When you were younger you had dreams of when you had kids of your own, you and your spouse would go camping, biking and hiking with your kids. You’d spend the day as a family exploring nature and tag teaming it together to share the burden of schlepping gear and prepping. But that’s not how it turned out. It’s all on you. And let’s be honest, prepping to take even a short hike with your child, can be a bit of work. And when it’s just you and your child out in the great outdoors, the decisions are all on you.
You might be finding excuses for not going, and telling yourself you’ll wait until your kids are older and can handle themselves better in the woods. Don’t wait. Life is short and don’t cheat yourself or your child out of the experience because things didn’t turn out as you planned. Here are some tips to get it done and enjoy yourself with your child
Go easy on yourself. Don’t try to do it all. And take the breaks when you can find them. For example, don’t beat yourself up that you’re not up to taking them deep woods camping and doing all the cooking yourself. Do the cushy camping thing, with a nice campsite with lots of activities for the kids, restaurants nearby and clean bathrooms. They may not be experiencing what it’s like to be in the middle of nowhere, but so what, you’re outside and you are having fun together.
Invest in good carrying gear. Pay a little more for the lighter gear, and a backpack that can help you carry more while not killing your back.
Rent when you can. Don’t schlepp beach chairs or a beach umbrella if you can rent it.
Most importantly, don’t be afraid. You can do this. You are capable of much more than you give yourself credit for. Single parents are a resourceful lot when it comes to raising kids, why should getting out in nature be any different.
Post it! It may be a little lonely having no one to turn to to point out the latest cool thing your child just did, but don’t deny yourself this joy. So post it to your friends and family on Instagram and FaceBook. Let your friends and relatives gush about how adorable your kid is sitting on that rock or splashing in a spring. We read enough about everyone else’s adorable kids, so why should yours be left out. It may seem a bit silly, but it really does help get over the lonelies to read that “OMG she’s so adorable,” and “Wow she looks like she’s having a great time,” from your friends who care about you but don’t have the chops to be there in person.
And remember, you are not half a family just because it’s you and your child. I’ll admit it’s times like these that I feel guilty for being the one to end my marriage and making it fairly impossible for my daughter to explore nature with both of her parents at the same time. But then I remember I did it for a good reason and my daughter has a much happier single parent than she ever had as a married one. Then I remind myself, we are a whole family, even if it’s just the two of us. You deserve the same fun and experiences as other families have and it’s your job to make sure your kids make great memories with you. It’s a little extra work, but you’ll be glad you made the effort and so will they.