I’ve been writing about parenting in an active family, and modeling active behavior. This all sounds great, but there’s a lot of planning and preparation that goes into establishing and maintaining these behaviors.
One of the key habits I have to constantly work on is flexibility. I love to run, hike, camp, and adventure out of doors. I’ve spent decades getting to where I’m comfortable taking myself on a solo multi-day backpacking trip, or running at the top of the US marathon lists.
When I say I want to go hiking with my daughters one weekend, I’ve gotten many questions along the lines of “….but you walked on a path for like a mile and it took you 2 hours and you had 4 snack breaks, how is that at all awesome?” The underlying assumption is that as an elite runner and avid hiker, it’s hard to be held back by kiddos. Here comes the flexibility part.
As a couple, my husband and I have changed our activity schedules quite a bit since having children. We still participate in the activities we love. However, let’s be real: sleep is scant, time is scant, and germs abound. Radical hikes, all-morning runs, and drop-of-the-hat backpacking trips just aren’t for us right now. Instead, we have become serious schedulers: I have always been a morning runner (want to hear more of morning routines? Check out my interview in this recent podcast), but since having kids, I’m a serious morning runner. In general, I’m back before my kids wake up at 6:30 AM. My husband, always a night owl, now climbs and takes walks/runs with our dog after the girls (and sometimes me!) go to bed: generally meeting with a few like-minded fellow dads at the local climbing gym at 8 or 9 PM.
One of our favorite activity flexes are drop-off/pick-up activities: I might drop my husband at the base of the Sandia Mountains, drive around to the top trailhead, where the girls and I will scamper down the trail to meet him on his way up. This way, we each get to “hike” in some capacity, and everyone shares lunch with a spectacular view. Alternatively, we drive to a trailhead together, and one of us dashes off on a run/adult-paced hike, while the other walks at kid pace. We rendezvous and sometimes switch places, so kids get the outdoor family time, while also seeing the challenge of doing more. We usually end with snacks. Everything has snacks.
These activities are perhaps not the most hardcore examples of being active in our chosen sports. They also don’t look like how either of us parents did our activity before having kids. However, they do serve to 1) let us enjoy our activities, 2) show our kids the many ways in which we use our bodies and experience our environments, 3) let each of us enjoy the same activity as a family, with friends, and as individuals.
How do you adapt your outdoor activities to work with children? How do you work with kids of varying ages and abilities? Comment below!