen to be walking on a day that I go, I sometimes bring my bird. The kids love it! Additionally, you may run into critters of all sorts. The 17 year cicadas was a huge hit with our walkers. We even ran into baby turtles and rabbits. In addition you get to enjoy watching the changes of the season and kids love the tangible experience of nature. Every walk was a learning opportunity for my kids.
- It gives your kids a chance to hang out with friends before school. Some of those friends they may not get to see in class and it’s nice to be able to see them before or after school. They enjoy playing with them, talking with them about anything and they learn how to socialize and get along with others. I get great joy seeing my kid’s friendships blossom.
- Did I mention that some of those people you meet when you walk eventually become your friends too, that is if you take that extra step and socialize with them too! Many of those parents are also very involved in the school and always seem to know what is going on. In addition, they probably see your kids in school because they volunteer to help out and can be your extra eyes and ears. Your kids will probably get to know the PTO members and will treat them like cool teachers. I find the parents who are most involved in the PTO our parents who walk their kids to school.
I hope that more parents are able to be more involved and pro-active with walking to school. Additionally, I think that jobs should allow parents this opportunity and try to work their schedule around it, so that they can be there more for their kids before and after school. Kids are only kids for a short amount of time; before you know it they become working adults who struggle to find balance in their lives.