Recently I decided it was time to reclaim my early-morning hours (now that Nathaniel is sleeping through the night) and sneak out for early-morning walks in the park by myself. The kids are getting heavier in the stroller (the children and stroller together weigh about 100 pounds), and I knew I would enjoy some quiet, unburdened walking, at my own pace, before returning to a busy house.
About the same time I decided on this new plan, however, Nathaniel started trimming an hour or two off his sleep at night. We know he’s getting teeth, but the boy who would sleep until about 8:30 suddenly started getting up at 7:30, 6:30, and even, on one or two bad nights, 5:30am. I’ve tried moving bedtimes back, but it didn’t seem to help. He’s settled into a wake-up time of about 7am, which is a good hour or more before Katherine and Sydney want to get up. Although nursery in the fall will have us leaving the house around 7:30, I’m not ready to inflict that schedule on us just yet, so I’ve been taking Nathaniel outside to get in a walk and buy the rest of the house some sleep time.
So I’m still pushing a stroller, though it’s lighter, and I’m still bribing a child with crackers, though he’s often content to just look around at that hour of the morning until I stop to let him out to play. Within three days of this he had the routine down. From the moment he wakes up, I have about five minutes in which to throw on clothes and gather our shoes and jackets before he starts making enough noise to wake the house with his: “Out!” “Down!” “Out!” “Walk!” commands.
On bad mornings, I lock him into the room with me while I try to buy another few minutes of rest, and then I eventually stumble outside with him only to find myself standing at the locked gates of the university parks (they apparently only open at a more decent hour), wondering why on earth I am there. On better mornings, I enjoy getting to share the fresh air and parks with Nathaniel, I love getting in a walk before the rest of my day, and I am grateful to have a small creature pushing me out the door each morning to get my exercise in. He is great motivation, I have to say: if I don’t get up immediately after getting him out of the crib, I know I thereby risk letting him put the vacuum extension in the toilet, ripping the Christmas ornaments (stored under the bed) into tiny pieces, or, my favorite, dragging a chair over to the kitchen door to unbolt it and let himself out into the garden. So, outside we go!