Joy in Routines

When we lived in eastern Washington for 5 1/2 years, almost every weekday morning went the same way. I’d pull our trusty red wagon down the hill holding whichever toddler(s) we had at the time. We’d drop the big kids off at school, then continue our walk to go across the town’s footbridge where I’d stand while the toddlers grabbed rocks to through into the running water (in the Spring) or the dry creek bed (the rest of the year).

This will always be our favorite footbridge.

Next we’d go past my favorite brick house and wave at the kind woman who lived there, stroll by the old foundation of a different house while the littles oohed and ahhed (every.single.time) at seeing a “broken house”, turn the corner to go across another bridge and climb the steps of the church there, pass the school (and climb those steps too), then make our way to the ever-fun-to-explore dirt road that would take us across the highway and up the long gravel driveway hill to our house, where the toddlers would sit on the kitchen counter and help me make my coffee.

The day had begun.

It was a beautiful routine and I missed it dearly when we moved. I didn’t realize until this summer just how much my now 4 year old missed this routine too.

Six Wednesdays this summer I drove the big kids to an art class at the museum in a *relatively* nearby town. While the older siblings worked on their clay creations, I got to hang out with our four and one year olds. The first day there my preschooler remembered we passed a bridge across the river down the block.

“Let’s go to the footbridge like we used to do in Washington! I loved that!”

Be. Still. My. Heart.

It had been a year and a half since we moved and, even at her young age, she still remembered our beautiful morning routine.

So, instead of hitting the grocery store as planned, we walked to and across the footbridge and found a playground on the other side. After playing for a bit, we walked further down the street and found another bridge to cross, where we looked down and mused about the path by the river below. Then we continued on and found the city library, which had a sweet little children’s section. After reading for a bit, we got momma a drink and the kids a snack from the library coffee shop. Then we ended our adventure by sitting on the painted picnic tables by the museum, sipping and munching away until set class was over.

Guess what Ms. Four Year Old insisted on doing during each and every other art class time this summer?

Yep. Exactly the same thing. Even down to how we stopped on the bridge and commented on the path below.

And she talks often about how excited she is to do it again next year. Who knew what joy an hour and a half once a week could bring into our hearts!

Now I’m looking for ways to cultivate simple walking routines into our everyday in our *new* town. We don’t have a footbridge, but I’m guessing that’s a less important part of the routine than simply being together.

The painted picnic table where we ended each walk.

For Project Notes on E’s Baby Shoes, see this post.

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