You know that feeling when you finally get outside (and maybe get everyone outside with you) and then wonder why it took so long? If you’re like me, that happens every time, and we quickly resolve to do it more often, much more often. Well, our friend Amelia, who brings us the brilliantly supportive Tales of a Mountain Mama, is on a mission to help us all get outside more often and reap the awesome personal and familial benefits.
We caught up with Amelia, who actually lives in Yellowstone with her family of five (a fourth baby on the way), to learn a little more about how her family thrives and what “Freedom Together” looks like for this driven, outdoors-loving crew.
Please tell us a little about your family.
My husband and I live with our three kids (one on the way in March), and our labrador in Yellowstone National Park. Our boys are ages 6 and 4 and (usually) love being outside, looking for elk and bison, and everything that comes along with this unique living opportunity. Our daughter is almost 2 and going on 6 (or so she thinks). We are all hands on deck all day long but love our crazy, beautiful chaos!
What is it about the outdoors that you find so beneficial for you and your family?
Our family thrives outside, and I would venture to bet that most families do, whether they realize it or not. It’s by being outside and active together that we strengthen our own selves (especially when challenged and overcoming obstacles) and our family. Our goal is to raise our kids so they think that an outdoor and active, healthy life is just normal. We also try to find a balance – don’t think that our kids don’t watch a little TV and sometimes just don’t WANT to go out. We just encourage it more than a sedentary lifestyle. It makes us ALL happier!
What’s your family motto? How do you encourage each other?
We have a little family cheer that we use when we just need to boost morale. It’s super simple, but totally effective. “Go Team Mayer” means we’re in this together, you CAN do it, we LOVE you and you’re part of that team. I love that our kids will spin off of this and encourage each other by little cheers too. If we can get everyone on the same team and keep it that way, we’ll all be ok!
How has getting out on the trails and beyond changed as your family has grown? Any special challenges and solutions to share?
I am not going to lie. Being pregnant and having three young kids under 7 means that our adventures are MUCH different than when it was just my husband and I, even with just one or two kids. It’s life and it’s just a season. We recognize that and have one goal: to help foster a love for the outdoors and have fun together. Not all days are great. Sometimes I want to throw in the towel. But, usually when we do get everyone out, even at a “kid level”, we all feel better. Adding a fourth means more chaos, but more fun, too. Also, we can’t wait until they are all a little older and more independent. We see glimpses of that now, and it’s glorious. In the meantime, we get out as we can. We use our gear (bike trailers, baby carriers and warm clothing) and just make the most of what we can do. We are pretty sure these simple memories we make as a family will make a difference down the road, too.
I also have to say that baby #2 rocked my world and torpedoed me into hard core babywearing. It is the way I function as a parent with multiple kids. All my kiddos have spent lots of time on my back and find great comfort there. I love having my hands free and being able to fulfill their needs also!
What are your strategies for venturing out as a whole family with such a range of children's ages?
Plan, plan, plan - and do it enough to have a good strategy and routine. The first trips of the year are always the hardest as we “shake out” what will work that year. We also start early giving our kids some independence and responsibility. Sometimes that backfires, but usually it means they know what they need and can get themselves ready to go.
What are some things you wish you had known about motherhood before becoming a mom?
I think motherhood (and parenthood in general) is nothing that you can fully understand until you are completely in it. I have no regrets and my family comes first. But, it’s most definitely an endurance “sport”. We have good days and bad days, and that’s ok. No one has it all figured out. I feel like I learn a little something more every day, but mostly how to laugh and not get stressed out by the little things (like dirty diapers and crying kids).
What role does "mom community" play in your life?
I live in a really small community, but do the best with the great people that are here. I love that I can connect with other outdoor families via my blog. I have learned so much from many of them. I strongly believe families need to feel supported - we are all in this together. Unfortunately, our society these days isn’t so great about helping that to happen. It’s baby steps and lots of invitations, and saying YES a lot. I don’t want to miss out on a grand adventure!
What is your background and how does your work as a writer “feed” you?
I am an English and Elementary Education major and I use it all daily, even as a mom at home. I am constantly teaching and reading, and loving on my kids.
My writing and blogging is my outlet. As a stay-at-home mom (that happens to be pretty ambitious and driven), I need something that is mine. I love that this connects me with my family, encourages more outdoor time and is something that gives me a little more “purpose”. Also, it’s all on my schedule – I can do what I want, when I want. So my family doesn’t suffer either. That’s huge for me!
Any big family travel plans coming up? What’s your dream destination?
I am ok if this doesn’t happen for a few years, but I would LOVE to do some long family bike rides, and some hiking and exploring in Europe. I traveled quite a bit out of the country before kids and plan on doing that again when they’re a bit older. For now, I am happy with more domestic adventures. I love non-touristy travel where we see the world via feet or bike. It helps me connect so much more.