With a bit of planning the night before, taking the girls to the beach for an early morning swim was not as difficult as it sounds. I knew that if we wanted to properly enjoy the beach this summer, we had to do it early in the morning, and it would be better without a newborn (as in, now!).

So I packed the car the night before, and David and I got up soon after 3 am. First we each logged onto our respective computers to check our online correspondence, then at about 4 (the sky is just starting to lighten up) we bundled the girls into the car and drove south to the sand and surf.

We arrived in time to catch the sunrise, which was delayed by thick clouds on the horizon. Even though it’s officially school holidays, there were empty car parks right at the edge of the sand. The only other people on the beach were early morning walkers and the occasional surfer.

Calista, 20 months old, December 2009
Calista was initially intimidated by the gentle surf and ALL THAT SAND, but we coaxed her down to the waterfront so she'd at least get her toes wet.

Calista, 20 months old, December 2009
She soon settled into playing in the sand with Aisha.

Laurne, Brioni, 3yo, Calista, 20 months old, Aisha, 4yo, December 2009
I was the only one who really went into the surf, although I did convince Brioni to come in with me for a little way.

Lauren, Brioni, 3yo, + Calista, 20 months old, December 2009
It was the perfect time of day to visit the beach. The early morning temperature was so balmy, but I didn't have to worry about the heat of the sun (i.e. sunscreen, hats, exposure).

After about an hour, we moved from the surf beach around to a sheltered beach park without waves. When we arrived, the only people in the park were spry senior citizens waving metal detectors across the sand or languidly stroking through the water.

Aisha, 4yo, December 2009
At this beach we could coax Aisha into the water for a proper swim.

Brioni, 3yo, Calista, 20 months old, + Lauren, December 2009
The float suits came in handy again because it meant we could all swim together to the pontoon in the background.

On the floating pontoon, David entertained us with his somersaults into the water before taking Aisha to look at the shark nets that protected the swimming area. After our big swim, we were all hungry enough to eat something for a picnic breakfast.

David, Aisha, 4yo, Brioni, 3yo, + Calista, 20 months old, December 2009
Fruit on the beach — yum!

David, Aisha, 4yo, Brioni, 3yo, + Calista, 20 months old, December 2009
Look how deserted this beach park is! This is a very popular spot during the day, but no other families turned up before we left.

When we left, the sun was just starting to get hot, and we joined the flow of traffic commuting to the city for work. We arrived home at about 8 am, feeling like we’d already enjoyed half a day with our special outing!