In Hike it Baby Cities all across the country we post our fun hike pictures in our local FaceBook group rooms to help keep each other inspired and motivated to get out and enjoy nature. Sometimes it can seen like some of the Hike it Baby families ONLY spend time outside and make us wonder, “How do they do these events so often during the week and manage to get their household chores done?”.
Whenever I find myself questioning my parenting philosophy I pause and ask myself, “Is my child happy, healthy, safe and warm?”. If those needs are met I can relax and make plans to get us outdoors while letting go of some of the anxiety I can feel at leaving a hamper full of dirty clothes to sit while we go on a hike. Letting my mind become bogged down with the never-ending list of chores that I “should” be doing makes for a very unhappy parent and will effect my little one. As with anything, I learned by taking baby steps on the path of letting go.
When my son was born it was autumn in Alaska. My life revolved around 2 hour increments of:
1-baby wakes 2-diaper changed 3-baby eats 4-mama pumps 5-one chore 6-baby naps.
This was monotonous, exhausting and quickly inducing depression. I knew that I needed to get out of the house for something other than a trip to the grocery store but at this point in my life just getting us ready and outside to the car was a “hike” for me. I couldn’t imagine going for a walk and leaving the dinner or laundry for the next “2 hour block”.
Eventually, I found that I could accomplish more while babywearing. This led to more free time and was how I baby-stepped my way from making the mail check of the day our daily hike to getting out 5 days a week for much longer walks. Whether you have a newborn or a toddler and you are wondering how these moms are doing it all, just know that they AREN’T doing it all! They are prioritizing and what you see on FaceBook are the happy faces of them getting out while they have possibly left a sink a dishes, a load of laundry or a stack of bills that need to be done.
I started “hiking” with my son in the middle of winter in Alaska. If the garbage needed to be taken out I turned it into a stroller walk around the neighborhood. If I needed stamps we walked to the post office. These practice runs led to us walking to the mall and doing a feeding there and then returning home. Eventually, I could take him in the stroller on the nearby bike path with confidence. Being outside was such a calming force for both of us. The mixing of getting an errand done and getting out of the house made me fret less about the laundry or meal making that was postponed.
Try to start small. Choose 1 day and 1 chore that can be postponed. Lead or join a hike and see how refreshed you feel when you get home! Maybe next time you can choose 2 days and plan a take-out dinner and 1 chore to postpone. Your child will remember the fun you had outside and will not remember the time you didn’t vacuum the living room one day.
We moved when my son turned 1 and to make new friends we started a HiB branch. I began leading 3-5 hikes per week to get it going. Now we can’t go a day without my little guy demanding to go outside and I feel stir crazy if we haven’t hiked in a day or so. I may not have a dust-free home and our meals are generally out of a crock-pot but we are outside at least 5 days a week and happy as can be! Find your tribe and that supportive environment with your local Hike it Baby Group and start motivating other families to get out and enjoy life!!