How the morning drop off changed our family

by arianne

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We really had no idea how our lives would fully change when we made the decision to switch from homeschooling to public school last fall. Of course we expected plenty of change, but we couldn’t foresee all the fires we would need to put out, adjust, or get used to. One significant thing that changed is that we really don’t have time for long lingering breakfasts together anymore. The solution to this happened so organically, it was like we fell into a rhythm and then worked to keep that rhythm.

The switch to public school was such a big leap for us, since my oldest two were going into 3rd and 5th grade. Age eleven is a hard age to make that type of switch — and remember, they had never done public school before. It was daunting for everyone (mama included!)

So because it was such a big deal in the beginning, we started out with both my husband and I taking the kids together (along with their baby sister) for school drop off. We are too far for the school bus, but even if we lived closer I don’t think we’d go for the bus option. ((Side note: it’s really hard to navigate parenting decisions that may or may not lead to bullying — when you yourself were bullied in school. More on that in a future post…)

Starting with the first day of school, and then every day except for once a week early meetings my husband has, all 6 of us piled in the car and drove the 20 min to school together. After the first month, we could tell the boys were more comfortable while at school, but we didn’t feel a heart nudge to change the way we did things with the drop off. It would mean lots of schedule switching around, plenty of back and forth with the car and a lot of car time for the baby, but we noticed that when we didn’t do it, something was missing.

Soon we realized that we never wanted to give up the family drop off and here’s why: It was our morning bonding time. That 20 min was actually even better than the breakfast table, because no one could escape, and for the most part, they had nothing else to do but talk. ((Insert maniacal laugh and steeple fingers – they will never suspect a thing!))

We start the drive with me calling out the “checklist”: “backpacks?”, all reply in stereo “CHECK!”, “water bottles?” “CHECK!”, “happy disposition?” “what’s that?”, “showered bodies with clean hair?” (I have to be specific on that one, amirite moms of boys?) and maybe one or two “CHECK!”…never three, on that one. We cringe, I mean, laugh about it.

Sometimes we play the radio and dance in our seats or just laugh at the baby dancing in her seat. Sometimes we use it as a time to sortof have a grace-filled talking to ifyouknowwhatImean. Sometimes we ask them about things to remember for the day (especially how to not let bullies get to you). Other times we are quiet but still (obviously) together.

It’s a really unexpected thing we have together, this accidental time turned intentional time. It’s a beautiful thing to see the kids expect us both in that car every morning, because that tells me their spirits are craving the togetherness too. We work as a team to get out the door on time, then we relax in the car together on the way to school. I was further emboldened and encourage to carve out more intentional time after reading my friend Tsh Oxenreider’s latest book Notes from a Blue Bike: The Art of Living Intentionally in a Chaotic World

notes from a blue bike - living intentionally

In her book, Tsh weaves the story of their relatively slow and simple lives abroad contrasted with a hurried and chaotic life in the States, and how they made changes within their family to bring the intention and simplicity to their lives here in the U.S. It’s full of practical tips and SO much inspiration. I enjoyed it even more since I know her personally, but truly it’s a fab book for anyone who is looking for a more story-based approach to a parenting, food, travel and just life tips.

After reading it I am even more inspired to continue on this path of intention, and listen to the cravings we have for more travel, more down time, and less of the chaos of modern life. I can see now that those dreams really aren’t far away. And that is huge.

Even though I realize not everyone has a long-ish drive to somewhere every morning in which they can find quality time, I do believe there are pockets of time in our everyday that we may overlook as opportunities for just such an occasion. Finding the beauty in the mundane is a phrase that echoes in my ears and in my heart on the daily. I’m starting to listen.

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Do you have ways that you’ve found intentional time together to be build in (like my school drop off)? I would love to hear your tips!

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