This Is Just How We Live

A simple mantra for outdoor adventurers when the kids arrive

I have a mantra when it comes to adventuring and traveling with children: “This is just how we live.” Behind this mantra is the idea that there is no reason to stop doing the things you love and the pursuits you value simply because your life changes with the addition of children.  It is an exciting opportunity to pass on skills and provide experiences that can become a central part of your family life. And therefore, adventures and travel become a constant, and not a distinct part of our lives.

This is just how we live.

Of course, the reality is that things do change, and activities have to be modified to include young children. You might be car camping more often. It might be easier to rent a car than to ride buses around foreign countries. To me that is part of the fun and the challenge – how can we make this adventure or trip work for the whole family and still have it be enjoyable, worthwhile and full of character? First, I want to emphasize that I think the sooner you start with your children, the better.  The sooner you start, the more natural it becomes, because it is all they have known since the beginning.  Provide the opportunities, the tools and the experiences early…and the kids will know the drill.  If you are worried you might not get a good night of sleep when camping with an infant, consider that it is entirely possible the same will happen at home.  So you may as well be camping!  If you are worried your kid might throw up as you race to the airport to catch a flight or are coming home from an adventure in the mountains take note: You simply clean it up just as you would at home! The point is that you have to deal with things as a parent no matter where you are. Stuff comes up. You deal with it. You move on.

This is just how we live.

I believe in the trickle-down effect with my kids and adventuring: If I’m excited, positive, relaxed, and flexible, it’s much more likely my children will take on the same attitude and approach while in the outdoors and while traveling. . The ability to remain positive, calm and flexible is important to happy parenting in general, making the outdoors a wonderful training ground to sharpen these skills. Of course this does not happen 100 percent of the time.

Being excited and positive: An important element is involving the kids in the planning and preparation for travels.  Do not do all the work for them.  As a result, they will feel accomplished and learn new skills in the process. We usually go to the library before traveling, or the kids read the travel book, and we try to plan the trip together and let them help us decide on things they might like to see or do.

Be flexible: Will you be touring around from 8 a.m. until midnight? Will your camping trips be the same as when it was just you and your buddies? It will certainly be modified, but that should not mean you will not do it.  When traveling with children, you will likely see things you might not have otherwise.  You might stay outside as much as possible. This is also part of the fun for me – teaching the value of exploration and spontaneity when traveling or being outside, especially because daily life with children can feel so structured.  The art of the free-for-all!

Some people hold off on adventuring and traveling with kids while they are young because they think the kids will not remember it.  Well, no, the kids won’t remember every detail (neither will the parents!) but I think you will be surprised of what they do remember. In any event, it truly shapes kids’ personalities and the willingness to try new things and have new experiences on a consistent basis. It is truly worth it.

This is just how we live.

Ilene Bloom is a mother/evolving ultrarunner/lawyer who lives in Denver. She can be reached at ilenebloom@hotmail.com with any questions about this article and adventuring with children.

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