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.