I've always hated the winter. Dark nights and bad weather aren't my idea of fun, but being stuck indoors is even worse! Fortunately for me, Sonny doesn't seem remotely bothered by the cold, so we're all set for a winter of adventure...
The night the clocks went back, it dawned on me that we've had it way too easy as parents so far. Being born in glorious April weather, swiftly followed by the hottest Cambridgeshire summer for years, our little boy was treated to long days and sunshine from the second he first opened his eyes. As a result he spent his first six months lazing in the sun, enjoying long evening walks and generally just relaxing outdoors. Then the autumn arrived...
Fortunately we were well prepared, and armed to the teeth with warm outdoor gear. Sonny's got wooly hats, gloves, fleeces, coats, hoodies, insulated jackets and even a heavy duty down-filled body suit. Basically, this boy ain't getting cold. But the problem is finding the time to get outside with him.
At the moment my weekday routine goes something like this... wake up at 6am (after a broken night of baby-abused sleep), walk the dog in the dark, jump on the bus in the dark, arrive at work for 8am, leave the office at 4.30pm, travel home in the dark, walk the dog again in the dark, put the baby to bed, shovel some food down my throat, fall asleep, then wake up the following day and do it all again. It's shattering, and I've always been guilty of feeling more lethargic at this time of year, but I also realise the importance of getting outside and, of course, spending as much time as possible with my son.
If the weather isn't too apocalyptic, and Sonny's already awake when I creep out of the house at 6.30am to walk the dog, there's nothing I love more than taking him out with me in his pram. Thanks to his snug, toasty and incredibly easy-to-zip-up full body down suit, it takes me just a few minutes to get him out of the house and into the park, where he happily chuckles away at the birds, trees and barking dogs. Sonny's always loved being outside and this is a great way for him to start the day, while also giving his mum a few precious extra minutes in bed (because I'm well aware she's the one doing the real hard work).
It's much tougher when I get home from work, because Sonny's already winding down his day and almost ready to jump in the bath, but it always makes my day when I'm treated to a surprise welcome off the bus by my favourite trio of mum, dog and baby in his hilarious baby carrier. This gives us all chance to stroll through town in the fresh air, compare how crazy our respective days have been (mum always wins) and, most importantly, chill out before the night-time routine starts again.
But of course it isn't all hard work, because the weekends give us loads of opportunities to get outside as a family. Whether that's a ramble along the river, a dog walk in the park, a trip to the beach, a stroll through town to the shops, a couple of hours playing in the garden, or a proper weekend break in the countryside, we're planning to do it all this winter.
Of course it isn't always easy to find the motivation, and sometimes I feel guilty dragging Sonny away from the warmth of the house and the comfort of his bouncy chair, but this little dude absolutely loves being outside and I can't deny him that pleasure just because it's got a bit chillier and I'm feeling lazy.
The only hard bit is mobilising myself to head out of the door in the first place. Because once I'm out there I love every second of it, which is why I spend all this time writing about it!
This article was originally published at www.theoutdoordad.co.uk