The sun crept over the horizon a little while ago, but it’s still in the sleepy waking up stage of the daylight and golden light floods across the meadow. The dew in the long grass dances and twirls, while the daisies sleep on, still furled up with their arms above their heads, and the birds sing out. It’s 6.15 and it’s time for a walk.
It started three weeks ago, or perhaps a couple of days before. I was listening to a podcast about setting yourself a morning routine to kickstart your day and get up and going, and it really hit home. I’ve always been a morning person, but I found I’d been drifting into staying up later and later (usually to make sure that I’d had some time of my own after working all evening), and then sleeping through several alarms in the morning and ending up in a tearing hurry, getting into work later than I wanted (I usually get in at about 8 to get ahead on the day) and then that would mean that there was more work to bring home and the whole thing was a vicious cycle and it was time to stop. Or rather, start.
So one Sunday night I simply said to myself that the next morning I was going to get up and go for a walk first thing. Just round the village, just one walk each working day of that week, and if I hated it or it made me stressed or late I’d stop. It was going to be a mental boost, a bit of fresh air and sunshine that’s sadly lacking when your job involves sitting behind a desk all day, and just the tiniest bit of exercise, which is better than my default setting of none.
In my head it was just going to be me, sneaking out of the house while the children were still asleep, walking up to the meadow, once around and back home, but on that first morning, and the one after, Pip was awake before me and adamant that there way no way he was going to be left behind, so we got him dressed and slung him up onto my back. By the Wednesday Kitty had got in on the act, and by Saturday I had all three with me.
It’s turned out to be one of my most favourite parts of each day. Even when it’s raining.
When it’s just Pip on my back he snuggles into me and we have silly little conversations as we walk around, about hockey, or playgroup, or whatever he’s going to do that day. If the girls are with us then we tend to go a little slower and linger a little longer running up and down the BMX track at the far end of the field. They don’t always come, but I’ll take whoever is up and dressed (and oh do they get dressed quickly if they want to come too!), and even if I do walk further and faster when it’s just me, I miss the company, and the conversation, and the being asked to pretend to score a goal through the basketball hoop.
When they’re with me it’s my chance to talk to them and to really find out what they’re thinking about and I hadn’t realised how much I’d missed that connection with them. When you’re the working parent, and you leave on the 7.21 train and don’t walk through the door again until 6.15 at the earliest the uncomfortable truth is that you just don’t get to spend that much time with your children during the week, and the time that you do have in the evening is ruled by the bath and bedtime of tired little people who are not at their best, and a mama who frequently isn’t at her best either.
First thing in the morning, once they’ve blinked the sleep out of their eyes, I feel I’m getting to see the best versions of themselves, which usually seem reserved for school and Daddy, and pushing back against a work life balance that had become horribly out of kilter in the last nine months.
I’ll admit it’s easy to do on the light sunny mornings and I’m not sure quite what will happen by the time we get to the winter, but for now, it’s the time for our morning walks, and a habit that I can’t imagine is going to prove hard to keep to.