Enjoying a Walk

walking to school better back-to-school brigadeToday, for Enviro-Mama Thursday, I’m going to be lightening things up a bit. Let’s all take a deep breath in and out, and get ready for a little more ease, as we take a walk.

Walking to School

A little more than two years ago, when my daughter Hannah started kindergarten, I committed to walking to school and back every day. The ability to do this was one of the big reasons we chose our local public school. While there are a handful of cases when we’ve driven instead of walking, I’ve stuck with my commitment. Every morning and afternoon I make the walk up the hill to the neighbourhood school. I continue to do this for three reasons:

  1. It’s better for the planet.
  2. It’s better for us.
  3. The parking situation at school is a nightmare, so walking is just easier.

The garbage truck is loud, but fun to watch
Pausing to watch the recycling truck on the way to school

Unexpected Benefits

While I predicted all of those benefits to walking, there are a number of benefits I didn’t predict. For example, I feel a greater connection to my neighbourhood, as I walk through it every day. I recognize (and greet) more of my neigbhours – and their pets. I chat with other parents and kids as we happen to walk in the same direction on the way to school and back. I notice right away when a house goes up for sale, or someone does some landscaping work. I’m out walking all the time, and as a result I’m more in the loop when it comes to what’s going on around me.

Another benefit that I actually viewed as a drawback before I started is spending more time out in the elements. I’m not going to pretend that it’s super-fun to head out for a walk in the driving rain. It’s not. But on the whole, I enjoy getting to spend a whole lot more time outside. Breathing fresh air, feeling the change of seasons, and seeing the world from the sidewalk are all good things. I think they’re good for my kids, too. They’re experiencing what our suburban environment is like first-hand.

Playing on a barrier
Playing on a barrier on the walk home

Alternatives to Walking to School

I know that not everyone can walk to school. For one thing, not every child goes to school. For another, not every school is within walking distance, and not every parent’s schedule allows for it. But there’s no reason why you can’t get out and walk on a regular basis. Spending 15 or 20 minutes out walking around your neighbourhood a few times a week would give you the same sort of experience my family gets with the walk to school and back. If you live in an urban setting, or you don’t have the option of driving everywhere, you’re probably doing it already. If your family spends a lot of time in the car like mine does, you can just think of it as replicating the experience that’s a daily reality for others. It may even make you healthier.

Do you get out and walk with your kids on a regular basis, whether to school or someplace else? And how do you build outdoor time into your daily life? I’d love to hear!

PS – You can start a better back-to-school year by entering to win a $200 waste-free lunch giveaway – here’s the prize! Leave a comment and tell us how you’re making our back-to-school greener to win!

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  1. Here’s why I like your approach….when I started reading this post, I was getting increasingly irritated at your privileged-pollyanna attitude, thinking you were totally unaware that walking the kids to school absolutely isn’t an option for most of us who work (I know you work but it’s at home and on your schedule and that’s just different). School hours are ridiculously limited compared to work which is generally 8:30-5ish. If I walked Megan to kindergarten every day (3.5km each way), I would not get to work until almost 10am! Anyway as I read the rest of your post I simmered down because you recognize that this walking-to-school is not for everyone, and acknowledge that walking the neighbourhood anytime has benefits too. And really the end of the post came off a lot less judgey than the beginning, and I don’t think you intended to be judgey anyway. Whew. There you go. We do a lot of walks and hikes – my 4 year old has done the grind, the chief, seymour etc etc. On Fridays when I am off work, I walk her home from school, but it’s really just too much to get walking at 8am just to make it to school on time, so I drive her a few blocks away from school then we walk. It’s awesome to be out and see everyone, say hi to the teacher and principal and get to know the school on foot.
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    • Sorry if I came off as judgey – you’re right, I certainly didn’t mean to. I am well aware that walking isn’t possible for everyone, which is why the parking at my daughter’s school is such a nightmare. I’m saving the precious few spaces for the people who really need them!

  2. I have only ever rarely walked my children to school. Living less than 100 feet from the front door seems often pointless – especially when you have very independant children who like doing things on their own.

    I understand that not everyone lives as close to their childrens school, but I love the idea of parking a bit aways and walking. Not only is it time to spend with your child and take in the health benifits, but it saves a ton of congestion around the school which has safety issues with young children.

    As far as getting out and walking – it’s slowed down for me. Returning to work full time makes our evenings a little hectic a lot of the time. Weekends are a different story though. We are out and about. The upside of living in such a small rural community is we walk everywhere we need to go (driving just looks silly) and we know the majority of our neighbours.
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  3. Sprout’s still three years away from school, but we walk or bike everywhere we need to go. Living in Mount Pleasant, everything’s pretty close, so there’s no excuse! I love the connection to my neighbourhood too–watching new homes get built, interesting new businesses pop up or just the colours of the leaves on the trees overhead.
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  4. I am very fortunate to live 3 long blocks away from my oldest daughter school, it gives my youngest and I an outing, first thing in the morning. I even offer to take my neighbour’s kid with me and I am planning to keep up with the waste-free lunch routine that I had in last school year. I usually prepare the lunch the night before and in the morning I just grab everything and off I go with two kids sometimes 4 ๐Ÿ™‚
    Karin Eva’s last post … Summer 2013 in review and itโ€™s not over yet!My Profile

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