The Surprising (Good and Bad) Ways the School Bus Has Changed My Life

Family Matters on 09.19.11
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My son started kindergarten two weeks ago, and I'm not sure who was more excited that he was going to be riding the school bus, me or him. He was excited to be a big kid now, and I was excited that this seemingly simple childhood routine would add a little extra "child care" to my day at the beginning and end of the school day. As a child who is very attached, my biggest fear was that it would be a fight to get him on the bus every day, but he gets on happily each morning. However, it hasn't exactly been a smooth ride, and despite his contentment with riding the bus, I sometimes wonder why the heck I'm bothering with it. After two weeks, I'm finding the school bus has impacted our lives more than the fact that we now have a kindergartner.

After several days of the bus company switching my son's bus number, the bus running late in both the morning and the afternoon, and them actually forgetting to pick him up one morning I was about ready to just ditch it and start driving him to school. The fact is that we live about a half mile from his school so standing at the end of my driveway for 30 minutes waiting for the bus wasn't making a lot of sense when I could drop him off and be back home in less than five minutes. I know it sounds crazy that he rides the bus at all, but we live on a main road with no sidewalk so it wouldn't be safe for him to walk to school.

Not only that, but the bus picks him up a little after 8 a.m. and school doesn't start until 8:35 a.m. Why am I getting up half an hour earlier (I am not a morning person), rushing everyone to get ready and out the door? In the afternoon, school gets out at 2:45 p.m. and as the first stop I am out there by 2:50 p.m., but sometimes he has gotten dropped off as late as 3:15 p.m. Because he's a kindergartener, I have to be outside to meet him or they won't drop him off so I end up sitting out there twiddling my thumbs for sometimes quite a while.

It all seems like such a waste of time; that is until I look at the good things that have come out of our new schedule. I am now actually up and ready by 8 a.m. every morning whereas I used to still be in my pajamas until I got everyone out the door with my husband at sometimes as late as 8:45 a.m. And my son who used to fight us to get ready in the morning is for the most part getting himself ready with no argument because he doesn't want to miss the bus. His little sister also has to be dressed if she wants to go out and wait for the bus with him (which she does), and we are spending a few minutes altogether outside every morning now which is quite nice.  

Once he gets on the bus, my husband and I now have 20 minutes to spend with our daughter every morning. As a second child, it's a pretty rare occasion that she ever gets time alone with both of us, and now she is getting it every morning. And we let her pick each morning who she wants to drop her off at school which she loves. Not only that, but I now have coffee in hand and am sitting down at the computer for work before 9 a.m. each morning. This gives me a chance to catch up on emails and check in on the time suck that is Facebook without feeling guilty about it and it's a nice way to ease into my day instead of sitting down and feeling like I'm already behind for the day.

And in the afternoons, I have committed to pulling weeds, pruning bushes and doing other front yard chores while waiting for the bus to drop him off. They are all things that I likely wouldn't get done otherwise, but that drive me nuts when they need to be knocked off the to-do list.

Yup, I think I'm going to stick with the school bus. It might not always be easier, but I think it's actually changed our lives for the better, even if not in the ways we expected, and most importantly, my son loves it.

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