I want to start this by saying that I always intended to drive, and probably, at some point, I won’t be able to avoid learning to do so, but recently it’s occurred to me that being a driver isn’t as much fun as it’s cracked up to be. There are of course advantages to the fast travelling metal box, such as not getting soaked in a rain storm or getting where you want to be in a quarter of the time, but the disadvantages are often overlooked.
Every day I walk for around two hours to complete the school run. My two children currently go to different schools because my daughter’s school couldn’t fit my son into their nursery. It isn’t ideal by any stretch of the imagination and at first I was concerned about whether we would be able to keep it up for a year. However to my surprise I’ve, for the most part, really enjoyed my daily trek.
Let me give you a few examples of how the walk has enriched my life: I have lost five pounds without dieting. I used to really struggle to keep my food intake low but I can be a lot more relaxed about it now because I know I’m giving my body the exercise it needs. There are three hills on the walk and so not only have I toned up, but now when I go for a run my stamina is so much better than it used to be. I get to spend an hour of the walk with my children. We talk about all sorts of things and by the time they get to school they are happy and ready to learn. You can’t rush about as much without a car, you can after all only go so fast on legs. We post letters together, point out shapes in building, talk about colours. In fact some of our best conversations are had during this walking time.
At first I thought walking to school put my children at a disadvantage because I wasn’t turning up with a flashy car everyday to school but that feels so unimportant now. When I see how fast they both run, how bright faced and healthy they look in an age of childhood obesity, when it’s difficult to get children to put down their computer games, I feel proud that they get a good stretch of their legs every morning before they have to sit in class.
We’ve seen some wonderful things during our walks, the first buds on the trees, spider’s webs like a string of diamonds in the misty frost, the migrating geese swooping overhead with their distinctive call. All of these sights, allowing my children to experience the changing seasons the very day the great wheel turns, makes all those soggy, less fun days, well worth it.
In September the walk will be considerably shorter when my son joins his sister at her school. I can only imagine that this will be an even better walking experience, shorter, but then when other parents are beeping their horns and pulling their hair out to try and find a parking space at a school that has no car park, I can stroll past without worrying where I’m going to leave my big metal box, carbon footprint 0.
To you lucky people who have the option of sometimes driving, I envy you because there are times when a car would be a blessing but I can only praise the benefits of sometimes making the decision to walk somewhere if you can. Our legs were designed to carry us anywhere we want to go and with careful planning, they’re as good at it now as they ever were.