When we had our first child, we were so caught up in the adventure that being a new parent brings, that it took child number two to enter our lives (less than two years later!) before we realised that this whole parenthood adventure was going to be a long one and it was going to impact on us and our, until now, ‘normal’ adventures.
I mean, we knew that having kids was life changing. But at the same time, we hadn’t a clue!
I personally went through an identity crisis – who am I? What are my hobbies and interests? How do I introduce myself to new people I meet? Will I meet new people? Will my friends still be interested in me now that I can’t drop everything at a moment’s notice??
I couldn’t call myself a climber anymore, I hadn’t been on a crag in eons. Awesome Walls and the other indoor centres arrived a bit too late on the scene for me. For the same reason, I couldn’t call myself a mountaineer anymore either, although perhaps these titles were always too limiting. My adventures in the mountains were on a whole other scale now.
And you know what? That’s okay.
I spent way too long being disappointed in these little adventures, with quite literally a pain in my neck from looking up. Looking beyond the adventure of now. Wasting precious time. It took me a good five years of parenting to realise that:
Every adventure is a worthy adventure.
It doesn’t matter if it’s ‘just’ a walk up the Miner’s Track in Glendalough or camping in the back garden! These are the experiences that form our children. These are the micro adventures that create curious minds. The moments that enable them to fulfil their potential, to be capable, independent, responsible beings.
Now I see myself as a Mountain Mama! Once I changed my own mindset, I felt a lot happier. I let go of the ‘what ifs’, I enjoyed listening to friends’ adventure experiences again and I began to talk about our own adventures as a family.
Every year as they grow, so too do our adventures. I will share my ideas with you and hope that you can enjoy making your own adventure memories with your kids. Maybe you’d like to share your experiences with me too? And perhaps someday, our children will guide us all on new adventures.
When time is limited, go faster!
I’ve always loved running. I was that annoying kid at school who turned up to sports day events all over town just to add medals to my stash!
I dabbled with trail running in my early twenties, the cliff walk from Bray to Greystones when I lived in Bray, and later on, when living in Roundwood, I ran up and down Djouce Mountain at least once a week. It was my go to method to boost my fitness if I felt sluggish.
I also loved spending days and nights navigating the mountains of Ireland, Scotland or anywhere with Ronan and/or my friends.
When you have a young family, this wouldn’t be fair or feasible every weekend. So, now rather than walking a route that would have taken all day, I run the route with my friends instead. Even throwing in a coffee and cake afterwards, it only takes a morning of my weekend or a midweek evening! (Yes, evening runs! Yes, even in winter!!!)
Ronan on the other hand, isn’t a fan of running. He’ll do it occasionally, but he doesn’t get that same sense of peace from it as I do. His chosen method of moving faster is the bike.
Whether you choose to run, cycle the mountain roads or mountain bike, it’ll shave hours off your mountain day so you can spend more time with your loved ones, but you’ll still get that outdoor rush.
Dates with a difference.
Okay, so it doesn’t have to be ice climbing!! Getting out for a few hours on our own is almost adventure enough! Almost…. Where other couples get a babysitter to go to the cinema, Ronan and I might spend the night navigating the Wicklow Mountains in stormy weather. When time on the hills is precious, we choose our date time wisely.
For us, sharing a flask of tea whilst snuggled together under a group shelter is far more romantic than sitting with hundreds of others watching a movie. Depending on our route, we might have time to pop into the pub afterwards. Depending on our babysitter, we might even camp out for the night!
Sometimes we might head to The Wall, meeting up to have the craic with friends. It’s not quite Dalkey on a sunny afternoon, but it’s a great workout and brilliant fun.
It’s also worth saying that dates with your other half don’t need to happen at night when the kids are in bed! Do a kid swap with a sibling or a friend, beg Granny and Grandad, or pay a sitter and go out for the entire day!!