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.
I reached out to other outdoorsy parents for advice, but nothing particularly helped the situation. Duct tape won’t solve the mitten issue because she doesn’t want them on in the first place. She won’t sleep outside. And it’s not even a matter of ‘building character’ at this point. This kid just doesn’t want to be constrained in a Chariot (goodbye walking), strapped in a pulk (goodbye skiing), or sitting on a sled (goodbye skating). It’s just not worth the kicking and screaming. I won’t enjoy myself if everything is a battle.
Alyssa from KidProject.org reminded me to take the long view and that the hardest years when it comes to the outdoors is ages 2-3.
The good news is: this stage will end at some point. The bad news is: this stage has not yet ended. I am longing for some care-free outdoor time with my little girl that also lets me be active, get a sweat on, and enjoy some scenery. But I am learning to accept that I’ll just have to wait a bit longer before those family adventures make a return.
This morning I set a small, simple goal for us: to spend time outdoors. That was it. No plans, no skating, no sled, no destination, no time allotment, no agenda. And, you know? It worked. She happily rode in the LittleLife backpack (yay – victory!), and we made our way to the ice playground at Banff Central Park. We had the place to ourselves at 9 a.m., and spent an hour exploring, playing, climbing and sliding. I let Maya lead, and froze my buns off sliding again and again down that icy ramp. I laughed a lot, enjoyed my little girl’s company and, for the first time in awhile, felt entirely care-free.
If you’re in the same stage as us, my only words of advice are to just surrender to it. I used to think it was a matter of will and determination – that it’s up to the parents to make it happen. But now a lot depends on what Maya wants to do, too. My daughter’s strong sense of independence and drive will serve her well in the future. For now, I need to work with it, empower her, and give her the feeling that she’s accomplishing something on her own.
I miss the days when I could pull Maya behind me, which makes me thankful for all the ski trips and skating we did when that was possible. Maybe someday I’ll miss this stage, too – when my kid toddles around awkwardly in a lumpy snowsuit, when she gets snow down her cuffs and bursts into tears, when any wind is too cold for her…
OK, maybe I won’t. 🙂
Read more about it:
When Adventure (As We Know It) Isn’t Working by Amelia, Tales of a Mountain Mama