After five years of organizing after-school pickup, I was beyond relieved to jump on the bussing bandwagon last year.
We enjoy walking to school and, pre-COVID, the hassle of after-school pickup (having to arrive 25 minutes early to find a parking spot) was offset by the fact that a large and dedicated group of parents + kids stayed after school to play and chat. This was my favourite way to pass the time between school dismissal and supper.
But then came COVID. We started the 2020 academic year with a wave of new restrictions – including shutting down the playground for an entire hour after school dismissal. Without any impetus to do pickup, I gladly signed our kids up for the afternoon bus.
The registration process went smoothly and I received notice of their very specific drop-off time. And, for over a year, the bus has dutifully arrived at that very specific time – almost without exception.
Then a few weeks ago, because of a mechanical issue, the bus arrived 30 minutes late. The next day it was 10 minutes late. And then, ever since, it has been arriving 3 minutes earlier.
Three minutes is a long time when my walk to the bus stop only takes a little over 3 minutes. If parents aren’t at the bus stop to meet children in Grade 3 and below, they bus those kids back to school and contact parents for in-person pickup. This has never happened to us, but the stress and disruption of that process would not be ideal.
So I make every effort to be on time.
The problem is I have had a very specific schedule for over a year now – I need to leave the house at 2:47 to make it to the bus stop with a few minutes buffer. This no longer works. With the bus arriving 3 minutes earlier, it’s a case of very simple math that I no longer have any buffer. In fact, I’m running late.
After having the same cues for over a year – 2:47 I need to be out the door; 2:48, I need to speed walk; 2:49 I need to run; 2:50 I need to sprint – I’m struggling to accept the reality that all those times are no longer relevant. In fact, now, a 2:47 departure requires a sprint, not a leisurely stroll.
So earlier this week, when I looked at the clock (after yet another afternoon of sprinting in my not-made-for-sprinting footwear) and saw it was 2:45, even though my mind told me I had buffer, I forced myself to get dressed and out the door. I enjoyed a leisurely walk to the bus and arrived early, with the perfect amount of buffer. Time for small talk with the rest of the congregants, but no time to get bored or cold.
Yet another reminder, adding a little bit of buffer can go a long way in making life more pleasant (and convenient – I really don’t want to have to drive back to school to rescue my child)!