9 reasons you need more adventure as a mom
Why you should be fighting like hell to add some adventure to your life
Let me guess mama, you feel burnt out, a little stressed, and stuck in a rut of diapers, bedtimes, and dishes?
You swear you used to be fun. But now you aren’t quite sure who you are.
You want to live a full life, be happy, and be the best wife and mom that you can. Hell, maybe one day you might even manage to get it together long enough to banish the stubborn tummy pooch.
You need some adventure.
And before you roll your eyes and tell me “Right, and how am I supposed to go summit Kilimanjaro when I can’t even pee without an audience?”—hear me out.
I’m guessing you fall into one of these two camps:
- You used to be adventurous and you know how important it is to your life, but just can’t figure out how to get back to your old self, or
- You have never leaped from planes or summited anything but your stairs, and falling asleep on the couch is as wild as you get.
Whichever camp you identify with, let me convince you how adventure can be a great tool for finding balance, sanity, and clarity in your life.
Who doesn’t want some of that?
In subsequent posts, I’ll share insights from real-life adventure moms on how to make adventure a reality in your already busy life.
Choose your own adventure
Let’s get this out of the way. I don’t want you to be intimidated by the word Adventure.
In general, when I say adventure I’m not talking about the glamorous, wanderlust, National Geographic kind of life you see all over Instagram. I don’t think it’s realistic for most people. In fact, when I see those photos they kinda make me mad/sad/annoyed.
At its root, adventure is an unusual and exciting experience or activity. For many people that means getting outdoors, connecting with nature, and doing something new that challenges them physically and mentally.
But in practice that can be anything—skiing, climbing, rafting, paddling, hiking, car camping, or sleeping in tents in your own backyard.
The type and degree of adventure are personal, so don’t think you have to pack up your kids, sell your house and spend the rest of your life living in a van driving around the world (unless you want to!).
I prefer to champion the idea of “Attainable Adventure”, and that will look different for every person. So just like in your favorite childhood book—you get to choose your own adventure.
“Doing things that excite you and bring you joy and/or feeling like you are in the moment living!”
—Stephanie Vidergar @mindingthepath
“Tip-toeing the line of “hell yeah I can do this” and “what the hell did I get myself into”. Adventure is passion and if there is no passion there is no point.“
—Melinda Turner, www.mtmamawellness.com
“Choosing to go into places (mentally or physically) where you feel exposed, foreign, connected, pushed, centered, and inspired.”
—Brinn Bagley Chipman; @brinnelizabeth
As moms, working adults, and humans on this planet we are squeezed by constant demands on our time, focus, and patience. There always seems to be a surplus of bills to pay, places to drive, noses to wipe, and expectations to meet. But somehow there is never a surplus of personal time, sleep or laundry fairies.
Sure crashing out on the couch and binge-watching Fixer Upper feels indulgent and relaxing. But be honest, are you still scrolling through Instagram, trying to ignore the dust bunnies giving you side-eye from under your kitchen table, and avoiding the nagging thoughts running through the back of your mind?
Now compare that to standing on your paddleboard a half mile out to sea. In one moment you are simultaneously inspired by the beautiful early morning sun on the water and slightly terrified about your ability to stay on your board with the rising swell.
For over an hour you do not once think about your bank account, your back fat or your child’s runny nose. You are completely focused on the task at hand, the beautiful nature around you, and making it back to shore alive. You are truly present in the moment with what you are doing.
Taking time to do that gives you a reprieve from all those other nagging issues and leaves you feeling recharged when you return to shore.
Confidence is built through successive small accomplishments.
Adventure provides ample chances to push yourself, test yourself, grow as a person (ugh, I know) and in the end feel like a total badass who is capable, competent, and if needed, probably could have wrestled that bear we heard rustling in the bushes while camping.
In my life adventure, travel, and doing new difficult things has brought me true confidence. I know I haven’t adventured enough when I become concerned with trivial things. Are my nails ugly? I need better jeans.
None of those things matter when you just hiked from rim to river and back to the rim of the Grand Canyon. You are sweaty, dirty and on top of the world.
“I love growing as a person and the only way I feel to do that is to take risks and push yourself out of your comfort zone.”
—Robyn Robledo, www.nomadswithapurpose.com
“It brings me back to a place of healthy confidence and self-esteem.”
—Lauren Sargent, @freckled_wanderer
You know the old cliche about how you need to fill the well to give to others? Well, it’s true. All parents give, sacrifice, and rarely take enough time for themselves.
The effect of this can sneak up on you. At first, you feel fine. Sure, you’re a little tired and haven’t seen your friends in a few weeks, but you can handle this.
But then you find yourself just a little irritated at your kid. At your husband. Hell, even your cat is driving you nuts. Everyone wants something from you. You want to be fed again? Didn’t I just feed you yesterday? Gahh!!
Giving more and doing more is not the answer. Taking some “me-time” and finding activities that fill you up can do wonders for your sanity. And ultimately you can take better care of your family. Everyone benefits from a happy mama!
I’ve learned recently that a quick SUP paddle in the early morning recharges me. After a paddle, I walk in the door with more patience and a smile, even when I’m met by a whining toddler refusing to wear pants.
Karen De Wolfe from www.momthletes.com put it more eloquently than I can.
“Adventure has become strangely a bit of a refuge for me. Adventure takes me to my place that fills me up and gets me ready for another day. It provides a space for me to be completely myself and to hear myself think and allow me to check in with myself and make sure I still know who I am.
Most days I am thinking about four other people and their needs and what they want from life and how I can help them. But I can only do that well if I can also answer that question for myself. And I can only do that when I have some peace and quiet.
I find that peace and quiet and freedom outside, doing adventures. Running through the forest, up a mountain, skiing into the backcountry, mountain biking on some of the worlds finest trails.”
It’s hard to say exactly when we adults fall into an endless cycle of laundry, grocery shopping, and parent-teacher meetings.
This sad reality is perfectly portrayed by Will Ferrell in one of my favorite movies, Old School.
Haven’t seen it? Whah?!! Let me summarize (or watch the clip below).
Will’s character (a 30-something married man) turns down a beer bong offered to him by several college guys at a frat party.
“No I told my wife I wouldn’t drink tonight. Besides I’ve got a big day tomorrow. But you guys have a great time!”
“A big day? Doing what?”
“Well, um, actually a pretty nice little Saturday. We’re going to go to Home Depot. Yeah. Buy some wallpaper. Maybe get some flooring. Stuff like that… Maybe Bed, Bath, & Beyond, I don’t know, I don’t know if we’ll have enough time.”
*Cue a look of disbelief on faces of college boys.
Now I enjoy a trip to Home Depot as much as the next person (and not just because of the hot dog cart outside), but if you know the cashiers at Home Depot by name, you might want to consider spicing up your weekend plans.
Don’t worry—a little adventure can help.
Surges of adrenaline from riding a mountain bike down a hill. Belly laughing with a friend after falling off your surfboard.
Hell, even just getting a little Vitamin D from being outside. All these things improve mood, relieve stress, promote happiness, and can break up the monotony of the routines we find ourselves in.
Breaking up your week with a mini adventure or putting a large adventure on the calendar gives you something to plan, look forward to and get excited about.
Sometimes that excitement and anticipation are just as important as the actual experience.
So in between Home Depot weekends, don’t forget to do something awesome with your life.
5. Maintain your identity
Doing adventurous things whether it be climbing, hiking or swimming can be an integral part of your identity.
But as we age we tend to take on more and more roles—
With each new role, our true identity can get muddied or lost.
But holding onto who you are at your core is essential to happiness. So sometimes prioritizing you—the human, ahead of all the other roles is okay. In fact, necessary.
We all need fitness and probably more of it, but I refuse to make it another chore. After an early morning with the kid and a long day in the cubicle, heading to a crowded gym to pound out 45 minutes on the treadmill sounds like absolute hell.
Instead, an awesome hike, bike ride or paddle are great for fitness and feel like a treat!
Just being in nature can have an enormous effect on our health, spirit, and outlook on life.
Take the practice of forest bathing in Japan which studies have shown has benefits on our cardiovascular and metabolic health.
And seeking more time outdoors is important since we Americans spend a shocking 87% of our time indoors.
Many of the mamas I surveyed value connecting with nature because it helps them heal, feel present and alive, appreciate their life, and inspires them to live another day.
“Being outdoors somewhere beautiful makes me know why I am here on this planet. There are no words, it is just a feeling of being completely satisfied and in awe of this amazing planet I live on.”
–Karen DeWolfe, www.momthletes.com
Tackling something exciting and new together can be a great way to reconnect with your kids, your spouse, or friends. Adventure requires teamwork, promotes shared experiences and provides the opportunity to see your partner or kids in a different light.
A few years ago my husband and I found ourselves in a hilarious and strenuous upwind SUP paddle across a mountain lake. If we stopped paddling for even one second, the headwind would push us back to where we started. We were not deterred.
A concerned local homeowner, whose definition of “fun” differed from ours, came out on his boat to check on us. Having that shared experience, struggling together, and laughing about it brought us closer together.
“It’s been said your kids will value what you value, so show them how and why you value nature and adventure”
–Brinn Bagley Chipman, @brinnelizabeth
Sadly, issues of childhood obesity and screen time plague our children these days. Getting kids outside and into nature is more important now than ever. They can explore, spark their curiosity, and learn to value nature.
Maybe even more importantly, taking your children on adventures can teach them about their own capabilities and grow their confidence.
“Forcing” your kids to endure hardship and take on physical challenges teaches them resiliency, makes them more capable as they get older, teaches them teamwork, grows their confidence and connects them to nature.
Adding adventure to your life can provide health, friendship, identity, and inspiration. But let’s be real—it is not always easy to make time for it, especially when you have young children. I struggle with it myself.
Keep reading to tackle the common barriers to adventure parents face, and get real actionable advice from moms in the trenches on how to adventure with and without your kids.
But first, take a minute and think—what are you missing in your life right now? Could adding some adventure be the answer to your woes?