A huge goal I had for myself on maternity leave was to get back outside and enjoy the natural world. I drowned my Pinterest boards in beautiful images of happy women with their babies in carriers and backpacks. Why was this such a draw for me? Getting outside has always been a form of meditation. When I am out in nature, I reconnect with natural rhythms and the simple enjoyment of fresh air. I come back recharged and feeling alive. Somewhere in the great outdoors, I grind out anxiety and racing thoughts under my trail shoes.
In order to have a great maternity leave, I knew I would need to reconnect with nature somehow.
In the first few months of my winter-born’s life, I was, among other things, intimidated to do simple things like take her to the mall for the first time in the stroller, put her in the carrier for the first time, go out for my first winter walk (I do live in the Rocky Mountains of Canada, we are talking snow piles and biting winds!)
I hadn’t expected this strange sense of intimidation and newness. Every activity, from the mundane to the complicated, would take a concerted effort.
Was it a lack of confidence? Not necessarily.
I knew that both my daughter and I were freshly born into the world as new people. Her a new human, I a new Mum. Just as her eyes grew wide trying to take everything in, my eyes grew wide at the thought of bringing a floppy, fragile little creature with me.
As we slowly began to venture out in the world, it made me laugh. I might have been a bit intimidated using the Bob Stroller for the first time and youtubing 20x how to unfold it… but it was all new to her, too. The first time a dandelion blew apart in the wind ? MIND BLOWN. Bird song? CAN’T EVEN.
When I started noticing the profound appreciation in her face for every tiny moment, sound, object – I knew I’d be shifting the scale of my outings. I, too, began to profoundly appreciate tiny things. Ladybirds in the grass, dragonflies buzzing by us. The fresh smell of crisp autumn air. A sunset setting the mountains on fire.
Have you ever been walking through your city and you get stuck behind tourists gawking at the buildings, or scenery? It’s sort of the same when you are with a little human. EVERYTHING. SO. AMAZING.
The key to a brilliant maternity leave is scaling your outdoor activities down, way down, we’re talking to the scale of a baby – or a toddler. Moving that full-day hike down to a 30 minute hike.
This the essence of a “micro adventure.” Smaller scale, commitment, duration. This does not mean smaller rewards.
I have found profound happiness in our little adventures every day. The scaled down adventure leads to closer inspection and appreciation of the world in our path. Rather than planning a huge day out once in a while when the stars are aligned, (the parents are prepared and the children are happy,) I get out in nature, reconnect and rebalance. I five minute walk plus meltdowns, or a 50 minute walk of unexpected cooperation from the little humans. Each one offers a gift.