Today I broke my self imposed moratorium on after school activities. I've been trying to simplify our lives, keep the hubbub to a minimum and allow for time to unfold gently at least sometimes. For the first half of this school year, we have spent our afternoons at home. My little one would take a nice long afternoon nap, I would have some one on one time with my first grader and then we could play, read, eat and enjoy the time until bed.
But then . . . my little one stopped napping! And the whole dynamic changed. My first grader is not as tired after school now and so I timidly decided to take her to a class on a Tuesday after school. A big step in my little world. What does this have to do with getting outside? Well, to get to the class on time I have to pick my daughter up from school. To pick her up at school we have to park the car a few blocks away since there is not nearly enough parking at the school. Here it is, our time outside!!! What used to feel like a huge drag (walking all the way from the car to the school, yes about ten minutes) is now a great opportunity for a little exercise and a chance to get some fresh air.
My little one and I park and head up the sidewalk towards the elementary school. She runs ahead shouting, "I'm Pippi! I'm Pippi! Try to get me." She is like a little spring who has sprung. I thought she'd be tired after a day of preschool, some shopping and a snack. Just a month ago she would have been sound asleep at this time. But not today. I speed walk along behind her and we catch up with a friend also walking towards the school. I haven't seen her in months, been meaning to call, you know the drill. Ah, the unintended benefits of just being out of our car, out of our house, actually in our community. More parents gather to wait and chat. My little one peeks out from behind my legs to smile at a preschool buddy. This is way more fun than waiting at home for the bus to arrive. And then the rush of students come out of the school. There is an anthill of activity as parents match up with students and they begin to disburse. We follow one crowed back in the direction of our car. My first grader slings me her backpack and starts chasing her friend down the sidewalk. Gathered by the cars, parents arrange play dates and suggest ballet classes while kids run on the grass. In about another five minutes everyone will be gone, the neighborhood back to its quiet self. But now, in this special time, we are outside and we are connecting with our friends. This may have to become a habit.