When I was pregnant, I told my family and in-laws: “no pink.” I didn’t plan to dress my little munchkin in the cliché girl color, all adorned with ruffles and frills.
How wrong I was! After Maggie arrived, I soon had hats, fleece pants, onesies and stuffed animals (we have a pink elephant named Floyd) in blush-y shades of bubblegum, rose, and coral. All of which I suddenly loved.
The lesson I’ve learned? You have no idea how you’re going to parent until you actually are one. Before she was born, I had so many opinions: some minor, like color choice, and others much more significant, like our philosophy for raising her. My biggest misconception, though, was that I would continue to lead the same life I had, taking her with me so I didn’t miss a step.
While the intention seemed good, the reality of returning to “normal” life is much more difficult than I expected. Between naps, feedings, hauling around new gear, and my own adjustment to life with limited sleep, I initially had trouble making good on my promise to sustain the same social and active lifestyle.
Now, six months after I gave birth and with a whole new perspective, I’m getting in my groove.
Mirroring my former life is not a realistic expectation. Nor, quite frankly, is it something that’s even a priority anymore. It’s not about not being able to. I simply don’t want to. There are other things I’d rather do, most of which involve my daughter.
When she was a newborn this summer, I didn’t go on long hikes in the woods, but I did love my stroller walks around the neighborhood. And for awhile, when she only wanted to nap with movement, I had a fantastic excuse to walk… and walk… and walk…for hours, until she woke up.
Maggie seems to love being outdoors and it’s a great way to get my endorphins firing! We spent hours this fall lying on a blanket on the lawn, staring up at the rustling leaves; she smiles when the wind blows on her face; and her eyes open wide when snowflakes dot her eyelashes.
My husband and I recently took Maggie on her first cross country ski. Though it was nap time and Maggie already looked beat, my husband convinced me we should motivate for our new Chariot’s maiden voyage. (For those of you not familiar with the “Chariot”, it’s pretty burly gear: a convertible chassis that transforms from a stroller to a jog stroller to a bike trailer to a cross country ski trailer.)
It was absolutely worth it! Though Maggie fell asleep on the five minute car ride to the trailhead, she was a trooper when we roused her to bundle and buckle her up in the Chariot. Once we were skiing, she didn’t make a peep, just stared out the side “windows” with her big eyes, taking in the views, including the occasional curious dog, along the trail.
I started feeling the high after the first couple of glides, exhilarated to be back on skis after almost 10 months. Wide enough for toting the baby cocoon behind us and with gentle rolling inclines, the Salt Lick Trail – at the bottom of Ryan Gulch in Silverthorne, CO. – proved to be a perfect testing ground for our first family ski outing.
We took turns pulling, getting used to how the hip harness altered our movements. The hour-long jaunt (complete with photo and video opps of course!) gave us exactly what we needed: the confidence to bring out a fresh air loving kiddo for a ski, quality time as a family and a great workout. The sun was out, the snow was good and the views of Buffalo Mountain reminded me how lucky I was to have access to trails right in my backyard.
Every time I put Maggie in the car seat as we’re getting ready to leave the house, I tell her we’re going on an adventure. After all, through the eyes of an infant, even the smells, sounds and colors of the grocery store are an adventure! Now that we’ve added cross country skiing to the mix, I have a feeling I’ve whet my little girl’s appetite for more.
I don’t care whether Maggie grows up wanting tele skis, a dirt bike or pink tutus. I just figure the best I can do is share with her what makes me smile and give her the chance to fall in love with the outdoors, too.
For all you new moms looking to get more active, here are a few tips for getting out with baby:
- Bring a buddy. Whether it’s your partner or a friend, having another set of hands to carry and set up gear – not to mention help with the baby – makes for a smooth trip.
- Slow down. For women who are always on the go and speed demons either on the trails or even just running errands, there’s no question that you have to slow down with a baby. Count on extra time getting out of the house, more time to set up the gear and maybe even a false start when you realize you have to change a diaper in the back seat of the car. Forget tight schedules. Instead, set expectations for a more relaxed, flexible date with the outdoors, and everyone will be happy.
- Keep your spirits up. While having a kid requires much more than having a pet, one similarity certainly applies – like your pooch, your baby can read your energy. Remember that whatever your outing may be, you’re doing it for fun. No matter what hurdles get tossed your way, don’t stress – stay calm, positive and don’t forget to breathe!
- Ease your body in. I was never a six-pack kinda gal, but after baby, my core muscles are even more elusive. Never have core muscles been more important than when you’re pulling, pushing, lifting, rocking upwards of 15 pounds (and growing!) of baby plus gear. Remember that your body has just gone through a lot (some compare labor to running a marathon…), so treat it gently and give yourself time to get strong again. It will happen.
- Buy used gear. Look for gently used gear (like the Chariot, Chariot attachments, jog strollers, etc.) on Craigslist or Facebook. Baby gear is spendy, so the more you can get used, the more money you’ll save to put towards the next round of kid gear!
Writer Tara Kusumoto reviews books for Women’s Adventure and enjoys the new adventures of motherhood from her home in the heart of Colorado ski country.
Real, inspiring and really inspiring me to have a baby to share my adventures with! Wonderfully written. When is your novel coming out? 😉
“I just figure the best I can do is share with her what makes me smile and give her the chance to fall in love with the outdoors, too.” This is the perfect attitude to have. Love your take on getting outside with your wonderful daughter. It gets even better until finally it doesn’t…and they want to go do their own thing. But when they come back to the outdoors the second time and they own it, your job is completed. Let me know if you need some hints on where to get great gear for Maggie.
Well written. Although my kids are now 19 and 20 (time flies), I remember well all the thoughts and ideas I had about parenting. As you mentioned, recognizing how different your priorities become after you are a Mom. Enjoy the ride (or hike, climb, bike, ski), enjoy every minute you can spend with your little one!
Thank you for your words. It is comforting to know there is someone else out there who shares the same ideas as myself. I, too, was hesitant about the whole “pink” thing with baby girl & instructed my family to not buy anything pink. I’ve since eaten my words. More importantly, getting outside with our daughter Ruby is worth all the pre-planning, extra gear hauling it takes to do it! The Chariot is awesome!! Ruby is super happy & content whenever she is riding in it. She is also very content in the backpack. If we are outside she is happy. I’m not sure how long it will last, but we will cherish it & expend the extra effort it takes to get her outside if it means that one day she will do it (anything invloving being outside) on her own.
Oh yes, I remember those days. My kids are now in their early 30’s. We didn’t have the fancy baby gear, but we had the baby and we had the snow…a wonderful combination. I agree with the author when she said you have no idea how you will parent until you are holding your baby in your arms. Enjoy your baby, bring her outside and introduce her to your favorite places.
I can completely relate. I have a 13 week old baby and recently returned to work. Among the many things I miss about spending time with my baby is the “adventure times” we spent outside. I’d put him in the carrier and walk for hours around NYC with no particular place to go and no agenda. Sometimes we went to the grocery store, sometimes we walked along the Hudson. It really didn’t matter where we went as long as we were out and together, it was fun!
When my OB gave me the green light to start running again I could hardly wait to get him in the jogging stroller and bundled up for “an adventure”.
My husband and I look forward to taking him on his first snowshoeing adventure next week and many more outings to come.
Thanks for sharing!
Hi! I know this post was written several years ago now, but my husband and I are taking our one-year-old out next weekend for her first cross country ski trip. My husband nor I are expert skiers, so we’re hoping to find a trail that is enough for us to enjoy, but easy enough fo us to learn on while toting a baby behind us. Do you have any other recommendations for trails for beginners/intermediates? I see you guys did the Lick Trail – at the bottom of Ryan Gulch in Silverthorne, CO. (We live in Highlands Ranch so we’re not too far) Would that be good for us to start on? Or should we hit a Nordic center like the one up in Keystone? Thanks for any advice you may have!