Finding a balance between hiking and working.
Like many of you who are reading this, I am a mom. I am also so many other things; a wife, an employee, a daughter, a sister, a friend, and in my spare time…I hike. Often times I get asked how I have the time to do so much and still work a 40+ hour-per-week job. Frankly, the only way I am able to do so much is by planning.
You must be thinking that I’m telling you something you already know in basic mommyhood world, but I’m not talking about having a big calendar on my wall or having a strict system that requires more than just sitting down for a few minutes to look at the week or month ahead.
Every month I look at my phone calendar and I consider four things:
my work schedule,
my second job schedule,
any birthday parties or activities my son may have,
and my hiking schedule.
Oh yeah, and we like to travel, too. Then of course there are family events that kind of sift themselves through the planning process and settle themselves in a spot on the calendar, as if it was its very own game of who can fill this time slot first. Over time this system has proven itself useful in our chaotic lives. We live in a city full of events that both of our extended families live in, as well as childhood friends. Mix those combinations with work and our love for hiking and well, it can get busy. So how do I do it?
I think the better question is, why do I do it?
I initially started the Atlanta Hike It Baby branch when my son was one-year-old. With the thought of committing myself to a hike once or twice a week, I was off to create a branch that has changed my life with self fulfillment and brand new friends. After all, my (overly used) motto is:
I don’t want to live my life because of my child, I want to live my life WITH my child.
Now that he is three and hiking is such a big part of our lives it has become very challenging to “do everything” but we definitely do try. Since I have a full time job at an office and a part time night job, I am subject to depend on my weekends (and weeknights during summer) for hiking.
There are definitely times after a 13-hour working day that I do not look forward to getting myself and family up early to prepare for a hike the next day. All I want to do is cancel the hike and sleep in…but I don’t. I set my alarm and begin playing the events and commitments of the weekend in my mind until I fall asleep. The next morning we hike and we explore and laugh and sometimes cry, but we always feel better at the end.
Hiking has become our way to relax and get away. All that I do, all the stress, all the running around, the self-persistence….ALL of it is worth it in the end. Yes, sometimes having to step back and say, “Sorry, we have plans to go hiking,” to the disappointed sighs of friends and family is not fun but does that bring regret? Absolutely not.
Inspiring happiness throughout the work week.
On Monday mornings, I walk into my office and smile at all the things that keep me inspired through the week. A map of the Appalachian Trail, pictures of my family, a quirky collection of artsy postcards, and a big canvas stamped with music lyrics of my favorite songs – all there to remind me that I truly love our semi-planned life. Sometimes when it gets too stressful I close my eyes and imagine the smell of the sweet Georgia red clay or the giggle that my son gets by watching the leaf boat go downstream at our favorite creek. It’s a reminder that another great memory is a few days away and motivates me to keep going.
We know our limits and we know that our bond as a family is stronger with every hike we plan. Although we do not hike as often as we would like, we carry all the lessons we’ve learned from our adventures in hopes of applying them to our daily lives.