Do you remember learning how to ski or snowboard? Once you fell for the first time, you had a more enjoyable rest of the day. Just get it out of the way early and then you can relax. It often doesn’t hurt that bad and you seem to be anxious until you finally topple over. That is what it’s like camping and spending time outdoors with a baby. It’s not a big deal at all and often we see lots of families who have the same mindset as us during our state park visits. We aren’t creating anything new and in fact we are trying to do the opposite. We are trying to simplify our lives and slow down the speed at which many modern families run at.
If you have kids or know folks who do, you know that the expectations as a parent have never been higher and unfortunately high expectations can transfer to the kids. It’s not easy being a parent or a kid these days with the pressure we put on ourselves to be Instagram perfect. By no means do we have it all figured out and often we need to remind ourselves to take a step back before we get caught up in much of the nonsense. Anytime we leave the comforts of our home with a child, it’s probably not going to go perfect, but that doesn’t mean it won’t be fun. That is why we try and be as honest as possible with our posts because it’s real life.
Our daughter LOVES being outside but so does every other kid. It’s just natural and if you start at an early age, it’s second nature for them (see what I did there). Having a baby on December 1st, we pictured ourselves cooped up inside all winter learning how to be A+ parents. We made it until January 1st before she was wrapped up tight in probably too many layers and we were out exploring Mackworth Island in snow, ice and freezing temps. Guess what? She was fine the whole time, but we weren’t. Stressed to max about her body temp, thinking people were judging us, and they were. This was us going head over heels on the bunny slope. Once we got back to our car and realized she slept the whole way and was in fact nice and toasty, we told ourselves okay, let’s see what else we can do so we did the next thing and then the next thing. Even as adults we needed to take baby steps (sorry, I did it again).
Of course, each month we do the cliché thing of dressing her up in something cute and take a bunch of hot mess pictures, hoping that one is usable. But then we head out on a monthly family outing. This could be anything, as long as it gets us outside as a family near the first of the month. No matter the weather, time of the year and how busy life is at the moment we have taken the time to do this and we now look forward to it. For example, recently for month #11 we explored Pineland Farms. Each month it’s something different but it’s often something quick and easy so that it’s never forced or stressful. It has also helped pull the band aid off and start a lot of the state park visits sooner than we anticipated because it increased our confidence.
It wasn’t until after our interview with the Bangor Daily News, that we realized that we are more active as parents then we were before Eloise. It took someone repeating back what we were saying before the light bulb went on. We have always done a lot of camping, canoeing, hiking, etc. But month to month, week to week this is by far the most time we have spent outdoors, and it’s been just as beneficial for us as it has been for her. But looking back, if we had waited until she was 1 to do much of what we did, we certainly would have missed out on a lot of wonderful memories and a lot of fun.
So, for our first lessons learned post, after having a baby it’s honestly never too early to start doing whatever it is that you all want to do as a family. It certainly doesn’t have to just pertain to the outdoors. Whatever your shared interests may be as a couple. Sometimes that means ignoring some people around you and their opinions or laughing off strangers who think you’re nuts. We didn’t do much reading before Eloise because we are both “hands on” learners, but that has meant for some trial and error. So, our next lessons learned post will be the dos and don’ts of camping with a baby and tips on the state park visits.
Month 1 – Mackworth Island
Month 2 – Hawk Mountain
Month 3 – Owls Head State Park
Month 4 – Maine Maple Sunday
Month 5 – Wolfe’s Neck Woods State Park
Month 6 – Two Lights State Park
Month 7 – Maxwell’s Farm
Month 8 – Presumpscot River Preserve
Month 9 – Peaks Island
Month 10 – Thompson’s Orchards
Month 11 – Pineland Farms
Month 12 – 1st Birthday at Reid State Park