Tag Archives: adventure

Mini breaks vs mini adventures

My husband has recently returned from a long weekend away. Kayaking. In the Norwegian Fjords. With a spot of wild camping thrown in for good measure. A few years back, this is exactly the sort of adventure we would have gone on together.

Bastard.

OK, OK, it was a stag do, so I wouldn’t have been on the invite list even if we hadn’t had young children. But still. Norway, people. I feel I have the right to be a little pissed off by his 63.5-hour break away. Not that I was clock-watching.

And OK, despite the fact I upped the guilt factor for my husband (obviously), I actually had a bloody good weekend as well. The little ones were (for the most part) on great form, and the weather was beautiful, so we had a lot of time outside – in the garden, at the park and chasing around the woods. Plus we had a night at Nanny and Papa’s house, so we all felt thoroughly well looked after, and I even managed to get an hour to myself to go for a much-needed run.

With Papa

Grandparents. What would we do without them?

But the whole ‘weekend away from the children’ thing got me thinking. Could I? I’m not sure I could. Not just yet. Not while they’re so small.

Now don’t get me wrong. I’m no saint. There are countless times during the week that I practically have one foot out the door to make a run for it, usually in the middle of a “don’t want that Mummy” mealtime, or after a loooong morning followed by nap refusal, or when I’ve trodden on one too many pieces of Lego that day. There are many times each week I have to stand on the other side of the door to my toddler and slowly count to ten. Many times when I wish I could simply pack a bag and take my own 63.5-hour holiday.

But then I look at them. And I remember that, for the first time in my life, I am completely and utterly needed. That I don’t spend all my time nurturing and caring and clothing and feeding and cuddling and rocking them just for fun. It’s vital.

And all this without even taking into account the fact that, for the first time, I have a bottle-refusing baby. And that, when presented with said bottle (be it filled with expressed milk or formula), she reacts as if I have just offered her battery acid, and only calms down once more when I shove a boob back in her mouth, to reassure her that, in fact, all is still right with the world.

So no, I can’t simply pop out for 63.5 hours.

Mind you, while my husband sits in an office Monday to Friday, right now I get to spend my days having lots of mini adventures with my little ones. And watching my toddler balance along a fallen tree for the first time – and seeing the look of sheer joy and pride on his face – beats a mini break any day.

Balancing

Sharing his daily adventures. How lucky am I?

So I guess it’s 50/50.

Obviously though, I still had to force a smile through gritted teeth when my husband showed me the photos from his weekend away.

His weekend

Jealous? Me? *Sobs quietly*

Like I said. Bastard.

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On Father’s Day

Back in 2009, before we had even contemplated the adventure that is parenthood, my husband and I went on a different adventure: a month campervanning around New Zealand. While there, we ticked a few obligatory activities off the list: bungee jumping [check]; horse riding [check]; single-track mountain biking [check]; sky diving [him, not me. You will never catch me in a plane that tiny]; and white water rafting. I was really looking forward to this last one. My mum had done it. How hardcore could it be?

I had no idea about grades.

My mum has rafted a Grade 3 river (intermediate: still impressive, mum). Ours was Grade 5.

A quick Wikipedia search has since provided me with the following information:

“Grade 5: extremely long, obstructed, or very violent rapids which expose a paddler to added risk… swims are dangerous, and rescue is often difficult even for experts.”

Excellent.

On top of this, due to adverse weather the previous week, they’d cancelled all trips as the river was deemed too dangerous.

At the time, I was not armed with this information. It didn’t take long for the nerves to kick in, mind. When even the guides (who navigate the river day in, day out) look excited, you get a pretty good idea it’s not going to be smooth sailing.

The experience was exhilarating terrifying. There were three rapid sections. And we only did two of them in the raft. Yes: we capsized.

Rafting 1

Oh, this? This was nothing…

rafting 2

…because then this happened.

rafting 3

And finally this. This was not supposed to happen.

As I got sucked under the water and dragged along the river bed, I felt strangely calm. It was only when I eventually surfaced, amidst swells of white water, trying desperately to catch a breath, that I began to panic.

And then, like a mirage, the rescue boat appeared in front of me. A girl grabbed my life jacket as I spluttered for air. I was too shocked to follow her instructions as she tried to get me onto the boat. This rescue was not going particularly well.

And then I heard a familiar voice.

“I’ve got her”.

My husband. He’d already been pulled from the water, and now he had hold of my life jacket. And at that moment, I completely relaxed, despite still being in the river; despite the fact I was still coughing up water. Because I knew something: I knew he wouldn’t let me go.

Where am I going with this tale? I guess my point is that, while the types of adventures we’re now having are very different (these days, it’s more, “Can we get the toddler to the potty in time?” rather than, “Is this river raftable?”), one thing hasn’t changed.

On those days when I’m floundering; even when I’ve already sunk below a tide of congealed Weetabix splatters and meal refusals and nappies and tantrums and baby sick, I know something.

I know my husband will walk back in and rescue us. And I know he won’t let us go.

 

 

If you go down to the woods today…

Last night, we ditched the usual bath-and-bed routine and went for an evening walk in the local woods. I was supposed to be going for a run, but, due to a rather strenuous outdoor exercise class the day before (more on that another time), I could barely move. Running was out of the question.

However, one of the reasons I’m so keen to regain a regular running routine is to set an example to my children that exercise (and the outdoors) is just a normal part of everyday life. So, what better way to demonstrate this than all head out together? We’re also taking part in The Wildlife Trusts’ #30DaysWild this month. We actually try to have some wild time every day anyway – ever since I was inspired by the rather amazing film Project Wild Thing over a year ago. OK, so sometimes this ‘wild time’ is merely a 10-minute splash in a puddle at the end of the driveway, but hey, it’s all fresh air, right?

Anyway, yesterday was the perfect opportunity for a wild adventure, so, with the baby in the sling and the toddler in the buggy, we set off.

Our little excursion wasn’t without error. We forgot to put shoes on the toddler. (We didn’t. We put them on him. He took them off. We put them back on again. He took them back off again. We gave up. We put him in the buggy. We forgot to sling the shoes in as well).

But despite that, it was pretty damn great. We strolled, explored dens, balanced along fallen trees and the toddler thought it was hilarious running around in his socks. The baby grizzled a bit and then fell asleep. We made a pact that, once a week, we’re going to do away with the usual and do something fun as a family in the evening instead – something outdoors and exciting for the little ones.

Den

When we got home, the toddler was hyped up, excited and refused to believe us that it was, in fact, time to go to sleep (turns out there’s something to be said for routine, after all). After finally managing to tuck him into bed at 9.30pm we were all shattered. But we’re sticking to our new pact. Because all the best childhood memories are made from exploring that small patch of woodland near to the house, or riding your scooter up and down the road, or slurping icy lemonade in a pub garden as the sun sets. This is adventure for children. Not sitting indoors in front of the TV.

Now, I’m not going to lie. It’s not all woodland walks and puddle splashing and den building and flower planting for us. There is also probably far too much TV. In fact, Andy, Cat and the rest of the CBeebies presenters form an integral part of my daily childcare plan. Because if you’re outnumbered, or you’re trying to make dinner, or you even just want to sit down for two minutes in the day, I’m not sure how you do it without the company of Bing Bunny. And if I’m being completely honest, when I’m feeding the baby while simultaneously making the toddler’s tea while simultaneously trying to figure out what that congealed gloop at the bottom of the fridge is, and I hear a shout of, “Telly off now Mummy, play with me,” a little part of me dies on the inside.

TV

So, as much as I hate to admit it, TV has its place for us. But this is why those everyday moments outside – from a quick jump in a puddle to a full day exploring at the weekends – are so crucial. It’s a balancing act. I’m working on less TV and more wild time. But it’s a work in progress.

Tall grass