Clearing baby-gear hurdles in a single bound

Since our daughter, her husband and their three little ones moved in with us, waiting for their house to be finished, people often ask how it is going.

The truth is, we have settled into a lovely and comfortable routine, brought about, in part, by our willingness to live amid an obstacle course.

The various baby contraptions, small furniture pieces and assorted paraphernalia scattered throughout the house have become more or less permanent fixtures. As such, they have rerouted traffic patterns and altered many of our basic movements. Our reflexes are now sharper than ever, we burn more calories each day and are closing in on long-standing fitness goals.

Before their arrival, we simply walked from one room to the other with no cardio or stretch benefit whatsoever. Now the doorway from the kitchen to the dining room is occupied by a Jolly Jumper, a bulky contraption on a spring, suspended from the overhead door molding. The baby sits in the jumper seat and bounces up and down screaming with glee. To get from the kitchen to the dining room, we give the contraption a gentle hip bump, elongate our entire bodies, inhale deeply to minimize our girth, stretch until we can stretch no more, then slither through the small opening between the contraption and the door frame.

Our flexibility has improved dramatically, and we are both five inches taller.

The baby walker is often parked in the family room in front of the access area to the bookshelves. If you want books, a brief run and short hurdle over the walker will get you there. Reading, once a passive activity, now leaves us breathless.

The portable Rock N Play, in which the baby sometimes naps, is less negotiable as it has big feet and is easy to trip over. When it appears in your path, it is best to tread softly, turn sharply, cut a wide swath around it, then resume speed.

Further benefiting our cardio, we often take the stairs two at a time. A baby crying, preschoolers wailing, or the sound of water rushing from unknown origins and we are on our way!

It feels good to be running track again.

The Bumbo, a molded plastic seat the baby can sit in, has been a challenge as it is frequently mobile. It may be in the kitchen one minute, behind my desk chair another, or under the piano keyboard. You never know if it will be occupied by baby or by a life-size baby doll that scares the wits out of you. The Bumbo has been hard on our blood pressure, but we are adapting.

Even the downstairs bathroom has become a challenge. An adult must lean in at a precarious angle over the step stool used by the girls to reach the sink and simultaneously maintain balance while washing your hands. The hand towel will be somewhere on the floor or half-way in the sink, but never in the towel ring. We disdain predictability.

We’ve never been more fit. Who knows what we’ll do when they leave. Probably just sit around, grow sedentary and out of shape.

And cry our eyes out.