Reconnect with the outdoors (and yourself) after having kids

Have you heard – it’s Get Outdoors week, an initiative to encourage New Zealanders to get outdoors safely. Of course we all want to be safe when we get outdoors and there are lots of great resources on the Mountain Safety Council and Water Safety website but do we really need to be encouraged to get outdoors in the first place?

If I think back to my former self, when my kids were younger, then yes I probably did need to be encouraged to get outside. Yes I went for a walk each day around the suburban streets but the thought of packing and taking the kids out ( or getting out and doing something without them ) just all seemed like hard work. Of course, once I rediscovered my love of the outdoors WITH my children I have created so many happy memories adventuring all over New Zealand, from walking Tongariro Crossing to mountain biking the Timber Trail to exploring the South Island for 4 weeks. In fact, I think I rediscovered a part of myself I didn’t even know I had lost and life has seemed so much better for it.

Of course I didn’t wake up one morning and stumble across an adventure, I had to have the desire to make it happen, and then plan to get out there while still maintaining the desire. Now I could try to convince you that getting outdoors is going to be amazing but its more of a feeling, an amazing feeling….do you remember it?

So now you have the desire to get outdoors, what does it take to plan to get outdoors?

  • Little did I know it but having a partner who enjoys getting outdoors as much you do certainly helps. My husband is great at researching and logistics and then I make it happen. Of course this isn’t essential but it certainly helps. And it might be that your partner has lost their outdoors mojo too so maybe you need to be the chief organiser until your partner rediscovers the joy of the outdoors too….trust me its going to be worth it.

  • Start small and focus on what’s achievable for you. Yes you are going to see people on social media doing multi-day hikes with babies, and running ultra marathons with stops to breast feed their baby but if that all seems too much for you ( and it does to me ) then focus on something that is achievable for you and your family. And maybe multi-day hikes used to be you but its not right now and that’s OK too.
  • Now you have a few ideas, run them passed the family ( if the kids are old enough to have an opinion ) to get them on board, then get the date(s) in your diary.
  • Read up on it and be prepared. Taking children outdoors does have more of an element of risk. There are some great resources on the Mountain Safety Council website including what to take on a day hike.
  • Pack the night before. There is no denying there is more to pack when kids are involved so getting prepared the night before makes getting out the door so much more achievable and enjoyable. I like lists, I also like reusing the same list with additions and modifications as we learn from our experience.
  • Lets return to the reason we are planning this adventure….to have FUN!!!! Know your childs limits and modify the outing to suit their limits and make the adventure fun for everyone. Of course lots of encouragement along the way is going to be key to everyone having fun,
  • Also know when to push your child, and this mostly applies to getting them out the door. I can’t believe the number of times ( um, yes every time ) my children don’t want to come out on an adventure and yet within 10 minutes of being out they are having THE best time. 
  • Now my children are a bit older ( 10 and 14 ) I let them decide if they want to walk in jandals ( and yes if it’s a long trail then I might insist on shoes ) but if getting them out the door in jandals to do a walk or shorts instead of bike pants for a ride is easier ( and doesn’t put them at risk ) then that’s OK with me.

  • Just like adults, children have different interests and things they enjoy about the outdoors. My son loves any walk with running water nearby and my daughter loves bird watching. Its great to see the outdoors from a different perspective and a win-win if we do an adventure that ticks both of these boxes. Hopefully you will find something in nature that sparks your childs interest.
  • I have learnt this next tip from experience…before heading out check the trail is open, the ferry is running and the weather forecast hasn’t changed overnight.

So whats your first family adventure going to be, or maybe its not your first but there is something you want to do but have been putting it off. There really isn’t a better time than now.

Places to find more inspiration to get outdoors:

  • If you are looking for some inspirational mamas then the Outdoorsy Mamas is a ‘NZ based’ online group of Mums sharing their adventures and what they have learned along the way. And if you are looking for some adventure buddies then its a great place to meet like-minded mums too.
  • Rather than get FOMO from social media I find it a great source of inspiration for my next adventure.
  • The Department of Conservation have a searchable site of walks and great lists of short walks, family friendly walks, one day hikes and ‘great’ walks and gear lists for each type of walk and tips for having a safe trip.
  • Local councils also have some great resources like the Auckland Council Akl paths that has searchable functionality for the type of path and location you want.
  • Trail forks has a great database of all of New Zealands mountain bike parks.
  • For multi-day mountain biking trails check out NZ cycle trails.

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