One of the most important things on entering parenthood is not to lose sight of the person you were or the things you enjoyed before baby came along. You will inevitably have less time to spend on your hobbies but any ‘me’ time is a welcome breather from the intense and chaotic world of babies.
From very early on, Dan and I took one evening off a week where we could do what we wanted. We chose exercise in the form of volleyball – get those happy endorphins going! We went to our respective training sessions no matter the consequences; for me that meant having no respite from baby duties despite a tiring day whilst Dan had to deal with Oshi crying for mummy and refusing to sleep. I felt extremely guilty to begin but I knew it wouldn’t be healthy to be stuck to Oshi’s side; we all needed to let other people look after him. Besides, it gave Dan some daddy time and Oshi soon learned that daddy was capable of doing the bed time routine, which put us in good stead for the future!
So ‘me’ time is vital for keeping some semblance of self amid all the nappy changes, baby classes, toys and nursery rhymes. But what about trying out new things, having fun and exciting experiences?
This got me thinking about my experiences and adventures pre-Oshi. It wasn’t until 2013, whilst honeymooning in Canada, that I realised the importance of doing something outside my comfort zone. Despite having only 30 minutes of sea kayaking experience in my life I agreed to a five day kayak around Desolation Sound. On booking, I figured Dan and I would have a double kayak so I could paddle at my leisure whilst Dan did the serious work. How hard could it be?!
As time grew closer to the trip I started worrying about basic personal hygiene. It was my honeymoon and I was meant to look amazing – how would I manage without a hairdryer or a pair of straighteners, what about showering off all the salt and suncream after paddling all day? My main concern, however, was shaving…how was I going to keep my legs silky smooth?! I became convinced that I was not going to enjoy this part of the honeymoon.
This feeling was consolidated when we rocked up to our launch site and found that there was only one double kayak, which had been shotgunned by an older couple (who spent all their holidays kayaking). I had a bit of a hissy fit and became rather tearful; I was expected to navigate a single kayak by myself in the choppy sea in what was increasingly becoming stormy weather with goodness knows what floating beneath me! I was going to have to paddle without a break just to keep up with the rest of the group. I determined that this was going to be the worst and most exhausting experience of my life! Within minutes of leaving the shore I was soaked by a wave and almost overturned. The guides laughed it off and were really encouraging but I was becoming more sulky by the moment.
That’s when Dan stepped in (or rather paddled by) and gave me a pep talk. I could either spend the next few days being moody and miserable and consequently ruin the trip for everyone or I could just relax and enjoy the wilderness and see single kayaking as a personal challenge. As we pitched up for the night and watched a fellow kayaker swim amongst the bioluminescence I realised it was a once in a lifetime trip and I shouldn’t waste my time worrying about home comforts.
For the next few days, I embraced the wilderness and sense of freedom. I found that I had the strength to paddle for hours without needing a break – looking forward to the whisky laden hot chocolate and eggy maple syrup bread in the evening was quite motivational! It also helped that the older, more experienced, couple let us use their kayak for one of the days! We found amazing freshwater lakes to bathe in, kayaked passed waterfalls, were tailed by seals, watched our guide catch a fish and lure a bald eagle to feed and we got to swim in the most beautiful and isolated places. We also got to camp in scary places – under a wasps nest and next to coyote paw prints. On one occasion I was given bear spray to protect myself in case of attack, as I was so worried that the guides were having to pitch on a different part of the island due to lack of space. I remember perching on a rock beside a cold stream, trickling out of a dense forest, holding the bear spray in one hand whilst slathering eco shaving cream with the other (I just couldn’t be dealing with fuzzy legs!).
The whole experience made me more confident in my abilities and also introduced me to a new hobby. So how does becoming a parent impact on travel and experiences? Do these adventures just stop when baby arrives?
Well, parenthood offers a myriad of wild experiences in itself; learning how to function on less sleep, working out how to put on a nappy, having a helpless little being that’s completely dependent on you and the consequent responsibility which stems from that. The first few months were rather blurry and we stumbled through the days with a lot of trial and error. Life became easier once we’d develop some sort of routine and we started relaxing and emerging from the haze of parenting overload.
This is when we started finding time to do things for ourselves. Sure, we were unable to go on such big thrill seeking adventures so I settled on undertaking small challenges instead; trying a new recipe, baking a cake, trying a new exercisse class or talking to a stranger in a coffee shop and making a new friend. I try to set myself a new challenge, big or small, every week or so. One of my recent challenges was to eat oysters. I’d avoided the slippery buggers for years and had only just gotten my head around eating mussels. The seafood feast was delicious. ..
except for the oysters – I wasn’t a fan!
So, set yourself a simple challenge but start today! You will soon find that you make time to take on bigger challenges -for me, that includes starting a photography course and swimming with sharks at the Aquarium of Western Australia.
What will you do?