…or how I wasted too many days NOT hiking.
We know your pain. We have three kids, ages two, five and nine, so not even old enough to fend for themselves when we get a wild hair. Before we started hiking in groups of like-minded families, the majority of our hikes were very spur of the moment because we woke with a desperate need to leave the house. But, like I said, three kids in tow everywhere we go? Exhausting. Teaching a preschool in our home at the time? Exhausting. Getting said children to and from various educational activities? Exhausting. Keeping the house in just enough cleanliness so as not to raise the suspicions of CPS? Exhausting. Finding and making time for friends or even my husband? Exhausting, after all that other stuff.
My point? Oh yes, I’m glad you asked. We were intimately familiar with the Compromise Monster. You know the one I’m talking about. It rears its kind, simple, evil words in the back of your head. “Just stay home,” it suggests. “You’ve had such a busy week,” it continues. “You can always hike next weekend,” it compromises. “You’re just SO exhausted,” it finally offers, knowing its got you stuck on the couch all day, right where it wants you.
Sometimes the Compromise Monster is actually a trick of the imagination. It comes in the form of hopes and promises of cuddling all day with the kids, eating a fun meal and then putting on a family movie to close out a “great stay-home day”. Let’s be honest, with three kids under ten, it NEVER goes that way. Then you regret missing the hike. Or worse! You end up at the mall. I shudder at the number of wasted Saturdays we spent at the mall after we had Compromise Monster’ed away our days hike. Too many, I can assure you. We remember none of them, none. The trail, on the other hand! We remember almost every trek.
How do we keep this Compromise Monster at bay? Or maybe even render it completely powerless? Here, I can only offer our personal experience, until I finish my psychology degree, maybe then I can offer more insight. For now, though, here’s how we did/do it.
First, remember the trail!
I mentioned forgetting every day we spent in the mall but remembering every trek?! This memory proved most helpful when trying to argue with our Monster. “Remember the creek off that trail last week? Let’s explore there today.” or “Remember, the trail we did with so-and-so? Lets take Daddy back to that one and show him, he’ll love it.” and so on. Every time we thought of a memory to spur our inspiration we were much more successful in getting out the door.
Second, find a group!
Hike it Baby is a fabulous place to start. For us though, there was no group on Oahu. So I asked in my homeschooling communities; “There has to be a group of fellow homeschoolers who LOVE hiking the island. Anyone know of a group for that?” My questions landed me in a group, Hiking with Keiki, while not homeschoolers as I first expected, they were avid hikers. Well organized and very diverse in trails chosen each week. I found my group. Literally. It wasn’t long before I was leading hikes with them. When we learned we were heading back to the mainland, we immediately asked, ‘Isn’t there a group like this over there?’ This is how we found Hike it Baby.
Third, host a hike!
Hosting was what really kicked my personal Monster’s butt, which allows me to silence the Monsters whispering in the heads of everyone else in my house. It created a sense of responsibility for me personally. People were counting on me (or “us” because I always had at least two children with me) to host the hike. If I succumbed to my Monster, eagerly awaiting children didn’t get to see the Mokes or climb the trees or swing over a waterfall, hiking moms missed out on the camaraderie of slipping in the mud at Manoa Falls or families took wrong turns and had to wait out their rescue parties till well after dark. This motivated me, and my children. They became solid hike leaders. They knew trail paths better than other hosts and were kind, helpful and good spirited in assisting others on the trail.
Lastly, acknowledge the change in your family.
This was another big one for me. I saw how hiking had changed our days, yes. But it had also changed our attitudes, our stamina, our hearts, and our souls. These changes were gradual at times and explosive at others. I watched my oldest, take the hand of a younger girl she had known for all of five minutes and lead her one rock at a time up and down a mountain. The girl’s mom was on her first hike, ever! She was very nervous and hovering over her daughter, until mine stepped in and took the girl on the trail as only children can. That girl and her mom are now avid hikers as well. What could have been a story of an over bearing mom ruining a child’s first experience, ended up being the start of another hiking family to be reckoned with.
Remember, no matter what personality your Compromise Monster has, it’s up to you to tame it. No one can do it for you. My suggestions are just that, suggestions. You must find what works for you. What gets your Monster under control? What shuts it up fast and efficiently?
Don’t hesitate to leave a comment and let us know how you’re taming your Compromise Monster. Maybe someone else could benefit from your process, too.