a peek inside the fishbowl

20 Jun, 2007

“Will you walk into my parlour?” Said the spider to the fly

Posted by andrea tomkins in: Easy ways to make kids happy|parenting

Something Sarah did the other day got me thinking about our daily walk to school.

I’m grateful we don’t have to do the schoolbus thing, like many parents do.  Mark walks Emma to school in the morning. I walk Sarah to school in the afternoon, and at the end of the school day I walk back to pick them up and we all walk home. That’s a lot of walking, isn’t it?

DSC_1274.JPGSometimes we scooter, or bike, but mostly, we walk. The girls are very good walkers. They’ve had little choice in the matter!  Mummy has a long stride. I do try to slow it down a little, but I’m a naturally fast walker.

Emma is a smidge better at keeping a pace. Personally, I think it’s because she’s been out of the stroller for so long. Sarah was born when Emma was 23 months old, and we never bought a second stroller for Emma to use. She’s got stamina that kid.

So the other day Sarah decided that she wanted to draw a chalk line all the way from our house to the school.

“Great idea!” I said, silently dreading the 45 minutes it was going to take to do this. (Hey, even I have my limits.) “But it might take too long. Instead, why don’t you draw a chalk mark on the sidewalk every 20 steps you take?”

And so, with all the diligence of a six-year old, she did it. She drew little yellow lines right up to her classroom door (which is outside).  I think there might have been 60 or 70 altogether.

I realized, after following the chalk marks back home again, that we’ve been doing things like this for years. These little games make our walks more fun, and as a side-benefit they also make the girls walk a little faster too.

I’m a stickler for punctuality. I think it’s critical to teach kids to be on time. If you say you’re going to be somewhere at a certain time, you’ve got to be there. Especially school. If school starts at nine, you can’t be straggling in late. What message is that sending to the teacher, and to  the other students?

They’re going to need a good sense of time for their whole lives. So the question remains, how do we get them moving?

These are the little “tricks” I’ve used in the past to help my kids walk a little quicker so we can get to where we want to go and make it (more or less!) on time:

1) Catch the butterfly. It’s so simple and silly. This worked when they were about 2, and it still works. I must have discovered this game by accident. It’s so silly I can’t believe it. Basically, I wave my hand over their heads, just slightly out of their reach, pretending it’s a butterfly. They run along, trying to catch it. From time to time the butterfly will land on their heads to kiss their cheeks and nibble on earwax snacks.

2) Pretend you’re the big bad wolf and chase them down the street. Works every time.

3) Make a trail. Like the chalk-drawing idea above, but we’ve also done it with the crusts of stale bread. And here’s the question you want to ask yourselves, will it be there when school is over? This is a bonus because it gets them there AND home quickly.

4) The destination tease. Make a mental note of cool things along your route. Use it later. i.e. “Hey, let’s go see if the bird nest is still there!” This has worked using a beetle infestation, construction, and amazing flowerbeds in the spring. This is especially effective around Halloween when there are fun decorations to be seen.

5) Foot hockey. Kick a rock or piece of ice while walking. Take turns with your kid. Sometimes the simple things work best.

6) Let the kids pick the route, and lead the way home.

7) Never underestimate the power of the march and the marching song. Why do you think the military has been doing this for so long? It keeps the troops in line and moving! Our faves include the bear song (it’s an echo/repeater)  and the goat song (although I see now there’s a variety of lyrics for that one: ) But my personal favourite is this one.Heh. What would the neighbors think if we sang this ? (Turn up your volume what the hell, Phyllis Diller???) OMG – what about this? (I’m still snickering re: that last one)

8) Perhaps the best (and quietest) idea is to hold your child’s hand and just talk. You might be surprised how quickly times flies.

Do you walk to school with your kids? Any other tips to share?

8 Responses to "“Will you walk into my parlour?” Said the spider to the fly"

1 | Chantal

June 20th, 2007 at 9:02 am


If it was closer than 11km, I would walk in a hearbeat. That said, we walk to the end of the driveway to catch the bus, which is longer than some kids walk to school, so…

We do #3 a lot. We leave out little pieces of leftover food and see what’s been eaten by animals or birds at the end of the day. A benefit to country living!

2 | Kim

June 20th, 2007 at 6:51 pm


Brooke is homeschooled but I would absolutely walk her to school if she went to one.

You have a great list there. A list that could be helpful in a multitude of situations…


3 | BeachMama

June 20th, 2007 at 6:58 pm


We will be walking this fall, it is just around the corner but any extra tricks will help. Thanks that is a great list of fun things to do on a walk.

At first I was looking forward to it until I realized I was going to be bundling a new baby up and trekking around the corner twice a day in the wintertime. We will carry on though.

4 | porter

June 20th, 2007 at 10:03 pm


I think our walk might be too far for my kids but we will be attempting it in the Fall. I love your list.

5 | twinmomplusone

June 21st, 2007 at 7:53 am


I’m totally like Chantal on this one: school is 12 km away :( I’ve so enjoyed driving my little ones for the past 3 years, talking about what we see along the way, singing and story-telling. Next year they get to go on the big school bus but we’ll be walking down the driveway which is well a small road in itself. Country living :)

6 | Hillary

June 21st, 2007 at 5:36 pm


OH! It’s a long way to tipperary! I’ve never ever known the lyrics to that song, but we played it in band every spring when it came time for marching season. SO many parades and even more rounds around the neighbourhood practicing that song!

And come on! Who WOULDN’T want to look at Phyllis Diller: http://www.thesonsofemperornorton.com/honorary_member_images/phyllis_diller.jpg

7 | Ryan

June 21st, 2007 at 11:28 pm


Thank you! It’s nice to see that punctuality is still valued. I was raised that way, and Argentina has been a shock to the system. Punctuality really doesn’t exist – people will set a time to meet at 8:30, and then be surprised if you show up at 8:30. The majority will start showing up at 9, 9:30, 10, or even later sometimes. It can get frustrating, and to me, it sends the message that my time is less valuable than theirs.

Keep up the good work, all you pro-punctuality comment-makers!

8 | Little white rabbits with pocket watches >> a peek inside the fishbowl

February 8th, 2012 at 9:44 am


[…] It meant we had to lay clothes out the night before, and set our alarms early enough so we had time for them to eat breakfast and make lunches, and most importantly, enough time for little dawdlers to get to school. (I wrote about some of the ways I got them to walk a little quicker this past post.) […]

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