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.
1. Let the Child Lead
I used to pride myself in being a multi-tasking person and mother. As my daughter has grown up, and subsequently required even more attention, I have made a firm commitment to uni-tasking when I’m playing and engaging directly with her. We have entered what I call the “brain exploding” phase, where new words spill out of her mouth daily, her fine motor skills are developing incredible precision, and her curiosity drives her to knew heights (literally!). My own adventures can take the back-burner for now. Child-led play has become one of my favourite activities.
2. Toddlers Fidget When They Need To Move
I used to think my cluster-feeding newborn was tough to bring on the trail. Now I realize it was a breeze compared to this stage. Maya will last maybe an hour in the backpack before hair pulling and kicking indicate it’s time to let her loose. She can walk surprisingly fast up the trail, but of course she is distracted by an ant! a leaf! a log! every few feet. Check out my 7 Tips for Hiking with a Toddler for ideas of how to make the most of your hikes with a kid this age.
3. Practicality Will Keep You Sane
A huge weight lifted off my shoulders when I discovered, and accepted, that it would be impossible to keep my standards for, well, everything. Organization, cleanliness, punctuality… I do my best, but I simply had to let go of my perfectionism in these areas. I also let practicality guide my outdoor pursuits. I pushed it a few times this summer, but mostly preferred gentler, whine-free adventures. Eventually we’ll be able to handle longer hikes and less stressful overnights.
4. Systems Need to Be Adapted
What worked last year may not work this year. Take winter, for example: last year Maya would happily snuggle in her bunting bag on a cold day and let me plow through snowbanks on our daily walks. But if her preferences this summer and fall are any indication, she won’t be as content to do that this coming winter. That means I need to find a warm suit she can walk around in, as well as warm, waterproof boots. For more on that, check out Gearing Up for Winter: How to Dress Babies and Toddlers.
5. Help Still Goes a Long, Long Way
I hit major burnout this past year because I was trying to do far too much. I can’t imagine what would have happened if it wasn’t for my friends and family who took Maya off my hands for a few hours at a time. I probably would have disintegrated into oblivion. We live far from family, and so it was essential to find regular care so that I could have some time off, spend time alone with my husband or head off on a hike or bike ride without needing to worry about a toddler. The best you can do is reach out and ask. If people don’t know you need help they may not know to offer it.