Today, I am remembering a very good day that I had this past summer. It started after a rather difficult night. Wes, then 3 months old, needed a lot of attention, and I had not slept more than an hour at a time. When both my boys decided to start the day at 5AM, I was a bit taxed.
I had some coffee to perk up and started thinking about what I would do. My husband had made a last-minute plan to take our older son backpacking for the night, so I would be home with just my younger son for the first time in quite a while.
I contemplated the possibilities. I admit that I did spend some time upon my husband’s departure moping. While I enjoy having free time, I also love hanging with my entire family together, especially when camping is involved. But, my younger son was just not ready for that, and besides, I could finally get to those piles of laundry that needed to be folded. I could run errands. I could get on the treadmill.
After lunch, I was multi-tasking by folding laundry and watching TV, and I thought about how rather than spending the day catching up on the daily grind, I could actually go out and do something that I can’t regularly do…something that feels too far out of reach when I am home with both boys. I was out the door within 30 minutes to take my younger son up Rattlesnake Ledge in the state of Washington, USA for his first real hike.
I had not been on a proper hike since a year prior when I took Nate up Mt. Helena in Montana. My older son was still in the “carry me” phase, so I hoofed it up with him on my shoulders. Soon afterwards, I learned I was pregnant, so bigger hikes were temporarily postponed. Since then, I have taken the boys on nature walks, but nothing that I would constitute as a real day hike. And I really love to hike, so I have been eager to get back out.
The first real victory of the day was when I got into a pair of pre-pregnancy hiking pants. I won’t say buttoning them was easy, or that I was comfortable at any point while wearing them, but they were on, and that’s what counts. I was confident that I would be just fine on the hike, carrying Wes in the Baby Bjorn and a back pack with all our needed supplies. But still, one doesn’t know how one will feel a year later.
A sunny Saturday afternoon in Western Washington means everyone was out. I picked this particular hike because it was short (4 miles roundtrip). I could do it easily within the afternoon, which was important since I was getting a late start. It climbs about 1200 feet, so it would be a good test for me postpartum. Plus, I knew it would be packed, and for my first hike solo with my new baby, I figured having people around is a good thing in case of emergencies. I found a parking spot, fed him, and started my trek.
Immediately, I was transported back into my hiking self. I don’t know how else to describe it, but I guess it can relate to any activity one is passionate about. It’s like you wake up from the dream of your everyday life and are back in your own skin, seeing through your own eyes, just being there.
I loved the sound of my boots stamping down on the dirt with every step. I loved the smell of wet pine and decaying fallen trees. I loved hearing the multitude of birds. I felt totally clear-headed and happy. But, on this particular day, the other people were just as integral to the experience.
I get a charge out of people watching, and everyone was represented today, from the seasoned Search and Rescue volunteer who was handing out ”The 10 Essentials” pocket cards at the trailhead to the clear novice who was walking down the trail in flip-flops holding only a crushed, empty Pepsi can.There were people with infants. There were folks 60+ years old (my inspirations). There were Chihuahuas and Labs and Spaniels (oh my!). There were people of so many different nationalities, and I heard so many languages spoken.
That’s the thing about being out in nature. Everyone is willing to give it a go….to see what might be up top for them. For me, I wanted to get back to that part of myself that loves to hike up a mountain.
There were many great takeaways from the day. I successfully made it to the top with my younger son. He happily faced out of the Bjorn the whole way, smiling at passersby and taking in the sights. I tried giving him toys, but he just wanted to look around. Not a peep or whimper from him at any point, other than the occasional giggle.
You also can’t help but get a boost when you take a baby on a hike. Everyone has nice things to say about the baby and about you for taking your baby on a hike. I hike for me and to share this experience with my boys, but at the same time, it feels good to hear “Way to go Momma” a whole bunch.
I am so glad I took that day to do something fun, something not on the agenda, and something that brought a little piece of me back. It was a very good day!
How do you balance exercise with your busy motherhood duties?
This has been an original post to World Moms Blog by Tara B. of Washington, USA.
Photo credit to Tara B.
Balancing exercise with parenting is something I struggle with almost every day, and when my youngest was a baby I completely let myself go. Now I’m back into the running, and I make it a point to squeeze it in somewhere, even if it means giving up an hour of much-needed sleep. Running is in my blood and I need it too much to not do it.
That day you describe sounds amazing! It’s so awesome that you took the time to do something special with your little guy!
Tara, what a lovely post about balance, motherhood and something that I struggle to “fit in” (Get it?! :)) EXERCISE! This is something that I have to consciously carve into my schedule or it easily slips to the bottom of my list. I really love how you made it a priority and a part of your family time. Well done, indeed, Mama!
I was so inspired by your story that I googled hiking trails in my area. Bravo to you!
Nothing like a hike on a gorgeous summer day out here in the Northwest 🙂
I am not even going to answer the question “How do you balance exercise with your busy motherhood duties? ” – as I haven’t started excercising yet! But great post – I love to hike and can’t wait for the snow to clear so we can start. My husband uses a “child backpack carrier” (http://sherpani.com/sherpani-rumba.aspx?bO3FscouH=3&GQd0EjaqX=997&pmdoXJC4W=304) – and both he an my son loves it, no toy is needed to entertain the wee lad!
Great post and well done taking the little guy on a hike! You are truly giving your kids a gift in teaching them to appreciate nature, exercise and staying healthy. And, there is NOTHING more motivating than fitting into pre-baby clothing! I started back at the gym once I started trying to have my second baby. I feel it has really helped keep me sane and its sort of theraputic to just run with some tunes in my ears (gotta love those endorphins!). I have a personal trainer 2x per week and my mom and my husband have been really supportive and watch my son while I’m working out. Its a life saver!
Thx everyone for all your kind remarks! I am pleased to report that I have done a few more hikes with my boys since the summer….mostly smaller stuff for now, since my 5 year old only wants to go so far before bonking. But we continue to explore the best kid hikes in the area, and my boys seem to love it as much as I do. So fun!
Asta – thanks for the tip on the carrier. I have a Kelty right now, but I am always on the look out for the best gear.
Last year I was spending the short amount of time that my daughter was in preschool in a yoga class. I loved it! I have yet to get back in the swing of things yet since being pregnant. Your article was very inspiring!! 🙂