Tag Archives: walking

Are Your Kids Walking to School?

Now that school is starting through pretty much the entire United States, I just have to ask – are your kids walking to school? Riding a bike? Why or why not?

walking back to school

For my family, walking is an easy option. School is just a few blocks away. I’ve walked there in about a minute less than it takes my next door neighbor to drive there. That’s car loading and unloading time!

But there’s a huge backup of people driving their kids to school in my area, and around most schools I’ve ever been by at times when parents are dropping kids off or picking them up.

I know it can be hard to fit walking time into a busy schedule, especially if both parents work or there are younger siblings. Believe me, I’ll be feeling more of that pinch when this baby comes. Two younger siblings to bring along just to get my daughter!

Things do get easier, of course, as kids get old enough to walk or ride bikes on their own to school. Many parents these days are overprotective because we hear so much about what can go wrong. The thing about it is that the worst happenings are rare. Only the fact that we get pretty nearly instant national news makes some things seem like a major problem. Hearing about crime on the news has been proven to make people worry more about it, even when the crime rate goes down.

That doesn’t mean you ignore the risks. It means you teach your kids how to minimize them. All the usual things about how to cross streets safely, avoid strangers and so forth that we teach our kids are skills they should be putting into practice once they’re old enough.

I don’t suggest having kindergarten age kids walking home alone. I do recall my sister and I doing that when she was in kindergarten and I was in preschool, but that was because the older kids who were supposed to walk with us ran off ahead.

I think it’s important to remember that the more responsibilities you give children, the more chances they have to learn to be responsible.

And of course, walking and biking are far better for your health and the health of your children than going in the car. With all the crowds of people driving to school, it can be less frustrating as well.

How Does a Family Cope with Just One Car?

Having two cars in a family (or more) is so common these days that many families just cannot imagine living any other way. The sheer convenience is hard to beat. Why would anyone give that up?

using just one car

I can think of a few reasons.

For one, it’s better for the environment, provided you are actually driving less. It’s less gas used. Fewer oil changes. Fewer car repairs in general. It makes you think before you drive anywhere.

It’s also a solid financial decision. The points above that are good for the environment are also good for your pocketbook. You can add in that it cuts back on your ability to shop, since you have to plan your shopping trips better. That does help with saving money.

My family has been living with just one car for close to a year and a half now. It’s not easy, since the city we live in does not have great public transportation. But it is doable. Just takes extra planning at times.

As gas prices go up, this has been more and more a benefit to us. I work at home, and drive much less now that I don’t have my own car. Frivolous trips are much harder to make. But it’s still not easy.

For example, my son has speech therapy on the other side of town. I used Google’s transit website to check the bus schedule. The buses here would get me about halfway there; the rest I’d have to walk. You can see where there’s a bit of a problem. The walk is very long for a 3 year old.

But in many areas, public transportation is one of the big keys to coping with just one car. Need to go somewhere and not take the car? Know how to research your local bus schedules. Most cities have them online now; if not, get a supply of the paper ones and keep them in a safe place.

Scheduling helps a lot. Whenever possible, I schedule things around when I will have a car available. This is easy for things like grocery shopping and other errands, but more challenging for doctor’s appointments and such.

If nothing else works, there’s always borrowing someone else’s car. I don’t like to do this, as the people I can most easily ask this of live a distance away and so there’s a lot of extra gas used. Kind of takes away from the whole point of having just one car. But done only when there’s no other solution, this can be a valid solution while still cutting back on your total use of cars.

This brings up another possibility that the person who needs the car most should consider. Carpooling. A good carpool can cut back even further on your use of your car and make it available for other needs.

You can’t forget the biggest challenge, of course. What if the one car breaks down? Suddenly there’s no other car to replace it. A plan for getting to work or any other places that you have to go to become vital. You’ll need to know your alternatives. If you carpool, you have a big advantage.

And of course, there’s always biking or walking. Either of these is good for you and for the environment. A bike with a basket is great for local errands, and you’re limited in your shopping to what you feel comfortable carrying on your bike. That’s more limiting for some than for others.

If you want to walk to the store, you can bring a rolling basket or your kids’ wagon along. I don’t know how stores would feel about a wagon being brought in, but you can always ask the manager or find the bike rack and lock it up there.

Overall, this can be a workable possibility for many families. If you aren’t sure that it would work for yours, just try driving like your family has only one car for a time. Keep one car at home at all times, and you’ll know if it’s possible.