Celebrating Motherhood by Katy Severe for Hike it Baby

Mother’s Day is the day to celebrate all the wonderful mothers in our lives, whether it is your biological mother or the women in your life who have been there for you. For those of us who are mothers, it’s also a day to celebrate the mother that you have become. Our own journeys of motherhood are as unique as our fingerprints, yet there are so many ways we’re all connected with our experiences.

From an outsider’s viewpoint, Hike it Baby may seem like just a group of people who get together to hike. However, for those of us involved, we know it is so much more than that. It is a community that, collectively, has changed and influenced our own journeys of motherhood in positive ways.

We asked our mama Branch Ambassadors about some of the ways Hike it Baby has changed or influenced them as a mother, and here is what they shared.

LEARNING PATIENCE

Anyone who has waited for their child to put on their own shoes, crawl into the car seat on their own or dress by themselves is intimately familiar with the word patience. Letting the little things go, taking a deep breath and trying to remain in the moment with your child can be challenging! On Hike it Baby hikes, caregivers and parents learn quickly that hiking with kids is not about the destination or the miles – it’s about the experience. Being surrounded by other like-minded parents who let their children pick up every stick, stomp in every puddle and eat some dirt helps us all realize that we can learn a lot from watching our kids interact with nature.

Hike it Baby has taught me patience. The patience needed to let my kids explore and learn on their own. I’ve learned to wait for them to jump in every puddle, pick up every stick or rock, and search for lots of bugs. I’ve learned to let them have fun outside on their own terms. – Jessica Sekula, Harpers Ferry

[Hike it Baby] taught me that dirt and germs are okay. It’s alright if your kid wants to sit in a puddle or see what a pine cone tastes like. I now let my child explore nature how he likes, rather than me dictate what he should experience. – Adrienne Brand, South King County, WA

Celebrating Motherhood by Katy Severe for Hike it Baby

Photo credit: Ali Chandra

GETTING OUTSIDE

We all have good intentions of getting outside with our children after they’re born, but the truth is that sometimes that can be difficult to accomplish. Postpartum depression and anxiety, coupled with weather and seasonal obstacles, can make this seem like more work than it should be. Taking that first step to join a Hike it Baby hike can make all the difference in feeling like you CAN hike with kids in tow and you CAN experience the outdoors with your children. It might look a little different than it did pre-kids, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

Hike it Baby has pushed me to get myself and my kids outside way more than we did before and has shown me just how much happier my kids and I are because of it. It’s also helped me rediscover my love for camping and the discovery that my kids LOVE it just as much as I did as a kid. – Alex Wong, Salt Lake City, UT

Before becoming a mother and finding HiB, I was a hermit during our long cold winters. Now, I see the value and importance of nature therapy, socializing with other parents and teaching patience and persistence. – Michelle Robinson, Brockville, Ontario, Canada

FINDING BALANCE

Let’s face it: parenthood is defeating. Every day. It’s usually the little things, but they always add up. We picked the wrong color of sippy cup, the wrong snack, the wrong shirt, the wrong book to read … the list goes on. Yes, there are amazing moments of parenthood that none of us would trade for the world. But, it can also feel incredibly defeating on a daily basis. Being able to get outside, exercise and challenge our bodies, feel strong by carrying our kids, breathe fresh air and interact with other adults who also understand how defeating parenthood is can feel amazing!

Through HiB and time spent outdoors with my children, I have really found my way as a mother and it has brought me and my kids so much peace and balance. It has also really helped me with anxiety, and it turns out I’m reasonably sociable when meandering on trails with other parents. – Vanessa Duthie, Raleigh, NC

Hike it Baby recognizes the importance of self-care and firmly believes that parents can do their jobs better if their cup is full, and we make it possible for you to find that balance.

HiB has helped me prioritize my time with my family over everything else, gain the realization that outside time – “me” time, friend time and family time – doesn’t have to all be mutually exclusive and to remember the value of fresh air and dirt. – Erin Pennings, Green Bay, WI

Celebrating Motherhood by Katy Severe for Hike it BabyPhoto credit: Jennifer Campbell

CREATING COMMUNITY

Hike it Baby is a community of like-minded parents and caregivers who work together with a common goal: to raise a generation to love the outdoors. Members support Hike it Baby and one another as we work to advocate for getting families into nature starting from birth. There is something so empowering about finding your “village” and feeling connected to other families. The benefits are numerous. Watching your child develop friendships with other Hike it Baby kids is like the cherry on top of the ice cream sundae!

Nature grounds my daughter. It is where she belongs. Hike it Baby honors that need, helps her connect with other children who love the great outdoors and, honestly, it’s redefined my idea of community when it comes to parenting. It truly takes a village, and our village likes to hike. – Laura Miller, La Crosse, WI

I was desperate to meet new friends after moving from Denver, CO, to La Crosse, WI. There was no HiB branch in my area, so I started our branch in hopes of meeting other hiking families and learning the trails in our area. HiB helps me meet new friends, gets me out of my introverted nature and gives my kids a chance to be wild with other kids. I also have a 6-week-old baby and HiB has helped me in my postpartum period to get out for walks and enjoy the company of others who “get” how crazy life with a newborn can be. – Christina Rogel, La Crosse, WI

Celebrating Motherhood by Katy Severe for Hike it BabyPhoto credit: Deanna Curry

OVERCOMING DIFFICULTIES

Parenthood comes with many changes: the sudden change in identity, the change of pace going from being on your own timeline to being on someone else’s timeline, having someone be completely dependent on you, a possible change in employment, a change in family priorities … the list seems endless. All of these changes, coupled with a general lack of sleep and crazy hormones, can leave a mama feeling very isolated. Many women experience postpartum depression and anxiety after having kids and It can feel scary to talk about these thoughts, but as soon as you realize that other moms are experiencing the same difficulties, the feeling can be liberating!

Hike it Baby has helped me tremendously with social anxiety, which was never something I expected to change in my mid-30s. I think it helps me be a better role model for my daughter since I can more openly chat with people and be a strong woman who is not too shy to say something. It’s also taught me that if I am struggling with something, it is very likely many other parents have also struggled with it, and there is no reason for me to keep quiet or be ashamed about it. It had helped me open up about postpartum anxiety and breastfeeding difficulties, for example. I’ve found that being open about my struggles actually helps myself and others realize these are not stigmas. These are common. – Colette Clarke, Harrisburg, PA

FINDING STRENGTH

While your body prepares for childbirth and the experience can feel empowering for many, it can also be frustrating when your body has changed and your fitness level is not where it used to be. Hike it Baby encourages parents and caregivers to get outside and hike regardless of physical level. We leave no hiker behind, so there is no fear that you’ll hold the group back or slow everyone down. Learning how to carry your child and all of your gear on a trail hike can make anyone feel like Wonder Woman! To feel strong (again) and to realize what our bodies are capable of doing is so powerful. Hike it Baby is an outlet for many for finding that strength. And, feeling strong in one area of your life has the ability to transfer over into other areas of your life.

Hike it Baby has taught me that having children did not weaken me, but gave me greater strength than ever before. It has given me the motivation and means to make it through literal and figurative mountains and valleys. – Molly Porzel, Atlanta, GA

My mother passed away when I was 17 and before that, she struggled with a lot of personal issues, so I didn’t really understand the role of “mom.” I struggled with parenthood until I discovered HiB when my oldest was 3. Watching mothers “in real life” gave me the ability to learn how to be a mom/parent. The supportive network of families I have thanks to HiB gave me the confidence as I became a mother of two. There is something really special about welcoming in a new baby hiker to this community. They have instant friends, “aunts” and “uncles.” HiB saved my relationship with my oldest kiddo. I don’t think I would be the mom that I am for him without HiB being a part of our lives.” – Annie Maxine, Ann Arbor, MI

Celebrating Motherhood by Katy Severe for Hike it BabyPhoto credit: Jessica Human

GAINING PERSPECTIVE

When you revel in the beauty of the soft rain falling on the tree canopies above your head or when you watch the smile on your young child’s face as she touches tree bark for the first time, it’s hard to find room for politics or differing parenting styles. It’s so inspirational to see how we can all come together with a greater purpose in mind. It feels very supportive to see the hike host’s child throwing a tantrum on the trail just like your child did last week and know that you are not alone.

[Hike it Baby has] taught me I can make a difference for other families. Providing a judgment-free, supportive environment is really something unique in society today. I have had a few parents tell me how much it meant to them to find HiB, which makes it all worth it. I’m happy to have the opportunity to help others and doing something I love.” – Kristie Huffman, Galveston, TX

HiB has reinforced the idea that everyone parents differently and that is totally OK. We can all still come together as a judgement-free community to enjoy each other’s company and the amaziness of the world around us.” – Ashley Putzier, Eugene, OR

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We’d love to hear the ways Hike it Baby has changed your life as a mom. Please share in the comments below.

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