Moms, we got you

Being a mom is hard. There is no right or wrong way to do it, no way to know if the choice you make in any one moment is the right one (until roughly 18 years later!) and basically no rules or guidelines. I know what you’re thinking, “helpful”. But here’s the silver lining; we have other moms!

Family, friends, community, all these supports are a must for most of us, especially now, but as much as these special groups of people mean to me I have never leaned as hard on a group of people as I do on my mom-friends.

Motherhood is a daily gauntlet of second-guessing, mom guilt, heartbreak, and sheer frustration, without my circle of mom friends I would not be able to cope and I know I’m not alone here.

We need each other now more than ever and with COVID-19 shutting down playgroups, parks, and playgrounds more of us are scrambling to find new ways to get our kids outside. I’ll admit that some days my son is so against leaving the house I almost forget why I push him to get outside in the first place!

Pregnant woman with toddler outside

Parenthood is an adventure, bring it outside

So, I reached out to my mom-friends and the Hike It Baby community asking for some solace and a reminder that I’m doing the right thing.

I received answers from across the board about moms wanting to make sure their children learn respect for the world around them and the creatures in it. A children’s sleep consultant chimed in to say some of her main reasons for getting outside are to regulate sleep cycles and hormones through sunlight exposure.

A dear friend of mine, Lydia Vasquez, said “I want my kids to learn in their bones that they can find joy and meaning in the small, simple, even mundane parts of life. They don’t have to have the most glamorous, exciting, or even unique life in order to be truly happy. And I think that connecting to nature and experiencing joy in the warm sunshine, the growth of new buds every spring, and splashing in a stream are amazing vehicles to teach that.”

Another mom spoke of her kids’ relationship with nature as a way to cope when “life inevitably sucks” and as something she hopes will nurture them even when she’s gone.

Many talked about the outdoors making their kids “tougher, and more adaptable” about how being outside isn’t always comfortable and you have to make do with what you have and sometimes even get lost in order to find your back.

And Lee Alliet told me, “I am my best self outside. And that is the version of myself I want my kids to be around the most. Calmer, more resilient, more relaxed, more patient.”

Time outside benefits everyone

Reading these thoughts from a community of like-minded parents inspired and reminded me why I try so hard to convince my son to get outside every day. It is so important for him on so many levels but in the end, that last push out the door is because it’s important for me too. Getting outside, especially during the pandemic, changes the dynamic of the day, clears my mind, opens up new discoveries, changes the scene, and keeps me from pulling my hair out. Here’s what other Hike it Baby moms said about their “why” for getting outside.

woman with kids hiking in the mountains

Because fresh air and new adventure reinvigorates me and because I want my daughter to grow up loving the outdoors as much as I do. Maralana Shindelbower, Hike it Baby, Humboldt CA

I go outside to gain perspective. When I step out into nature, it reminds me to let go of the little things, and climbing a mountain reminds me that I can do big things. I want our son to grow up realizing that sometimes all you need to do is put one foot in front of the other. The payoff is worth it! Kyla Phillips

I get to be truly engaged with my kids without any thoughts of laundry, dishes, grocery lists, Dr. appointments, etc. We get completely lost in nature. And I get to see the world through their eyes. Amanda Belcher, Hike it Baby Charlotte, NC

My kids are so much happier when we do. They have fun, play independently and sleep better when we get in a good amount of outside time. Paige Rowe

I’ve always had a love for the outdoors and hiking since I was a little kid. I played outside all the time with just my imagination. I love sharing that with my kids. It’s such a good way to appreciate the world around us and escape the stress/busy life. Beth Ann, Hike it Baby, Pittsburgh
We go outside so nature can be my babysitter. And she’s the best one they have ever had! Kathryn Maciula
We go outside to enjoy the beauty of our planet and to learn how to best take care of it. Also, it’s really fun! Elizabeth Follet-Figueroa, HiB Tri-Cities, WA
I have to get my family outside for my mental health. I am one month postpartum with baby #3 and struggling with postpartum anxiety. One of my symptoms is sensory overload, particularly sensitivity to loud sound, layers of sound (kids fighting, TV, toys, dishwasher running, at the same time) and sensitivity to bright/artificial lights. When we are inside it’s like all of the noises bounce off the walls and the lights are overwhelming. When we get outside, even if it is just on our back deck, it feels like it resets my entire nervous system. After a few minutes I become less tense, and after an hour or so I feel like a new person. Nicholl Summers, Hike it Baby, Portland, OR
We go outside for a bit of calm in the chaos of everyday life (and so my kids don’t completely destroy our house 😉 ). Jessica Human
We go outside because I loved playing outside and exploring as a kid and I want my sons to also love that. Most importantly, we go outside because I need a break from them for my own mental health. Tracey, Hike it Baby Anchorage, AK
I go outside for my mental health, I need the vitamin D, fresh air, and nature to help keep my depression at bay. I take my son outside to foster a love for nature like I was raised. But also to get out his excess energy that tends to build up and explode when we aren’t able to get out and Adventure. It’s been so fun rediscovering the outdoors through his eyes. We spend hours exploring our canyons, lakes, and deserts nearly every day. We don’t have the cleanest house but we have the most amazing memories! Joey Kenrick Johnson

The forest is where our happiness lives. Nature grounds my children and myself, the perfect reset. It’s also where all the adventure happens! Exploring together is as fun for me as it is for them, and we all learn so much in the process. Challenging trails teach us we can do hard things. Honestly just the other day we were struggling, then we hit a trail, and immediately we’re all holding hands, singing songs, laughing, sharing great conversation, and making magical memories together. I wouldn’t trade my time in the woods with my little wildlings for anything! Laura Miller, Hike it Baby La Crosse, WI

We go outside to find a little bit of calm. When we are having many emotions and a day of constant fighting we head outside to the backyard or out to the trail to get a restart. I find I am also a better parent when we are outdoors. I am able to de-stress and have lower anxiety which helps me become more present with my children. Jess Mcllvaine, Hike it Baby La Crosse, WI

 

We all have our reasons for getting our families outside and even though some days are harder to do it than others we do it anyway. From one mom to another, whatever your reason for getting outside, know that you’re doing the right thing and if you have ever doubt yourself reach out to your community, we are here for you.

Join a community of like-minded parents and caregivers with a shared mission of connecting families with babies and young children to the outdoors and each other. Learn about Hike it Baby donation-based membership options and join the fun today!

About Hike it Baby

Hike it Baby is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to getting families outdoors and on trails across the U.S. and internationally, supporting, educating and inspiring families through their more than 300 communities across North America. Since its grassroots inception in 2013 in Portland, Oregon, Hike it Baby is now a growing community of 270,000 families and 500 volunteer branch ambassadors hosting more than 1,600 hikes per month. More information, as well as daily hike schedules, can be found at HikeitBaby.com, Facebook, YouTube, Pinterest, and Instagram.
Photos courtesy of Laura Castro and Deanna Curry.
Editors Note:
We hope you enjoyed reading this article from Hike it Baby. We’re working hard to provide our community with content and resources that inform, inspire, and entertain you.
But content is not free. It’s built on the hard work and dedication of writers, editors, and volunteers. We do not make this ask lightly, but if you are able to afford it, make a donation, and become a Hike it Baby member.  A membership also makes a great gift for that new parent in your life. We make an investment in developing premium content to make it easier for families with young children to connect with nature and each other. If you can, please make a contribution and help us extend our reach.

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