Meet Meghan! She and her husband love to hike and climb around their *gorgeous* town of Banf, Alberta, Canada. They strive to continue this love and pass it on to their baby daughter. Their enthusiasm for the outdoors goes beyond pleasure as they both also work in the field and have contributed much writing and photography. Having a baby is a whole other world though, and lately Meghan has been adding her knowledge to the fairly untouched-upon subject of living an outdoor life with children and babies. This family is a little different than many of the traveling families we have featured before. They don't necessarily travel full time or for long periods but instead spend a great deal of time in the wilderness of the Canadian Rockies. Hopefully Megan's tips can help other parents enjoy the outdoors more often with their children.
- When and how did you learn about babywearing? Did you know you would wear your baby before she was born?
When I was pregnant I did a lot of research into how I could continue enjoying my outdoor passions when I was also caring for a new baby. A quick survey of outdoor blogs written by parents revealed that babywearing was the way to go! In the meantime I also learned just how beneficial babywearing is for both parent and baby. So, yes, I knew I would "wear" my daughter before she was born, and I was looking forward to it!
- As an outdoor enthusiast how does it feel to be able to bring your daughter with you? Do you feel like you bring her with you more than you would if you didn't have a carrier?
It is incredibly liberating, whether I want to hike a trail or buy some groceries. I do use a Chariot stroller for long walks around town and running some errands. But having the means to carry my daughter opened up many possibilities for me, and definitely helped me get out more, doing the things I love. In terms of the outdoors, it is a win-win for each of us. I can get a hike in while she has the chance to nap or look around in the carrier. We both have the chance to get some fresh air - this makes us very happy! I should also mention that carrying her on hikes was a great way to get some fitness back after having the baby.
- Is there anything that you didn't bargain for, that is harder or impossible to do with your daughter? How have you overcome challenges?
It might sound funny, but pushing a stroller around I get a good feeling for what it must be like to be in a wheelchair. The access is absolutely terrible: very few buildings where I live have ramps, elevators are in awkward locations, and aisles are narrow. I also live in a mountain town with only a few paved paths. Now I have a mental picture of everywhere I'm going, and I run through it when I'm deciding whether to take my daughter out in the stroller or the baby carrier. Most often I opt to wear my baby, and this has helped me overcome these everyday challenges.
Overall, babywearing has helped me overcome many other challenges: making my way around airports, preparing dinner while the baby is fussing, shopping at the local farmer's market and, as I have mentioned, finding a way to continue pursuing my outdoor passions.
- What would you tell adventurous couples thinking about starting a family?
Good question. This is ultimately the research question behind The Adventures in Parenthood Project
. I would tell adventurous couples that the adventure continues through parenthood and that if you love something enough you will find a way to keep doing it. There is always a way, but with a baby it just takes a bit more planning and preparation. That being said, it is a major life change and there are rough patches. Some days you'll wonder how you'll ever do things again, but then as your baby gets older, possibilities suddenly open up again. When my daughter was first born, I couldn't even imagine hiking into a backcountry hut. But when she was six months we did just that. And in about three weeks we're leaving for nine weeks of island hopping in the South Pacific. Just be patient with the process. You'll get there.
- What are your favorite tips for getting outside or traveling with a baby.
The biggest tip I can give is to plan as much as you can, bring the gear you need, but then go with the flow. You'll be amazed at your resourcefulness when you need to be. I once interviewed an adventurous couple who forgot to bring diapers on a backcountry trip and ended up wrapping their baby in a tea towel and covering it with a large Ziploc Bag with holes cut out for the baby's legs. The baby didn't know the difference, and everyone survived. Have a sense of humour about it, and breathe deeply when you sense frustration creeping in.
- What's you favorite thing to do while babywearing?
Hiking. Hands down. It's such a simple activity. It's really like glorified walking, and anybody can do it. My daughter and I covered a considerable number of kilometres this summer on the trails here in the Canadian Rockies. I took a break when she woke up to let her play around, cool off, and feed. But otherwise she snuggled close to me and slept while I got an amazing work out and looked out at the scenery. And on occasion when she was upset, I could actually keep hiking and nurse her while she was in the baby carrier. How's that for a party trick?
How do you plan to continue the outdoor life with your daughter as she gets older and can hike and climb herself? Is there a place you can't wait to show her or a thing you really want to do with her?
When my daughter is able to climb and hike herself it will change a lot of things. For a few years, it will probably make it hard to go longer distances - she'll be too heavy to carry, but unable to walk super far. From what I've heard, it can take an hour to walk 100 metres because kids are so curious about everything. This will give me a chance to learn more about the natural world since I know shamefully little about the flora and fauna here in the Canadian Rockies. It will be fun to identify plants and species with her.
Once she is able to hike further distances, I am excited to revisit some of my favourite spots in the Rockies with her, and perhaps tackle a few longer hikes abroad. Hiking has always been my preferred way to get to know other countries and I look forward to exploring other amazing locations with her. When and if she's comfortable, I can't wait to take her up my favourite peaks, particularly those around Bow Lake in Banff National Park, which is where I met my husband. That area holds a special place in my heart.