I realized recently that our morning routine needed a revamp. I am not particularly an up-and-at-em kind of person, which is all well and good. We're homeschoolers, right? I don't have to have my kids ready for the bus by 6:30 every morning (thank heavens). But over time our school start time was getting pushed later and later into the morning. It's important to me to finish lessons by early afternoon so there is still time left in the day for other pursuits. But with three official students – this is tricky. It's possible – even if you don't start lessons at the crack of dawn – but it's tricky.
What to do? How could I balance my need to ease into the day without letting it slip too far?
My solution: the morning walk.
I had noticed that we do fine getting ready fairly efficiently in the morning when we have a hard-and-fast deadline to walk out the door – such as for church on Sunday or when we had co-op last year. Apparently, trying to gather everyone on the couch by 9 am for morning basket did not have the same psychological effect. I wondered – if I said we were going to go out for a walk at 8:30 – actually walk out the door for a walk – if that would have a similar effect? A hard-and-fast deadline by which breakfast must be done and clothes must be on? Even if I don't get up until 7 or even a little later – which is often the case – I still theoretically would have time to eat and get a little devotional time in.
So we tried it. And it has worked beautifully.
And not only has it worked beautifully as far as getting us moving in the morning – we are now consistently on the couch with our morning basket by 9am – it has proven to have a myriad of other benefits as well.
My oldest daughter and I tend towards being a little groggy in the morning. Walking gets our blood flowing a little better so our minds are more awake when we hit that morning basket and the rest of the day's lessons that follow.
My son has some sensory-type issues and has said before that being outside helps him feel calmer. This morning walk is helping to meet those sensory needs before they begin interfering with the flow of our day.
One of my goals for the coming school year is to build better habits of physical fitness for all of us – not my strong suit. Adding this morning walk to the day is the first step towards building those habits.
While not a "nature walk" per se – we still try to schedule in a longer nature outing once a week or so – we can't help but notice nature. The birds, the spider in the bushes, the ants, the vine that got tangled up in another kind of bush, the weeds…. As we continue this tradition, we will start to notice what there is to see in our neighborhood in various seasons. We are training our observational senses and becoming intimately acquainted with our local surroundings, which is really the goal of nature study anyway. The nature journal is only one tool we use for that, not the be-all-and-end-all.
And perhaps best of all – I am guaranteed a focused time of prayer. I don't always get my devotional time in – or as much as I would like at any rate. But here is what has been happening – we take our walk in a small park in our subdivision. After a couple of laps around the path, I let the children go take some time on the playground there, while I take a couple more laps around. And while I do, I find the quiet and space I need to reflect further on the morning's Scripture reading and lift concerns up to the Lord. It has been a delight to find my time 'multiplied' in this way.
I never thought we really had time for a morning walk before. Now I am beginning to wonder how we ever managed without it.
Try it sometime. Maybe you will find it is just what you need too.