Several years ago my wife and I spent a week in Costa Rica during the rainy season. As expected, it rained most of our trip but was warm and fun nonetheless. And those brief windows when the sun came out were magical. I think raising kids is a little like this–mostly great, but some periods when all the stars align that are truly amazing.
When R was born, my exercise regime changed. I stopped going to the gym or training for particular events, but I still managed to get out a couple times a week for a run and stay in reasonable shape. When B was born, planned exercise (i.e., beyond chasing kids and racing to work) disappeared as two kids is a bit more work than one and something had to give.
Some people are good at combining exercise with parenting. They backpack with their kids and push them around with jogging strollers. My kids don’t like activities where they aren’t active–they like pushing strollers more than sitting in them. Also, sleep is like gold in our house and our kids sleep best in beds. I would never risk waking a sleeping child miles from home because I hit a pot hole. I’ve also seen other parents go bike riding with their kids. These parents sometimes look like they are having fun, but they certainly aren’t getting more exercise than if they were out for a leisurely stroll.
Last week, I entered a fantastic window in my parenting career where I can finally join the ranks of the co-exercising parents. R is getting pretty comfortable on her bike and I’ve been putting on my running shoes to run next to her on her rides. Yesterday she said she loved the feel of the wind in her face as she rode down a long hill. She calls the bike trail near our house “the country” even though it runs behind the local strip malls on one side, and the highway and an office park on the other. To her credit, we also saw a ground hog cross the trail and watched ducks congregate in a little pond.
I’m terribly out of shape and she currently tires easily, but we’re both getting better as she learns the fine arts of balance and pacing. It also helps that R and I have had a fair amount of one-on-one time as B’s school started full-time last week but R’s won’t be full-time until next week. Unfortunately, I think this window is destined to be brief. R will eventually want to ride faster and longer than I want to run. I don’t know when that time will come, but it won’t surprise me if it’s soon given the current trend. Every day she’s substantially more comfortable on the bike and she loves speed.
Going on these bike rides has been incredibly fun and I’m just trying to focus on the moment and appreciate them. I’m also already hoping to do it all again in a couple years with B.