Goal: latte at bayside café. When: An early Autumn Saturday morning with blue skies but still a crisp feel to the air. Mode: Energetic athletic dad running from townhouse, down alleyway, along waterfront footpath pushing restful daughter in three wheel pram.
That was my plan when Little Bean was in the womb. The day could not fail after an invigorating morning of endorphins, caffeine and tranquillity.
First attempt: Daughter was wrapped up snuggly in a Winnie the Pooh fleece, pom pom beanie on top, and was wide-eyed in expectation of entertainment. 2 minutes down the road an excitement of noises ring out from the front of the pram. I soon realised the noises were an attempt to join in on whatever mummy and daddy were doing as they quickly escalated to grumbling, crying, and then screaming. She was thrashing her little arms, legs and head in a desperate attempt to participate in all the fun we were having.
Ebay provided a reversible pram seat so Daughter could be facing us.
Second Attempt: Now, with such a temptation staring invitingly at her, Daughter had the new idea it would be much more satisfying riding high in daddy's arms. She thrust her arms towards me in a desperate attempt to grab hold of my neck and propel herself up to hover at the same level as daddy's head. Up here you can be in mummy's and daddy's presence, feel their touch and analyse all the happenings of the world.
The pram became redundant as I was made to engage in weight training for 85% of the walk.
Third Attempt: The sling; semi-stretchy burnt orange material wrapped around the both of us to make the walk somehow manageable. But our little interactive daughter wanted more than just views. She wanted to be more engaged with the environment. She wanted to touch what she saw. And being a copier, she also wanted to engage in that oh so enjoyable walking movement mummy and daddy were doing.
There was so much wiggling she practically popped herself out of the sling.
Fourth Attempt: Now it is the three of us running along. Well, it's more like one sprinting and the other two barely jogging!
Tranquillity has been replaced with joyful excitement. The café replaced with a playground and handicapped running races up to the sand dunes.
Is exercise happening? Well, after one, or maybe two, kilometres our three years old retires to the pram (apparently toddlers should get three hours of exercise a day!). The pace picks up for the rest of the trip (particularly when the Little One pushes her booster button to make daddy sprint 50m!). And running while trying to control a pram is also a surprisingly good workout.
Our time is full of delightful giggles, examination of the minutest details in nature and complete attention on each other. It is our new (and improved) definition of exercise, it is family exercise.
Daniel Stott is a primary school teacher on the Gold Coast and is Bible College trained.
Daniel Stott's previous articles may be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/daniel-stott.html