Sleepless Nights, Restless Days

I’m going to be blunt.  I started today off pretty grumpy.  I was supposed to go on a training hike this morning to get ready for this summer mountaineering season, and specifically for our July trip to the Cascades. Instead, I spent a sleepless night with my daughter waking up every 45 minutes from midnight until 4am, when she finally decided to just not go back to sleep at all.  Leaving my daughter upset and screaming for my exhausted wife to deal with so that I could go hike just wasn't an option.


Getting into shape (and staying there) can be one of the biggest challenges in our modern adventure lives.  We all want to be crushing our climbs, effortlessly running up remote trails, or bagging peak after challenging peak.  To do that though, at least in an enjoyable way, we have to be in solid physical condition.  With our busy modern lives, where most of us spend way too much time sitting at our desks, in the car, in traffic, in meetings, at dinners, at work.  How do we find the time to keep up with our fitness goals? 


When you add parenthood to the mix... well.... that just makes things exponentially more difficult. The free time you had before?  Yeah.... that’s not your own anymore.  The ability to wake at 5am to get your pre-work workout in?  Hey... if you’ve got the energy after a sleepless night of your kid constantly interrupting your sleep, then I applaud you. You’re a machine. Post work run?  That’s the kids dinner time. Don’t want to miss that. Post bedtime workout?  Again... if you’ve got the energy for it... congratulations! 


Now it may sound like I’m just complaining and finding excuses. I’m not. What I’m trying to say is, to all you other tired, frustrated dads out there: You are not alone. 

Life is full of trade offs, and compromises. Just because you can’t push yourself the way you did as a single, childless 20 something doesn’t mean that you have to just give up and stop being an adventurer.  You might not be able to spend the weekend crushing 5.13s or speed hiking the sierras.  But you can still get outside. And instead of approaching the outdoors from a somewhat selfish viewpoint of “what can i do today,” you get to come at and say “what can I share with my kid today.”


My workouts these days are very different. I don’t have time to spend in the gym lifting or spending hours projecting the same bouldering problems.  Instead I put my daughter on my back and hit the trail.  I might move slower, and might not be able to take her up class 3 terrain (yet) but hiking with your kid has a couple of surprise training benefits.

1: Kids grow. The stronger you get, the heavier they get.  Hike 30+ lbs of baby up some hills makes up for those lunges you don’t have time for anymore  

2: In my experience, kids love being carried and sleep really well in the backpack.  You get to get your workout in without feeling guilty about abandoning your kids, AND you get some peaceful moments of quiet while they sleep on your back. 


hildren’s climbing harnesses also are a great way to sneak in some weightlifting while playing with your kids.

And I still get to go climbing.  I just have to rely a little more on our friends, my wife, and our community.  Blair and I usually take turns climbing with a friend while one of us watches the kid.  Sure.... sometimes you end up hiking out to the crag only to have her fall asleep on you for a few hours, but is there really anything better that cuddling your kid in the most beautiful places in the world?  Who says climbing trips have to only be about the climbing??

Nap time at the crag.

Nap time at the crag.

Climbing a “rock wall” at the local playground.

Climbing a “rock wall” at the local playground.

I’ll be honest, sometimes I really miss the freedom of pre-fatherhood day’s.  But nothing that I did back then gave me as much sheer joy as watching my daughter discover the outdoors, and make it her own, even when a sleepless night and unexpected 4am wake up necessitates a trip to our local playground instead of the previously planned summit attempt.  


Too long didn’t read?  In short... cut yourself some slack guys.  Life happens.  Roll with it and enjoy it while it lasts.  Just don’t give up.