Monday, June 27, 2016

In Praise of the Morning Walk

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.


  1. "I never thought we really had time for a morning walk before. Now I am beginning to wonder how we ever managed without it."
    Brilliant, Jen. I'm so glad that this practice has been satisfying on so many levels.

  2. Oh my! This is so convicting and inspiring. I too have been rethinking our morning routine as our 1yo is slowly growing out of a consistent morning nap and i would love to be able to make this work. It's on me, just not sure i can actually *do* it! Thank you for the inspiration! Definitely added this to my list of posts to reread for encouragement as i plan for next year!

    1. So glad it was an encouragement to you! (And don't be too hard on yourself if you have a toddler in the house! That *is* challenging. But perhaps a walk is something you can all enjoy together. :))

  3. I'm an early morning runner. You have sparked me to get my girls out for a walk after I get home from running. We always try to walk sometime during the day, but this would help get them going in the morning. Thanks

  4. Wonderful! That sounds so enriching.

    I'm impressed that you can do it without it becoming a huge thing - a walk with my gang always takes at least an hour. They want to visit their grandparents who live next door and take a look at grandpa's tractor or we go to the creek and it takes forever to get the littles back up the hill... And someone is always crying or fussing by the time we get back and I feel so spent. So I just go by myself, which is not ideal, but at least gets me out and we start morning time when I get back. I do sometimes wonder though if I should make peace with the hour and fussing and crying and do it with everyone anyway.

    1. Well, it helps that we can see the little park where we walk from our house, so we don't have far to go, and also that I don't have toddler/preschoolers anymore so it's easier to be efficient now than it used to be. (And their grandmas live 500 and 1000 miles away that's not an issue either. I suspect it would be if we were in the same neighborhood!) We do have new construction going on in our neighborhood though, so our walks usually DO involve a detour to go check out that progress. :D

  5. This is great Jen. We live in a hot country, so when it was the (really) hot season, I had everyone go out for a bikeride around our neighbourhood for 15-20 minutes, either before or straight after breakfast. I didn't even want them wasting time brushing their teeth before it got too hot. I would sometimes go out with the toddler too, if I could. I would prefer that people walk, so they can take time to observe, but my 12 and 10 year old boys, and even my 7 year old girl would and have complained about the walking suggestion. It does seem to be cooler when you are riding than when walking. But that practice has fallen out of our morning routine. THe boys complained! that they didn't have time to go out, they had their school work to do! .... I think I just need to get back to it, and complaining means we spend another 10 minutes out...but then I don't want to make being outside a punishment!