Seven years ago I met a couple camping on the island of Tortola, in the British Virgin Islands, with their three-year-old. It sparked the idea that as parents we could venture off the beaten track with our kids – something I hadn’t really encountered personally before. That spark of an idea has come to fruition in our own journey as parents. Here’s that story.
Prior to our last trip I read as much as I could about other parents who travelled abroad with a baby. I’m now convinced that the ones who inspired me the most probably had a different kind of baby with them. These parents managed to make things look easy, spending six months or even a year away from home on adventurous expeditions or bouncing around like they were backpackers fresh out of high school. Either they left their real challenges out of the picture or they had miracle babies who slept anywhere, anytime.
I wish I’d had a more accurate picture of what adventurous travel as a young family really looks like before embarking on the last trip. Frankly, I wish I could have read posts like the ones on this website, which is what has motivated me to keep writing.
You can look at it as comical, a “learning experience”, or just downright frustrating. No matter who you look at it, it seems we’ve reached one of the toughest stages as an outdoor family: getting out in winter conditions with a 22-month-old. If Maya’s favourite phrases these days are any indication (I do it. I walk. I don’t want to. No.), we’ve gotten about as far as the curb in front of our house and the “adventure” is already over.
For a year now I have been watching a trend emerging from outdoor and adventure media sources, and that is stories that focus on women doing extraordinary things while they are pregnant. I found myself starting to get tired of it, and wanted to pinpoint why.
There are some products you don’t even know you’ll need until you go through the process of trying a million others, only to realize that none of them do the trick. Thankfully, Suzanne from MyMayu, a North Vancouver-based company, intervened before I had the chance to see my toddler fall flat on her face thanks to loose and clunky rubber boots. I didn’t need to see it happen to know that it was possible. Suzanne sent a pair of MyMayu Muddy Munchkin boots ($48.95 USD) and liners ($16.95 USD) in the mail for Maya to try, and right away I saw their potential as the perfect play boot for rainy, muddy days.
We’re giving away a pair on adventurousparents.com (Canada only).
Hello dear readers! I’m sorry I disappeared for a little while. Life with a toddler is busier than I have ever experienced before. Busier than a full course load and 30+ rehearsal hours a week when I was studying theatre at Queen’s University. Busier than when I was working three jobs at the same time so that I could afford my rent here in Banff. Busier, much busier, than life with a newborn.
What’s on the menu today? I’ve been thinking again about the logistics involved in being a part-time working and outdoorsy mama. I first wrote about it in The Transition to Parenthood: 5 Things I Didn’t Consider. And as we’ve entered toddlerhood, I have discovered more things I didn’t consider. People seemed to have appreciated the first post in this series, so why not a second? Here we go.
I have been blogging here on adventurousparents.com since May 2012. Interestingly, I didn’t become a parent until 10 months later, and I started this website before I even got pregnant. Of course the topic was on my mind before we decided to start a family. In fact, our concern about giving up our lives as outdoor adventurers was the catalyst for this whole project.
Over the years I have used this website to reflect on the transition to parenthood, to dig into tough topics (some controversial) and to give my readers a window into what this transition actually looks like. These posts have always proved to be the most popular, perhaps because they are as honest as my writing comes online. Honesty and rawness resonate with people, and help others to open up. I have greatly appreciated the discussion that follows.
These posts speak to the highs and lows of parenthood as someone who also loves outdoor adventure.
I know as well as any new mama how it feels when that-friend-who-started-trail-running-a-month-after-delivering-a-baby posts a photo of her latest baby-free jaunt through the woods. I’ll admit I still feel those pangs of jealousy as I think back to my own first month postpartum, to my post-baby body. I still feel them now. On the surface some women make it seem like they just plopped a baby out and then it’s business as usual. (Is this actually ever the case!?) Physically speaking, it seems they heal quickly and their bodies are good to them.
This just wasn’t, isn’t, the case for me. And I discovered that comparing myself to others really is futile because I don’t want others to compare themselves to me. I know that I post a lot of photos of me doing active, outdoorsy things, so I wanted to set the record straight. Since May, I have only been doing those things when I feel good enough to do them. Otherwise, I’ve been coping with health issues that have come as a major surprise to me.
A surprise and a major wake-up call.
Outside Magazine called her the “Mother on the Mountain”. Back in November 2013, I had the chance to interview The North Face athlete, Hilaree O’Neill, about the ongoing balancing act between her career as a ski mountaineer and as a mother of two young boys. What’s it like to climb Everest with two young kids back at home? How does she manage risk? What lessons has she learned over the years?
I just spent the week at the Banff Mountain Film and Book Festival, the annual gathering of adventurers, adrenaline junkies, mountain artists and authors up at The Banff Centre. Being a new parent, I entered this year’s festival with a very different outlook on what it means to lead an adventurous lifestyle. As I listened to people’s stories of epic climbs and expeditions, I was curious to know how these “real deal” adventurers felt about parenthood. Did they want to have children? Had they chosen not to? If they did have children, how were they be able to balance life as a mother or father with their adventurous pursuits?
How does a life of adventure without kids compare to a life of adventure with kids?
Here’s the scenario I left you with in Part 2 of this series: Back in August my husband went on his first big trip since we had our daughter – an ascent of Mt. Robson, the highest peak in the Canadian Rockies. Prior to leaving he told me, “This trip could very well be about more than just climbing Mt. Robson. I’ll see how I feel about being disconnected from my wee family up there.”
I left you wondering how things went, and asked: Would he be able to separate himself from his emotions during the climb? Decide it is just too much for him right now, and give up on climbing big peaks for awhile?
If you’re a new parent, the thought of taking your baby camping might seem pretty far-fetched. But if it’s something you love to do you may be tempted to give it a shot. Break them in early, right? I figured that the earlier we took our little one out, the better. If I didn’t try, I’d never know, and I might get too comfortable with the idea that it would be too hard. So, this past week my husband and I packed up our sleeping bags and ventured into the great unknown: sharing a tent with a 10-week-old baby.
In this post I take on a reader question: Before I had my son (now 19 months old) I used to travel all the time. Spent time in Africa, grew up in South America and traveled in the US. I felt fearless and so free. Since having my son however, I’ve been nervous to travel. My husband traveled some in Europe and, similar to me, feels the itch to pack our bags and go, but with our little one it feels different. I see you travel with your sweetie and have been to so many places! My question is, what were your initial fears/hesitations about traveling with your little one and how did you move past them?