How do you incorporate the lessons you learn from hiking with your family to the time spent off of the trails? Melissa, a Branch Lead for Hike it Baby Atlanta, shares with us how using the Hike it Baby philosophy of taking advantage of any time outdoors can turn an ordinary chore into an adventure for the whole family.
When I first found Hike it Baby as the mother of a five and a soon-to-be two year old I was ecstatic. You mean to tell me there’s a group out there like this!? I knew we needed the fresh air, the friends, and the miles on the trail under our feet. I dove in head first and after one hike I was signing up to be a Branch Lead. I had an idea of all the things we would gain by being involved in a group like this, a love of nature for my little ones, an appreciation for our world and its wonders, and healthy habits starting early, but I had no idea how much it would permeate into the way I viewed the rest of our lives. It’s so easy to separate what we do in the great outdoors from “normal life,” but the more time I spend hiking and getting out there with my little ones, the more I’m realizing that the attitudes we are developing on the trail are coming home with us. Below are a few things I’ve learned since starting my journey with Hike it Baby and the ways in which my attitude has changed.
1. Any time spent outdoors is time well spent.
When we moved into our tiny little apartment in the city there weren’t any washer and dryer hook-ups and the communal Laundromat was a good two blocks away. The thought of schlepping loads of laundry up the hill with two little ones in tow was a little overwhelming, so we quickly purchased a portable washing machine to use in our bathroom. That meant I would be line-drying all of our clothes. At first, I thought I would soon tire of constantly lugging baskets of wet clothes outside on a weekly basis, however, my perspective on the situation soon changed. I had a mundane household chore that now required me to go outside! I still don’t revel in the idea of gathering, sorting and folding, but now I really look forward to the time I spend getting the laundry up on the line. When I’m busy picking up toys, washing dishes and basically chasing the mess as it moves throughout my home, I get to take a break and step out into the fresh air every time my washing machine beeps at me and I love it! What seemed an extra difficult step in completing a weekly chore is now a nice little escape in the middle of the day.
2. Car trouble is never as bad as you think it is.
I remember an early conversation I had with my husband before we were married. He was trying to convince me that unexpected car trouble could result in one of the best days of the week. Does that sound strange to you, too? More on that later… Fast-forward about 8 years to a car that barely started on the way to school that has my son and I at the mechanic’s with a two-and-a-half hour timeline until it’s fixed. Two-and-a-half hours with a two-year-old in a tiny little room and a machine full of brightly colored candies just wasn’t going to fly. Oh, and did I mention I put him in the car without shoes on? Lesson learned. The thing is, though, I wasn’t frazzled. I had a stroller in the trunk and I could go anywhere. Looking around, there wasn’t much in this industrial part of town, but after a quick search on the phone I found a coffee shop 2.41 mi away (after one time through a HIB 30 challenge, you get very precise with your mileage tracking). The distance didn’t phase me. It was a beautiful day and I had a fantastic morning with my son. A fantastic morning full of car trouble! You see, my husband’s point those many years ago was that when you’re left without a car unexpectedly you just have to stop everything you were planning to do and go for a walk. I put in about 5 miles that day and felt great. Sure, I had other plans for the morning, but that unexpected walk with my son was the best thing I could have done. And if it wasn’t for Hike it Baby I may never have pulled the stroller out-I think you can imagine how well that would have gone.
3. Time is an asset. Use it wisely.
Over the holidays I got to travel back home for some much needed rest and reset time with family. Due to my husband’s work schedule, however, he wasn’t able to come. No worries there, I’ve traveled with the babies plenty of times on my own before, so that wasn’t the issue. What was the issue was that due to my husband’s work schedule, I had to be at the airport four hours early. Four hours before a domestic flight with two kids on my own! Needless to say, I wasn’t exactly looking forward to that part. So, what was my first thought? Well, we definitely don’t need to rush. Let’s walk, look around, explore and see what we can. The Atlanta airport has a large tram system to get between terminals with the option to walk from terminal to terminal. And what did we do? We walked. Slowly. Very slowly. So slow, in fact, that we got to look at every piece of beautiful artwork and read every sign full of interesting history–and no one was bored, including myself. When you take what you learn on the trail and apply it to everyday life, it can be an adventure, with new discoveries around every corner. I could have staked out my spot near my gate, exhausted all of our onboard activities and had crazy children for a five-hour flight due to a day full of inactivity. But instead, we walked. We explored. And the kids were great on the flight (just don’t ask me about the flight home…).
Melissa Hollingsworth is one of the Branch Leads for Hike it Baby Atlanta. A recent transplant to the city, she’s been taking her babies (Emma, 5 and Andrew, 2) on adventures all over the world since her oldest was 4 months old. When she’s not hiking or chasing children (97.8% of her time) she enjoys swing dancing, photography and a good book.