Much as would like this to be a blog full of exploits of conquering some peak, surfing in some wild place in the Outer Hebrides or windsurfing across the Atlantic, running or cycling for days…
So you haven’t left. Thank you.
I have small kids. It’s simply amazing being a father (obvs) but it does reframe what constitutes as spare time. What constitutes adventure. And it’s taken me a while to come to terms with this.
While I am able to fit in the odd day trip – such a day mountain biking while in Madeira …
Fantastic day mountain biking around #madeira. Such amazing scenery and awesome single track. One minute it felt like we were on Dartmoor and the next rainforest #mtb #ride #freeride #freeridemadeira @freeridemadeira #mountainbike #crosscountrymtb #chasingwilderness #adventure #outdoors #natureaddict #instagood #lifeofadventure #outdoorlife #wildernessculture #livefolk #getoutside #passionpassport #awesomeearth #liveauthentic #liveadventure #thegreatoutdoors #mywild #outdoors #trustthewild #wild #finditliveit #wilderness #stayoutside #getoutdoors
… at this time of my life I can’t disappear off for a week with my mates on a surf trip.
So, I’ve been working out ways to fit reflection time, nature time, sports time and knocking-the-cobwebs-out time around the family.
It’s vitally important for me to spend time on my own. As an introvert, that is how I get my energy. I feel so revived once I’ve been out on my own and I think it helps me a better, slightly less grumpy dad and husband.
Some of things I’ve done, I’ve blogged about here such as going for a dawn cycle before the kids wake up, or finding a cycling group that goes out in the evenings rather than all day Saturday. So how do I get my adventure/ wilderness fix?
Choosing the wilder option
While on holiday another thing struck me. I’m not a big swimmer. I don’t like swimming pools, but I wanted to go and have a dip in the sea. It’s November in Madeira, right out in the Atlantic. And the sea did not look warm or inviting. The swimming pool would have been much the safer option. I was shocked actually how warm the sea was. On this dawn dip, it was quite rough and had an undercurrent so swimming back was tough. I have no idea how many boring lengths I’d have to do to compare to my my short 10 minute swim in the sea.
I then proceeded to go for a swim in the sea most mornings before breakfast, coming back to help with the kids and have a full day with the family, feeling like a little box had been ticked.
A month of Wild
Working in the center of a busy city such as Bristol, in the middle of the dark winter doesn’t leave much time for wilderness. But I’m challenging myself to a month of wild starting in January. I’m going to try and come up with some creative ideas to fit adventure around life. Watch this space.
How about when you are going somewhere anyway?
My folks live just outside Bristol, it’s about an hour’s cycle. If I leave before the kids are ready to leave, by the time they are dressed, in the car and they set off, I’m half way there. Then we can all have lunch with folks together and I’ve had a great cycle.
Sometimes it’s good to push your limits though. This takes more time. So my idea next year is to fit into a journey we’ll be doing anyway. We have a lot of friends that live in Brighton. Could I cycle from Bristol to Brighton cross country? My wife could drive the family and I would cycle. Okay I know it might take me longer than her. But a 3-day challenge becomes a 2-day challenge. You steal a day during their journey time.
While they sleep
Put the kids to bed, then head off into the forest, hill or mountain. Go for a run in the woods. I had a great time with a buddy of mine, when we camped out on the Brecon Beacons and were back by lunch.
But why not head out just for a quick coffee, or a beer in the forest after you’ve put the kids to bed. I actually did this with a mate of mine last night on the Winter Soltice, much better place to catch up in than a noisy pub.
Alternatively, you could head out for a breakfast picnic before work, watch the sunrise, have a quick mountain bike and get your head set for a good day in the office.
Involving the kids
Making sure the kids grow up appreciating and knowing about nature is really important to me. So I’m always finding things to do that are fun for all of us. Wild picnics when you are long journeys are great, giving the other half a break and taking them down to the park (not the swing and slide kind), simply to play poo sticks, or taking the dog for a walk. Or you can do crafts in the woods or small little challenges with them.
Take them up a mountain
Young babies and toddlers sleep. They love sleeping in slings and carriers. So take them on a hike with you. Stick them on the front of your bike. If you’re a new parent reading this. Go hiking now. Things do change as they become pre-schoolers. You can’t carry them as easily, so the hikes have to become slower or shorter.
Set a challenge for the kids
Geocaching, even at 4 years old is really cool. Find a geo-cache to aim for and use that as a way to encourage their little legs to keep going. Maybe a challenge to collect things, or take photos of different aspects of the wilderness.
Lift their expectations
When we were on Dartmoor at the end of the summer, I wanted to find this wild swimming spot we visited as children. I turned the whole thing into a story, telling them about what was at the end, challenging them to be the first to spot the magical little pool. I made sure they were involved in packing the bag with their swimming things so they got as excited as me. I just had to pray that I actually found the spot!
Can you think of any other strategies to get your wild fix, and to meet their needs to?