Wellies on, coats zipped up.We are walking…

IMAG1566When I began this blog almost 7 months ago I set out to share the silver lining moments from my life. I gave myself the challenge of seeking out joyful moments in the everyday, and also to recognise them when they can so easily be overlooked or taken for granted.

It has been immensely rewarding personally, and having talked to a few lovely friends who have been following my posts, it has been encouraging them also.

Since this year began, my boys and I have been endeavouring to walk to and from school as much as possible. We had got into a bit of a habit of taking the car on the school run, making up reasons like ‘we don’t have time’ or ‘it’s a miserable morning’. Pretty standard attempts at excusing our laziness!

In reality, it’s actually quicker for us to walk to school as the roads are so busy in the mornings, so the not having time argument doesn’t cut it! And, if we used the weather as an excuse for not doing things here in Northern Ireland we would never leave the house!

We agreed we would take the car on Thursdays seeing as we have 3 school bags, 3 lunchboxes, 2 cellos and 2 P.E. kits to haul with us – I did joke that I would buy a little pull along trailer to carry all the stuff they need for school but the looks of disgust told me that is not going to happen – I actually think it’s a pretty good idea.

So, anyway, I’ve just returned from a very wet walk to school. It was actually pretty dry when we left at 8.30, but it had rained through the night so there were plenty of puddles to jump over during a game of ‘Puddle Olympics’ on the way to school, but just as we said our goodbyes at the school the sky darkened and I knew I was going to get completely soaked on the way home.

I crossed my fingers, hoping no one would offer me a lift. You see, I find walking in the rain truly fun and also very relaxing. As I walked home I thought about what I need to get done today, I have an assignment deadline so I’ve organised that in my head. I am focused and ready to write. If I had been driving I wouldn’t have been able to do this. The radio would have been tuned in and I would have been tuned out, my mind elsewhere.

What is more,  I would probably still be sitting in traffic (okay, slight exaggeration, but you get my point). There were cars queued up the street and I’ve already heard of two local traffic collisions this morning which are causing heavy congestion in Belfast. Life is way too short to waste it sitting in traffic, furthermore, it makes me extremely agitated and cross, and that’s not where I want my head at!

I totally understand that often parents are dropping kids off at school then going straight to work so it makes sense to take the car if your place of work isn’t within walking distance, I need to do this some mornings too. I get that. It worries me though how many cars there are on the roads – the congestion, the pollution, the tragic number of accidents are a heavy price to pay to stay dry or to get somewhere ‘quicker’.

As I walked this morning I only saw two other people walking from the school. This actually really surprised me as there are normally a good number of people on foot or on bikes. Was it because of the rain? Are we that easily put off getting outdoors? Surely a decent rain coat and a pair of waterproof shoes can overcome that problem.

As I write, the blue sky is now breaking through the dark clouds. No doubt it will be fleeting and the rain will soon return, it is winter in Ireland after all! But how lucky we are to have seasons to enjoy. I love the warmth of the sun on my skin, but I also love the colours of Autumn, so why not the winter chills and rain? Let’s appreciate nature in all its glory and the cycle of life that it represents. Without the rain there would be no spring buds to admire.

Just think how much fitter you will feel too if you choose to walk instead of taking the car – and of the money you’ll save on fuel. It takes me 15 minutes to walk to school and another 15 back. Over the course of a week, minus Thursdays, that’s 2 hours of outdoor exercise! Plus, if I walk again in the afternoon that’s another 2 hours. I don’t need to join a gym – I just need to get off my bum, shake myself and get the right clothes on for the weather, not wait on the right weather for my clothes.

My favourite things about walking the school run are:

  1. The time I get to spend with my 3 boys. As soon as we leave the house, the morning grumpyitis vanishes and I hear all about their lives – this morning we discussed gravity, stranger danger, went over spellings and had a giggle avoiding puddles. It is precious and valuable time together. When driving I am still with them, sure, but I am concentrating on the road so I am not as engaged with them as when we are walking.
  2. Knowing my kids are healthy. Being a parent is tough, we make mistakes every day as we try our best to do what is best – I get it wrong, a lot. But I know in my heart my kids are fit and healthy and I believe this will stand by them, and hopefully putting good habits into their lives now means it will stay with them into adulthood.
  3. The walk home: 15 minutes just for me! A treat in a busy life. Time to sort my thoughts, to appreciate nature if I go through the park. To just enjoy the moment. I love it!

So if you see me and my boys walking in the rain without an umbrella don’t feel sorry for us as the rain drips off our noses – we are happy. Give us a wave, or come join us!

 

 

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